Apr 18, 2023

Tag Axle vs. Pusher Axle: What’s The Difference?

Tag Axle vs. Pusher Axle: What’s The Difference?

In this world, a handful of rivalries have transcended mere petty conflict and approached something resembling greatness. Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr. The Packers vs. the Bears. Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader.

Today, the team at Fullbay would like to make an addition to that list: tag axle vs. pusher axle.

Admittedly, tag axles and pusher axles are inanimate objects, so they aren’t able to have a rivalry in any meaningful way. But while each of these lift axle types can help your trucks carry heavier loads than usual, they have a few key differences you’ll need to think about.

Here’s what you should know about tag axles, pusher axles, and the legendary feud we definitely didn’t just make up.

Lift Axle 101: Tag Axles and Pusher Axles

Before you can pick a side in the tag axle vs pusher axle debate, you’ll probably want definitions of these two lift axle varieties. So let’s dive in!

The NTEA describes a tag axle as an “auxiliary axle installed in conjunction with the rear axle(s) of a truck chassis.” If you add a tag axle when your truck is raised, you’ll get a shorter wheelbase and a reduced turning radius. Installing these axles with your truck lowered will give you a longer wheelbase (as well as the opportunity to fit a longer body).

Pusher axles are broadly similar to tag axles—with one key distinction. While tag axles are installed behind your drive axles, pusher axles are installed in front of them. A pusher axle’s position ahead of your front drive axle allows it to give the chassis extra stability during turns.

On the other hand, a tag axle can take some weight off your rear drive axles when your truck is fully loaded, due to its spot near the back of your wheelbase.

When to Use a Tag Axle vs. a Pusher Axle

Both tag and pusher axles are designed to increase truck payloads while enhancing weight distribution. Each of these axle types is non-powered and can be stationary or liftable. But despite the similarities between these auxiliary axles, you shouldn’t pick between pusher and tag axles arbitrarily.

Since auxiliary axles often appear on vocational vehicles, let’s imagine you’re deciding whether a dump truck in your fleet should have a tag or pusher axle (or whether or not it needs an extra axle at all).

Consider factors like:

  • Your truck’s duty cycle
  • How a tag or pusher axle will help distribute weight
  • Potential gains in efficiency
  • How much time your vehicle spends off-road
  • The effect of added axles on maneuverability

Along with these points, take some time to look into the legal restrictions that apply to your fleet. In some states, truckers are encouraged to spread their vehicle’s weight over multiple axles to protect roads and bridges. If you work in one of these states, you’ll essentially be required to use auxiliary lift axles (and possibly even a specific type of lift axle).

If your fleet operates in multiple states, things can get a bit more complicated. In this situation, your best bet is to equip your vehicles for the higher state limit but load them to the lower limit when necessary.

Finally, know that using auxiliary axles can have a few drawbacks. Having extra axles on your heavy-duty vehicle will take up frame space and make your truck more complex. And while these axles can help with maneuverability in some ways, the presence of extra tires on your truck can also introduce a “scrubbing” effect.

Choose the Right Axle—and the Right Software

So maybe tag axles and pusher axles aren’t really at the center of a heated rivalry. These are very similar components, which are primarily differentiated by their positions on heavy-duty vehicles and how they help distribute loads. But “tag axle vs. pusher axle” is still a crucial decision for your fleet, so we hope all this info helps you choose wisely.

If you’re looking for actual competition in the trucking world, look no further than the field of heavy-duty repair software. You’ll find a handful of options out there created with fleet managers’ needs in mind, but not all of these programs are equally high in quality.

Fullbay stands out from the crowd by offering fleet maintenance and management features like GPS mileage tracking, service order workflow guides, and easy-to-understand reporting. With thorough guided inspections and PM tracking, you’ll keep trucks on the road where they belong. Set up your demo right now to see how Fullbay’s software can support your fleet!

Emilie Vecera