What Is Offtracking?

Charlotte Miller

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What Is Offtracking

Are you curious to know what is offtracking? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about offtracking in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is offtracking?

When it comes to navigating the roads, understanding the dynamics of vehicle movement is essential for safe driving. One crucial aspect that drivers should be aware of is offtracking. Offtracking refers to the movement of a vehicle’s rear wheels, which do not precisely follow the same path as the front wheels during turns. In this blog, we will delve into the concept of offtracking, its causes, implications, and how drivers can navigate it effectively.

What Is Offtracking?

Offtracking occurs primarily in vehicles with separate front and rear wheels, such as large trucks, buses, and trailers. Due to the design and geometry of these vehicles, the rear wheels follow a shorter turning radius compared to the front wheels during a turn. This discrepancy results in the rear wheels “offtracking” or deviating from the path of the front wheels.

Causes Of Offtracking

Offtracking is influenced by various factors, including:

  1. Wheelbase: The distance between the front and rear axles of a vehicle, known as the wheelbase, plays a significant role in offtracking. Longer wheelbases tend to have greater offtracking, as the rear wheels have a larger turning radius.
  2. Vehicle Type: Vehicles with multiple sections or articulated components, such as tractor-trailers, experience significant offtracking. The longer the trailer, the more pronounced the offtracking becomes.
  3. Turn Radius: The sharpness of a turn affects the degree of offtracking. Tight turns require greater maneuvering and may result in more noticeable offtracking.

Implications Of Offtracking

Understanding offtracking is crucial for both drivers of large vehicles and other road users. The implications include:

  1. Lane Positioning: Drivers of large vehicles need to consider offtracking when positioning their vehicles on the road, especially when turning. Failure to account for offtracking can result in encroaching on adjacent lanes or objects such as curbs, medians, or parked vehicles.
  2. Safety Concerns: Offtracking poses potential safety risks, particularly for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles sharing the road with large trucks or buses. Drivers must be cautious during turns to ensure the rear of their vehicle does not pose a threat to others.
  3. Navigating Turns: Awareness of offtracking is vital when making turns, especially when turning right. Drivers need to take into account the additional space required by the rear of the vehicle to prevent collisions or contact with surrounding objects.

Managing Offtracking Effectively

To navigate offtracking effectively, drivers of large vehicles can follow these guidelines:

  1. Be Mindful of Turns: Exercise caution and adjust your approach to turns by allowing for the additional space required by the rear of the vehicle. Take wider turns when necessary to maintain a safe path.
  2. Use Mirrors and Cameras: Utilize mirrors and backup cameras to monitor the position of the rear of your vehicle during turns. This helps ensure that you are within the boundaries of the road and not encroaching on adjacent lanes or objects.
  3. Practice and Experience: Becoming familiar with the offtracking characteristics of your specific vehicle comes with practice and experience. Spend time understanding how your vehicle responds during turns, and adjust your driving technique accordingly.


Offtracking is an important concept to comprehend, particularly for drivers of large vehicles. Understanding the dynamics of offtracking helps drivers navigate turns safely and considerately. By accounting for the differences in turning radii between the front and rear wheels, drivers can ensure their vehicle remains within their intended path and minimize risks to themselves and other road users.

By implementing these strategies and staying mindful of offtracking, drivers can confidently operate their vehicles, promoting safe and harmonious road interactions.

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What Makes A Trailer Off Track?

While all trailers come pre-aligned from the factory, over time the alignment can slip out of spec. Causes can be potholes, curbing the trailer or worn bushings. In extreme cases sometimes the axle or frame is bent, although about 90% of the time it is simply the trailer alignment.

What Is It Called When Trailer Tires Follow A Different Path Than The Truck?

Offtracking is the phenomenon in which the paths of the wheels of a rear axle of a single-unit power vehicle, or of a trailer combination, deviate inward toward the center of a turn from the circular turning path of the outside front wheel.

What Trailers Off Track The Most?

Long trailers will off-track more than short trailers. Steer the front wheels wide enough that the last, inside wheel will clear the curb and other obstructions.

What Is The Cause Of Offtracking Or Cheating?

When a vehicle goes around a corner, the rear wheels follow a different path than the front wheels. This is called off-tracking or “cheating.” Figure 6.3 shows how off-tracking causes the path followed by a tractor to be wider than the rig itself. Longer vehicles will offtrack more.


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