Should I Buy a Single Axle or Tandem Axles? | Everything You Need to Know

By reading this blog, we’d assume that you don’t have a clue about which type suits your use case. We also think that you have a lot of questions running through your mind right now. Where can you find it? Is one type better than the other?

So, what exactly is a single or tandem axle? A single axle is just one axle with a wheel connected at each end, while a tandem axle has two or more axles. The choice between single or tandem solely relies upon you.

Choosing whether to get a single or tandem axle for your caravan or trailer can require a significant amount of research and time. While there are advantages and disadvantages related to both so we did the research and found out a few things you need to know!

Is A Single Axle Worth It?

Like many things in life, a single axle also has pros and cons. We have compiled the advantages and disadvantages of going for a single axle caravan or trailer. These are the advantages of a single axle:

  • Lower tow weights
  • A lighter weight means the fuel economy is better
  • Cheaper to purchase
  • Easier to park in a tight spot
  • Less expensive to maintain (i.e. tyres. bearings, and etc.)
  • Easier for cornering/increased manoeuverability
  • Ability to move by hand

While its disadvantages are:

  • Increased pitching and bounce on the tow ball
  • Less weight can be carried
  • Trailers below 750 kg GTM are not required to have brakes and depends upon the owner (which is a safety issue)
  • Increased wear of tyres as the weight load per tyre is higher
  • No suspension means the load is subject to greater bounce

Is A Tandem Axle Worth It?

Yes. A tandem axle is worth it but it also has some shortcomings. Listed below are the advantages of owning a tandem axle caravan or trailer. These are:

  • Tows straighter
  • Increased stability for highway speeds
  • Increased durability
  • Less bounce on the hitch and contents
  • Better suspension
  • A flat tyre causes less hassle, the tyre can possibly be changed without a jack
  • 750-2000 kg GTM required to have brakes (which makes it safer)
  • When loaded properly, it will bounce less
  • Smoother to pull
  • Better resale value

While its disadvantages are:

  • Prone to swaying
  • Limited turning radius
  • Tyres can slide sideways and scrape (crabbing)
  • Increased cost for upkeep (i.e. more tyres and spares)
  • More expensive to purchase
  • Heavier to tow
  • Heavier weight (which also increases fuel consumption)
  • Unlikely to notice a blowout while driving that can result in the shredding of the tyre (unless you have tyre pressure monitors)
  • Required to have all wheels straight to prevent movement/twisting while unhitching

How Do They Compare?

Whether you purchase a single or tandem axle caravan/trailer will depend on your needs. If you are going to tow light weights every now and then, a single axle trailer should be sufficient.

However, if your towing over long distances, heavier weight loads or concerned about safety then a tandem axle is a better choice. Many caravan owners will say that investing in a tandem axle from the onset is a worthwhile investment.

What Are the Things That You Should Consider?

The most important thing that you should consider when choosing the type of axle for your caravan or trailer is the cost.

Even if you manage to find the single or tandem axle that perfectly suits your needs, you won’t have it if you can’t afford it. So, choose according to your budget. The other things to consider are:

  • Weight: if you are only going to be carrying light loads, a single axle will be sufficient. However, if you need to haul heavier loads then you are best off with a tandem.
  • Distance: if you travel only short distances, a single axle should suffice. While going on long distance trips or on highways would only make sense with a tandem axle.
  • Use: a single axle is perfect if you will only travel sparingly (once or twice every few months). However, if you plan to use it every weekend or multiple times in a month, you are better off with a tandem axle.
  • Suspension: this will greatly affect the tow quality along with the weight of your caravan or trailer.

What Are the Two Forms of Axles?

There are two forms of axles that are used on the majority of caravans/trailers, leaf sprung or torsion. Torsion axles are mounted onto the frame of the trailer. There are also four rubber cords in the axles tubing which helps to assist the torsion axle by creating suspension and providing shock absorption. While leaf spring axles is a shackle that is a fundamental component of the suspension system, which attaches the leaf spring and the vehicle frame.

What Are the Things That You Should Remember?

