Posted on 5 February 2019

What is a sucker truck?

Vac-U-Digga’s Non-destructive Digging Solutions

Vac-U-Digga's Non-destructive Digging Fleet

You’ve likely seen a sucker truck or a hydro excavation vehicle somewhere in New Zealand, but what do they do and how do they work?

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What is a sucker truck?

A typical vacuum truck, sucker truck or jet vac truck, is a vehicle used in a variety of excavation, utility maintenance, as well as waste management and waste transportation projects. 

While the act of excavation can now be conducted under a variety of methods, traditionally excavator plant and hand-held tools were used to excavate or dig down to expose utilities. These traditional methods were risky (typically having a higher risk of line strikes) and laborious. However, this all changed with the emergence of vacuum sucker trucks, which not only improved project time and efficiency but also help cut costs.

Vacuum Excavation

How do sucker trucks work?

These unique trucks use a suction mechanism (the core feature of a vacuum excavation truck) to suck up and collect excavated material into a storage tank installed on the truck. Generally, this material is excavated using pressurised hydro or air jets, which are used to break apart the soil that is collected by the truck’s vacuum. As such, a typical vacuum excavation truck includes both a tank for storage as well as pressurised systems, either air or hydro, which are used to actually excavate the soil that is then sucked up. 

The process of using pressurised systems to excavate is known as non-destructive digging. While sucker trucks and vacuum trucks are used in excavation projects they are also be used in waste management to collect sewage and waste to be transported and processed off-site.

Is a sucker truck the best vehicle for the job?

For a long time, the humble sucker truck has been the most popular and fundamental piece of machinery in excavation services nationwide. However, this is quickly changing as technological innovations continue to occur, where newer variations like the state-of-the-art Vac-U-Digga vacuum excavation truck range continue to take over the market, offering more efficiency, tank capacity, and safety features. However, it’s important to note that these custom-built Vac-U-Digga trucks (tailored in-house for use across our diverse region) aren’t exactly sucker trucks, but rather they are augmented sucker trucks with additional features and enhanced excavation capabilities - a whole new generation of vacuum trucks if you like.

Where can I buy a sucker truck or a Vac-U-Digga truck?

While we don’t sell sucker trucks per se, we do sell a variety of custom-built and in-house Vac-U-Digga vacuum excavation trucks that are tailored for use across New Zealand and Oceania. 

For more information on purchasing one of our advanced Vac-U-Digga vehicles visit or give us a call on 0508 822834.

If you’re are interested in booking, getting a quote, or finding out more information about our unique non-destructive digging, vacuum excavation, soil transfer, hydro excavation, utility locating, and waste management services, or even our utility mapping services, give us a call on 1300 822 834 for a chat with one of our VAC Group professionals.

Contact Vac-U-Digga NZ today to arrange a personalised obligation-free quote.


Vac-U-Digga NZ is proud to be part of many Major civil  infrastructure projects across New Zealand.




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