What is a Yard Truck, Yard Goat and Terminal Tractor?

The Terminal Tractor has been called many different things in the US

terminal tractor, also known as a shunt truckspotter truckspotting tractoryard truckyard shifteryard dogyard goatyard horseyard birdyard jockeyhostler, or mule, is a semi-tractor that moves trailers and containers within a cargo yard, warehouse facility, or intermodal facility, much like a switcher locomotive is used to position railcars.

A yard truck  is built to accommodate a hydraulic lifting fifth wheel allowing the operator to move and lower the trailers without exiting the cab or the need to cranking the landing gear. A yard goat can normally move three units in the same amount of time that a standard tractor would move one unit.

How do I know if we need a yard truck?

If you need to increase driver productivity then you might be looking for a terminal tractor. The easiest way to figure out if you are in need of a truck is to track the time your drivers spend cranking up trailers prior to hooking up. If you notice that the drivers are spending a lot of their time hooking up trailers instead of moving more containers, then you need to look at a yard goat solution.

If your answer requires additional support when moving your containers or trailers with typical truck tractors. Then consider the numerous yard truck advantages; it is extremely efficient and cost-effective. Other options include renting a yard truck short-term, long-term, or lease-to-own.

Here are your best options when considering a Yard Goat


Flexible daily, weekly, monthly and longer-term rental agreements. Get through breakdowns or spikes in you workload.

Leasing & Purchase

Choose from Long and Short term Truck lease agreements. Licensed and off highway vehicles models are available based on your application. Southwest offers TICO brand Yard Spotters. Ask us for a Demo or a quote.

Maintain Your Existing Truck

Keep your fleet of yard trucks running at optimal levels during your busiest times of the year. Southwest offers Parts, Service and Full Maintenance programs for all brands and models of terminal tractors. Mobile repairs and service are also available. Find the parts you need thru Southwest, the #1 Part distributor on the West Coast.

The Benefits of using a Yard Truck

Increase Driver Safety and Eliminate Hazards in the Yard

  • Avoid injuries from the repetitive motion of cranking the landing gear
  • Eliminate injuries common when disengaging the fifth wheel pin
  • Decrease injuries from frequent climbing in and out of the cab to connect & disconnect the lines

Increase Yard Productivity

  • 360 degree view reduces blind spots, ensuring maximum visibility
  • Shorter wheelbase for tighter  turning radius, making it more maneuverable
  • The driver never sets food on the ground to hook up or release trailers
Find the best terminal tractor for your operation!

Contact your local Yard Goat Headquarters in Southern California and Nevada, Southwest ToyotaLift.