Trailers are a great way to have an insulation setup. You will save on vehicle maintenance costs and have the versatility to use your truck for things other than insulating. We tow a 29′ long trailer across the US with a 3/4 ton diesel. We do not notice any real sway and sometimes we forget that we are towing 7,500 pounds behind us. This is, all the more reason, to make sure that your trailer is set up correctly.
Here is a priority list for you to consider when setting up your trailer. Please, do not skip over a category, thinking to yourself, “I am good with that!” Make sure you know the real answers to the following questions:
1. Do You KNOW your Weight!
I cannot emphasize this enough. Now the weight of your trailer and its carrying capacity. DO NOT guess or mentally calculate the material in your trailer. Know, definitively, how much your loaded trailer weighs. You can do this by finding a local truck scale which will either have a minimal charge, or even let you weigh it for free since you do not need certification.
We have had certified mechanics tell us that we were fine. We found out the hard way. NO ONE can tell you that you are “fine” unless they know the actual weight of your trailer when it is fully loaded.
2. Are Your Axles Within Your Weight Requirements?
We had a certified trailer mechanic replace our springs. Unfortunately, the mechanic did not consider the weight of the contents in our trailer and gave us only what the trailer minimally required. They even told us, “You will never have to replace your springs! These are better than OEM!” Well… after a tire blow-out, a bent frame and another tire on the verge of a blow-out, we know better.
Know how much weight can your trailer hold. Every new trailer has a weight information card that shows the weight of your trailer (empty) and a cargo carrying capicity (CCC). If you do not have access to that information, you can count the lug nuts on your wheels.
If you have 5 lugs, then your axle is rated to hold a maximum of 3,500 pounds. So, if you have two-5 lug axles, then you are rated to told a maximum of 7,000 pounds.
If you have 6 lugs, then your axle is rated to carry a maximum of 5,200 pounds. So, if you have two-6 lug axles, then you are rated to hold a maximum of 10,400 pounds.
If you have 8 lugs, then consult the Manufacturer plate attached to the axle tube. It may be either a 6,000 or 7,000 rating.
3. If I am purchasing a new trailer, should I get a torsion axle, or spring axle?
A torsion axle is the best axle. You will have very little maintenance with these axles. You will pay a little more for these axles, but they are the best and will offer very good service. Note this video below:
Springs. Springs are the most common axles. They are still great choices and will serve you well. Yet, they WILL need your attention. Crawl under your trailer at least twice a year to make sure that the springs are not broken and the shaft bolts have tight nuts.
Two common, but dangerous, misconceptions:
- “The more leaves I have, the better!” Not necessarily true. Springs are measured, not simply by the number of springs, but also by the thickness of the springs.
- “I can increase my trailer carrying capacity if I get springs that are rated much higher than needed.” While you are able to get some increase, do not go crazy here. You can snap your wheel shaft if you get overrated springs. My personal opinion (please check with a mechanic), is that you can go about 500 pounds higher for each axle, maximum. So, that means, if you have a 5 lug wheel, then don’t use springs over a 2,000 pound-rating.