Lift Gate Trailers – What You Need to Know

Lift Gate Trailers

Lift gate trailers look like any other enclosed trailer, but with one major difference. They have a gate at the back that can lower down from the trailer to the ground.

Since they add weight to the trailer, these are not commonly used unless the receiver requires them. Despite that, these are fairly common trailers that can be very beneficial under the right circumstances.

What is a Lift Gate?

A lift gate is like a small deck at the end of a trailer. Operators can ascend or descend the gate with the push of a button. In most cases, the operator will load the gate with a pallet and then use the gate to either lift it into the truck or to put it on the ground.

When delivering to large stores and businesses, the shipping area will often have a shipping dock and forklift equipment to move the pallets. These trucks don’t need a lift gate because the dock is made to be level with the truck. In areas where there are no docks, which will be covered later, a lift gate is essential. Otherwise there will be a 56-inch gap between the truck and ground that cannot be covered without the gate.

Lift gates aren’t always required. If the items can be carried off by hand, then the shipper or receiver may not require a lift gate. If the items are very heavy, then a lift gate might be necessary.

How a Lift Gate Works

Lift gate trailers are quite distinct from other trailers. You’ll easily see that large metal gate in the back. When it unfolds, it will come several feet away from the trailer and is unmistakable.

While they are exceptionally useful and remarkable, the process behind their function is quite standard. Most lift gates are hydraulic, but some are electric. Standard hydraulic gates will force pressure through the piston which will then make the gate move up or down. The process is similar for electric gates, but these would use electricity rather than pressure.

There is often a simple switch box with “up” and “down” buttons for controlling the gate. They might have these words, arrows or similar words. This is made to be a simple mechanism that anyone can control. If you’re checking out lift gate trailers for sale, then just check this mechanism before buying.

When Lift Gates are Best

While major retailers and large businesses have loading docks, lift gates are sometimes essential for certain projects. Any business that doesn’t have a loading dock will require lift gate shipments. This will be necessary for moving the pallets off the truck unless the company has a lifting forklift. If they do, then they can use the forklift instead of the lift gate.

Residential services and home deliveries might require a lift gate. It largely depends on what is being shipped. If the items can be easily removed by hand, then there should be no need for a lift gate. If large furniture or construction supplies are being shipped, then a lift gate would be needed as no home is prepared for large shipments.

Construction sites might also need lift gate trailers. While some construction areas might have a makeshift loading dock built or an available forklift, most will require a lift gate. This allows you to safely move the heavy equipment and supplies off the truck.

There are many other instances where a lift gate is necessary. In general, if there is no dock or forklift and the items are heavy, then a lift gate is needed.


Lift gate trailers are great for unloading heavy items when a shipping dock isn’t available. These trailers are quite versatile and good for shipping to unconventional locations.

Lift gate trailers article and permission to publish here provided by Harry Poulson. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on April 8, 2020.