What is a Bobtail Truck? – Everything You Should Know

In the past few decades, logistics has come a long way. Produce and consumers are connected through a supply chain network that uses several different transportation modes, including railroad, trucks, and cars.

This article discusses all you need to know about Bobtail trucks, Bobtailing, its different types, and what exactly Bobtailing means. And also, find out why truck drivers dislike Bobtailing.

Bobtails don’t carry freight, so they do not bring their owners any revenue, which is the reason why “bobtailing,” which describes cargo-free trucks, often get mistaken with “deadheading.”

A slight difference exists between Bobtailing and Deadheading. Bobtailing describes driving a freight-carrying truck without a trailer attached, whereas Deadheading happens when a trailer is attached, but it is an empty trailer.

Where Does The Term “Bobtail Truck” Originate?

A variety of theories exist regarding the origin and meaning of the phrase “Bobtail” with respect to trucks vary, but two theories prevail.

“Bobtails” are horsetails that are usually cut at their end and used to prevent the tails from getting caught up in horse carriages. Many people believe the word ‘Bobtail’ descended from the 19th-century composer Jingle Bells, who wrote a song called ‘jingle Bells.’

According to some other theories, the term is derived from short-tailed cats. These short-tailed cats are reflected in semi-trucks without trailers.

Also Read: Why Are BMW Cars Called Beemer?

Types Of Bobtail Trucks


There are three types of Bobtail trucks.

1. Semi-Truck, or Running Bobtail Truck

Semi-Truck, or Running Bobtail Truck “Running Bobtail” trucks are small semi-trucks without trailers. Semi-trucks are made up of a trailer at the front and a tractor at the back, and the trailer has a fifth-wheel hitch that connects to the tractor.

2. Straight Propane Truck

Several small pickup trucks can easily be converted into propane trucks by simply fitting tanks to the rear beds of the truck. These tanks are round in shape and can hold roughly 5000 gallons. These trucks contribute significantly to the supply of propane and gasoline to fuel stations, auto dealers, and other businesses.

3. Small Bobtail Truck

When these trucks don’t have a trailer attached, they are called “small Bobtail trucks.” These trucks are typically small to medium-sized and have all their axles connected to one chassis.
They are typically used for transporting lighter or moderately-weight loads, such as dump loads, eggs, and bakery products.

Are Bobtail Trucks Dangerous?

It is absurd to think that increased weight indicates greater risk. Bobtail trucks can be even more dangerous than other on-road trucks, regardless of their lack of trailers.

The bobtail truck is more dangerous to drive since it is difficult to maneuver and brake. It is important for truck drivers to take extra precautions when driving Bobtail trucks to not cause an accident.

A bobtail truck is designed with a weight reduction above the rear axle, which reduces the truck’s braking power. Bobtail trucks are built to haul heavy trailers, and the rear axle, which can be found beneath the trailer, is where most of the truck’s brake power is located.

Bobtail trucks are more likely to skid in tight curves and sudden turns because their greatest weight is over the front wheels. Their primary function is steering, not braking.

Despite their lighter weight, bobtail trucks have a longer braking distance, making them dangerous to drive on winding roads or in the rain.

A Bobtail truck driver must adhere to safety standards to prevent accidents. Bobtailing is not illegal because every truck has to transport goods at some point or another.

Truck drivers have special training to do the job, but they often lack the experience to drive bobtail trucks. Bobtail trucks require greater skill and expertise for them to be driven safely.

Also Read: 700R4 Transmission – Everything You Need To Know

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Bobtail Truck

A bobtail truck is a truck without a trailer attached to it. Some straight trucks that carry propane are also called bobtail trucks because their tanks are shorter than most propane trailers. A semi-tractor that carries a trailer is also often called a bobtail truck

Can you bobtail without a CDL?

A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is needed if you want to become a bobtail driver. A good driving skills and a clean background check are also checked for before you become a bobtail driver. Some employers also need you to be at a certain age before they hire you as a bobtail driver.

What makes Bobtailing so dangerous?

Bobtailing refers to semi-trucks that operate without a trailer attached. Bobtailing is dangerous as semi-trucks are not designed to operate without the trailer attached. This situation can pose a danger to both truck drivers and other road users.

Is Bobtailing illegal?

Bobtailing is not illegal. Trucking generally wouldn’t be possible without bobtailing. the weight of A Truck that doesn’t have a trailer is on its front wheels and these trucks have very little weight on their rear wheels.

How much is a bobtail truck?

A New Bobtail trucks cost between $150,000 and $250,000. Other larger capacity propane tanks will increase the price of the trucks. Used bobtail trucks can be purchased at a much cheaper price, at about $30,000 to $100,000, depending on the age, condition, and mileage of the truck.

How long is a bobtail truck?

Bobtail Trucks are 24 feet long, 13’4 tall and 96” wide, excluding the mirrors.


It’s almost impossible to avoid Bobtailing in the fast-paced trucking industry. Trucks without trailers are an integral part of nearly every movement of goods between consumers and producers. Truck drivers are often on the road to unload a trailer or to pick it up. Eventually, however, every truck driver will need to Bobtail.

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