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Author Topic: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?  (Read 2005 times)

tanglemoose

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Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« on: December 12, 2017, 09:39:00 PM »
Been reading on here different posts, some really old ones... Wondering current thoughts... Have a 2017 Keystone Cougar, 26' and wonder about when the pack the bearings. Dealer wanted 300 Dollars to do it and recommended every year after use. I have heard, every 10 years... some 3000 miles....

We bought last November 2016, put 6,042 miles on, give a few more for entrance to campgrounds, etc... but a good amount of miles. Local car repair person who fixes all of our vehicles, said to drive camper down and he would look and check and see if they need packed.. Thought that was a nice gesture, but now I am also reading about brakes checked too... Not being a repair person and always doing everything by someone certified...

So, do we have dealer do the pack, they have RV on their lot in Storage before our 2000+ mile trip in February 2018??  Take RV by local person and have them "look" but factoring in trip...

Thanks, everyone! Sure enjoy this forum!





Donna and Mark
and our Golden Lexie
New 2017 TT Keystone Cougar  Same model... but NEW Features!
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Living in Cold Montana Country.....

donn

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2017, 09:50:29 PM »
You probably have never lube axles.  Is so then a few pump of grease in each fitting should do for this year.  Repacking wheel bearings is not rocket science.  For roughly 50 dollars you can buy the tools.  20 dollars worth of new seals, a roll of paper towels and your ready to go.

Arch Hoagland

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2017, 10:38:27 PM »
I think I'd take it to your car repair person. $300 every year is a rip off. 
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RVRAC

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2017, 10:45:18 PM »
$300 is not too bad.  However, the question is if you want to save some money or save some time, work and energy,
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lynnmor

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2017, 07:09:39 AM »
Axle manufacturers usually say 12 month or 12,000 miles.  Brakes need inspected yearly and the drums need to come off for that inspection.

The time to completely service the hubs is the day you buy the trailer.  Too often factory and dealer greasing is less than satisfactory.  Grease types are not to be mixed and you have no idea what is in there.

Those axles with a grease fitting are a joke and I suggest never using the grease fittings.

The bearings are cheap Chinese parts, I have had them fail in short order.

To completely disassemble, properly and completely clean and inspect all parts and then assemble will take hours.  I doubt that anyone would do it properly for less than $300 and even then it may be done poorly.

Dexter's information, others brands are the same: http://www.dexteraxle.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/light-duty-hubs-drums-and-bearings.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Rene T

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2017, 07:40:51 AM »
I usually make 2 round trips to FL from NH. About 6000 miles.  I do my own and it's not hard but can be messy.  When I purchased ours used, repacking the bearings and checking brakes was one of the first things I did.

I have the zerk fitting at the end of the spindle and only use it to fill the cavity after packing by hand. I pump it in using a manual grease gun and pump until I start to see grease oozing out by the nut. I would not use the zerk fitting if I had a pneumatic gun for fear of blowing out the seals.   
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kjansen

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2017, 07:50:26 AM »
I usually make 2 round trips to FL from NH. About 6000 miles.  I do my own and it's not hard but can be messy.  When I purchased ours used, repacking the bearings and checking brakes was one of the first things I did.

I have the zerk fitting at the end of the spindle and only use it to fill the cavity after packing by hand. I pump it in using a manual grease gun and pump until I start to see grease oozing out by the nut. I would not use the zerk fitting if I had a pneumatic gun for fear of blowing out the seals.   

Just curious, have you ever needed to replace the bearings?
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2017, 08:07:30 AM »
This is one of those really tough questions, mostly because conditions can vary so much.  Heavy exposure to dusty roads, water, high temperatures, etc. typically cause much earlier bearing problems than less rigorous use, but it's difficult to assess from the driver seat.   The once/year advice is nicely safe and easy enough for an owner with even modest DIY inclination, but expensive for the many people who would have to pay a tech to do the job.  A tech will spend maybe 1.5-2.0 hours to do two axles, so $200-$300 is to be expected. RV shops are going to be at the high end, but it's not a unique RV thing and any mechanic can do it.  If there is a U-Haul place or a trailer sales & service place near you, try those instead.

