Fliphoppers

Motorhome With Rear Axle vs Rear Axle With Tag Axle?

42 posts in this topic

We are in the process of looking for and purchasing our 1st motor home (Class A) new to us, what is the difference pro/con on single rear axle and rear axle with tag axle.

Any and all tips will be greatly appreciated.

Hoping to become full time RV'ers by October 2011.

Gord & Linda

N.S. Canadian travelers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The main advantage of a tag axle is increased GVWR. If a coach is greater than 36 feet and has a large rear engine plus 3 to 4 slides, you're going to be looking at tag axles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most class A motorhomes up through 40' use a single rear axle. Generally, anything over 40' gets a tag axle, although there are always exceptions. A rear axle has weight limitations. Federal Bridge Law limits any single axle to 20,000 lbs. The rear axle weight of a fully loaded 40' coach gets very close, sometimes over, that amount. So, a larger, longer coach needs an additional axle to help carry the weight. Tag axles are generally rated at 10,000 lbs capacity so now the rear of the coach can safely carry 30,000 lbs and there are no more rear axle weight issues.

Tag axles also help reduce the rear overhang of the coach. Shorter coaches can get pushed around by 18 wheeler bow wakes or strong winds because that area acts as a sail that causes the coach to pivot laterally at the rear axle, making steering corrections necessary. A tag axle greatly reduces that and you'll find that it's much more enjoyable to drive a coach with a tag axle. The downside is that the coach is longer and costs more but I've found that maneuverability really isn't a drawback and we can put our 42' tag axle coach most anywhere our 40' single axle coach went. Plus, it's a much more solid handling ride.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO, "KISS" is always less expensive, and less trouble in the long run.

A tag, (third), axle is just another "add on".

It allows the coach builder to overload the chassis above its designed capacity.

I would recommend a coach with a single rear axle, ample cargo capacity, a liveable floor plan and few, (or no), slides.

(A slide requires a hole in the side "a hole in the side is A HOLE IN THE SIDE", and has to affect the rigidity of the box)!

Also, a tag requires two additional tires, to maintain and replace, both of which skid sideways slightly at every turn!

Mel

'96 Safari, Sahara, 35'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are in the process of looking for and purchasing our 1st motor home (Class A) new to us, what is the difference pro/con on single and double axles.

Any and all tips will be greatly appreciated.

Hoping to become full time RV'ers by October 2011.

Gord & Linda

N.S. Canadian travelers

Flipper, welcome to the Forum. We have had three Motor Homes, 28 foot no slide, 32 foot no slide and a 40 footer with two slides and a tag axle. The 28' was cute, the 32' was nice and the 40'er is out of this world. It drives and handles better the either of the other two. We have good storage for all of our extras and good room on the inside because of the slides. Slides began to appear in RVs in the early part of 1994. Some sooner. They did, as most new things, have their bugs, but coach builder have few or no problems now. And now a coach with no slides are hard to sell. Most people want the slides for comfort and are not afraid that they have an extra hole in the side of thier coach. If one really thinks about the structure thay have extra support due to having to have a frame around the opening in the coach and the extra frameing for the slide.

All that being said, have you had or do you now have a motor home? If not, let me suggest that you go and rent one for a week. Take it out and see what you do and don't like. This will help you decide what you need. If you don't like Rv'ing it will be a lot less expensive then buying one and then finding out you don't care for it.

Also I garentee that what ever you buy, in a short time you will be at an RV Show and see something else you like better. So I advise that after you purchase a coach do not go to RV Shows for at least one year.

Good Luck. Happy RVing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

About the only time you will ever hear anything negative about a tag axle MH is from somebody who has never had a MH with a tag axle. My previous MH was a 36' DP with no tag axle and I spent a lot of time and money to get it stable and smooth on the road but with a small amount of success. My now 2004 Monaco Signature with a tag axle is just unbelievable to drive. It is so stable in cross winds and I don't even know a truck is passing me. I have heard all the negatives about having to buy two extra tires every 6+ years but I don't care because I love the tag axle. I can adjust the air pressure in the air bags on the tag suspension and balance the whole motorhome weight on all the axles and the steering feel. I have an extra axle with another set of brakes and it will slow down fast in an emergency stop. I worry about people behind me in heavy braking. On my previous MH without the tag there was no way I could lay on the bed in the back and sleep. On my Signature I put my wife in the drivers seat and I go back and go to sleep because it is so smooth. Yes, the tag is there because of the extra weight of the motorhome but it adds a lot to the motorhome in other ways. As far as the tag axle tires skidding sideways in a tight turn I can hit one button and lift them for those real tight slow turns. The tag axle tires have worn NO different than the drive axle tires at 37,000 mile. Feel free to ask me any questions you want to on a tag axle MH.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I won't say anything negative about a tag-axle coach since I have never had one.

