Torsion or Spring Axle? Towable or Fifth Wheel?


Torsion or Spring Axle? Towable or Fifth Wheel?

Just some of the questions which need to be asked and answered on your Recreational or custom trailer selection journey.


May 14, 2024 

When it comes to recreational and custom commercial vehicles, the choice between a fifth wheel and a towable trailer often boils down to personal preference, towing capacity/capability, and desired features. However, one critical component that can significantly impact your decision is the type of suspension system your unit employs. There are currently two common axels styles: torsion and spring. Torsion axles and spring axles each have their own set of pros and cons. We’ll take some time in this blog to feature the differences between them and how they can influence your choice between a fifth wheel and a towable trailer.

Torsion Axles: Smooth and Maintenance-Free

Torsion axles utilize a rubberized suspension system that absorbs shock and provides a smoother ride compared to traditional spring axles. This design provides independent suspension for each wheel, thus eliminating metal-to-metal contact which reduces noise and vibration while enhancing comfort during travel.

One of the primary benefits of torsion axles is their maintenance-free nature. Unlike spring axles, which require periodic greasing and inspection of leaf springs and shackles, torsion axles demand minimal upkeep. This feature appeals to many trailer owners seeking hassle-free maintenance and peace of mind during long journeys to rest destinations or base camps.

Another advantage of torsion axles is their lower ride height, resulting in a more aerodynamic profile for the RV and commercial trailers. This can lead to improved fuel efficiency and reduced wind resistance, especially when towing at highway speeds. Additionally, the lower center of gravity enhances stability, reducing the risk of sway and rollover accidents.

Spring Axles: Traditional and Customizable

Spring axles, on the other hand, have been a staple in the RV industry for decades. This time-tested suspension system relies on leaf springs and shock absorbers to support the weight of the trailer and absorb road imperfections. Although spring axles are not as smooth as torsion axles, spring axles do offer excellent load-bearing capacity and can be customized to suit specific towing requirements.

One of the key advantages of spring axles is their versatility. RV and trailer manufacturers can easily adjust the suspension setup to accommodate different load capacities and trailer lengths. Additionally, spring axles are often preferred for heavy-duty applications, such as hauling construction equipment, disaster recovery, agriculture, livestock, etc. where robustness and durability are paramount.

Moreover, spring axles are generally more cost-effective to repair and replace compared to torsion axles. Since leaf springs and components are readily available and relatively simple to install, owners can save both time and money on maintenance and repairs. So, on to choosing trailer styles pertaining to axle styles.

Choosing Between Fifth Wheels and Towable Trailers.

Fifth Wheels:

Fifth wheels typically employ torsion axles due to their smoother ride and lower maintenance requirements. These large trailers are designed to be towed by pickup trucks equipped with a specialized hitch mounted in the bed. The enhanced stability and maneuverability provided by torsion axles make fifth wheels an attractive option for long-term camping and full-time living.

Additionally, the raised front section of a fifth wheel allows for spacious and luxurious interiors, with amenities such as multiple bedrooms, full-size appliances, and slide-out sections for added living space. This makes fifth wheels ideal for families or couples seeking a home away from home while exploring the great outdoors.

Towable Trailers:

Towable trailers encompass a wide range of RV and custom commercial trailer types, including travel trailers, studio suites, marketing, and toy haulers. Spring axles are commonly found in these trailers, offering versatility and cost-effectiveness for both manufacturers and owners. Towable trailers appeal to a diverse audience, from weekend warriors seeking adventure to retirees embarking on cross-country journeys to those who provide mobile commercial solutions to a myriad of industries.

Travel trailers, in particular, are well-suited for towing behind a variety of vehicles, including SUVs, trucks, and even some larger sedans. With layouts ranging from compact and lightweight to spacious and luxurious, travel trailers cater to different preferences and budgets. Additionally, the availability of slide-outs, outdoor kitchens, and other amenities enhances the camping experience for enthusiasts of all ages.


Therefore, when deciding between a fifth wheel and a towable trailer, it’s essential to consider not only your towing capacity and lifestyle but also the type of suspension system that best suits your needs. Torsion axles offer a smoother ride and lower maintenance requirements, making them ideal for fifth wheels seeking comfort and convenience. Meanwhile, spring axles provide versatility and durability, making them a popular choice for a wide range of towable trailers. Hopefully this information will help you understand the differences between these suspension systems, so you can make an informed decision that enhances your experience.


For more information about these and other topics, email us at [email protected] or call us at 800.999.1902. Happy hunting!







….from your friends at Workforce by RBD


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