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Switching LTL to Partial Truckload

Switching LTL to Partial Truckload

While less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping is the most common shipping method in the freight world; there are various other shipping methods to consider and choose from. Generally speaking, LTL shipping is excellent for freight that is too large for a parcel but doesn’t require an entire tractor-trailer. Another standard mode is a full truckload, where the cargo being shipped requires the full use of the truck trailer. But did you know there is another shipping method that might be the right solution for you? Partial truckload shipping just might be the shipping game-changer your small or midsized business needs. So, when should an LTL shipper consider switching to partial truckload?

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Less Than Truckload (LTL), Full Truckload (TL), and Partial Truckload: What’s the Difference?

As we mentioned, less than truckload or (LTL) shipping is one of the most popular freight shipping methods; for a good reason, it’s usually the most economical. When shipping LTL, your freight will share space on the truck with another shipper’s freight as it makes its trek across the U.S. Typically, LTL shipping is recommended for shipments weighing between 150 to 15,000 pounds, which is too large for a parcel carrier, but not large enough to require the use of the truck’s full trailer.

Another popular shipping mode is full truckload. Generally, in full truckload (TL) shipping, your cargo requires the use of the entire truck trailer, weighs 15,000 pounds or more, or you have a lot of pallets to ship at once.

Many shippers don’t know there is another freight shipping method available called partial truckload (PTL) that fits perfectly between LTL and full truckload. Sometimes, an LTL shipper may save time and money by shipping a partial truckload.

You can ship freight between 6 and 18 pallets with partial truckload shipping. The weight limits on PTL shipments are between eight thousand and twenty-seven thousand pounds. This type of shipping competes with LTL rates while giving the delivery times of TL services.

Similar to full truckload, freight class is unnecessary in partial truckload shipping. Whatever you and the carrier agree to is the price of the shipment.

Why Carriers Offer Partial Truckload Freight Shipping

As you might expect, there aren’t many carriers waiting around for partial truckloads when they can pick up full truckloads. So, why are partial truckloads even a thing? Here’s one example:

A carrier picks up a full truckload near their home base and delivers it to a location that does not have a high level of shipping traffic. The carrier doesn’t want the truck to return home empty (commonly known as a deadhead), so they pick up one or two partial truckload orders to cover their costs.

Carriers may also pick up partial truckload shipments when the overall shipping market is slow to fulfill their capacity.

Partial Truckload Advantages

With partial truckload, the loads can be much smaller than full truckload and more significant than LTL. Consider these pretty regular shipments:

  • LTL: Less than 10,000 pounds, 1-6 pallets
  • Full Truckload: 42,000+/- pounds, 26-30 pallets
  • Partial Truckload: 8,000-27,000 pounds, 6-18 pallets


It’s not uncommon for a partial truckload shipment to cost less and take less time to reach its destination than an LTL shipment that takes up a lot of space but doesn’t weigh much. And when cargo doesn’t take up the whole truck, using full truckload costs significantly more that partial truckload.

When to Consider Switching LTL to Partial Truckload

As a rule of thumb, consider using partial truckload freight shipping instead of LTL when:

  • The shipment weighs at least 5,000 pounds.
  • You’re shipping five or more pallets.
  • The shipment takes up a lot of space, so it costs a lot, even though it doesn’t weigh much.


And consider using partial truckload instead of full truckload when:

  • The shipment weighs 10,000-20,000 pounds.
  • You’re shipping more than six pallets, but not enough to take up the full truck.


If you’re not sure which shipping method is best for your business shipping needs, it’s best to talk with a shipping expert, like a FreightCenter shipping agent.

Where Do You Turn?

No matter if you ship LTL or full truckload, partial truckload is an additional option to consider that could help you save time and money. As an established 3PL, FreightCenter has relationships with carriers that offer partial truckload service as well as LTL shipping, and we can help you choose the method that’s best for your shipment. Before you book your next shipment, give us a shout. We can help determine if partial truckload could be a better alternative.

Ready to discuss your options? Give our experts a call today 8007167608.

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