Spring vs. Torsion Trailer Axles, Which is Best?
The two primary types of trailer axles available are the spring and torsion type axle. As you explore your options for a new trailer, and what you are going to use it for, it is important to understand the difference between these and what applications each is best suited to meet.
A trailer is just a trailer, right? Well, if you have been following our articles for long you know that is simply not the case, especially when you are talking about utility trailers. Among many other options available are the types of trailer axle you may choose.
The Spring Trailer Axle
Spring axles are some of the most commonly used, and easiest to recognize. They are generally the cheapest to install and maintain as well, part of why they are popular.
The spring trailer axle is constructed of curved metal spring leaves. The load rating will determine how many leaves are in the spring construction.
Some of the benefits of a spring construction include:
- Easily maintained by swapping our parts, including spring leaves.
- Inexpensive to manufacture and install.
- Provide dependable tire wear, including on multi-axle trailers.
- No welding to replace an entire axle.
Spring axles are best suited for utility trailers needed for drier and smoother loads and rides. Saltwater and high moisture applications will cause the leaves to rust and break quickly.
The Torsion Axle
Torsion axles are wholly different than spring axles. There are no spring leaves to rust or crack in these applications.
Rather, a square cross member is mounted across the width of the trailer. Inside this cross member is an inner square piece that mounts to the wheel. This is mounted with four torsion bars, which are long rubber cords.
As the wheel moves up and down on the road it rotates the inner square. As this rotates, it flexes the torsion bars, bringing the wheel back to the center.
The rubber torsion bars are why these trailer axles are perfect for high moisture applications. Rubber does not tend to corrode as quickly as metal.
Torsion axles are also available in a half-span option, which does not span the entire width of the trailer. Rather, each wheel has its own torsion axle half welded to the frame at the wheel. This allows for greater independence of each wheel.
Some of the benefits of torsion axles include:
- No metal on metal parts
- No maintenance required
- Less road noise
- Corrosion-resistant due to galvanization
- Warranty typically lasts longer than spring axles
One Size Does Not Fit All
As you can see, there is no one option for trailer axles that will fit every application perfectly. Rather, knowing how you will regularly use your trailer will help you determine which axle type you need. Consider these common applications for each type of axle.
Spring axles are best for:
- Heavy loads
- Multiple axles
- Standard road travel
Torsion axles are better for:
- Salty water environments, like boat trailers
- Windy conditions
- Exceptionally rough or bumpy roads
- Applications with a lot of vibration, like wood chippers
Making Your Choice
It can be difficult to decide which type of axle you need. Many people jump right to spring axles because they are the most common. However, they may leave you disappointed in the end.
The best thing you can do is work with the specialists at USA Trailer to evaluate your need. Armed with this information, they will be able to look at the options and steer you toward the axle that will help you meet your need consistently. With locations throughout the lower Michigan peninsula, our team is positioned to help you make the best choice for your next utility trailer.