What kind of fuel mileage do you get with a larger engine and higher gross weight (the tag adds 5000 pounds by itself)?

How much does the tag axle and larger diesel engine add to the purchase price?

How many axles do you pay for when you go through the toll booth?

Will any of these cost factors affect how much you spend on traveling and enjoying your travels to the fullest?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My large Detroit Series 60 is not the standard motor. You can get tag axle MHs with the smaller motors than mine and now get the bigger ISX 650's. I just had to have the Detroit. With the Detroit at 55 mph I get 8 mpg and for every one MPH increase I lose 0.1 mpg. My VISA card gives my a 5% discount money back on fuel so it makes up for the Detroit but I just love that smooth power. There is no way the tag axle weighs 2 1/2 tons maybe 3/4 to a ton or less. These days the prices on MHs are below wholesale so it is a good time to buy without worrying too much about paying any extra. Get what you want while the prices are down. I agree it has to add something that wasn't a factor for me. We knew what we wanted and it was either a Navigator or a Signature. One goes through very few toll roads when traveling other than in the North East. When I go to Maine I do go through several and most of the time they do not see the tag axle and I don't get charged for it or they just don't charge MHs for a tag axle. They spend more time looking for the toad. Even then the cost of the third axle is not that bad when you are also paying for the toad. When I travel these factors do not come into play. I do wish I would get the same MPG as by previous MH but all the motor homes above a certain weight and size motor just get poor mileage.

I am retired and love to travel and I don't want to be cramped and I am not and I also like an easy driving MH.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anything over 39 or 40 feet is a good canidate for a tag axel. It provides better weight handling and road stability. A tag allowes about 10,000 more capacity over the added weight of the tags themselves. A tag will probably reduce the fuel mileage a little, but the added stability and weight handling will override. If at this class and size of a motorhome you are going to worry about the slight added fuel mileage then you should look at a smaller more fuel effecient motorhomes and sacrafice the size and comfort the larger motorhomes offer. We are extended travelers with a 45 ft Travel Supreme DS 14 and love what it has to offer in size and comfort. The tag is a must on larger motorhomes and yes it adds 2 more tires to replace, so what as they last 7 to 10 years. That would have a cost of about $150 per year for tag tires. If the money is that tight then cut a couple of meals out each year to cover the cost. Consider going full time and eliminate the cost of an empty fixed home to one that moves to new places. The cost of living and traveling is reasonable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just had to have the Detroit. With the Detroit at 55 mph I get 8 mpg and for every one MPH increase I lose 1 mpg.

I am not sure about your math on this one but according to your figures you would get 0 (zero) MPG at 63MPH. I highly suspect that this is incorrect.

Did you help that guy do the math on what day the world would come to an end? :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Left out the decimal point. At 55 MPH I get 8 MPG and for every 1.0 MPH increase above that I lose 0.1 MPG.

I refigured the end of the world is now 21 October.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were in your shoes just a few months ago so I know exactly what you are struggling with! We ultimately went with a tag. We bought a Winnebago Tour 42AD and it has a tag axle. Although we have only had it a few months and have only had it on the road 5 times I can help dispel some of the criticisms you might hear about a coach with a tag axle and verify some of the benefits like drivability.

Having the extra load carrying capability makes loading the coach worry free. On our coach there is a switch in the cockpit to unload the tag if you need more traction on the drive wheels like in snow or mud. In automatic mode it unloads the tag automatically when backing up to save tire wear. I can tell you a 42 foot motorhome as a first motorhome was a big bite to take but now I am pretty comfortable maneuvering it around. I think over all you have gotten some sound advise on this thread. I would say buy the coach you like and don't concern yourself with the tag issue. If it has one great. If not then you can make do just fine without it.

