Trailer axles have two-piece caged bearings that are packed in grease and are set between the wheel hub and axle. As the wheel rotates the hub, the wheel bearings spin around the axle. Trailer bearings are made of hardened steel and will usually last for the life of your trailer when they are properly maintained.
The most important aspect of wheel bearing maintenance is to keep bearings well encased in fresh axle grease. Axle grease prevents metal-to-metal contact, absorbs heat from the friction generated by the spinning bearings, and prevents moisture from getting to the bearings. Since bearings are made of hardened steel, they will rust overnight if exposed to water. Over time, even heavy axle grease tends to break down and wear out, providing less lubrication and allowing moisture to creep in.
If you have easy lube axles please note that these are not a substitute for a bearing repack, you still need to do the regular bearing maintenance as that is the only way to visually inspect their condition. I am not a fan of these (or bearing buddies) because it’s entirely possible to pump to much grease in which can cause the old liquefied grease to seep out past the seals and get all over the inside of the hub and contaminate the brake pads which can be a very costly repair.
You can check your wheel bearings any time by simply observing how the wheel feels when you rotate it. This is something you should do at the beginning of every season and as a safety precaution every time you plan to take a trip. Wheel bearings should have no play, meaning, with two hands, grab the tire top & the bottom & push & pull alternately, the wheel should not have any play. If you do, it’s a sign your bearings are in need of a repack and possible replacement.
When repacking bearings they should always be cleaned with a proper bearing cleaner and wiped dry, and inspected by running your fingers over the bearings, feeling for any hesitation in their action. Examine them for rough spots or pitting on the surfaces for signs of overheating and wear. The inside of the hub will also need to be cleaned and inspected for the same. Replace any bearing and race that shows any signs of wear will prevent you from being stranded on the side of the highway with a broken wheel and will insure safe travels for your camping season.
It is recommend that that you have your bearings serviced at least every couple of years but most people don’t take any chances and have them done every year, if you choose every couple years at least check them physically as explained above.
Premier Mobile RV offers this service and much more done at your location or even your storage yard (permission from storage yard company may be required for access)