Is there any basic mileage recommendation for how often wheel bearings on a travel trailer should be repacked? —Andy, 2022 Salem 27RK
Most axle manufacturers such as Dexter and Lippert recommend every 12,000 miles or 12 months to repack wheel bearings. However, I recommend using a laser thermometer to check the temperature of the axle cone, brake hub, and tire every day you drive it down the road.
Check temps as soon as you park
After you have driven more than an hour, check the temps the next time you stop for fuel or at the campground—but do it immediately. You will notice a higher temperature than ambient temperature, which is normal. However, you will also get a feeling for what is normal and when the temperature spikes higher than normal. If it spikes at the cap, your bearings are getting dry and need to be repacked. If your brake drum spikes, the auxiliary brakes are probably set too high.
Get trailer weighed
One other thing I recommend is to get your trailer weighed at a CAT scale to make sure you are not over the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). According to the website, your unloaded vehicle weight is 6,863 lbs. and you have a cargo carrying capacity of 1,092 lbs. Your rig has a fresh water tank with a capacity of 40 gallons. With water weighing 8.34 lbs. per gallon, that would add 333 lbs., which cuts your CCC down to 759 lbs.
It doesn’t take much to use up that weight with bedding, kitchen appliances, and then outside accessories such as tools, grills, and other items. Going over GVWR not only puts additional stress on the bearings, but the entire axle, brakes, and braking capability of the towing vehicle.
What I cannot find information on is the type of axle or spindle, which also makes a difference. The basic spindle/bearing assembly has a dust cover over the bearings and it is not easy to add grease.
Bearing Buddy has a grease zerk on the dust cap that allows you to add grease rather than completely repack the bearings. But I have found these apply more grease to the rim and tire than the bearings. Plus, they do not get any grease to the inner bearing.
These systems allow the repacking of the bearings without disassembly. However, as mentioned above, the bearings should be inspected once a year or every 12,000 miles.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
Ask Dave: Is there a recommended amount of miles for wheel bearing replacement?
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I repacked my bearings every spring and checked and adjusted the brakes. On one of my trailers, I put about 70,000 miles in 10 years never needing new bearings or brake shoes.
I believe the bearing buddy was designed for boat trailers that the wheels are completely submerged every launch/recovery cycle of boating. Grease will reach the rear bearing if you pump enough into it, however you’ll also push the grease seal out the rear allowing grease into the brake drum, not a good idea! This will leave you with well lubricated brake shoes that don’t slow you down, plus grease inside the brake drum could cause a brake fire under your expensive RV. Please don’t use these.