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Torsion vs Spring Trailer Axles

Torsion VS Spring Trailer Axles, what is better?

Both Torsion (sometimes referred to as Torflex, which is Dexter’s brand of torsion axle) and conventional spring suspensions have both been in use for a long time on cargo and utility trailers.

Every day, our customers ask us; which is better? Unfortunately the answer isn’t a always a clear-cut recommendation. Both types of axles have their own list of advantages and disadvantages, and we usually make a recommendation based on our customer’s intended use, and the significance of downtime in their operation.

Torsion Axles;

Torsion axles utilize the torsional (or twisting) strength of a square steel solid rod, surrounded on all four sides by high density rubber that is injected into an outer tube during construction. It is an independent suspension system, which allows you to jack your trailer up by riding up on an object, such as a Trailer-aid or blocks of wood.

Advantages;

- Less “Spring Hop” on lighter weight and empty trailers.

- Fewer moving parts (No shackle straps, Equalizers, or leaf springs to maintain or replace)

- Longer warranty periods from most manufacturers

- Can be ordered in a range of arm articulations; allowing you to raise or lower the ride height of the trailer.

- Can easily use jacking devices such as trailer-aid or blocks of wood to change flat tires

Disadvantages

- Cannot be welded to (it will melt the rubber inside). This makes for a low level of service-ability.

- In the event you break an axle, lead time is usually 2-3 weeks as it is unlikely a local service facility will have a torsion axle in-stock with the exact specs to match your trailer.

- Higher up-front cost

Spring Axles are the most common trailer suspension and running gear system that we see. They include a straight or drop axle beam with spindles welded on the end, and a traditional leaf spring attached with U-bolts. They are straight-forward, parts can usually be found locally, and the up-front cost is lower for manufacturers of new trailers. On tandem and tri-axle setups, they include a center equalizer that is designed to lower one axle as the other raises. This means they are not an independent suspension system, and using a jack device for tire changing will require the strategic placing of a couple small blocks of wood to get both wheels off the ground on the same side.

Advantages

- In the event of a catastrophic failure, usually a spring axle can be found in-stock that will work or can be modified to work, preventing extensive downtime.

- Serviceable components allow you to replace broken or worn leaf springs, suspension equalizers, or shackle straps.

- Cost is lower

- Equalization of axles prevents a “load spike”, where all the weight of the trailer is on one axle for a short period (typically in off-road situations, or hopping a curb or large speed bump).

Disadvantages

- Cost of replacing shackles, equalizers, and leaf springs over the life span of the trailer will be higher than a torsion axle that lacks these components, and the time it takes to replace them will add up over the years; whether you do it yourself or higher a local service garage.

- Not as smooth of a ride, especially on light weight and empty trailers

- More moving parts, and therefore more items wearing out and potentially failing

- Shorter warranty periods from most manufacturers

Our typical recommendation is to stick with spring axles for heavy, every-day commercial use where downtime will cost you a lot in lost business, and torsion axles for most other applications. If you do depend on the use of your trailer every day but like the low maintenance advantages of a torsion axle, you could stock a replacement torsion axle beam specific for your trailer to prevent lost time in the event you do have an issue. If you do this, just make sure you keep the spindles dry and lubricated to prevent rust and pitting where the bearings will ride in the future.