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What’s The Difference Between Single & Tandem Axle Trailers?

When you’re purchasing a new trailer, you might well question whether it’s best to have a single or double (tandem) axle. Do the trailer axles impact its performance?

What’s the difference?

A single axle trailer, as the name implies, has one axle with a wheel connected on each end. It’s attached to the trailer either via the springs or directly on to the trailer bed with clamps or supporting hardware.

Double or tandem trailer axles have two axles placed in close proximity to each other to help disperse the weight load of the cargo.

Advantages of single axle trailers:

  • Single axle trailers weigh less so they’re more economical to tow.
  • Often cost less to buy.
  • Are easier to manoeuvre than a double axle trailer of the same size.
  • Easier to park in a tight spot.
  • One fewer set of tyres, bearings and brakes to maintain and replace.

Disadvantages:

  • They can’t haul as heavy a payload as a tandem axle trailer of the same size.
  • Single axle trailers below 750kg GTM are not required to have brakes, so it’s up to the owner to make a call about this important safety issue.
  • A single axle trailer will be harder on tyres as they carry more weight per tyre than a dual axle trailer.
  • If it doesn’t have suspension, it won’t cushion the load so well or provide a stable ride over bumps.

Advantages of tandem axle trailers:

  • More stable at highway speeds.
  • Usually have much better suspension.
  • A flat tyre is less of a dramatic event and if it happens the tyre could possibly be changed without using a jack.
  • Tandem axle trailers are safer. If they’re rated to carry 750kg to 2000kg, they are required by law to have brakes, while anything over 2000kg must have brakes on all axles.
  • When properly loaded, a dual axle trailer will bounce less and is less prone to swaying.

Disadvantages:

  • A tandem axle trailer often costs more.
  • It weighs more so fuel economy suffers.
  • The more axles, the more maintenance is involved, such as four wheels to maintain with bearings, grease and tyres.

In the end, whether you buy a single or double axle trailer will depend on your needs. If you are going to tow infrequently then a single axle trailer should be fine; but if you’re towing over long distances or are concerned about safety then a tandem axle trailer is probably the better choice.

Thinking of changing your trailer’s axle? Here’s what you need to know.

Images: Brett Goldsmith

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