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Old 07-28-2014, 01:03 PM   #1
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When should wheel bearings be greased?

wheel bearng greased when should they be greased
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Old 07-28-2014, 01:26 PM   #2
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Assuming you have conventional tapered roller bearings, I would say they need to be checked once a year and repacked every 5 yrs or 50,000 miles. By checked I mean pop off the grease cap and look for signs of corrosion, overheating, or lack of grease. This is on a trailer that is used often. If it sits for months at a time and the grease cap is not covered from the rain then more often. Some will say once a year but I think that is too often. Most of the bearings that I have seen from the factory don't have enough grease in them and they will be more likely to fail. If you have overheated your brakes repacking the bearings is a good idea. The heat can cause seals to fail and grease to boil out etc. Of course you need to also check the brakes when you repack the bearings. My experience is that the outer bearing fails first. It is smaller and the natural funnel shape of the hub tends to funnel grease to the back bearing. Monitoring of wheel, tire and hub temperatures is a good idea. I feel tires and rims every time I stop. If the wheel is hotter than the tire then you have a stuck brake or a bearing starting to go bad. One wheel hotter than the others is also a red flag.

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Old 07-28-2014, 02:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMBORST View Post
wheel bearng greased when should they be greased
I'm in agreement with Perry. Popping the cap off once a year to see the general status of the axle nut and how much grease is a great indicator. If it is dry or has surface corrosion on a any of the visible parts (nut, washer, cotter pin, etc.) then you probably should really think about repacking rather soon.

If the nut, washer or anything else under the cap is still coated in a nice covering of grease, and/or you can see a ring of grease where a little has extruded past the washer (normal operation) then unless something random or extra occurs you should be fine for the rest of that year.

As always folks who are constantly on the go and their trailer has almost as much road time as their TV might want to thing about an inspection more often and a repack more along the yearly schedule.

As for me, my hunting trailer (43 year old and recently overhauled box trailer)gets repacked every five and I check for grease and corrosion every spring.

My '48 Liner axle is still original and due to regular inspection and maintenance, when I had the bearings out to repack them in April they looked great with no wear or corrosion.
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Old 07-28-2014, 02:32 PM   #4
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wheel bearng greased when should they be greased
Water has a habit of developing within the drums.

The RV industry recommends repacking every 10,000 miles or once a year, which ever comes first.

A few say, well their trailer never moved in the last year, so why repack. In fact, that is even more reason to repack, because of the collection of moisture in the bearings.

This also brings up the HUGE DISADVANTAGE of "never lube bearings". They too, collect water over time. How much?? Who Knows. But, it's to the owners advantage as well as safety, to have a proper answer.

Therefore, even with never lube bearings, it's still very wise to inspect the bearings and repack every 10,000 miles, or once a year.

Exercising safety, is not free, but usually costs very little.

BE SAFE, NOT SORRY.

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Old 07-31-2014, 10:13 AM   #5
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Thank u all very helpful
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Old 07-31-2014, 10:59 AM   #6
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Water has a habit of developing within the drums.

The RV industry recommends repacking every 10,000 miles or once a year, which ever comes first.

A few say, well their trailer never moved in the last year, so why repack. In fact, that is even more reason to repack, because of the collection of moisture in the bearings.

This also brings up the HUGE DISADVANTAGE of "never lube bearings". They too, collect water over time. How much?? Who Knows. But, it's to the owners advantage as well as safety, to have a proper answer.

Therefore, even with never lube bearings, it's still very wise to inspect the bearings and repack every 10,000 miles, or once a year.

Exercising safety, is not free, but usually costs very little.

BE SAFE, NOT SORRY.

Andy
Never lubes are not inspect-able (except for end play) and are not serviceable. I carry a spare. If they are of automotive quality (?????) they are good typically for 70,000 to 100,000 miles from my observation. Anything north of that and your borrowing trouble from time.

From my automotive experience, tapered roller wheel bearings used to be a 15,000 mile service interval.

Since I do my own work and ensure a proper bearing pack as well as a proper "hub load" for lack of a better word, I always went 25,000 miles and never had an issue. When I had serviceable trailer (my old SOB) bearings, I went 2 years, regardless of miles, again, for the reasons stated above. (But I averaged only 5 - 7000 miles a year)

If you are not doing your own work, and/or, are not confident in your knowledge and ability, it's best to do it every year or 10,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
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Old 07-31-2014, 01:44 PM   #7
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opinions

This topic has as many opinions as any. I bought my Airstream new in 06 and checked/repacked at 1 year and around 22k miles. The bearings were discolored and there was some light "blueing" on the spindles showing it got hot. Ever since then I have done mine every spring around May as I tow about 25k a year and I am amazed at how much punshiment the wheel bearing grease takes. I do not think I could go two years and have any confidence that there may not be an issue.