Tom

Winnebago Tour

Jeep Wrangler Toad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Tom, never thought about lifting the tag for extra traction. I like the fact that yours lifts automatically in reverse becaus I am always forgetting to lift it. I also lift mine if driving into a campsite or a driveway just to stop some of that sliding on the rear tires. Can you adjust the air bag force on the tag axle. I have an adjustable regulator in the engine compartment that allows me to vary the pressure in the rear bags. Right now I have it at 40 psi and it takes some weight off the drive axle and puts it on the steer axle. I found the best place to play with that is on a truck scale.

Here is what John Bleakly who owns Bleakly RV here in Atlanta told me. Buy the coach you want or you will be coming back to trade it in again later. Buy a coach that will not cause you to look out of the window and say "I wish we had bought that one". Be in that one that every one is looking at and wish they had.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're buying a 36-38 footer, then no need for a tag axle. If you're buying a 40-footer, then I would opt for the tag. If you're buying a 42+ footer you almost always get a tag. I have a 42 foot Beaver and opted for a 42-footer because I wanted a 40-footer with a tag axle. It's just easy to find a 42+ with tag axles.

Here's the tag plus and minuses:

+ Much better ride (I have 2 extra air bags for the chassis to ride on)

+ Better load capability (both over all coach and what ever you might want to hang off the back)

+ It looks cool :-)

+ No need for rear casters or skid blocks (I don't think I've ever seen these on a tag axle coach)

- Two extra tires (As stated by someone else, about $150 year)

- Added initial cost (To me safety wins over reasonable added cost)

- Tag tires drag in sharp slow speed turns if not raised (not really a big deal if you forget to lift them)

- Reduced under belly storage space (I really haven't seen much difference here, but there must be some)

- Additional weight (Someone stated 5K lbs, that's a bit hard for me to believe)

Gil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gil, since you brought up again the weight of the tag axle itself, I looked it up in my Monaco manual and it states that it weighs 1500 lbs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gov't regs limit the length of a Motorhome with a single axle. That's why the longer ones (41 and up) all have tag axles. Other regs limit the overall length (unarticulated vehicles) to 45'. That's why you don't see any 50' Mohos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... That's why you don't see any 50' Mohos.

We met a nice couple a few months ago with a 50' motor home. It's a 'super C' style, custom built for the owner. They can carry 200 gallons of fresh water, they have a 200 gallon black/grey holding capacity, a ton of solar capacity and the worlds biggest RV generator (they can supply not only their rig with power to spare for everything on board, but another rig can plug into a 50 amp outlet at the back of the motor home and have full power too). For it's size though, our 'humble' 43 foot has twice the living space. The money and space was spent on dry camping capability.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a tag axle that is 40 feet in length and our GVWR is higher than a motorhome without a tag. For us the tag is a much more stable driving platform. In our previous MH, the tractor trailers passing us would usually affect our lateral stability. In the tag, we are much more stable. Let me be clear, we have even experienced sideways drift sometimes even when we are passed by the big rigs; however, it is not as pronounced.

May I suggest you test drive and purchase what you think is best for you,

Happy travels!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Older post, but for those reading later on, will add to other variables on tags:

1) One other set of brakes

2) Typically, a 40' tag coach, will turn tighter then a 40' non tag. The front axle is usually moved forward some.

The comfort, handling, added CCC of a tag. To us. Offset the added costs, and lost of underneath storage (which we too, do not have any problem with).

Best to all,

Smitty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used the RVCG information when looking for a motor home two years ago. They recommended to get a motor home without a tag. Cheaper. I test drove many DPs. When I first drove ours it was the first DP with a tag I had driven and to me the drive was more stable than the other motor homes I drove. We bought our current motor home with tag because we loved it. Here is what I think today after two years and about 12,000 miles.

  • Having a tag virtually eliminates wander from truck wash
  • Having a tag means you have to buy two more tires
  • Going down a steep hill in rain or snow on a coach with a tag means you can use the engine brake without fear.
  • Make sure if you buy a motor home with a tag you get two full pass through storage areas.
  • Having an auto lift on the tag is very usefull

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the update. I guess I will call off my Halloween party! biggrin.gif

EAT THE CANDY NOW :D:lol::D

Bill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now