Axle manufacturers like Dexter recommend inspecting every 12 months or 12k miles, but replacement as needed. Would you recognize a near-failing seal if you saw it from the outside?  I suspect that most owners can easily get by with a bearing re-pack every 4-5 years, but having a bearing seize up on the highway is an experience nobody wants to risk.  You have to decide for yourself whether to be conservative or not in your approach to risk.

Some of you may benefit from reading the Dexter Maintenance/Service manual that covers typical trailer axles. It's written for handyman-owners rather than professionals.
http://www.pirate4x4.com/tech/billavista/Towing/Dexter%20Axle%20service%20manual.pdf
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 08:10:32 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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Rene T

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2017, 08:17:37 AM »
Just curious, have you ever needed to replace the bearings?

Never. just the seals.
Rene, Lucille & co-pilot Buddy
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From the Granite State of NH
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jubileee

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2017, 01:33:32 PM »
Suggest purchasing a good infrared temp gun. Shoot bearing temps often when traveling. Bearings will tell you if they need attention long before problems occur. I try to check bearing temps after a near coasting stop so brake heat is not a factor.

lynnmor

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2017, 04:49:16 PM »
While I carry a temperature gun, there were no symptoms to tell me that my cheap bearings were on the verge of complete failure.  If you have significant temperature rise, it is way late in the game to take action.  If you replace the cheap bearings with quality ones and service the hubs regularly, it is unlikely there will be a problem.  Pumping grease in, ignoring grease leaks, never checking brakes and depending on temperature guns instead of regular service is trusting to luck.

These hubs are a design that is about a century old and many of today’s owners and mechanics don’t have the basic skills to do the proper service.

Badlands Bob

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2017, 07:03:48 PM »
Pulling the hubs, checking brakes, cleaning wheel bearings, repacking and reinstalling them is not difficult.  There are plenty of Youtube videos to show you how.  You'll need some way to jack up one side of your trailer and a few hand tools and lots of paper towels.  Doing my dual axel trailer takes me about 3 hours in the driveway. 

I replaced my OEM bearing with Timken bearings about 2 months ago.  I had to get the Timken bearings from an online auto parts store.  None of my local auto parts stores carried anything but Chinese bearings. 
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Boonieman

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2017, 07:49:21 PM »
$300 dollars doesn’t seem all that high to me to do 2 axles, it’s about 4 hours work. That’s assuming the tech’s know what they are doing. Packing wheel bearings is usually gonna be a low-end job to usually one of the newest folks, who may or may not have been trained properly. I’m not sure there is even a “certification” to do it, other than a general mechanical certification from some shops at dealerships, that may or may not include repacking wheel bearings. I prefer to do it myself.
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QZ

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2017, 10:08:01 PM »
I pull about 8000 miles a year so I do them every year. I have wet bolts and Dexter equal flex so the suspension is good. From that point you could blow a tire but you have a spare.  If you smoke a wheel bearing it can be a big problem all the way to the point of needing a new axle.  Bearings are the most important part on a towable.

Anybody can pretty much pack the bearings if they can read or watch you tube but the important part is can they properly inspect them.

RGP

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2017, 10:39:41 AM »
Most of the axles have the grease fitting on them and greasing consists of pumping in some new grease and forcing out some of the old.

The advantage of course is it is easy and relatively clean. The disadvantage is you do not get to see the bearings or brakes. Eventually you will need to check both.

Many folks who do their own prefer to dismantle the hub and check things out.

Your trailer manual should tell you how often to service your hubs, mine recommends every 3000 miles.
However, when we travel 3000 miles, sometimes we are only halfway through our trip. :)

Typically, I like to take a look inside the hubs and check out the brakes and drums; before the first trip of the season and before the next major outing. This seems to work for us.

