When tractor trailer doors are damaged or won’t close for any reason, a driver can be held up for many days, waiting for a replacement. The goal should be to find a replacement door as soon as possible and get back on the road. Replacements may be an exact fit or drop-in door, a universal or trim-to-fit door.
Damage to tractor trailer doors can occur several ways, from the cargo shifting inside the trailer and settling against the door, to a traffic accident. With swing-type doors, drivers may accidentally brush them against structures along a street. Damage may also occur from improper use of loading equipment.
Regardless of how the accident occurs, it’s important to choose a replacement door from a reputable company, and to make sure, particularly in the case of an overhead door, that it is well maintained.
Types of Trailer Doors
Trailer doors come in two basic types: swing or overhead doors.
Swing doors are the simpler design, taking up less of the interior so it’s available for cargo. When closed with racking rods, they shore up the trailer structure, giving it added strength. The disadvantage of swing doors is that the driver must exit the cab and open the doors, securing them against sidewalls before backing up to the loading dock. After unloading the cargo, the driver must pull out from the dock, then exit the cab again to close the doors. Further, during deliveries, doors may be obstructed by cars parked along the street, trees, poles or other structures.
Overhead or roll-up type doors don’t have these disadvantages, in that the driver can quickly open or close them while the trailer is against the dock, and needn’t worry about any side obstructions on the street. This saves time for the driver, who can attend to the loads quickly. Overhead doors may be installed at the rear or sides, but single-panel swing doors are more common on the side walls of a trailer.
The disadvantage of overheads is the space they take up at the rear of the trailer and along the ceiling. They also have numerous parts, which can break down. Overhead doors and parts should be scrupulously inspected, lubed and adjusted regularly. Repairs should be undertaken before the truck or trailer is en route to a delivery.
The American Trucking Association recommends that overhead doors should be made of seven-ply, ¾ inch plywood, but alternatives to this are plate doors with foam core with metal skin sandwiches of similar strength and performance.
For swing doors, ATA recommends that panels be able to withstand interior pressure of 10,000 pounds, uniformly spread across the pair of closed, locked doors, which is just what would happen if cargo were falling against them. Sandwich-type panels should have treated metal layers, inside and out. Aluminum should be painted and sufficiently thick and strong to meet force standards, anticipated impact and salt spraying. Steel door panels should be coated with zinc and painted.
Regardless of which type of trailer doors you have, be sure they are always in good repair so that a driver is not delayed delivering cargo because of having to wait for a repair or replacement.