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Fuel Tank Trailer Buying Guide

Fuel Tank Trailers

Fuel tank trailers are one of the most prevalent forms of tank trailers on the road. These tank trailers are used to safely and efficiently transport a large amount of petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, benzene and some other types of inflammable liquids in bulk. Fuel trailers are typically available in multiple compartment configurations designed to allow safe transportation by preventing liquid surge to ensure better stability on the road and make the most out of every single trip by transporting different types/grades of liquids at the same time. When looking for a fuel tank trailer for sale, there are some important things you should consider, such as  DOT compliance, inspection certification, pressure and leakage tests, safety equipment and the type of liquids you intend to transport in the tank trailer. 

A fuel tank trailers are equipped with safety features and specially built to transport low-flashpoint fuels and flammable liquids, including:

  • Gasoline 
  • Diesel
  • Biodiesel
  • Racing fuel
  • Aviation fuel 
  • AvGas, and 
  • Jet-A


Make Composition:

The most common materials used to construct fuel tank trailers are aluminium and occasionally carbon steel. These materials are capable of keeping petroleum liquids secure while transporting and offer longevity, making it a suitable choice for business needs. Fuel tank trailers are available in three design configurations, such as straight bottom, double taper and trough bottom.

Fuel tank trailers are available in aluminium and/or stainless steel compositions. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages over another. The right material for your new petroleum trailer depends on the type of product you wish to transport, the hauling capacity your business needs and the price you are willing to spend. 

Here is a comparison of aluminium vs carbon steel tank trailers:

Carbon Steel Trailers Advantages Aluminium Tank Trailer Advantages
Better strength. The steel tank trailer is more durable compared to aluminium. More suitable for rougher roads.  More money per load. These tank trailers are lighter in weight than steel trailers. This allows you to haul more volume and increase your bottom line. 
Cheaper. A carbon steel tank trailer is easier to build and available at a relatively cheaper price. Durable: Aluminium trailers can haul more liquid and generally last 25+ years with a good maintenance plan. 
Easier to build. Carbon steel trailers are much easier to construct and weld than aluminium. So many people can build or repair them if the time arises.  Rustproof. These tank trailers are rust-resistant, so they won’t contaminate the liquid during transit.
Carbon /Stainless Steel Trailers Disadvantages Aluminium Tank Trailer Disadvantages
Not Rust-proof To prevent rusting, carbon steel trailers must be galvanised or painted to prevent corrosion.  Lower strength. Aluminium trailers have a lower strength compared to steel tank trailers. This can lead to issues if travelling off road. 
Heavier. Carbon steel weighs more than aluminium tank trailers, which often results in a loss in payload and the bottom line.  Expensive Aluminium tank trailers are expensive to build and are priced higher than carbon steel trailers.


Design and shape

Fuel tank trailers built for bulk transportation usually come in a elliptical shape. Fuel tank trailers of all varieties are capable of transporting petroleum liquid safely, however, tank trailers with a lower center of gravity design can increase stability for transporting a large amount of petroleum liquid in an safe & efficient manner. Making the appropriate shape selection of the tank trailer can enable you to achieve your perfect purchasing goal.


Types of fuel tank trailers

  • Straight Bottom / Elliptical Trailers: Straight bottom trailers are suitable for transporting low consistency liquids that are flammable, such as fuel. These tanks can be filled more quickly, and several compartments can be loaded at the same time. See Inventory
  • Double Taper Trailers: The design of these trailers allows them to drain completely and quickly in flat terrain. It is multi-functioned enough to be used in hauling different fluids, the double taper design is best in unloading higher viscosity products, like lubricants. 
  • Trough Bottom Trailers: These trailers are designed to drain rapidly even in the most difficult of conditions. The surge baffles act as dams that slow the flow of liquid in a conventional straight bottom or double taper trailer. The trough bottom trailer excels in the unloading of low viscosity fluids such as gasoline, ethanol, diesel and solvents as it bypasses the surge baffles present in most compartments by allowing the product to flow unobstructed to the unloading sump. 



Types of loading systems in fuel tank trailer?

A fuel tank trailer can be loaded either from the top or from the bottom. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Top Loading: The original loading method is top loading. Before discovering the bottom loading method, all types of fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and jet-A fuel were loaded via the top-loading method. But this type of loading brings with it a unique set of concerns, both in terms of safety and potential environmental impact. Loading fuels or other liquids from the top is risky and dangerous. Because fuel evaporates into the atmosphere when it is loaded from the top. Explosions are more likely when vapor or fumes are present in the atmosphere of the filling station. That is why top loading is not recommended for flammable liquids after discovering of bottom loading method.

Moreover, the liquid that evaporates leads to a reduction in the tank’s volume. It is equally hazardous to employees or workers to load from the top and this should be avoided under any circumstances. Loading from the top takes more time than loading from the bottom.

  • Bottom loading: For all types of fuel, such as petrol, diesel, and other flammable liquids, bottom loading is recommended. The process is safer, reliable, and faster because fuel’s vapor remains within the internal circulation. Therefore, there is a low risk of incident and explosion that’s why the bottom loading method is considered the safest method of loading.


