One of the most vital regular trailer maintenance jobs involves wheel bearings. And yes, if you prefer you can buy your own wheel bearing kit (http://goo.gl/F9gGon) and do-it-yourself. If your bearings just need grease instead of replacing, get some Royal Purple bearing grease (http://goo.gl/kbi7sX). Own a trailer? As you prep your rig for summer travel, don’t forget this crucial task.
Wheel bearings are a key component of the trailer axle. They are lubricated with grease.
It’s absolutely critical that wheel bearings on an Airstream or other travel trailer are inspected and receive fresh grease every 10,000 miles or so.
The cost of this maintenance is a couple hours of labor, which usually is around $200-250. No one enjoys shelling out cash for seemingly mundane maintenance items, but it simply must be done.
What’s the downside risk to not doing this maintenance? Your wheels might fall off.
No, seriously – recently we’ve heard of two separate instances of wheels coming loose from trailers. They simply break free from the axle and fly off. This most commonly happens as the trailer is traveling along the highway.
It all comes back to the bearing grease, or lack thereof. As a trailer travels along the highway, the grease slowly dissipates. As time passes, there’s less and less grease lubricating the bearings. Eventually the grease is exhausted and its lubrication fails. This results in metal-on-metal friction that causes the bearings to overheat and also fail. The end result is the wheel separating from the axle.
It’s a scary proposition. When a trailer wheel falls off, who knows what will happen. You may get lucky and only suffer minor damage. Or you may suffer major damage requiring a new axle. Or you may completely lose control of your trailer and have a devastating accident. There is no “good” scenario here, only varying degrees of bad.
This wheel bearing issue is so important, you’d think it would be emblazoned in red ink on the door of every trailer. But it’s not, and there’s little doubt that many trailer owners have no idea what’s at stake.
Can you do this maintenance yourself to save some money? That all depends on you, and how handy you happen to be. For many of us, the best option is to pay an expert who does this sort of job regularly. But if you are a do-it-yourselfer, get a wheel bearing kit and get to work.
So that’s our message of the day: grease your wheel bearings, kids!