What Is a Liftgate? Everything You Need To Know

what is a liftgate

Omar Founder of OJ Digital Solutions

Table of Contents

Liftgates are one of the many wonders that make deliveries and logistics easier. They’re a convenient solution for moving large objects into trucks, container vans, and other vehicles.

If you want more effortless and safe delivery, liftgates are a must-have.

What is a liftgate? How do you use it?

If you’re an e-commerce business, do you need a liftgate delivery service?

I’ll teach you all you need to know about liftgate and lift gate services in this article.

Let’s begin.

What Is a Liftgate?

What Is a Liftgate

A liftgate is a mechanical or hydraulic device on vehicles to help load and unload cargo or passengers from the rear end. They bring heavy items from the truck’s cardio level to ground level and vice versa.

People and companies use liftgates when transporting freight. You would see them in trucks at a shipping dock or shipping bay. Other places where you might use liftgates are warehouses or construction sites.

If you need help raising or lowering items, a liftgate is beneficial. They have mechanisms that give them the ability to go up and down or open and close safely.

What Is a Liftgate on a Truck?

A liftgate on a truck is simply a liftgate attached to the truck’s rear end. They’re normally a permanent fixture on the vehicle, allowing people to load and unload heavy items anywhere easily.

The Common Types of Liftgates

What are the most common types of lift gates? Here are three examples.

  • Tuck-Under Lift Gates

    Tuck-under lift gates fold and stow underneath the vehicle’s rear when not in use. The liftgate unfolds and extends from beneath the vehicle, providing a platform for the goods.

  • Cantilever Lift Gates

    Cantilever lift gates have a single-arm design that extends outward from the vehicle’s rear. The arm of the lift gate attaches to a pivot point on one side of the vehicle, which swings outward and provides cargo area access.

  • Rail-Lift Gates

    A rail-lift gate, also called a slider lift gate, has a pair of horizontal rails mounted on the sides of the cargo area. The liftgate itself has a platform that slides along these rails.

How Do Liftgates Work?

Liftgates have handles, latches, and buttons that trigger the equipment’s closing and opening mechanism. They use counterbalance systems, sprints, or hydraulic pressure to make lifting the gate easier.

Some liftgates are mechanical, relying on counterweights to open and close. The other type is a hydraulic liftgate, which uses fluid pressure to move up and down. Normally, you control the gate with a switch box.

Liftgate Delivery Services

Liftgate Delivery Services

LTL and FTL shipping providers offer a liftgate service, meaning they will send a truck with a liftgate.

It’s for customers without a shipping dock, pallet jack, or forklift. They might have heavy or bulky freight that needs loading and unloading equipment.

When requesting liftgate service, you usually have two choices.

  • Liftgate at Pick-up

    This means the pick-up location needs a liftgate for loading the shipment.

  • Liftgate at Delivery

    The consignee, or the party receiving the shipment, doesn’t have facilities to unload the freight safely.

Freight forwarders will know if your packages need a liftgate based on the liftgate required label.

1 – What Does a Liftgate Service Include?

Normally, you get a truck with a liftgate for your freight delivery. You can also request operators to help you with a liftgate pickup and delivery for an extra charge.

Let your courier know if you need a liftgate ahead of time. Doing so in a rush could result in a bigger billing adjustment.

2 – How Much Does It Cost?

Liftgate shipping and additional services come at an extra fee. These services typically cost $100 to $250. The final cost will depend on the carrier, requirements, product weight, and other special requests.

For example, FedEx charges a minimum of $154 to a maximum $506 or $10.39 per hundredweight.

Should I Use It for My Business?

Small businesses usually need it for pickup. Commercial and construction sites also usually lack docking areas for the safe loading and unloading of goods.

If you’re transporting heavy and bulky shipments by truck, ensure your warehouse or the destination has a dock or other equipment.

Otherwise, you’ll need a liftgate service.

Consider the following benefits and limitations.

Benefits of Using Liftgate Service

Using a liftgate can have several highly valuable benefits, including:

  • Faster fulfillment and shipping times

  • Lesser chances of accidents or injury

  • More efficient delivery operations

  • Safer movement of cargo

Liftgate Service Limitations

Liftgates aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution for freight deliveries. For example, carriers impose a liftgate weight limit for safety reasons.

How much weight can a liftgate hold?

The liftgate capacity may vary depending on the truck and its equipment.

Most liftgates can handle shipments around 1,500 lbs to 3,500 lbs or below 96 in wide and 48 in long.

Remember, a liftgate can be heavy. It adds a significant load to the gross vehicle weight. This is crucial information when crossing light bridges.

Not anyone can handle a liftgate, as well. The job of operating it goes to the driver and the other staff. They’re responsible for safely moving your goods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do All Carriers Offer a Liftgate Service?

Not all carriers have a lift gate service. Check with your carrier first if you have heavy and bulky items with special handling requirements.

What’s the Difference Between Liftgate vs. Tailgate?

A truck’s tailgate is a hinging board or hatch that can lower for loading and unloading. You’ll also find this feature in non-commercial vehicles, like SUVs and crossovers.

A liftgate is a mechanical device you can raise to load and unload heavy cargo.

What Is a Liftgate on a Car?

Although they have the same name, they operate differently.

What is a power liftgate on a car?

A car’s liftgate often refers to the closure at the rear that you can raise to access the back. The driver can automatically open the rear door by pushing a button.

What Are Some Alternatives to Liftgate Delivery Services?

What Are Some Alternatives to Liftgate Delivery Services?

A liftgate isn’t the only option for moving heavy shipments. You can also try these alternatives.

  • Use a forklift.

  • Use a dry van with ramps.

  • Use a straight truck.

  • Hire an unloading crew.

  • Get a portable ramp.

  • Get a pallet jack.

Do I Need a Liftgate if I Have a Loading Dock?

If you have a loading dock, you won’t need a liftgate. The same goes when you have other equipment for getting cargo lowered to the ground.

The Bottom Line

If you need a liftgate for your delivery or cargo, using a liftgate delivery service might be a more economical and convenient option. Remember to let your carrier know ahead of time.

Do you need liftgate services? Hopefully, this information will help you make a more informed decision.

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