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Is Buying a Tandem Dump Truck a Good Investment?

January 18, 2024

For most of human history, hauling has necessitated the use of a vehicle, ranging from simple wheeled carts to animals harnessed to carry burdens.

With the advent of steam power and internal combustion engines, machines could do most of the heavy lifting. One of the most useful and versatile is the tandem axle dump truck. Crews can load a tandem axle truck with anything that will fit in the dump body, including fallen trees, rocks and boulders, construction debris, and more. 

The term "tandem dump truck" often brings to mind a particular design featuring two sets of dual wheels at the rear and a single set in the front. However, the category encompasses various types of trucks that still meet the criteria of tandem dump trucks. This includes models such as single-axle trucks and twin steer trucks, among others, each with its unique configuration and capabilities.

What is a Tandem Dump Truck?

When exploring tandem dump trucks, it's essential to understand them within the context of heavy-duty vehicles. 

A tandem truck, meaning a truck with two axles, is designed to distribute weight more evenly and increase the load capacity. The configuration of these axles is key to defining different types of tandem trucks.

So, what is a tandem axle dump truck? These trucks feature a unique axle arrangement, unlike a standard dump truck. While a standard dump truck usually has a single rear axle, a tandem axle dump truck is equipped with two rear axles — hence the name "tandem." This design improves stability and allows for the transportation of heavier loads.

The original tandem truck design, introduced by Magnus Hendrickson and his sons in 1926, focused on weight distribution by using a metal beam to connect the front and rear axles. Modern tandem trucks, however, typically feature dual rear axles to improve weight distribution further.

Addressing the query, "How many axles does a tandem truck have?" requires recognizing the distinction between a tandem dump truck and a tandem axle dump truck. A standard tandem dump truck might possess only a single rear axle. However, a tandem axle dump truck specifically features a pair of tandem drive axles under the dump body. This specific configuration distinguishes a tandem axle dump truck from other tandem trucks, making it a critical consideration in vehicle classification and usage.

Types of Tandem Dump Trucks

Tandem trucks come in a great variety of sizes and configurations. If you’re wondering, “What is a tandem truck able to do for me?” Here is a bit more about each type to help you answer this question.

Twin Screw

These are among the most common types of tandem dump trucks. They feature tandem axles, and the engine drives both rear sets of axles. This is the primary type of tandem truck sold at Purple Wave. 

So, what is a tandem axle truck able to do that a single axle truck can’t? It comes down to laws governing load capacity. 

Twin screw tandem axle trucks are popular in the industry due to their compliance with the U.S. Federal Bridge Law (FBL). Under this regulation, these trucks are permitted a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of up to 34,000 pounds when traversing bridges. In contrast, a single-axle dump truck is restricted to a GVW limit of 20,000 pounds, making the twin screw tandem axle trucks a more efficient choice for heavier loads.

Wondering, “How much can a tandem dump truck haul on highways?” All tandem trucks must have a GVW of less than 80,000 pounds.

Twin Steer 

Twin-steer tandem trucks use two sets of front axles, both of which can steer. These are generally reserved for situations where traction and stability are paramount, which is why twin-steer tandem trucks are often used as crane trucks.


While single-axle trucks can’t carry as much of a payload as twin screw trucks, they are lighter, more maneuverable, and often more affordable.


Tri-axle trucks are much like twin screw trucks, but they feature a third rear axle ahead of the other two. This extra axle helps spread out hefty loads but doesn’t create constant extra drag since the operator can lift the wheels when not in use.

8 Benefits of Tandem Dump Trucks

Many vehicles can haul heavy objects or large amounts of debris, but none can match the capability of a tandem dump truck.

1. Increased Payload Capacity

With massive, sturdy frames, high-torque engines, and stout wheels and tires, tandem dump trucks can handle sizable payloads.

2. Improved Stability and Traction

Tandem dump trucks can handle rough terrain thanks to the aforementioned tires and wheels and a tough yet compliant suspension.

3. Enhanced Maneuverability

Tandem dump trucks are still street-legal vehicles with reasonable acceleration and handling characteristics compared to tractors and other heavy machinery.

4. Reduced Wear and Tear

Because they are overbuilt in every way, tandem trucks can withstand more punishment before showing signs of stress or wear.

5. Versatility in Terrain and Conditions

From muddy, wet construction sites to sandy, desert excavation jobs, tandem trucks have the power and weight distribution to handle many environments. 

6. Efficient Hauling and Transport

Their dump bodies use heavy hydraulics to make quick work of unloading materials. Just raise the front of the dump body and spill the contents.

7. Cost Savings Through Higher Efficiency

Instead of transporting materials over numerous trips with multiple employees engaged in loading and unloading, a single tandem truck can handle a hauling job in one trip, reducing time and labor requirements.

8. Safer Handling of Heavy Loads

Heavy loads require heavy equipment for safe handling. Since tandem dump trucks have lower centers of gravity than other types of trucks, they remain stable even with large payloads.

Buy Used Tandem Dump Trucks With Purple Wave

Providing users more control over their bids while still offering dependable, quality equipment is our driving motivation at Purple Wave. Whatever equipment or vehicles you’re searching for, you’ll find them at Purple Wave. If you are looking for a used dump truck for sale by owner, check out our selection today to find the right option for your unique hauling needs.