How Many Tons Does A Dump Truck Hold

A Dump Truck is a huge vehicle and can hold a volume commensurate to its size. Pardon us for getting sentimental, but they can be awe-inspiring.

Just how much volume can they carry through, precisely? Even the mightiest machines have limits. That question is answered largely by the “weight limit”, the make and model of the Dump Truck, and what it has been designed for.

As a general rule, a dump truck can hold around 14 tons of material on its back, (or, if you like using larger numbers for dramatic effect: 28,000lbs.). Smaller dump trucks can typically hold in the range of 6-8 tons. 

The way we determine exactly how much a dump truck can hold is measured in units of cubic yards, for when you don’t always have a monster scale on hand.

Below we’ve created a guide that can help you determine the capacity of a dump truck, along with other, good-to-know facts and figures. 

What Exactly Is A Dump Truck?

Before we drive into the weeds, let’s get a solid ground on what a dump truck is, exactly. 

Dump trucks are large vehicles that are primarily used to move high volumes of material from one place to another. This loose material can be anything from sand, dirt, gravel or waste from places like collapsed mines or buildings. 

Effectively, if you’ve got a load of loose material lying around and you’re wondering how you’re going to shift it – chances are, you’re going to be in the market for a dump truck. 

There are different types of dump trucks, such as articulated dump trucks which are used in major construction projects. The tipping point is on the rear of the vehicle, unlike the site dumper which works from the front instead, and is primarily used to move large amounts of earth. 

The other dump trucks available are; Rigid Rear, Track Mounted, Underground, and Hi-Rail. What they all have in common is the mechanism of how it dump and they commonly all run of Diesel

Hydraulics lift the “box” and the machine’s operator is responsible for the technique which ensures the materials are moved, and placed, safely. 

What Is A Cubic Yard?

Measuring the volume of a dump truck in its simplest form is expressed as “this dump truck holds 14 tons” or “this dump truck holds 28,000 pounds”, but those of us in the industry will measure it as a “cubic yard”.

Without getting too deep into the math, you measure by imagining a ‘cube’, whose dimensions are 3 feet in length, width, and height. A cubic yard is the equivalent of 27 cubic feet.

A typical dump truck will hold about 14 cubic yards of dirt, but fewer of other materials like gravel. This is because gravel weighs much more than dirt in a cubic yard, nearly 1000 more pounds in fact. 

Dump truck delivering gravel for preparation of levelling a yard.

Cubic Yards – The Things To Know 

As we’ve said, the typical dump truck can hold around 14 cubic yards but the smaller dump trucks can be much less than this. In fact, you can hire a very small dump truck that can only hold 1.5 cubic yards of material. 

If the capacity of the dump truck has not been specified, or if it is not provided in the manual, or not labeled on the inside of the dump truck…. you can still work it out through some simple measurements. 

Measuring The Width 

Measure the inside of the truck from one-bed wall to the other and make a note of it. Always take your measurements in their simplest form, so for example write down 63 inches as 5.25 feet. 

Measuring The Height 

Measure the bed from the bottom to the top of the tailgate or at the side. Note that this may depend on the layout of your box.

Measuring The Length 

Measure the length using the same method you used for the width.

Determining The Answer 

Take the 3  figures (width, height and length) and multiply them together. After you’ve done this, you need to divide the figure that you’ve obtained by 27 (because there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard). 

For example, A dump truck’s bed has been measured at 5 feet high, 14 feet long, and 6 feet wide.

5x14x6 = 420. 420/27 = 15.56. 

In this example, your dump truck can hold 15.56 cubic yards, meaning it is a typical-sized dump truck that holds around 14 tons of dirt. 

Why Determining Capacity Is Important 

Determining the capacity of a dump truck means you’ll know how much material you can fit in the machine. It also works as a hand-built in measurement tool.

Let’s say you need a lot of material for a construction project, perhaps you’re building a set of offices or a large home. The capacity of your truck’s box can inform your decision of how much you need to buy. It can save you money! 

What Is The Biggest Dump Truck In History?

The Belaz 7571 can hold 450 tons of weight! On the other end of the spectrum, is a Suzuki; which is more like a 4×4 but it has the capacity to do dumping. For some perspective, you can carry nearly 300 of the smallest trucks onto the largest! 


Dump trucks are important pieces of machinery that allow us to transport large volumes of materials from one place to the next in a single trip. They are essential in making huge construction and demolition projects alike a possibility.

We hope this guide has been of use to you! 

Ryan Genkin
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