If you are looking to buy a new hotshot trailer, one of the important decisions you have to make has to do with the suspension. There are two types of suspension used on most trailer axles: leaf spring and torsion spring. If you are having difficulty deciding between the two, this guide will help.

Leaf Spring Axle

Due to their affordability, many trailer manufacturers use leaf spring axles on all makes and models of trailers. This type of axle uses metal leaf springs stacked on top of each other, under or over the axle beam to provide added support to the trailer. Leaf spring axles can be in single, tandem and tridem configurations. In both tandem and tridem configurations, the leaf springs are connected by an equalizer bar which helps distribute the weight more evenly across all the axles. The equalizer bar helps reduce the damage on the axles caused by uneven weight when traveling on a bumpy road.

Pros

  • Even wear and tear of tires on multi-axle configurations
  • Parts are readily available and easy to repair or replace
  • With built-in equalizer bar for even weight distribution
  • More affordable to buy

Cons

  • Leaf springs are made up of many components that may need more frequent repairs
  • Results in a bouncy ride on rough roads
  • Can be noisy due to metal components

Torsion Axle

This type of axle is mounted directly to the trailer frame. Instead of leaf springs, torsion axle is composed of four rubber cords installed in the axle tubing. The rubber cords work to create suspension, provide shock absorption and resist torsion. As you drive, the rubber cords compress to reduce vibration, making the ride smoother. With torsion axles, each wheel works independently from the others. And without an equalizer, it is possible that one wheel will carry more weight than the other wheels if the trailer is navigating an uneven road. This can contribute to the wear and tear of the wheels.

One of the drawbacks of torsion axles is that they are not repairable or replaceable because of the way they are constructed. If the axle breaks, you’ll need to replace the entire suspension system and install a new one. This can be costly.

Pros

  • Produces a quiet and smoother ride
  • Improves trailer rigidity as the axle is bolted or welded on the trailer frame
  • Better handling control in crosswinds
  • Does not require frequent parts maintenance except for lubrication

Cons

  • Not repairable and expensive to replace
  • If the axle is severely bent, it can also damage the trailer frame
  • No impact distribution so it’s possible that only one wheel gets the full impact, say if you hit a curb

To Recap:

  • Compactness – Torsion spring suspension is more compact than leaf spring suspension. The latter takes up more space and adds more weight to your trailer.
  • Repairability – Torsion springs can’t be repaired and should be replaced once damaged. Leaf springs can be repaired; however, they require more maintenance.
  • Cold weather – A torsion spring does not perform as well as a leaf spring in cold weather because the former causes its rubber to lose elasticity.
  • Balanced load – Leaf spring axles feature a built-in equalizer, which means that even if the axles become misaligned when running on a rough patch of road, the axles will still carry the same weight. This keeps the load balanced and this is beneficial to your tire in the long run. Torsion spring axles do not have this feature so there is a possibility that one tire will hold more weight than the others, leading to heat build-up and possible tire blowout.
  • Clearance – Torsion axles are generally lower to the ground than leaf spring axles. With a lower center of gravity, torsion axles offer better cornering and improved handling.
  • Smooth ride – Torsion axles have rubber cushions, producing a smoother ride than leaf spring axles.

Ultimately, your decision between leaf spring and torsion axles has to do with your intended use. If you plan to haul different loads and across different terrains, leaf spring axles are a good fit. The built-in equalization feature of a leaf spring makes a big difference. Moreover, leaf spring axles are also less expensive, durable and easy to repair.

On the other hand, if you are hauling lighter loads and travel mostly on highways, it’s good to consider getting a trailer with torsion axles to keep your maintenance cost down.