Single-axle and dual-axle trailers offer various benefits depending on which kind of travel trailer you prefer. The difference between single and dual-axles includes weight capacity, size, length and braking, among other distinctions. To choose a trailer that fits your needs, consider each axle’s benefits, pros and cons.
What Is the Difference Between Single-Axle and Dual-Axle Travel Trailers?
The short answer is that a single-axle trailer has one axle on each end of the wheel, while a dual-axle trailer has two axles placed close together to distribute weight safely. Single-axle trailers often come in smaller sizes and are relatively easy to handle, while dual-axle trailers are larger and can carry more weight and passengers.
How Do Axles Work?
Axles play an essential role in braking and steering the trailer. With a rod that fits onto the wheels attached to the vehicle, axles ensure the wheels align correctly and hold up the vehicle’s weight. The size, type or number of axles often determine how much weight the trailer can handle and the vehicle’s load capacity.
Some types of axles include the following.
- Coil springs: Coil springs offer a wider range of navigational and improved suspension.
- Spring: Many spring axles are underneath the trailer.
- Trailing arm: Often found on the vehicle’s rear wheels and in aircraft gear.
- Torsion: Tubing usually conceals torsion axles.
Though you’ll see many of these axles in various vehicle applications, spring and torsion axles are the most common axles found in travel trailers.
Spring axles use a flat spring in proportion to the trailer’s load. Placing springs over or underneath the axle can lower the trailer’s height. Spring axles often give the trailer improved stability and detach quickly, making maintenance and repair easier. While cheaper than torsion axles, spring axles can be safe and effective.
Torsion axles have long rubber cords inside a tube, attached to an inner piece. The core piece connects to the torsion arms without metal-to-metal contact and produces a quieter axle. These kinds of axles often do not require as much maintenance besides regular lubrication of the wheel bearings.
Specific Differences Between Single-Axle and Double-Axle Trailers
The differences between a single-axle and dual-axle trailer depend on your size preferences, load abilities, parking needs, budget and towing requirements, among many others. Look at the number of people you plan to travel with or your fuel budget or towing vehicle capacities. However you plan to travel, the many differences between a single-axle or dual-axle trailer can tell you what trailer will fit your needs.
Try considering these areas to understand which trailer you want.
- Weight capacity: Think about how much weight you want to carry in the trailer. How many people will be traveling with you, or how many suitcases or food items will you take? A larger double-axle trailer may be able to handle heavier weights, while a single-axle trailer is better for a smaller number of travelers.
- New vehicles for pulling: If you plan to buy a new vehicle to tow the trailer, this may affect which trailer you want to invest in. For example, a dual-axle trailer may require a heavy-duty truck, while a single-axle trailer may only need a small SUV or van.
- Budget: There are a few price differences between single-axle and double-axle trailers. Many single-axle trailers cost less than other vehicles, while double-axle trailers cost less in maintenance but more in fuel.
- Trailer size: Consider the differences between trailer sizes. For example, many single-axle trailers are smaller than double-axle trailers, though both configurations often vary between 16 and 25 feet. Remember that single-axles are the size of a family sedan and are typically easier to move around because of their length. Double-axles need more room to park and are larger than 25 feet in some cases, but can handle the additional weight.
- Trailer functions: The function and style may vary between single-axle and dual-axle travel trailers. Between both types, the ride is likely to be smooth regardless of the number of axles on the trailer. While the performance and towing experience may change depending on your weight preferences, both trailers handle themselves well.
- Towing: Single-axles are typically easier to pull because they are smaller and often weigh less than dual-axle trailers. Because of their lighter weight, single-axles may experience less rolling resistance and can often travel with less wind resistance. If you only have a smaller truck or SUV, you should be able to pull a single-axle trailer without issue. On the other hand, double-axle trailers may require more heavy-duty tow vehicles.
- Safety: Some single-axle trailers with a smaller gross trailer mass do not require brakes and may cause safety concerns. On the other hand, many double-axle trailers carry a larger load and need brakes for safety’s sake. Regardless of what you want, you should carefully consider safety issues before buying a single or double-axle trailer.
Choosing Single-Axle or Double-Axle Travel Trailers
To compare single-axle and double-axle travel trailers, you will want to look at each type’s weight, tires, smoothness and resale value. By comparing and contrasting the various pros and cons of each trailer, you may be better informed to make your final decision.
Consider how much food and supplies you want to bring on your trip. Some trailers can handle more weight than others, and you may also need extra room for more passengers. Weight distribution is another essential factor. A single-axle trailer may not have the best weight distribution, while a dual-axle trailer comes with special axles that help distribute extra weight. Dual-axles may make for better rides on back roads and a steadier drive.
The number and abilities of the trailer tires should be another comparison you look at. Dual-axle trailers often come with extra tires that assist you if a tire blows out. Single-axle trailers may not come with spare tires, but their compact nature ensures less tire maintenance overall.
Ride smoothness is a primary consideration for trailer owners. While there is not much difference between the smoothness of each kind of trailer, you’ll want to find one with less bounce, sway or roughness.
