Wheel bearings are an important part of the trailer. That is because the weight of your travel trailer can’t be supported without them.
Good maintenance makes sure that your keep your trailer working perfectly in the long run. Also, the wheels will keep spinning without any issues. On the other hand, not maintaining the bearings can make them leak.
Bearings of the travel containers wheels can also attract lots of dust and dirt to decrease their quality over time. So, the question arises, how long should you wait before greasing the bearings of your travel trailer?
The short answer is that you should grease the wheel bearings after ten thousand to twelve thousand miles, or once every year, whichever comes first.
Additionally, in this article, we’ll discuss the right type of grease to use in your travel trailer’s wheel bearings, and why greasing them is so important. You’ll also find some tips to do the thing perfectly.
Why Do Wheel Bearings Need Greasing?
Wheel bearings are very important for your vehicle. You might already be familiar with this if you’ve owned a this vehicle in the past for a long time, and know how they work. Without proper bearing maintenance, you won’t be able to travel much, or you might not go anywhere. This reflects the importance of greasing the wheel bearings on time.
You might think that since the wheel bearings are very important, they require a lot of regular maintenance, however the opposite is true in this case. Many people owning trailers often forget that the bearings exist, and need maintenance.
That is the main reason why wheel bearings are usually ignored even in maintenance checks. This is a dissipating thing to know as these bearings need very little maintenance, and they’re still neglected. But this negligence often shows its result when you’re traveling, strangling you in a far off location.
Without properly working wheel bearings, your wheels won’t spin properly, and the trailer won’t cover much distance. Although these bearings aren’t the only thing that help move the vehicle, they surely are one of the most important. They won’t function normally if you don’t lubricate them on time. So, keep checking your wheel bearings regularly to see if they need to be greased.
There are specific greases designed to be used for bearings, you should only choose one of those and nothing else. In fact, you should make sure that the lubricant was optimized to be used with wheel bearings before buying it.
Since grease deteriorates in quality over time, you’ll need to regularly keep greasing the wheel bearings to keep them in the best working shape possible.
The Right Time to Lubricate The Bearings
Greasing requirement of the vehicle will depend on the average weight you load on your trailer, and the sizes of wheels of your trailer.
As a rule of thumb, you should inspect the bearings every once in a while. You should keep checking the wheel bearings to see if they have grease or not. Grease us usually depleted within a year, so, changing the wheel bearing grease at least once a year is compulsory.
If you travel on your travel trailer a lot, experts suggest that you should change the wheel bearing grease at least after every ten thousand miles. This is especially true for travel trailers that are larger in size.
But what for the smaller travel trailers? Because of their small wheels these trailers require the lubricant every two thousand miles. That is because of the smaller size, the wheels on the smaller trailers spin a lot faster, thus puts a lot of pressure on its components.
So, you can consider the size of your trailer as well to find out how often you should be changing the grease on its wheels. Additionally, you must be considering the places you usually travel to.
Things to Consider
If you want an expert to do the job, they will charge you per axle, and this can become an expensive task. But there is no need to hire a professional, as this task is fairly easy, and you can learn to do it by yourself at a lower cost.
To start, you’ll need to learn about greasing and its basics if you don’t already. You can also read an online guide (like this one) to learn about the whole greasing process. You should know about all the mechanical complications of the process before starting in order to perform it in the best way possible.
The equipment needed includes rags, a torque wrench, high quality grease, and a hammer.
The bearings are the same for the past 5 decades or so, and that’s why the act of packing them again them is also the same.
For the best results, you should read the booklet provided by the trailer manufacturer with the trailer. You can easily find the repacking details in the booklet provided by the manufacturer.
Before starting, torque every wheel on the trailer properly. Use a perfectly working jack as well to make the process easy. Pick up the wheels on both sides before starting as well as you’ll be working underneath the trailer.
Keep These Warnings in Mind
While the suggested limits for wheel bearings is 10,000 to 20,000 miles pr one year, the trailer will start giving you some warning signs.
If you detect these warnings, you should analyze your well bearings right away. Below mentioned are some of the biggest warnings that you should look for.
If you have recently used your trailer in water, or have carried a heavy load on it, you should provide it with maintenance. Water will always affect the seal of your wheel bearings whether they are packed well or not. So, you should always repack the bearings after submerging them completely in water.
