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Ask Dave: Is there a recommended amount of miles for wheel bearing replacement?

Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today he discusses wheel bearing replacement.

Dear Dave,
I have a tri-axle toy hauler that is brutal on suspension and brake parts. My question is: Is there a recommended amount of miles for wheel bearing replacement? I tend to replace them when I do brakes as a precautionary measure, but I don’t know how long they should last if they are kept greased. My other question is whether or not you feel the MORryde X-Factor Crossmembers will definitely help with preventing broken spring hangers. Thank you. —Andy

Dear Andy,
There is no lifespan or recommended replacement schedule for bearings that I know of. Most axle manufacturers recommend inspecting and repacking once a year or every 12,000 miles. However, I don’t believe every axle is subjected to the same amount of use and abuse.

I ran a company that had three trucks and trailers covering the country. We put more than 100,000 miles on each one every year. The first year we were tearing up axles, brakes, and tires, which costs a fortune when you have to fix them on the side of the road! We tried bearing buddies and other products, but it just seemed to throw grease all over the side of the trailer.

Keep track of temperatures

We finally got axles from Dexter with the EZ Lube feature that shoots grease in the center of the axle and it hits the back and comes back out through the bearing. I also had my techs record the temperature at every stop with a laser temperature tester. They checked the hub, brake drum, and tire, and wrote it down.

This would give us an idea of what was happening before it became an expensive issue. Typically, we would see a 20-degree or higher temperature than ambient temperature. However, if it spiked drastically, then we knew it was time to repack the bearings. That is cheaper to do in a shop! If the brake drum spiked, it probably meant the electric brake was set too high. And if the tire temperature spiked, it was probably getting low in pressure.

Repack the wheel bearings at least once a year

So, to answer your question, you should repack the wheel bearings at least once a year and use the laser temperature tester to let you know if it needs to be done more often. If during inspection you find the bearing is tarnished or pitted, you should replace it and the seal. This is a relatively inexpensive item.

As for the MORryde X-Factor Crossmembers, I had the chance to see this a few weeks ago at the Hershey RV Show. MORryde had a trailer outside with several suspension systems and that was one that was combined with the SRE4000 product. I was impressed at how it added lateral strength to the system, especially when you do a slow turn while backing into a spot. The wheels typically twist and bend all over the place and is one of the major causes of misaligned axles and premature tire wear.

I also called the parts department at MORryde to get a little more info and they told me you could get just the crossmembers. The best place to purchase them was etrailer.com or tweetys.com.

You might need a special type of crossmember

One more thing. If you have the yellow-covered thick plates on the suspension system, you will need a special type of crossmember. And if you have a drain pipe or holding tank in the way, they have a drop-down version, as well.

Read more from Dave here

Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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Impavid
20 days ago

I, personally, don’t like the EZ Lube system. When you pump in grease is it actually getting to the bearing and is the right amount getting in? And if you over pressurize it you’ll by-pass the seal causing the grease to leak out the back and you’ll end up with grease on your brake shoes/pads then requiring a full brake job. I have the EZ Lube system on my RV but for the time and money and peace of mind I pull everything apart. As well, this is the only way you can inspect the bearings for wear to be sure you’ll not break down in the worst possible location.