Tri-axle trucks & trailers are used in logistics for transporting heavy loads. Their smart design allows for increased stability and makes them a popular choice for transporting many types of goods.

Learn more about what tri-axle trucks and trailers are, the various types of trucks, how they function, and why they’re used.

What is a Tri-Axle Truck & Trailer?

As you might guess from the name, a tri-axle truck or trailer has three axles. More specifically, it has three axles grouped together at the rear of the truck or trailer.

The multiple axles allow for a more stable distribution of weight. It also makes them perfect for transporting heavier loads safely. Some common examples of tri-axle trucks that you may have seen include dump trucks and tow trucks. For ocean containers that are heavier, a tri-axle chassis will be utilized by the drayage trucker in order to haul the container legally.

One of the most common tri-axle designs that you will find is a tandem axle with an air-lifted third axle. With this type of design, a truck driver can lift the axle up and down with controls in the cab. The tri-axle design allows the tire to be off the ground when there is no load. 

The advantage of being able to lift wheels off the ground is that when they are not needed to carry a heavy load, they are not used. This reduces wear on the tires and increases fuel efficiency.

Why Use a Tri-Axle Truck or Trailer?

Not all trucks & trailers were created equal. Different trucks and trailers can support different amounts of weight. Weight capacity is why many companies use tri-axle in their supply chain for transporting heavy goods. 

Typically, when a shipment of goods is in the 55,000-65,000 pound range, the weight-bearing limitations of a two-axle trailer simply won’t cut it. Using a tri-axle truck or trailer then becomes necessary. Beyond this, each state has different regulations pertaining to how much weight each set-up can carry.  Ocean containers–particularly 20 foot containers–that exceed legal weight limits will require a tri-axle chassis to be able to support the overweight container.

Each state maintains its own guidelines for the maximum weight that can legally be carried for each type of trailer set-up. Your business, therefore, needs to comply with the state guidelines and review where the weight cut-off is for needing a third axle on the trailer.  Having a drayman pickup the wrong chassis when a tri-axle was needed can be a costly mistake.

Tri-Axles Versus Quad-Axles

During your research about transporting heavy freight, you have probably come across quad-axle, as well as tri-axle. 

But what’s the difference? Well, the most obvious difference is that one has three axles and the other four. But they are used for different purposes as we will explain below.

Tri-Axle Trucks & Trailers

One of the advantages of tri-axle over quad-axles is that they are smaller and lighter and less expensive. 

Due to having fewer axles than a quad-axle, you’ll pay lower tolls for your vehicles and have a lower fuel bill.Tri-axles are more commonly used for local hauling. You will typically see them transporting heavy materials to construction sites. 

They can enter more confined spaces, meaning goods can more easily be delivered to their endpoint.

Quad-Axle Trucks & Trailers

Quad-axle trucks typically have two-powered and two-unpowered axles. 

Four axles mean that they can support heavier loads than tri-axles. A disadvantage is that their larger size means they often cost more to maintain. However, even with higher maintenance costs, they are still often the smarter choice for transporting heavy loads when they are traveling long distances.

You may find that freight required to cross state borders must comply with different regulations for load weights in each state. Therefore the quad-axle is the safe bet for complying across all states.

Tri-Axles Have Pros and Cons

Freight weight greatly impacts the trailer type you will want to operate. Heavier loads need to be on a tri or quad-axle. The additional axles provide greater stability. Not only is it safer to transport your loads with these vehicles, but most states also require it by law. Freight Management works with thousands of carriers nationwide who have access to and regularly haul shipments via tri-axle chassis.

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