If you’re buying a second hand trailer from any vehicle dealer, you should look for more friction in their bearings before buying. It is common for the manufacturers to forget or purposely leave greasing before when selling the vehicles. The perfect way to tell if wheel bearings are greased is touching the tires after driving the trailer for a while. If the bearings aren’t greased properly, the wheels must be uncomfortably hot to touch.
If the tires of your trailer are making unusual noises, you should look to see if the bearings are okay. The tires might make growling and cyclic noises when bearings are at fault. Try increasing the speed of your trailer and see if the noise increases. If it does, that’s another red flag.
If this is the case with your trailer, you should take the time to take it to a qualified person for inspection instead of driving it.
At times, the factory sealed bearings might need a replacement even if the grease is applied. However, this should be determined by a professional after through inspection.
Greasing The Bearings Of Your Trailer
Below mentioned are a few things that might happen if you fail to properly grease your wheel bearings. Take a look at these events and see what stage you’re in right now.
- Wheels are start condensation if they’re not greased properly in a long time.
- Condensation will eventually start the process of rusting inside the wheels.
- The rust will start deteriorating the quality of the inside of your wheels.
- The scratches due to rusting will then increase the friction, and that ultimately leads to the failure of wheels.
You can grease your wheels yourself, and no technical knowledge is required. Here’s a guide divided into simple steps which you can follow.
Repacking The Trailer’s Wheel Bearings
To start the repacking process and complete it professionally, you’ll need some tools like a hammer, chisel, jack to pick up the trailer, cotter pins and new seals, pictures of disassembly process step by step (to help you easily reassemble them), grease gun, paper towels, high temp grease made for wheel bearings and the right amount of torque (will be written in service booklet).
With the help of these tools, you should be able to easily unpack and repack the wheel bearings of your travel trailer perfectly.
How to Easily Repack The Wheel Bearings?
Here are some easy steps to follow in order to repack the wheel bearings easily.
If you’re repacking the wheel bearings if your trailer for the first time, you must read service booklet for the best results. You can contact the manufacturer of the trailer if you haven’t have the service manual with you right now. In the manual, you’ll find the right amount of torque necessary to repack the wheels.
Failing to use the right amount of torque can cause unnecessary stress on the trailer’s axle and that can overheat its wheels. The tires can even fall off if torque isn’t right.
Use wheel chicks to lock the opposite tires where you’re working. Then you can place the jack under trailer in order to start lifting it up. You should keep doing this till the needed wheel is lifted up to a reasonable height.
Also, you should place every needed tool near the tire you’re going to work on, as this will help you easily access everything when beneath the trailer.
With the help of a chisel and hammer, remove the cap from the hub of the wheel . Now, pull out the tab covering the nut to expose it, and unscrew the nut. Some trailers have a reusable washer or cotter pin, but in most cases, you have to use a new one when reassembling.
Another important thing you should do when disassembling the wheel is that you should take pictures of all the steps. This way, it will be a lot easier for you to reassemble the wheel, especially if its your first time. Just do all the steps in reverse order, and you should be able to reassemble the wheels easily.
After removing the nut, start rotating the wheel slowly until the bearing on the outside is loose. You should now be able to remove the wheel and hub.
Use paper towel to rest the wheel after removing it. The inner side of wheel and hub should face downward.
Stop for a moment, and use this time to analyze the health of your brakes and axle spindle. Look of there is any unnecessary breakdown on them.
Use proper tools to hit the bearing on the inside. This should be enough to take its seal out. You should carefully remove inside bearings, then washer, and then the bearings on the outside.
You should use a paper towel to place everything near your working place for easy access. Do not let any dust or dirt into the bearings, as it can cause excessive wear and wear in it in the long run. So, keep the bearing clean throughout.
Use a paper towel to thoroughly clean the bearings and remove any grease in them. Manually rotate every bearing and see if there are any signs of damage on them.
If upon examining, you see any signs of damage, you’ll need to install a new bearing. For this, bring the original bearing with you and go to the nearest relevant shop to buy a new bearing.
As far as the hub is concerned, you should also clean it properly with the help of a paper towel to remove any dust and other things accumulated on them.
