Can You Drive A Dual Axle Trailer With 3 Tires? Is It Safe?

Dual axle trailers, sometimes called tandem axle trailers, are designed with two axles and four tires to distribute weight and improve stability compared to single axle trailers. In some situations, a tire failure may occur, leaving the trailer with only three operable tires – two on one side and one on the other side. There are significant safety considerations for operating a tandem axle trailer missing one tire. But yes, you can drive your dual axel trailer with 3 tires, but the exceeding weight can put significant wear and tear on your trailer, so it’s not recommended for longer distances.

This article explores regulations, precautions, troubleshooting tips, and alternatives for driving a trailer under these conditions.

Can You Drive A Dual Axle Trailer With 3 Tires

Is it Legal To Drive a Trailer with 3 Tires?

Before deciding to move a dual axle trailer missing one tire, it is important to understand the laws and potential consequences governing this situation in your region. Most areas require specific commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) for vehicles and trailers over certain weights. Operating overloaded or unsafe vehicles can result in citations, fines, or suspension of licenses and registration depending on severity. Some regions expressly prohibit driving with missing trailer tires. Research regulations thoroughly before towing the trailer even a short distance to avoid violations.

Drive a Trailer with 3 Tires

What are the Driving Considerations for Three Tire Trailers?

Handling and braking abilities are significantly impacted when a dual-axle trailer loses one tire. Extra precautions must be taken to safely operate the vehicle. Trailers missing one tire have shown up to a 50% increase in axle strain and over 25% reduction in braking power

Driving Considerations for Three Tire Trailers
Trailer System ImpactedNormal OperationOperation on 3 Tires
Load CapacityDesigned for up to 4,000 lb capacity with 4 tiresLimited to 3,000 lb capacity, exceeding risks failure
Axle StrainLoads distributed evenly across both axlesSingle axle experiences over 50% higher strain
Tire Load1,000 lb weight rating per tireRemaining 3 tires exceed weight rating by 33% each
Wheel BearingsSpin at highway speeds under normal weight load50% higher load causes faster wear and overheating
Braking PowerFull power to each wheel provides responsive controlAt least 25% power loss – greater stopping distances

Reduce speed limits considerably below normal towing speeds to account for decreased control. Increase following distance behind other vehicles – at minimum double the normal trailing distance to improve reaction times. Turning requires wider angles and very low speeds to avoid rollovers. Backing procedures also become more challenging. Distribute cargo evenly and avoid inclines when possible to reduce strain during transport. These measures will help mitigate risks but should not take the place of repairing the tire promptly.

How to Manage Increased Load on Trailer Systems?

When a dual axle trailer loses one of its four tires, the remaining three tires, axle, wheel bearings, and brakes all take on significantly higher weight loads and mechanical strain. Quantifying this increased stress helps us understand why precautions are essential.

Manage Increased Load on Trailer Systems
Towing SituationsWith 4 TiresTowing on 3 Tires
Highways/FreewaysUp to 60 mph where legalReduce limit to 35-45 mph
InclinesAscend/descend safely up to 6% gradeAvoid all inclines if possible
Following Distance Behind Other Vehicles4 seconds minimum suggestedIncrease to 8-10 seconds

For Tires

Each remaining tire absorbs 33% more weight compared to its load rating with four tires. For example, if the total trailer weight is 4,000 pounds, then each of the four tires bears 1,000 pounds. Take away one tire, and the remaining three must each manage 1,333 pounds. Tire pressure must increase slightly to help stabilize and prevent blowouts or separation from the higher heat and impacts.

For Axels

Similarly, axles contend with pulling all of that amplified trailer weight on just two tires per side rather than balanced across four total. The side missing a tire has 50% higher demands trying to handle the same trailer with less rotational stability. Trailer axles are only designed and tested to work within certain load thresholds before metal fatigue wears them down. Exceeding this strains materials beyond intended capacity.

For Wheel Bearings

The mechanical components relying on those axles also sustain escalated friction, speed, and stress exposure. Wheel bearings become hotter at highway speeds under bigger constant loads per wheel rotation. Their lubrication gets used up faster, bringing them closer to seizing or locking up entirely. Brake systems pressed harder to slow two tires instead of four experience quicker fading of pads or rotors as momentum energy converts to heat through extreme friction.

While driving on three tires, monitor these systems vigilantly for signs of excess strain.

How to Troubleshoot after Moving a Three-Tire Trailer

While the safest option is to have the tire replaced before continuing transport, it may become necessary to relocate the trailer for repair. In some areas, it is legal to use a compatible passenger vehicle tire as a temporary spare to improve safety at low speeds. 

Thoroughly inspect axles, wheels, tires, and bearings afterward for any damage that may have occurred when operating on three tires even for short distances. Cracks bends, gouges, leaks, squealing, and abnormal wear are indicators of excess strain. Compare wear patterns to other tires. Use jack stands to elevate and spin wheels to diagnose the extent of repairs needed. contracting professional mobile repair services can help diagnose and service-disabled trailers.

Additional Precautions to Take with a Three-Tire Trailer

Beyond troubleshooting damaged components, drivers must prioritize safety when operating a dual-axle trailer missing one tire. Distribute weight evenly inside the trailer, favoring the side with two tires if possible. Reduce speed limits below legal towing speeds by at least 15 mph. Plan routes avoiding steep inclines that could cause a rollover.

Allow 4-6 seconds of following distance behind other vehicles for improved reaction time. Take regular breaks to allow the remaining tires, bearings, axles, and brakes to cool. Park on level ground rather than slopes. These conservative precautions will provide a safety buffer.

Alternative Transportation Options for a Disabled Trailer

The best option is to replace the damaged tire and wheel assembly promptly so the trailer can be safely towed without putting excessive strain on the remaining components. But various alternatives exist in the short term or if repairs will take time. Roadside assistance plans and commercial towing services can transport disabled trailers to repair shops. Rental companies offer standard and heavy-duty trailers if cargo must be transported before fixing the original trailer. For recreational trailers, look into ridesharing services to transport passengers rather than towing with missing tires. This avoids putting them at risk in a damaged vehicle.

Summing Up

In conclusion, driving a dual axle trailer missing one tire is an emergency situation requiring temporary precautions and repair solutions. Understanding the risks, regulations, immediate troubleshooting, and alternatives allows drivers to navigate this safely by prioritizing repair over continued operation under strain.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *