Choosing a Tandem Axle Trailer Tire Jack: Wood, Polymer, Steel or Aluminum?

Posted by Debbie Stice on 6/16/2015 to Horse Trailer Know-Hows
Choosing a Tandem Axle Trailer Tire Jack: Wood, Polymer, Steel or Aluminum?

If your trailer is loaded, using a tandem axle tire jack is imperative for you and your animal's safety.  In some states, it is against the law to unload livestock on the side of a highway, because it is very dangerous for everyone involved---you, the animals, and the other motorists.  Someone is probably going to get hurt---or worse.  When you take your animals out of the safety of the trailer, you are risking injury because you can easily lose control of the situation.  If that doesn't deter you remember that injuries, to either you or your livestock, costs pain, money, loss of productivity and in some cases, even worse.

Do you believe in learning from other's mistakes?  A customer called us and said a nice man came over to help her jack her horse trailer up and change the flat tire for her.  All she had was the jack provided with the truck.  He proceeded, the jack slipped and the result was that he lost 3 fingers.  Just think for a moment how this unnecessary accident changed the life of everyone involved.

There are several models of these jacks on the market today,  constructed of polymer, aluminum, steel or you can make a homemade tire jack from  a 4' X 6" piece of wood.  After loosening the lugs nuts on the flat, the "good" tire on the same side of the trailer is driven up onto the tire jack.  It lifts the flat tire an inch or so off the ground and holds it there so you can change the tire. Then, the "good" tire is driven off the trailer jack, the new tire sits on the ground while the lug nuts on it are tightened. It's that simple and you are on the road again.

Do your research:  Determine the type and weight rating of the axles you have. You can find the weight rating info on the VIN tag, found near the front of your trailer:  two 3,500 lb. axles = 7,000 lb., two 5,000 lb axles = 10,000 lbs., etc.  Does the trailer have slipper spring suspension, leaf spring suspension, or torsion bar suspension?  Or, simply jack up the empty trailer and see how far up you have to jack the second tire in order to raise the first tire 1 inch off the ground. This determines how much lift you need.  Always estimate to the next inch higher, because it's likely that your trailer could be loaded to a different weight for every trip. You still need to factor in the trailer's weight rating.

Again, your choices are homemade wood, polymer, aluminum or steel.  For a light bumper-pull 6', 8', 10' or 12' long cargo trailer, or a two-horse straight-load trailer with slipper or leaf spring axles, choose a small jack model.  For a medium-size bumper-pull 2 or 3 or 4 horse with 3,500 lb. leaf or slipper spring axles, choose a small jack. For the majority of these trailers, a polymer Trailer-Aid will work fine, lifting the good tire on a loaded trailer 4 inches off the ground.  If you have combines axles under 8,000 lb., any small steel, aluminum or homemade jack with 4" lift should work.

For a tall, wide or large bumper-pull 3 or 4 horse or a 16 ft. livestock trailer with combined 10,000 lb.   leaf or slipper spring or torsion axles, choose a medium.  This includes gooseneck trailers.  Because medium is the most popular size & we sell more of it, it is more reasonably priced.  Choose a large is you are usually loaded to the maximum.  A polymer Trailer-Aid is rated to 10,000 lbs, so if you have two 5,000 axles, it should hold.  If you put a heavier trailer on a polymer Trailer-Aid, you are risking collapse.

For heavier trailers, including a smaller Living Quarters with leaf or slipper spring or over a 10,000 lb. combined axle rating, choose a large, with 6" of lift.  For any trailer loaded over 14,000 lbs, choose an extra-large model of a tandem axle tire jack.

The molded polymer model is a Trailer-Aid. The EZ Jack aluminum model is cast molded, reliable & very strong.  Same for the Jiffy Jacks & Trailer Helper models, but these have welded construction.  A homemade wood tandem tire jack is made however you choose it to be, usually from a 4" tall X 6" wide beam.  The difference is in the color, weight, length, portability and how you drive on & off the jack. 

The Trailer Aid features a slant to drive up & off of it on ONE side only.  In the dark or if the driver is not careful, it's easy to drive off the "wrong" side, which creates a pretty good jolt to your trailer & livestock.  Color choices are safety yellow or black. The yellow is less likely to be left on the side of the road after the tire change.  You can write your name & phone number on it with permanent marker, just in case, but it will start looking beat-up if you use it a lot. The black always looks good, but you can easily leave it on the side of the road in the dark & it's hard to put your information on it.  Trailer-Aid is rated up to 10,000 lbs.  It can also be used as a jack chock at the front of your trailer. It is 25" long & weighs 6 lbs.

The EZ Jack is molded into a curve, so it can be positioned either way, depending on how high of lift you need.  It is made of cast-molded aluminum construction. Rated to 20,000 lbs, it only weighs 9 lbs, & measures 26" long. This jack can take a beating & will maintain its rugged good looks. An excellent choice for moving between different trailers on different trips.

The Jiffy Jacks give you more choices and the length increases with the weight rating.  Obviously, you need more welds, strength & size to properly hold up a large or heavy trailer.  These jacks feature a push-in handle on one side, for easily moving it around.  The steel is painted RED. You will not lose it & can easily find it in your trailer. The aluminum is natural, and each is made the same as the steel, but each is lighter than its steel counterpart.  The aluminum models are also more expensive. The extra-large is rated to under 20,000 lbs. & its length is 27". 

Telescoping Lug Wrench is one more tool to consider when changing a tire on a tandem axle trailer. Added to the tire jack, these are the only two tools you need to change the tire, or you can use a star or cross-shaped tire iron.  The telescoping lug wrench is much more efficient, because it is a lug wrench with the 4 most common lug nut sizes available on trailers.  The handle telescopes out to allow more torsion & helps you to remove lug nuts which have been tightened by a power tool.  It is easily stored under the seat or in the tack room & makes a good weapon if you should need one.

IN SUMMARY:  A painless solution to a flat tire on a tandem axle trailer is simple: always carry a tandem axle tire jack & an appropriate-sized lug wrench.  You should always try to prevent having to change a tire on a loaded trailer by performing good tire maintenance, but we all know that bad things happen to tires that we have no control over.  Do your research and get a tandem axle tire jack before you have the first flat tire, and the first potential accident when jacking up a trailer with livestock in it.

Trail Pals Horse Trailer Accessory Store has all these models available for purchase (except the homemade wood version). We are an eCommerce store, offering shipping all over the world. WEBSITE: www.trailpals.com. Email or call with questions or comments about this article:  info@trailpals.com

 

The author of this article, Debbie Mapes-Stice, is the co-owner of Trail Pals HTAS. She currently resides in Sandy, Oregon with her husband & 6 equines. Her favorite current horse activity is trail riding in the Pacific Northwest, which requires pulling a loaded horse trailer to the mountains, deserts & beaches.

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