Before using the grease gun, make sure you wear safety gloves for your safety. The gun will help in packing enough high quality lubricant in the hub. Keep in mind that you should center your focus on outer areas like rollers in this process.
You can also utilize a bearing packer, as this will help you decrease the mess considerably. You should use a paper towel to keep the hub safe, and then add grease into the spindle. Avoid pouring grease onto the brakes, as this might cause them to fail.
Turn over the wheel, and then return the cleaned inner bearing in hub. Now, place a the new seal in hub.
While reassembling, make it sure that rubber is faced inward. Gently tap the seal with a piece of wood to make sure its flat on the hub’s surface. When the grease seal is in place, apply more grease to its lip.
After the last step is done, place the hub on spindle once again. Additionally, looking at the pictures you took of the disassembly, follow them in the reverse order to carefully place everything back in place.
Before placing the castellated nut back in its place, apply some grease to it as well. The tab can be tightened with your hand, and clicked back into its original place. Do not over tighten the tab, or else it might get damaged.
You can run the nut until it stops rotating. Repeat this process with drum as well, but keep it in opposite direction as compared to the castle nut. After both of there are tightened, you can place the hub cap back on hub.
Now is the time to adjust the brakes. There is a rubber cover behind hub of the wheels. Removing this cover will expose a star wheel.
You can rotate to place the wheel inside the grooves of the star-wheel, you should start facing resistance. Now, rotate it backwards, one notch at a time unless you notice that it starts to move freely.
This process can be repeated for the rest of the wheels as well.
What Quantity Of Grease is Enough?
This question is also very commonly asked by trailer owners when they are about the grease their trailer’s wheel bearings. This questions might also be popping in your head especially if you are greasing for the first time.
While there isn’t any upper limit to how much grease is more than enough, using less amount certainly has its consequences. So, how much grease is appropriate to use in your trailer’s wheel bearing?
Many experts suggest that you should do this with your hands rather than with a machine. You can easily pick up the lubricant and easily apply the same with the help of your hands. However, you should make sure that you’re using high-temp lubricant made specifically for wheel bearings in this process.
You can easily scoop the grease and push it on bear pack. Since this is a large empty area in a bearing, you must use sufficient grease to cover it fully from the inside as well. You can run the bearing of the wheels afterwards to see the quantity of grease you’ve put inside it.
You should keep rotating the wheel bearing and stuffing it with grease until it finally oozes out. Enough grease should be inside the bearing to come fill the different openings, and cover its races.
This is usually the point when you have enough grease inside the wheel bearing of your trailer. This is the bare minimum, as anything below this amount will probably cause excessive wear and tear in bearings.
The Right Grease Type to Use?
If you often use your travel vehicle, it becomes more important to keep an eye on the trailer’s wheel bearings on a regular basis.
How often you’ll need to check the trailer will depend on its size, the load you carry on it, how frequently you use it, and where you mostly travel to. You should refill the grease whenever you find out that it is decreasing.
If you keep greasing the wheel bearings frequently, you will save them from most of the damage that results because of less grease. The bearings will also enjoy a longer life if you do this.
As far as the question of “What grease type to use” is concerned, here are some recommendations.
- Royal Purple Multi-Purpose Synthetic Grease.
- Lucas Xtra Heavy-Duty Grease
- Sta-Lube Heavy-Duty Bearing Grease
All of these greases have their own benefits and drawbacks. You can read some reviews about them to make the best choice.
Is It Possible to Over Lubricate a Wheel Bearing?
While experts recommend using a generous amount of grease on the bearings, you can definitely over-grease a breaking. In fact, many trailer owners make this mistakes when they’re repacking the bearings. What can happen if you end up over greasing the bearings?
Here are some of the biggest problems that can be caused from over-greasing the bearings.
- Unusually high temperatures in tires.
- Damage in parts like motors and seals.
- Complications regarding energy.
- A failing system.
- Fast oxidation and rusting.
- Fast leakage of oil.
However, you can easily avoid over-greasing the bearings if you follow the directions given by the trailer’s manufacturer. Keep in mind that over-greasing and under-greasing are both equally damaging to your wheels, and can cause the system to fail, leaving you stranded in a strange place and situation. That is why applying an appropriate amount of grease to the trailer’s bearings is very important when you’re repacking them after maintenance. So, hone your greasing skills over time to avoid making any silly mistakes.