Refrigerated Trailer reefer everything you need to know truckers wiki

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What is a Reefer Trailer?

Reefer trailer, short for refrigerated trailer is a type of semi-trailer that is used for transporting temperature-sensitive cargo. This can include food items, medical supplies, and other perishable goods.

Here’s what you should know about reefer trailers:

Refrigeration Unit

These trailers have a built-in refrigeration unit that maintains a specific temperature inside the trailer. This can be set to cool, freeze, or even heat the cargo area, depending on the requirements of the cargo.

Size and Weight

Reefer is typically the same size as dry vans, measuring about 53 feet long, 8.5 feet wide, and 8.5 feet tall. The maximum legal weight in most states is 80,000 pounds gross weight (including the tractor, trailer, and cargo), with the cargo itself usually not exceeding around 45,000 pounds due to the weight of the refrigeration equipment.

Loading and Unloading 

Like dry vans, refrigerated trailers are loaded from the rear. It’s critical to manage the time the doors are open during loading and unloading to prevent unwanted temperature changes inside the trailer.

Temperature Monitoring 

Reefers have temperature monitoring systems to ensure the cargo stays within the required temperature range. As a driver, you’re generally responsible for keeping an eye on these systems and addressing any issues that arise.


Before loading, the reefer unit must be pre-cooled to the desired temperature to ensure the cargo is kept at the correct temperature from the moment it’s loaded.


Reefer trailers require regular maintenance checks to ensure the refrigeration unit is working correctly. This includes checking the fuel level for the refrigeration unit (separate from the truck’s fuel), the condition of the doors and seals, and the structural integrity of the trailer.

Higher Costs

Operating a these trailer can be more expensive than a dry van due to the cost of fueling the refrigeration unit, higher insurance costs, and the need for more frequent maintenance.

Training and Skills

Drivers may require additional training to operate a reefer trailer. This can include understanding how to operate the refrigeration unit, monitor temperatures, and manage issues if they arise.


The refrigeration unit can be loud when it’s running, which is something to be aware of, especially when planning rest times.


There are strict regulations for transporting perishable goods, particularly food items. These regulations dictate the temperatures at which certain products must be kept, documentation requirements, and cleanliness standards.

Freight Opportunities 

Refrigerated trailers are always in demand due to the need to transport perishable goods, which can provide many job opportunities for truck drivers.


Now you know what is reefer trailer. As with all types of trucking, safety should always be the priority when operating a reefer trailer. Follow all relevant regulations and company policies to ensure both you and your cargo stay safe.

Here is a YouTube video on how to operate a reefer trailer.

To learn more about the types of trailers used in the trucking industry click here. 
Learn about Reefer Air Chute here.
Learn about Semi Truck Electrical System Maintenance here.

Listen to The Article Here

Reefer Trailers What You Need To Know video by Foster Fuels

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