4. Resale Value
If you plan to sell your trailer after a few years, you may want to consider the value of single-axle or double-axle trailers over time. Consider investing in a new trailer that will hold its value. You can even make additional upgrades or changes to enhance the vehicle and make more money once you’ve decided to sell.
Pros of Single-Axle Trailers
There are many advantages of investing in a single-axle trailer.
- Affordable: The smaller frames and length single-axle trailers result in a lower price when buying the trailer, as well as cheaper fuel and maintenance costs.
- Lightweight: Their smaller size makes single-axle trailers lighter, and you can save more money on fuel.
- Quickly maneuvered: Single-axle travel trailers are easy to park and fit around tighter corners.
- Faster brake: Because single-axles are lighter, they can brake quickly.
- Easier towing: The vehicle that pulls the trailer will experience less wear and tear due to its smaller and lighter construction.
- Less maintenance: Less weight, fewer brake bearings and fewer tires mean you won’t have to maintain as many parts throughout the year.
Cons of Single-Axle Trailers
You should carefully consider the potential drawbacks of single-axle trailers before purchasing a new one. While the benefits may outweigh the downsides, you’ll want to be completely informed.
- Less able to carry weight: Because single-axle trailers are smaller, they may not be able to carry as many supplies or passengers.
- May not have brakes: Some single-axle trailers have no brakes and may pose safety concerns. Other buyers may want to consider adding new brakes, an extra cost that might be outside your budget.
- Hard on tires: Smaller trailers put more pressure on the tires. The weight distribution should be a consideration, as you may experience some wear and tear over time.
- May not have suspension: Some single-axle trailers do not include suspensions, making the ride a bit bumpier.
- Lack of length: A smaller single-axle trailer may not hold as much luggage as you need. The lack of space for a larger family or group may mean you need a bigger size or dual-axle trailer.
Pros of Dual-Axle Trailers
Many customers appreciate dual-axle trailers for their large size and ability to handle a high number of people and supplies. Dual-axle trailers also have several benefits besides size and weight capacity.
- Stability: Dual-axle travel trailers use their weight distribution to improve strength and reduce swaying during the drive. Many come with four tires and an improved suspension system that makes the trailer safer for you and your passengers. Some customers even install extra anti-sway bars that help the trailer drive in windy areas.
- Braking: Dual-axles come with built-in brakes in either electric or hydraulic configurations. Electric brakes often use the trailer’s electrical system to power the mechanism. Hydraulic brakes contained within the vehicle make towing safer while improving stopping and starting.
- Fewer tire issues: With extra tires, dual-axle trailers are easy to change in the case of a blowout. You may not feel the effect of one flat tire with spare tires assisting the drive.
Cons of Dual-Axle Trailers
While dual-axle travel trailers come with various helpful features and essential benefits, every customer should consider these potential drawbacks.
- Increased fuel usage: Because of their increased size, many dual-axle trailers use more fuel than single-axle travel trailers. Some customers outfit their trailers with composites that make for a light and durable build to save fuel.
- More maintenance: The trailer’s extra tires and size may require more maintenance over time.
- Not as easy to navigate: Because they are larger, many double-axle trailers may not be as easy to navigate, fit into tight parking spaces or make sharp turns.
- More tolls: Using a dual-axle trailer may result in higher tolls or fees on the highway. Some toll roads choose their prices by measuring the vehicle’s weight and finding the number of axles on the trailer. A dual-axle trailer may end up costing more than a single-axle trailer.
Determining Which Type of Trailer Is Right for You
A travel trailer’s weight capacity is one of the best ways to find the correct choice for your needs. Often, a single-axel trailer’s weight limits don’t have the flexibility for higher demands and are much better suited for lighter supplies and fewer passengers. On the other hand, double-axle trailers can handle heavy weights and more passengers.
Depending on how many people you plan to travel with and how much you are willing to tow, either trailer may be a good decision. It all hinges on how much you want the trailer to carry, as an overloaded trailer could result in an accident. To determine which type of trailer to use, you’ll want to look closely at gross combined weight, tongue weight and hitches.
Gross Combined Weight
A vehicle’s gross combined weight includes the total weight the trailer can handle. It can be imperative when choosing a trailer that can fit your supplies and passengers. To calculate the GCW, add the towing vehicle’s weight and the weight of the luggage, occupants and fully loaded trailer. Compare this number to the manufacturer’s GCW rating to see if the weight capacity is within a safe range. If the number is below the GCW rating, the size of the trailer is right for you, but if it is above the rating, you may want to consider a larger trailer.
Another factor to consider is tongue weight, which measures the weight on the hitch. Try to have the least amount of weight resting on the hitch as possible, as a high tongue weight could cause the joint to sway or negatively impact steering. The calculations may look different depending on whether you want a single or dual-axle trailer. You may have to purchase a tongue-weight scale for a dual-axle trailer.
Besides finding your trailer’s proper weight capacity, ensure you have correctly sized hitch balls. The size should correspond to the trailer’s size and length. While smaller trailers may use a smaller hitch, a large trailer often needs a special hitch to fit the size, as an ill-fitting hitch ball may accidentally detach while driving.
Shop Trailer Parts at Big Tex Trailer World
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