What’s a single axle tractor?

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Single-axle tractors have one rear axle and are suitable for lighter loads, providing better gas mileage and maneuverability. They may tow large trailers and can have sleeper cabs.

A single-axle tractor is a tow vehicle that features one rear axle instead of two, which is common on most larger tow vehicles. While most dual or tandem axle tractors are used to haul extremely large loads, a single axle tractor is more likely to tow only a small or medium load compared to its larger counterparts. These tractors tend to get better gas mileage than larger tandem-axle trailers, though they can’t produce as much towing power. Depending on the trailer configuration, the single-axle vehicle can also be more maneuverable.

The rear axles on a tractor are typically driveshafts, which means that torque is produced on those axles and transferred to the road through the wheels and tires. A single axle tractor, therefore, will generally not produce as much torque as a tandem axle vehicle, making it suitable for lighter application tasks. Many small to medium-sized box trucks, which have fixed, frame-mounted boxes to enclose the products being shipped, will have only one rear driveshaft because two axles will not be necessary for the amount of products being transported. Trucks designed to tow heavier loads will have two drive axles.

Large trailers can also be towed by a single axle tractor. This is usually done with smaller or lighter trailers, and like tandem axle tractor trailer combinations, the single axle tractor trailer combination is likely to be articulated; This means that the trailer is connected to the tractor in such a way that the two units can pivot independently of each other. The articulation allows for better steering capabilities, as the combo unit is likely to be quite long; otherwise, the vehicle would not be maneuverable in all curves or turns. Having only one drive axle improves the handling of the tractor when cornering, and also improves the traction of the vehicle.

Like its larger counterpart, the single-axle tractor may or may not have a sleeper cab, although a tandem-axle tractor is less likely to have one. A sleeper cab is an extension behind the driver’s cab that can be fitted with a bed, chair, and even a table so the driver can sleep and live outside of the truck. This is generally reserved for long-haul truckers who will be making multi-day trips across a region, and in most cases, a tandem axle tractor will be used for such purposes. However, it is not uncommon for a single axle tractor to be used for such purposes.

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