back to

Why are the tops
 of UPS trucks
 always white?


Looking out the window at work, I can see a pretty and serene man-made lake.  I can also see the loading dock and dumpsters for our building.  I've seen trask trucks and maintenance workers down there, as well as a group of guys stealing doors from the dumpster, but that's another story.  There are a lot of deliveries, as well.  Often, UPS trucks will park there for extended periods of time, dropping off their packages.  I noticed that without exception, all of them have partial or completely white tops.  You don't notice it from the ground, since it's just the tops of the trucks.  Some of them have a single strip down the middle, others are completely white.  While the single strip looks like it's made of a different material than the rest of the roof, the trucks with completely white tops just look, well, painted.

So I began to think about this, and wonder why they might be white.  Asking around, I got a few theories, but knew that I needed a definitive answer.  Sent UPS email about it, and lo and behold got an answer!  Mystery solved?  You be the judge..

Q: Why are the tops of UPS trucks white?

My guess:

"I think it's so the truck doesn't get too hot, since it's all brown."

What did other people think it might be?

"Is it so the bird poop doesn't show up as bad?"

"Maybe the white is years worth of accumulated bird poop."

".. it's translucent... so they can see the packages in the back. "

"Is it to reflect sunlight so the cargo area doesn't overheat?"

"Brown paint weighs more, because as everybody knows, white is lighter than brown."

"So enemy spy satellites can't tell they are UPS trucks."

We've been linked!

This page has been linked from Ask Yahoo!, and I've gotten a lot of comments as a result. I'll update this page (after a five year lapse) soon with results from those comments!

There have been comments supporting both the heat and light theories, here are the current numbers:

  • Lighting: 23
  • Cooling: 4
  • Both: 21
  • Evildoing: 4

The official email, which SHOULD put the matter to rest:

From: "Customer Service" <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: Odd question for you..
Date: Friday, June 02, 2000 3:54 PM

Thu, 01 Jun 2000 16:04:13 -0500

"Robert G. Craig" wrote:

> Our office looks out over a loading dock, and we've noticed something
> about the UPS trucks that drop off packages.
> Why are the tops of UPS trucks always white?
> Would love to put this debate to rest...
> [email protected]

Dear UPS Customer:

Thank you for your inquiry. The tops of UPS trucks are white to reflect
the sun. This helps to maintain a cooler temperature within the truck.
We hope this information is helpful. If we may be of future assistance,
please feel free to contact us.

Thank you for using UPS Internet Services.

[email protected]
06/02/00 s-8

Of course, in this age of conspiracy theories, doubt of authority, and general cantankerousness, I do have to wonder if that email came from some Customer Service lackey who just made up the answer, or is there an official book of answers to stupid questions?  If anyone have any other information, guesses, PROOF, or pictures, send them on to me at my email address!


This is the "thin strip" variation.  Appears to be made of a different material than the rest of the top of the truck, leading many to believe it's translucent, and used as a skylight.

This, on the other hand, appears painted on the regular roof, and covers the majority of the surface area.

This is odd.  Did the Beer Truck company not paint the top of the truck to save paint, or is this support for the 'overheating' theory?

Finally, those wacky folks at Aramark -- did they convert a UPS truck?  Is it a skylight?  It's definately a different material, possibly even a different thickness than the rest of the top..  Interesting...