Whether you are an experienced RV owner or you have recently acquired a new travel trailer, there is one thing that all trailer owners can agree on: repacking your wheel bearings is essential to the art of RVing.
How often do you need to repack travel trailer bearings? It is recommended that travel trailer bearings be repacked every year or every 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. It is also suggested to check your bearings every season to ensure their proper functioning.
Travel trailer bearings may be little but they are mighty, and can cause lots of major headaches on your future travels if they are not maintained properly. Conducting regular, thorough check-ups on your bearings will ensure that your travel trailer is working appropriately for all of your future adventures.
What are Bearings & Why are They Important
A wheel bearing is a small, O shaped ring containing metal balls that can be found in the center of each wheel on a travel trailer. They allow the wheel to spin effectively around the axle of the trailer. With continual usage and exposure to the weather, the bearings can wear down on their own and will require maintenance. Because of this, it is important for a travel trailer owner to regularly check the condition of their wheel bearings on an on-going basis.
Repacking a wheel bearing involves routinely greasing these mechanisms in order to lessen the friction that is caused by the wheel spinning around the axle. This will allow the wheel to rotate properly when in motion. Bearings must be continually repacked to ensure that they will operate correctly to avoid damaging the wheel or the trailer itself. Without suitable grease, the friction caused by the rotations will eventually damage the bearing, leading to a number of hazards.
When to Repack Your Bearings
Neglecting your bearings can lead to serious accidents, costly damage expenses on your trailer, or even leave you stranded on the side of the road mid-trip. It is essential to check the status of your bearings continually over the lifetime of your trailer. From the moment you purchase your trailer, start off by checking on the wheel bearings. Even if you have owned your trailer for a while and have not checked in on those little guys lately, it is never too late to start.
The amount of time between required repackings for the bearings on your model really depends on the amount of traveling you are doing with your trailer each year. While this timeline may differ from trailer to trailer, it is recommended that you inspect your travel trailer’s bearings at least once a season. This allows the owner to be informed on the condition of the bearings and how they are holding up over time.
The safest method for knowing when to repack your bearings is do it every year or every 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. While there may be people who go longer than this suggested timeframe, this is the best way to protect yourself and your trailer from any mishaps on the road while traveling.
Signs Your Bearings Need to be Repacked
Every trailer is different, and you should always consult the owner’s manual in order to know what maintenance is specifically required for your model. Since wheel bearings tend to be “out of sight, out of mind”, it is important to schedule regular check-ups to ensure that they are performing adequately. That being said, there are some tell-tale signs that a travel trailer’s bearings need to be looked at, repacked or replaced.
- The wheels will make a squeaky noise when they are rotating – This is the most common symptom of an unlubricated wheel bearing. When driving the trailer, listen for “grinding” or “whining” noises coming from the wheels. This could be an indication that the bearings are needing to be repacked.
- The wheels do not rotate smoothly when turned – When enough grease is present, the bearings will slide smoothly around the axle. However, in the absence of grease, the smoothness will disappear only to be replaced by a choppy, tugging motion.
- The metal area around the wheel bearing is hot – If a bearing is not greased like it is supposed to be, the bearing will rub creating friction. This will lead to a heat build-up around the wheel bearing.
- Smoke is being produced from the bearing in question – The continual grinding of metal can cause smoke to arise from the faulty or unlubricated bearing.
If you notice any of these signs while in motion with your trailer, pull over immediately. Do not continue to use your trailer until you are able to have the bearings looked at either by yourself or by a professional. Doing this will prevent further damaging the bearing or the axle until it has been serviced and approved to go out on the road again.
How to Repack Your Bearings
To repack a travel trailer’s bearings, you can either take the trailer to an RV shop or do it yourself. If you are going to take your trailer to a professional, do some research to find a well reviewed place to take it.
You want to make sure that whoever is working on your trailer knows how to service it properly and will do an honest job. Regardless of who you take your trailer to, take some time after your appointment to check the bearings yourself. This way, you can be aware that all of the wheels are ready to go, and that the job was done properly on all of the bearings.
Taking your trailer to an RV location to have it serviced will probably cost you somewhere in the range of a few hundred dollars for this specific job.
Repacking the bearings on your trailer at home can save you lots of money over the course of your trailer’s lifetime. It does not require a special set of skills or tools, just the ability and know-how to get it done. Being able to repack the bearings is mostly dependent on your comfort level and your willingness to get dirty and greasy. The entire process will take a few hours from start to finish depending on the number of bearings to be repacked. Allow some extra time for your first repack in order to learn as you go.
If you choose to repack your bearings yourself, do your research on the supplies that you will need and the steps that will need to be taken before you get started. Consult videos and written how-tos to guarantee that you are repacking the bearings accurately. Having someone help you during your first repack can also be very helpful.
Do All Travel Trailers Require Repacking?
Not all travel trailers need this service. Some trailers come equipped with sealed bearings that do not require repacking. While they still require their own maintenance and up-keep, this process looks very different than traditional wheel bearings requiring grease. Consult your owner’s manual to identify what types of bearings you have if you believe that your bearings might not need this regular servicing.
Don’t let a faulty wheel bearing keep you from your next adventure with your travel trailer. Regularly repacking your bearings will allow you to avoid certain setbacks the next time you take it out on the open road!
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