Can You Tow a Shipping Container With a Pickup Truck

By Nicholas Bourgeois

Rate this post

Can you tow a shipping container with a pickup truck? If you’re moving goods or have ever needed to transport large items, you may have wondered this question. The answer is yes, but it’s more complex than attaching a hitch and hitting the road. Before attempting to tow a shipping container with a pickup truck, it is essential to consider several factors, including weight, towing capacity, hitch type, and legal regulations.

Firstly, it’s essential to understand the weight of shipping containers. Standard shipping containers typically weigh between 5,000 and 8,000 pounds, while larger containers can weigh up to 12,000 pounds. You’ll need a truck with a high towing capacity to transport a shipping container safely. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure that your truck’s suspension, brakes, and tires are up to hauling such a heavy load. This article explores the critical considerations for towing shipping containers with pickup trucks and provides tips for safe container transportation.

Understanding the Weight of Shipping Containers

A 40 feet shipping container
A 40 feet shipping container

Understanding the weight of shipping containers is crucial when determining the appropriate vehicle. The size of shipping containers can vary between 10 feet and 40 feet or larger, and their weight is determined by their size and the materials utilized in their construction. Generally, a 20-foot shipping container weighs around 5,000 pounds, while a 40-foot container can weigh up to 8,000 pounds.

The weight of a shipping container is essential because it determines the vehicle that can be used to transport it. Most pickup trucks can tow up to 10,000 pounds and easily pull a 20-foot shipping container. However, a 40-foot container is too heavy for most pickup trucks, and a larger vehicle, such as a flatbed truck or a tractor-trailer, is required. It is essential to understand the weight of the shipping container before attempting to tow it with a pickup truck or any other vehicle.

Knowing Your Pickup Truck’s Towing Capacity

Can you tow a shipping container with a pickup truck? Firstly, it is essential to know your pickup truck’s towing capacity. A high towing capacity in your pickup truck enables you to transport heavy loads. Therefore, it is essential to determine your pickup truck’s towing capacity before attempting to haul a container. Towing capacity refers to the maximum weight a pickup truck can safely tow. This information is available in the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website. It is worth noting that towing capacity can differ depending on the make and model of the pickup truck and the type of engine and transmission it possesses.

After identifying your pickup truck’s towing capacity, you can compare it to the weight of the shipping container you intend to tow. A typical shipping container can weigh anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 pounds depending on its size and the materials it is made of. If your pickup truck’s towing capacity is higher than the weight of the shipping container, then it should be able to tow it without any issues. However, it is essential to consider the weight distribution and the proper hitching equipment to ensure safe towing.

Choosing the Right Type of Hitch

Choosing the Right Type of Hitch
Choosing the Right Type of Hitch

Picking the appropriate hitch is crucial in securely towing heavy loads with your pickup truck. A trap must be required to support the container’s weight and size to pull a shipping container. There are several hitch types, and selecting the appropriate one is crucial. The receiver hitch is one of the most prevalent hitch types available.

It’s easy to install and can handle a variety of weights. However, towing a shipping container may need a more heavy-duty hitch, such as a gooseneck or fifth-wheel hitch. These hitches are designed for hauling heavy loads and provide better stability and control. It’s essential to consult your pickup truck’s manual or a professional to determine which type of hitch is best suited for your specific towing needs.

Related Post

You can check Is it Legal to Ride in the Back of a Pickup Truck from our team

You can also check Can a pickup truck fit in a parking garage

Legal Considerations for Towing Containers

Before hitting the road, knowing the legal considerations of hauling a large and heavy object like a shipping container is essential. First and foremost, it’s necessary to check your local laws and regulations regarding towing a shipping container with a pickup truck. In most cases, you must obtain a special permit or license to haul such a large load. Not adhering to these requirements may lead to significant fines and penalties.

In addition to obtaining the necessary permits, ensuring that your pickup truck meets the minimum requirements for towing a shipping container is essential. This includes a robust, durable hitch, proper brakes, and sufficient towing capacity. It’s also important to remember that towing a shipping container can be dangerous, especially if you are not experienced in handling such a large load. Always exercise caution, drive safely, and avoid sudden movements or sharp turns on the road.

Read more: How to build a sleeper for a pickup truck

Tips for Safe Container Towing

Stay safe
Stay safe

Follow these essential tips to ensure a safe and successful container towing experience. Firstly, ensure that your pickup truck can tow the container’s weight. Shipping containers can weigh up to 8,000 pounds, so checking your truck’s towing capacity is crucial before pulling a container. Also, ensure that the container is adequately secured to the car using appropriate equipment such as chains, straps, or cables.

Another critical consideration is the height and width of the container during transportation. Standard shipping containers are usually 8 feet wide and 8.5 feet tall, which can pose visibility challenges for the driver. To prevent accidents, it is vital to exercise caution while driving, maintaining a slow speed and ensuring the container does not collide with any obstructions, such as overhead power lines, bridges, or trees. Adhering to these guidelines will guarantee a secure and successful container towing operation.


Can you tow a shipping container with a pickup truck? Yes, it can. However, it necessitates meticulous attention to weight, towing capacity, and lawful regulations. Selecting the appropriate hitch type, evenly distributing the container’s weight, and adhering to all applicable laws and directives are crucial to guarantee a secure and successful towing operation.

With the proper preparation and precautions, towing a shipping container behind your pickup truck can be that pulling a large, heavy container is not a task to be taken lightly and requires careful attention to detail and safety.

Nicholas Bourgeois is a lifelong pickup truck enthusiast with a passion for sharing his knowledge and expertise with others. From a young age, Nicholas has been fascinated by the versatility and reliability of pickup trucks, and has made it his mission to learn everything there is to know about these amazing vehicles. Through his pickup truck blog, Nicholas shares his insights and tips with fellow enthusiasts, offering advice on everything from maintenance and modifications to buying and selling pickup trucks. With a focus on providing accurate and up-to-date information, Nicholas is committed to helping others discover the joys of pickup truck ownership. Whether you're a seasoned pickup truck fan or just starting out, Nicholas welcomes you to his community, and invites you to join him on his journey of discovery and exploration of these amazing vehicles.

Leave a Comment is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated sites. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.