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Brake failures and the importance of a wheel bearing pack service

Here I’ll explain the importance of a wheel bearing pack service and will show you what we found on a unit recently on our lot. When was the last time you inspected your brakes and bearings?

During a recent wheel bearing pack service we found the following items on an RV unit:

  • The brake shoes were worn down on three out of four brakes. This also caused damage to the drums.
  • The roadside rear brake magnet wiring was cut in half and the backing plate/shoe and the drum were rusted.
  • All bearings were burnt and loose in bearing cages due to lack of lubrication.
Brake material has broken away from the shoe and is now metal to metal.
The magnet and brake shoe has damaged and scarred the surface and face of the drum.
Grease has leaked past the seal and brake shoe dust has collected on the grease.
Brake magnet wire was found cut internally in the hub, causing this brake to be inoperable.
Brake shoe material cracked and disintegrating.

Causes of brake failure

Making sure that the brakes and suspension are in good working condition is key for any RV. With that being said, a lot of braking and suspension systems go unchecked and can cause accidents and trailer fires.We want to make sure this is prevented so trips can be enjoyed with family and friends. Trailer brakes should be inspected at yearly intervals or more often, depending on performance.

There are many causes for brakes not to work properly:

  • Poor connections
  • Open circuit
  • Insufficient wire size
  • Broken wires hanging below the axle
  • Improperly set up controller
  • Internally shorted magnets
  • Defective controller
  • Brake wire shorted to ground somewhere in the system
  • Corrosion between the ground wire and the brake wire in the electrical connector plug
New brakes installed.

Wheel bearing pack service

A wheel bearing pack service is recommended every 12 months or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. Whether you are a DIY guy or gal or you utilize an RV repair shop, be sure to get this service done if your RV are due (based on mileage and/or time) or question the functionality of your brakes.

A thorough service will include:

  • Inspection of brakes and bearings for wear or damage
  • Cleaning and repacking of wheel bearings and replacing the seals
  • Cleaning and adjusting the brake shoes as well as testing the operation
  • Adjusting tire pressure and torquing wheels to specifications
  • Inspecting shackle links, springs, hangers, all welds and wiring at axles

If you would like to see a wheel bearing service completed from start to finish, watch the video below.

If you want to learn more about wheel bearings, check out this additional video:

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More from Dustin

Dustin owns and operates California RV Specialists, an independent RV repair shop located in Lodi, CA. He thrives on sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm of RV repair and maintenance with his team, customers, and virtual friends.

Be sure to check out his YouTube channel where he shares what’s going on in the shop and the product offerings in the store. Dustin is also very active on Facebook. Join his group, RV Repairs and Tips – What’s in the shop!

Dustin proudly operates the business alongside his wife, Ashley; but the true pair that run the show are their Boston Terriers, Arvie and Hitch.

##RVDT1952

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Jay
5 days ago

In one of your videos the axle was set up for easy lube via a grease gun. There are a lot of opinions about whether using these vs hand packing is equivalent or not- what’s your take? I recently took my wheel off for a brake issue and did a manual pack but would have liked to pump some grease through the zerk fitting to see what happens with the wheel off. I might do that in the future if I get a dedicated grease gun for axle lubing.

Drew
6 days ago

Dustin,

Thanks for your videos. Your shop looks great and I’ll bet you have happy customers.

Joe
6 days ago

I had my left front bearing go out on my brand new 2020 motorhome that was purchased in 2019. During inspection I asked Freightliner to inspect all bearings and they found the front right one was also going bad. They replaced them with bearings supplied by Freightliner, that they say was made by Timken however marked Chinese with no other markings. I asked for replacement with German F A G or Swedish SKF bearings but they would not do it since the coach was still under warranty. Timken has a plant just down the road from Freightliner in Gaffney S.C.

Jeff A
6 days ago

I’ve said this a couple times before but possibly 3rd times a charm. My lippert axles 4400# take the same bearing as a 1500# axle. Not very confidence building.

also I’ve bought Timken bearings at a Harley store that were made India & same bearing at local industrial supply that was made in U.S. both Timken same box same numbers.

lotta things in this world don’t make a lick of sense.

12 months 12,000 miles I don’t agree with that but that’s a long story

Gary Broughton
6 days ago

Checked my bearings and breaks every spring and adjusted the breaks. Never had problems with my breaks.
Have heard other peoples breaks rubbing metal on metal, have seen wheels wobble and one wheel hub come off over the axel nut.

Thomas D
6 days ago
Reply to  Gary Broughton

Most misspelled word ever?
BRAKES

Crowman
6 days ago

Another thing about bearings is get a good American made bearing like Timken instead of garbage bearings from China.

Thom R
6 days ago
Reply to  Crowman

Seen a chinese bearing come out of a Timken box. It may depend on size. Popular sizes may be suspect. You have to be careful.

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