Tailgates vs. Forklifts vs. Pallet Jacks

An illustration depicting cargo being loaded and unloaded at a warehouse

You’re just trying to get your cargo from A to B, and while doing your initial research from all sides you’re being bombarded with freight jargon and confusing terms. Things are quickly beginning to seem much more complicated than they need to be.

Fret not, here’s a breakdown of some common terms and items used for loading and unloading freight that often cause confusion in our clients.


Example of a tailgate on a freight truck

Tailgates (or liftgates as they’re known in the US) are lifts at the back of a truck that serve as a means to get your freight to ground level or from ground level onto the truck.

Tailgates are considered special handling services and come with extra charges. That means that delivering to locations that are not standard businesses with docks (standard being business to business (B2B) shipping) will usually cost a bit more.

The weight a tailgate can support varies from carrier to carrier or even from location to location with the same carrier. The average, however, is around 1500 lbs. If your shipment weighs more than that and you don’t have a dock or forklift on-site, you may want to consult your Freightera shipping specialist about the tailgates your carrier uses.


Gas powered forklift next to a truck outside
Gas Powered Red Forklift Cargo Truck Outside

A tailgate’s older brother. Able to lift heavier loads, mobile and depending on the amount of cargo you handle — cost-efficient.

Depending on the type of forklift they can lift upward of 3000 lbs. How much exactly any particular forklift can lift is listed on its data plate. 

If you don’t have a dock and you handle large amounts of cargo, a forklift is a no-brainer. 

If you don’t have a forklift, there is always the option of renting one which can be a cheaper solution depending on your retailer’s rates. Renting a forklift can sometimes be the only way if your freight is unusually heavy or cannot fit on a tailgate.

Pallet Jacks

worker with fork pallet truck stacker in warehouse loading Group of cardboard boxes via pallet jack
worker with fork pallet truck stacker in warehouse loading Group of cardboard boxes

Santa’s little helpers of cargo handling. Often overlooked but missed when they’re not there, pallet jacks are the cherry on top of the cargo-movement cake.

A pallet jack will not get a shipment onto or off a truck but it is necessary for maneuvering the cargo inside the truck or on ground level. 

A forklift can do the same thing due to its versatility but if you don’t have one, a pallet jack is a life-saver. 

What it means for you 

What all of this means when it comes to shipping is that you need to be aware of your locations’ needs. Does your pick up location or delivery location require a tailgate or a pallet jack? Is the shipment oversized or overweight?

No matter the case, Freightera has the shipping solution for you. If you go to freightera.com you can get your free shipping quote in minutes.

Free Freight Quotes

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