Trailer Talk: Leaf Springs Or Torsion Axles?Nov 13, 2015
If you are in the market for a trailer, you probably are well aware of all the different styles, models and options available. You may be interested in an open deck trailer, an enclosed trailer or you simply want one to tow around your ATV or motorcycle. At any rate, all of the trailers for sale put you in the position of deciding which features are most important to your towing needs. While you weigh your options on the various trailer styles, you most definitely will want to know what kind of suspension it has. Think of it like a car or truck – some have sport-tuned suspensions, some are tuned towards off-roading and others could be tuned for comfort. When it comes to the suspension on your trailer, you will want to know how it will handle the roads as you tow it along!
With that said, All Pro Trailer Superstore has compiled all the information you need to know about two common types of suspension when it comes to general duty trailer axles. Read on to learn about leaf springs and torsion axles because both have unique advantages and some disadvantages when compared side-by-side.
The Pros and Cons of Leaf Springs
Leaf spring axles are quite common when it comes to a trailer suspension system because they tend to be more affordable to equip than torsion axles. However, they require more maintenance than torsion axles but at the same time, they are repairable whereas torsion axles are not; torsion axles must be completely replaced if they begin to show signs of failure. And not to mention, both require wheel bearing maintenance throughout their lifetime.
Leaf springs are comprised of series of metal springs that are curved, flat leaves that sit on top of one another in several layers. With that in mind, leaf spring axles take up additional space and add more weight to the trailer compared to the compact size of torsion axles. A trailer with torsion axles tends to be more straightforward as they feature an attached construction design with an adjustable ride height and a rubberized suspension. But, this is where the torsion can sometimes be at a disadvantage because the rubber inserts eventually lose strength and memory if a loaded trailer sit idle for too long. Additionally, torsion axles may experience premature wear and tear in extremely cold environments as the rubber can lose some elasticity.
The Pros and Cons of Torsion Axles
The fact that torsion axles feature a rubberized suspension can result in a smoother ride because the rubber cords inside the axle housing can provide for outstanding shock absorption and less vibration. When each wheel independently rolls over the bumps and grooves of the road, the rubber cords can individually compress to provide an even ride. But, if the load of the trailer is not evenly distributed, one tire may hold more weight than another and that can cause heat build-up and uneven tire wear. This can be an issue if the axles come out of alignment from riding over rough roads but if the trailer has a leaf spring system, the load will be balanced. Each axle carries the same amount of load due to the built-in weight equalizer and the nature of the metal springs. On top of that, a leaf spring set up will provide you with more dependable tire wear and a steady ride.
Like mentioned above, the torsion axle set up is directly bolted on the frame of the trailer and the additional cross structuring provides for a stiffer frame and cuts the flex from crosswinds. This also allows for torsion axle trailers to have a lower center of gravity with a ride closer to the ground. This results in better cornering and improved handling whereas the leaf spring set up will have the trailer sit higher. But then again, it’s worth mentioning again this can be a downside because the torsion cannot be repaired since it’s directly bolted to the trailer frame.
While torsion axles perform more smoothly during transit, they typically are only preferred for lighter loads with majority of the hauling limited to highway cruising. Leaf springs can give you the versatility of hauling heavier loads on surfaces that are rough, off-road or off highway. In addition, both forms of suspension require you to properly balance and load your trailer to get the best performance possible.
What Will You Choose
As you can see, leaf springs and torsion axles provide both pros and cons when compared to each other, but it is up to you to make the best, informed decision to accommodate your hauling needs. Keep this information in mind when checking out trailers for sale and be sure to ask what kind of suspension it features. You should consider the possibility of taking different trailers out for driving tests to get a feel for their performance and note their ride characteristics. This can help you determine which suspension set up will properly accommodate your towing needs!