How to choose a tractor unit

How to choose a tractor unit

The advantages of tractor units

  • high manoeuvrability;
  • full capacity utilization;
  • versatility;
  • possible use of several trailers;
  • simple replacement of platform trailers.

When a load is delivered, there is no need to wait until a semi-trailer is unloaded. Fast readiness for a new run increases the efficiency of commercial transport.

Specifications of tractor units:

  • engine capacity,
  • axle configuration,
  • cab specifications,
  • fuel type.

Tractor units are characterized by efficiency and durability and these prominent features compensate a high price of the vehicles. If you need a tractor unit to use it in cities for different purposes but not on a regular basis then it’s better to buy a used tractor unit in good technical condition, which is able to bear many years of service.

The best manufacturers of commercial transport

As a rule, the structure of modern imported tractor units is based on a strong frame made from chrome-moly steel with lifetime warranty. Low-speed diesels with engine capacity from 11 to 14 litres and power capacity up to 500 hp are used in the majority of models. In case of careful operation and regular maintenance such power systems can bear the mileage of more than 2 million kilometers.

Top brands in the European market:

  • MAN,
  • Scania,
  • DAF (The Netherlands),
  • Renault (the models: Magnum, Premium ),
  • Iveco (the series: Eurotech , Eurostar, Stralis)
  • Mercedes-Benz (with an updated Actros model).

Apart from these brands, Swedish manufacturers also offer tractor units of a high quality. There are numerous innovations in the 3d generation of Volvo FH series (which is so typical for Volvo Trucks):

  • exquisite design of the cab;
  • independent front suspension;
  • D-shaped fuel tank;
  • updated wheel-hub drive (which increases payload capacity up to 120 t);
  • “Powertronic” automatic gearbox;
  • 3 types of cabs.

What concerns American Freightliner tractor units, the following features should be mentioned: Gasoline Direct Injection (instead of an injection pump), non-synchronous transmissions, 2 leading rear axles, interlocked central differential. Besides, pneumobottle adjustable suspension is applied to many models.

Tractor units – the optimal choice

The choice of a tractor unit primarily depends on the specialization of a haulier. Companies, which specialize in over-sized cargo transportation, require high-powered tractor units. This type of vehicles can transport heavyweight long haul trucks and low-bed platforms. If a company specializes in oil products transportation, then a tractor unit of an average power will be enough for this purpose. In this case we mean vehicles with payload capacity up to 20 tons.

It’s quite simple to find a powerful tractor unit for sale from abroad. But it makes sense to define the following points in advance:

  • the type of cargo transportation, the type of cargo, the type of a semi-trailer;
  • road and climatic conditions;
  • maximal payload capacity;
  • fuel efficiency;
  • axle configuration;
  • cab dimensions (including the number of sleeping bunks).

The optimal choice for standard long distance haulage is a biaxial tractor unit. In case of bad road conditions, transportation in highlands and off road it’s better t make the choice in favour of triaxial vehicles.

As for cabin variations, the maximum number of sleeping bunks is reasonable if there are accompanying people. Tractor units with such cabs are also suitable for international haulage, where special attention is paid to drivers’ condition and there is the necessity to alter working and sleeping hours.

Running qualities of heavy trucks

According to experienced drivers, there are no significant drawbacks in the latest versions of tractor units. If the engine capacity is chosen correctly, then tractor units will easily transport heavy semi-trailers, have excellent steering and braking systems. Big and comfort cabins are ergonomic. This feature increases driver’s efficiency and gives an opportunity to rest while being on the road. Many drivers admit an additional advantage of American models for not having any special requirements for fuel quality.

The minor drawback of a tractor unit is connected with the truck bolster and the decrease in steering performance because of its operation. But professional drivers don’t consider this peculiarity as a disadvantage. They claim that it’s just necessary get used to drive a tractor unit. As for American models one should keep in mind that there can be problems with availability and delivery of spare parts and deficiency in after-sales service.


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