Maybe because I do a lot of high country towing which means brakes are hot? I think at my GVWR of 8400 you go more than 25k miles or over a year you are asking for a roadside issue.
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:05 PM   #8
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Remember, and maybe I wasn't clear, I said my vehicles went 25,000 miles, not my trailers. Very different service.

My trailers were between 10 and 15,000 miles, and I never had a roadside issue. Replaced when I replaced axles as an assembly but bearings showed no signs of abnormal wear. That trailer had approx. 100K on it when sold.

I should've been clearer in my post. Thanks.
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:03 PM   #9
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The bearings were discolored and there was some light "blueing" on the spindles showing it got hot.
The discoloration of the spindle is an indication that the castle nut was too tight.
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Old 07-31-2014, 04:28 PM   #10
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A Startup Answer

Since your avatar says "New Member" and "Currently Looking" here's a different view. In my experience, the answer to your question is as soon as you get a used trailer home. The PO (who had only owned the 2001 trailer for 9 months) told me that the bearings were re-packed last year, but not yet for this year's season. I pulled it on two trips, one very short and the other about 400 miles. In preparation for heading out this fall I started a process to inspect and repack them all. The first drum I pulled had three colors of grease in it, indicating that whoever re-packed them did not clean them up prior to putting in the new grease. When I washed the bearings there were metal flakes in the solvent and close inspection revealed pitting on some of the rollers on the outer bearing; one roller was badly pitted.

Same tri-color grease on the second wheel. I decided to just replace all the bearings so I didn't clean the bearings for this wheel. The brake magnet, however, was badly worn and there was a groove in the armature surface of the drum. New magnets ordered for that axle and turned the drums. Road side done, on to the curb side.

Good luck with your search and welcome to the cult.
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Old 07-31-2014, 05:10 PM   #11
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You have to consider the quality of service you get. Many times taking it to a Jake leg mechanic at Billy Bob's RV Emporium is worse than never lubing them at all. I have seen these guys forget to do stuff and get dirt in bearings etc etc. Doh!!! I forgot to put that nut back on. Most places are not going to wash all the old grease out of the bearings and make sure there is no dirt in them. I have a thing that attaches to the grease gun that looks like two cones on top of each other. You put the bearing in the middle and it pumps new grease through them. I usually wipe most of the old grease off and then pack them this way. You have to add additional grease to the hubs and grease cap. Many places just grease the bearings and stick them in there. In which case you will be lucky to get a year's use out of them. Extra grease is important but there needs to be some air space. You got to get the preload correct. Usually I tighten the nut while spinning the wheel then back off about 1/4-1/8 turn. A bearing that is too loose is better than too tight. If you change grease types then you need to wash all the old grease out. If you drop a bearing in the dirt you need to wash all the old grease out.


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Old 08-03-2014, 11:16 AM   #12
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Ah, something else to worry about.

I just had new axles installed at JC on my '87 Excella. The new axles are 4500lb rated (original was 4000 lb) and I opted for the never lube bearings. Prior to this change, for as long as I owned the trailer, I had the brakes checked and the bearings repacked twice a year. I tow about 15,000 miles per year. Also went to 16-inch wheels, Michelin LTX tires & Centramatics. I asked JC what their experience was with respect to the never lube bearings and I was told that they had no issues. I suppose that, on this basis, I'll change the bearings every 2 years.
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:47 AM   #13
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I think you need to do some checking every year. Seals can leak. Brake wires can corrode. Springs can break. Maybe adjust the brakes. Full repack every 2 years or so for me. I may go to every year for a full repack also. I had to stop and get a brakes checked and a brake reconnected in Spokane last week. It is tough to get service on a caravan. As Perry pointed out, you need to be sure it is done well when it is done.
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Old 08-03-2014, 12:30 PM   #14
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If the bearings are not making noise when you spin the wheel then you are ok with the never lubes. Cars get over 100k out of sealed bearings. If you are putting that kind of mileage on them they won't rust up on you.

Perry

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Ah, something else to worry about.

I just had new axles installed at JC on my '87 Excella. The new axles are 4500lb rated (original was 4000 lb) and I opted for the never lube bearings. Prior to this change, for as long as I owned the trailer, I had the brakes checked and the bearings repacked twice a year. I tow about 15,000 miles per year. Also went to 16-inch wheels, Michelin LTX tires & Centramatics. I asked JC what their experience was with respect to the never lube bearings and I was told that they had no issues. I suppose that, on this basis, I'll change the bearings every 2 years.
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