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Are Trailer Axles Supposed To Be Bent?

If you own a trailer, you may be wondering if its axles should be bent. Luckily, we have consulted experts in this field, and here is what they have to say.

Trailer axles are supposed to be bent. All significant axle manufacturers give their axles a small bend known as a camber. You can clearly notice an upward bend in an axle if you look below a trailer.

Axles are graded according to their load capacity. An overly bent axle is not normal and should be fixed as soon as possible. Keep reading to get detailed information about trailer axles and why camber is important.

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Heavy loaded classic red big rig semi truck with high roof transporting commercial cargo at dry van semi trailer running on the straight wide divided multiline highway road for timely delivery, Are Trailer Axles Supposed To Be Bent?

Are Trailer Axles Supposed To Be Bent?

Big rig semi truck transporting cargo in dry van semi trailer with two axles running on the wide highway road

Axles are supposed to be bentWithout this bend, loading a vehicle or item of equipment onto the trailer would cause the axle to flex down, turning out the tires and wearing the inside of the tread pattern.

The majority of trailer axles feature a "bend" in the tube that will flex under the weight of the trailer when a load is applied. Theoretically, doing so will reduce the wheel camber to zero, which is the ideal configuration for most trailers. This will ensure that the tires wear uniformly.

A bend in a trailer axle is typically not a problem, depending on where the bend is. However, in situations where the bend is in an unusual area or extreme, you should contact a professional as quickly as possible to avoid further damage. 

How Much Camber Should A Trailer Axle Have?

Camber is very pivotal to the functional ability of your trailer axle. You should understand how it works. Camber is the vertical alignment of a vehicle's wheels with the ground measured.

A majority of trailer axles have very little or no camber. Some trailers would not need camber since they typically carry light loads. However, some caravan and horse float axles are made with about two degrees of positive camber to make up for when they are loaded.

How Do I Know If I Have A Bent Trailer Axle?

A bow in the middle of a circular axle should be pointing upward. If the tires are toed out at the bottom without any weight on the trailer, then the axle or spindle may be bent.

In addition, if the trailer has been struck or loaded, its frame might have been bent. If you can't find anything wrong yourself, you might want to take it to a trailer repair shop.

Good axles enable vehicles to run quietly and smoothly. A vehicle with a bent or fractured axle, will shake the vehicle and cause the steering wheel to vibrate.

It will also be unstable and noisy. Each of these signs means you should have your trailer checked for bent axle:

Vibration While Driving

A broken axle, a bent wheel, or an out-of-alignment tire is likely the cause of vibration, especially in the steering wheel.

Though it may just seem like a minor issue, vibration can cause more extensive damage to your car and increase the expense of repairs. Get your vehicle serviced if it has been in an accident or has hit a large pothole and is now vibrating while you are driving.

Strange Noise While Driving

While driving, if you hear sounds like clunking or clicking, your axles may be bent. This needs professional care and evaluation.

Can You Drive On A Slightly Bent Trailer Axle?

Semi trailer wheelbase chassis frame with trailer axles

Yes, you can drive on a trailer axle for a brief period of time if it is only slightly bent. However, be aware that there will likely be a lot of vibration, and since the bend makes it difficult for the axle to turn smoothly, it may eventually cause the tires to go bad.

If trailer axles are bent more than a quarter inch, you should not drive on them. Before you can drive on them safely, they should be replaced.

Driving on badly bent axles can the ruin wheel hubs and bearings of a trailer, especially if left unattended for too long. The severity of the damage will largely rely on how badly the axle is bent.

How Do You Fix A Bent Trailer Axle?

Most of the time, replacing the axle is the sole option when it gets bent. Your vehicle will eventually sustain additional damage as a result of a bad axle. However, unless the axle is seriously damaged, it does not need to be replaced.

Axle repair is feasible with the right welding abilities and attention to detail. In order to prevent the axle from warping, it is crucial to weld it after gradually straightening it.

When you have an axle that is not bent beyond repair, the steps listed below give a guide on how to get them fixed:

  1. Disassembled the axle to its bare housing and place it on a lathe.
  2. To ensure that the tubes are straight, you should inspect them. You can straighten them if they are bent.
  3. If the spindle end is bad while it is on the lathe, it should be replaced. Cut off the damaged spindle and weld on the new replacement after building the spindle end.
  4. Check to make sure the axle is straight after installing the new spindle. The truck will damage tires, break an axle, or damage the hub seal if the spindle is not on and within standards.
  5. Installing a new hub, bearing set, rotor, and seals would be the next step. The bearing and seal should be replaced on the opposing side, and the rotor should also be turned. 
  6. Paint the housing before it is filled with fluid and completed. 

Can You Adjust Camber On A Trailer?

Truck inspection and safety, Truck driver daily checking the semi truck trailer.

Yes, the adjustment of a trailer's camber can effectively be carried out by a professional. Camber issues typically manifest as handling or tire wear issues.

When a vehicle pulls to the side with the most positive camber, it's because all four wheels have some negative camber. 

Positive camber wears the tire's outside edge, whereas negative camber wears the tire's inside edge. However, some vehicles with strong negative camber don't exhibit this characteristic when combined with toe angles.

In order to balance traction and wear, camber angles are used. If your usage scenario requires greater cornering performance, the camber may need to be modified.

Adjusting A Camber 

Normally, camber is only assessed during a four-wheel alignment. The vehicle has optical reflectors in its wheels, which are detected by digital camera sensors and processed by a computer. The vehicle is fixed to a level alignment rack.

Basic adjustments are also made using a bubble level that shows the angle away from vertical and a magnetically mounted camber gauge that mounts to the wheel hub.

Depending on the vehicle's suspension and camber adjustment needs, there are many techniques. Similar to eccentric washer bolts, cam bolts enable you to use the off-center bolt to pull or push the suspension component in.

The upper or lower control arms on double-wishbone and multi-link independent suspensions may be moved using these. They could be used to modify the steering knuckle or lower control arm on McPherson strut suspensions.

Turn-buckle joints are occasionally used on front wishbone suspensions but are typically reserved for rear multi-link suspensions. Although they can be used in virtually any application, shim adjustments are typically found in front suspensions.

The aftermarket sells shims that offset the whole wheel bearing and hub assembly to rectify solid axles on rear suspensions. Last but not least, certain aftermarket ball joints have an eccentric mount that enables adjustability.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Bad Trailer Axle?

A Big Truck Wheels and Tires. Truck Spare Wheels Tyre Waiting For to Change. Trailer Maintenace and Repairing.

The cost to repair a trailer axle typically depends on the type of repair required and the number of sides to be worked on, the axle in question, and the mechanic you choose.

The costs will normally be in the $170 to $900 range or even more. The axle and shaft will typically need to be changed, and depending on the circumstances, it may only be necessary to change one side.

However, many mechanics advise changing both sides. Labor costs are usually anywhere from $100 to $200. Also, wheel alignment is something that some mechanics will include in their quotes, while others won't.

Depending on the brand and model of the trailer you drive and the repairs being made, you should be prepared to pay an additional fee if the mechanic does charge for an alignment. After an and/or axle replacement, a wheel alignment is typically not required.

To Wrap Up

It is important to understand that trailers have bent axles and that the bend helps ensure that the trailer is stable. You should repair an overly bent axle or axles that are bent in the wrong place.

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