There’s a lot to think about when you first purchase a trailer. Between choosing the right size, weight, price and storage capacity, it’s hardly surprising that most of us would never even consider the wheel bearings. These small components, however, are a vital part of the trailer’s overall function and they need to be maintained. So, without proper wheel bearing maintenance, the safety, and integrity of the trailer, as well as everyone else traveling alongside you, will be compromised.
Follow this checklist to make sure your trailer wheels and bearings are always in good condition:
To start, you need to lift the wheel off the ground. Make sure the opposite wheel is chocked and place a jack stand under the axle of the tire you’re going to raise. Jack up the trailer’s axle, elevating the trailer high enough for you to easily access the wheel.
Once the trailer wheel is in position, grab the tire on opposite sides and spin it with your hands. The wheel should spin effortlessly without being loose or stiff. Check for unusual grinding noises which could indicate bearing damage.
Check the hubcap for dryness or whether it is noticeably warm. This could mean there is increased friction from the bearings which can lead to failure.
Remove the dust cap from the center of the hub (a screwdriver works well) and check the bearing grease. If the grease looks burnt or you spot tiny slivers of metal, it’s time to replace the old lubricant.
To check the bearings, use a socket set to remove the bolts that secure the rim to the axle and remove the wheel. Use a screwdriver to pop-off the axle cap and remove the cotter pin which keeps the end bolt in place. Loosen the hub nut and slide off the hub.
Inspect the two bearings on each side of the hub by removing them. Check for any grooving or damage, or if they are unusually loose. These are all signs that the bearings need to be replaced.