The local RV shops charge $ 100.00 to $130.00 /hour. When they can get to your trailer. I fined it easier to do it myself.

keymastr

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2017, 11:05:42 AM »
There is another disadvantage to using the grease zerk and that is heat. Filling the cavity with grease makes the hub retain heat far longer and bearing temps are hotter on wheels with the hubs filled. The manufacturer never fills the hub. It is not needed and can cause problems from overheating.

kdbgoat

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2017, 11:17:38 AM »
I dislike the adding grease through the zerk fitting idea. Both for the reasons stated above, and the fact that it is easy to overgrease, and blow the seals on the back of the hub. That can cause grease to get on the working parts of one's brakes. On my last TT, the factory had blown the seals on mine before it ever hit the dealer's lot. If the factory can't get it right, how do they expect the average RV'er to get it right?
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Rene T

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2017, 04:26:40 PM »
I've found that using a hand grease gun and pumping in the grease real slow, it will find the path of least resistance which is around the nut area on the end of the spindle. I would never use a pneumatic gun like in a garage because it may pump too fast and blow the seals.  I only do it when I repack just to fill the cavity. I won't do it again until I repack again which is 2 years later which for me would be around 7000 miles.
Rene, Lucille & co-pilot Buddy
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Memtb

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2017, 04:41:11 PM »
I've found that using a hand grease gun and pumping in the grease real slow, it will find the path of least resistance which is around the nut area on the end of the spindle. I would never use a pneumatic gun like in a garage because it may pump too fast and blow the seals.  I only do it when I repack just to fill the cavity. I won't do it again until I repack again which is 2 years later which for me would be around 7000 miles.

     Also, rotating tire as you add grease, greatly reduces the resistance to adding the grease. Example: If you add grease until you feel some resistance, then rotate tire, you will feel that resistance dissipate. Rotating the tire, while adding grease, pretty much eliminates the possibility of “blowing” the seal!
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Rene T

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2017, 04:49:49 PM »
     Also, rotating tire as you add grease, greatly reduces the resistance to adding the grease. Example: If you add grease until you feel some resistance, then rotate tire, you will feel that resistance dissipate. Rotating the tire, while adding grease, pretty much eliminates the possibility of “blowing” the seal!

Exactly. I forgot to mention that. Thanks for reminding me.
Rene, Lucille & co-pilot Buddy
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Frizlefrak

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #20 on: December 26, 2017, 09:08:05 PM »
I detest repacking my bearings....the only thing I detest more is paying someone else to do it.   So typically I'll repack one side on a weekend...and then the other side a couple months down the road when the mood strikes.  I do mine every other year.  Zero failures so far.  Again, it's messy but isn't brain surgery.
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72cougarxr7

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2018, 03:51:59 PM »
I think there are a lot of variables.
The factory often puts a minimal amount of grease in the bearings. I am so leery of this, if I had a new trailer, I would repack them before I went on a long trip.

Also the quality of the bearings, seals and the grease the factory uses.
A lot of the axles come with Chinese "white box" bearings and buy grease from the lowest bidder.

I think with good quality bearings and a quality grease, most RVers could easily go 3 years between bearing repacks. That is exactly what I do. Timken bearings and Amsoil synthetic grease.

I know some may tow many miles and do cross country trips, to those folks, maybe once a year to err on the side of caution.

Honestly, for years, most rear wheel drive cars had tapered roller bearings just like our trailers, people didn't repack them annually, mostly just when doing a brake job at 35 or 40 thousand miles.

jks

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2018, 04:26:53 PM »
I think there are a lot of variables.
The factory often puts a minimal amount of grease in the bearings. I am so leery of this, if I had a new trailer, I would repack them before I went on a long trip.

Also the quality of the bearings, seals and the grease the factory uses.
A lot of the axles come with Chinese "white box" bearings and buy grease from the lowest bidder.

X2
Couple of years ago, I had the bearing packed on a new unit with less than 7K miles, 3 of the 4 seals were failing. I would not wait too long on a new unit.

tslarson

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Re: Travel Trailer- Wheel Bearings, when to pack?
« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2018, 06:39:01 PM »
There is another disadvantage to using the grease zerk and that is heat. Filling the cavity with grease makes the hub retain heat far longer and bearing temps are hotter on wheels with the hubs filled. The manufacturer never fills the hub. It is not needed and can cause problems from overheating.
Just need to say that this is a false statement. Temps are the same whether the hub is packed with grease or not, or within a few degrees. In fact some say the grease may actually dissipate the heat better than the air. Boat trailer manufactures have done it this way for years to aid in keeping water out of the hub.
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