Fuel Tank Trailer General Specifications: 

Usually, fuel tank trailers carry petrol, diesel, and other flammable liquids. These trailers are often made of two materials: aluminium and carbon steel, both of which provide a high level of quality and durability.  The general specifications for fuel tank trailers are as follows:

  • 3.3 psi maximum operating pressure
  • Average maximum capacity of 9200-9500 gallons
  • Oval or a curved cross-section
  • Flat or almost flat ends
  • Carbon steel and aluminium are used in the construction
  • Multi-compartments sizes and configurations 
  • An opening for each compartment
  • Front-end emergency cutoff switch
  • Rollover protection
  • Roll stability


Essential Parts Of Fuel Tank Trailers

The body of the typical fuel tank trailer includes heads, baffles, & bulkheads. These cylinders are made up of coiled and welded aluminum/steel plates for the better strength of the body. In addition to this, the fuel tank trailer has a number of essential parts such as: 

  • Baffles

All of the compartments in the tank contain baffle plates to minimize the “surge” of the liquid in the tank. In order to minimize transverse fluctuations of the liquid, a longitudinal baffle plate is placed along the tank’s axis. The cross-section of the tank has been fitted with longitudinal baffle plates to minimize axial movement.

  • Manhole cover

As the name implies, the trailer manhole cover is simply the lid that covers the tank hole. These are used to inspect or clean out the trailer when needed. 

  • Air release valve

The respiration valve, also known as a relief valve, is a core part of the manhole cover. The valve’s job is to automatically regulate the pressure inside the tank. This aids in maintaining a specific pressure range. The relief valve secures the tank and minimizes volatile fuel evaporation loss.

  • Overfill protection systems

The spill-proof sensor is the type of alarm installed on the manhole cover. The sensor makes a sound or noise when the amount of liquid within the tank changes rapidly. When the liquid reaches the correct height, the whistle or warning alarm chirps & will stop. In this scenario, the sensor acts as a filling up alert. Furthermore, when the liquid inside the tank discharges empty, the whistle stops.

  • Valves

The system contains several valves, including a bottom valve, that can be controlled by air or a mechanical cable. Brake interlock valves that sets the trailer brakes when you lift the brake interlock valve near the discharge area. Emergency Valve Operator in the event of a crash and something that should shear off a pipe to a compartment would close off the tank and prevent spilling fuel. 

  • Vapour recovery valve: A vapour recovery valve prevents vapor leakage by recovering it from the tank. This also helps to prevent a major explosion in the tank trailer and transport the fuel safely. It’s not uncommon to see 2 if not 3 vapor recovery valves on a trailer to capture fumes. 
  • Internal valve: The bottom internal valve is usually found inside right above where the discharge pipes come out of the tank. This would be controlled by an air system or a mechanical cable to open or close the internal valves 
  • Fuel discharge outlet valve: This valve is used to discharge liquid from the tank quickly. Its internal design provides fluid mechanics compliant and can reduce the internal temperature during a big flow. When the joint is withdrawn, the unique construction utilized in the fuel outlet valve helps to ensure that there is no petroleum leakage.


Safety Features and Compliance Requirements

After the manufacturing of the tanker vessel, the trailers are tested to ensure acceptable quality and functioning to mitigate any accidental damage caused due to manufacturing shortcomings. As the tank trailer will spend a lot of time on the road, it is important to make sure that the tanker is impact-resistant and can bear maximum impact on its body.  Some important safety features in a DOT 306/406 compliant fuel tank trailer includes:

  • Highly engineered manlid/manhole 
  • Vapor recovery system
  • Rollover detection
  • Overfilling detection
  • Driver-side emergency cut off switch
  • Electronic stability control systems

Fuel tank trailer standards and certification criteria differ across countries. A typical fuel tank trailer needs to be DOT 306/406 compliant to be allowed to transport flammable fuels in large quantities as per the government regulations. However, it is important to check your country’s regulations prior to purchasing a fuel trailer because the regulations specify the size and safety features that a tank trailer must possess in order for it to run in the country. 

Additionally, a fuel tank trailer’s certification is an essential asset and must be provided by the manufacturer at or before delivery. An inspection certificate should contain important information, such as the registration number of the manufacturer, the certification of design and the name of the registered inspector. The tank trailer design must be certified by a manufacturer’s supervisory official and a design verifying engineer, in order to comply with the relevant fuel trailer specifications.


Fuel Tank Trailer Pricing

There are various models of fuel tank trailers used to transport a variety of products such as petroleum, diesel, jet fuel and other flammable liquids. The price range for these trailers varies on the type of model, size, composition, functionalities and much more. In general, the starting price range for a fuel tank trailer is between $90,000 to $130,000. Customers need to define the appropriate budget for purchasing their fuel tank trailer as per the tank trailer features and the price range.

Fuel Tank Trailers Manufacturers

You can find different types of fuel tank trailers manufactured by various brands in North America. Trailers of Texas recommend some of the top manufacturers in North America such as LBT, Polar Tank Trailer, & Tremcar. These manufacturers have been producing reliable, durable, and time tested tank trailers for many years and have been some of the largest producers of tank trailers in North America. These manufacturer’s tank trailers also offer a better resale value as compared to others due to their longevity, making it easier to upgrade when the right time comes. 

In conclusion, fuel tank trailers are available in various designs to fulfil the needs of diverse customers and businesses. In order to purchase a fuel tank trailer, the customer must completely comprehend all important considerations, certifications, inspection approvals, compliance tests, and safety features. With all this information, you can determine the type of fuel trailer that will meet your business needs. If you want to know more information about tank trailers or if you’re ready to check out some of the best fuel tank trailers for sale in Texas, get in touch with the experts at Trailers of Texas. Call  (281) 612-5263

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