In order to prolong the life of the axle and lessen the need for maintenance, you should:

  • Make sure not to overload the weight of your vehicle. This is more important with single axles with no brakes.
  • The width of your vehicle may require you to have wide towing mirrors which are required by law.
  • Consider the width of the trailer/caravan, a good rear view makes it easier to reverse.
  • Use anti-seize lug nuts to make it easier when changing tyres.

How Do I Tow Properly?

Towing properly might sound simple but there is really a lot of subtleties on how to properly do it. Here are some tips and tricks on how to tow properly. You should remember:

  • When reversing, turn the back of the tow vehicle to the left so that the trailer/caravan will turn to the right and vice versa. Do it slowly to be sure not to oversteer. Have someone at the rear to direct and keep an eye out just in case.
  • Practice makes perfect when it comes to towing and reversing. So, if you’re don’t know how to go find an open parking space/area and set up some ‘fake garages’ or ‘parking spots’ to get the hang of manoeuvering.
  • Be careful when you accelerate as the rate at which it increases is significantly reduced, due to the extra weight
  • Make sure to leave a decent gap between you and vehicles in front, as it may take a little longer to come to a stop due to the extra weight you are carrying
  • When overtaking be sure there is sufficient space for you and your towing vehicle
  • Always check your mirrors and blind spots
  • Decrease your speed when going downhill and it will reduce the need for heavy braking
  • To save fuel, moving the accelerator smoothly instead of dramatically will limit the excess use of petrol
  • Be observant of what is going on ahead to avoid unnecessary or emergency braking
  • Increase your speed slightly on an incline to avoid excessive gear changes
  • When turning, your towing vehicle will take a shorter path, so take the widest path you can to avoid your towing vehicle cutting corners
  • Be steady on your steering wheel, sudden turning can cause more sway for your towing vehicle
  • Consider reloading your towing vehicle if it continues to sway too much

How Do I Recover from A Sway?

Recovering from a sway is an important thing to learn. It would also make your trips safer. Here are just 4 steps to recover your vehicle from a sway.

  1. Reduce your speed
  2. Hold the steering wheel straight (do not try to control the sway by turning the steering wheel)
  3. Do not brake or speed up
  4. Get to a safe place to stop, and adjust your load

How Can I Recognize the Signs of a Failing or Defective Axle?

You need to be aware of when your axle begins to show signs of wear and tear so that you are able to proactively prevent any serious accidents from occurring. The things to look out for include:

  • Clicking, clanking, grinding noises when turning
  • Grease on the inside edge of your tire, as well as on the underside of the vehicle
  • Excessive vibrations when driving

If you notice any of these signs, it is best to get them checked out as soon as possible.

Related Questions

Can I Upgrade My Trailer Axle?

Yes, there is the possibility of upgrading your single axle trailer to a tandem trailer however there will be significant costs and labour associated with this upgrade.

How Should the Weight Be Distributed When Loading?

Place your heavier cargo forward, in front of the axle(s). Centre the load left to right and secure anything/everything to prevent it from sliding. Evenly distributing the weight across the load bed of the vehicle will help reduce the sway when travelling.

Are There Any Towing Restrictions?

You can drive a car or van up to a maximum authorized mass (MAM) of 3,500kg, when towing a trailer of up to 750kg MAM. You need to ensure that the combined MAM of the trailer/caravan and towing vehicle is no more than3,500kg.

Which Vehicles Have A Tow Capacity in Excess Of 2,000kg?

There are a limited number of vehicles with a towing capacity of more than 2000kg. We have listed a few vehicles that have an advertised towing capacity of between 2,000kg to 3,500kg

  • Land Rover Defender
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Range Rover
  • Mitsubishi Shogun
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Toyota Landcruiser
  • Isuzu Trooper
  • Kia Sorento

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James Mitchell

Hi, I’m Jimmy Mitchell and I love exploring this great country with my wife and two boys. I have a 2015 Sterling LX that is the Mitchell Family camping machine. Lets Getaway is the website where I share things about my trailer as I learn them, and help other camper owners to enjoy their RV even more.

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