Trailer Axle Alignment/Tire Wear

Trailer Axle Alignment Made Easy

Fix Mysterious Trailer Tire Wear Problems

Does your trailer eat tires? Are you frustrated because no one knows why? If you’ve checked all the obvious things, it’s possible the axles are out of alignment on the trailer. If you are needing to replace those tires we have a selection of trailer tires and wheels in our parts department, but first check out the alignment of your trailer to get the most out of your trailer tires.

Check alignment of a multi-axle trailer               Check alignment of a single-axle trailer

Tools Needed:

You can find the problem at home with tools you probably already have, a tape measure and straightedge. For a straightedge, a good straight 2×4, or a piece of steel or pipe will all work, just make sure whatever you choose is straight by sighting down the edge. Use something about 8 feet long if you can. In these examples, we used angle iron. Hold the straightedge up against the bulge of the tire(s) as shown:
Trailer axle alignment check - as simple as a piece of angle iron.Any straight edge will work for a trailer axle alignment check

Multi-Axle Trailer Axle Alignment Check

In the case of a multi axle trailer, you are looking for all of the bulges of the tires to make contact with the straightedge, or to be very close, say within 1/8″. If there are larger gaps between the bulges and the straightedge, it indicates a bent axle, a bent spindle, or a bent wheel. (Check for a bent wheel by jacking the tire off the ground and giving it a spin. If it’s bent, you’ll see it wobbling) You can sort of read those gaps to identify what the problem is. You can also learn how to identify what is right so you don’t spend money fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. Here’s an example of using the straightedge to find a bent axle spindle just by reading the gaps between the straightedge and the bulges of the tires.

Check multi axle tires with a straight edge.

Note the large gap on the top of the photo.

large gaps are signs of mis alignment

Close up. Approximately ½” of gap

When this trailer goes down the road, it is sort of skidding that one tire, causing heat to build up, and friction to wear the rubber. Friction will wear the tread down, and the heat will eventually cause the tire to de-laminate and fail by blowout or tread separation.

Use the straightedge and a tape measure to find out if your axles are in alignment to the trailer. Here are some illustrations to teach you how to use the straightedge and tape measure to figure out why your tires may be failing due to mis-alignment of the axles.

Common Alignment Problems

Using the following diagrams you can determine your trailer axle alignment problem and get the proper parts to fix your trailer.

Bent Spindle

Bent axle spindles often cause only one wheel to be out of alignment.
If you need trailer spindle parts, search our parts department for trailer axle spindles.

Bent Trailer Axle

A bent axle causes a number of handling and tire wear problems, one side and then the other.

Determine which axle is bent using your straightedge and tape measure.

If you need to replace or repair a trailer axle, our parts department features trailer axle assemblies and trailer axle repair parts.

Use the straight edge and tape measure to determine the bent axle.

If you need to replace or repair a trailer axle, our parts department features trailer axle assemblies and trailer axle repair parts.

Bent or Out of Alignment Trailer Frame

Measure the angles on the frame to determine alignment.
Trailers with mis-aligned frames can cause numerous problems, trailers that “dog track” down the highway or are impossible to back up are often mis-aligned.

Trailer Axles out of Alignment

axles misaligned to frame

Shifted axles on a trailer is common on boat trailers because the axles are frequently attached to the frame using U-Bolts that can shift during assembly, maintenance or just during everyday use. Our trailer parts department carries a variety of trailer suspension parts to get you fixed up and working again.

Single Axle Trailer Axle Alignment Check

The only difference here is that we aren’t comparing the alignment of the tires to each other, but we are comparing the alignment of the tire to the trailer frame to make sure it runs parallel to the frame. Use your same straightedge as before:
Using a straightedge and tape measure to check trailer axle alignment.

Check measurement from straightedge to frame behind the tire.Check measurement from straightedge to frame in front of the tire.

Measure from the straightedge to the frame in front of the wheel and record the measurement. Next measure from the straightedge to the frame in back of the wheel and compare the two measurements. Both dimensions should be the same. Do the same on both sides of the trailer to complete your trailer axle alignment check.

Back to Trailer Repair & Maintenance How To

Based in Centreville, Maryland, Centreville Trailer Parts LLC wants to be a leader for all things needed to keep trailers in good working order. We have parts for all kinds of trailers, such as boat trailers, car trailers, enclosed trailers, horse trailers and large tractor trailers. Centreville Trailer Parts LLC has local trailer parts stores serving customers in Maryland & Virginia and online trailer parts store serving customers worldwide.

Do you have a trailer troubleshooting, repair or maintenance question – submit it here.