Wheel Bearing Check - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-14-2007, 05:15 PM   #1
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Trailer: 2010 Coleman 325 37' fifthwheel
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I think that most of us disassemble and inspect wheel bearings annualy, but how often should we be doing a quick pre trip check ?
I found my self taking the easy out today. It was a cold drizzly day and I hurried through it as I took a low quality cell phone video.
Wheel bearing quick pre trip check
I checked for strange noises such as grinding or excessive drag and for slack in the bearings ( side to side play ). A quick tire pressure check was after the video.
My question is, is it sufficient to insure safety ?
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Old 12-14-2007, 07:15 PM   #2
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Quote:
I think that most of us disassemble and inspect wheel bearings annualy, but how often should we be doing a quick pre trip check ?
I found my self taking the easy out today. It was a cold drizzly day and I hurried through it as I took a low quality cell phone video.
Wheel bearing quick pre trip check
I checked for strange noises such as grinding or excessive drag and for slack in the bearings ( side to side play ). A quick tire pressure check was after the video.
My question is, is it sufficient to insure safety ?
Relax and enjoy your trailer. Take what you read with a grain of salt and ask yourselves when was the last time you had a wheel bearing on any of your vehicles give you any trouble? I think you will find that if everything on our trailers, and other RVs, were as reliable as the wheel bearings we would all be very happy campers.
When I am on a trip I might, if I think about it, feel the dust cap on the bearings to see if the are hot. I worry more about the furnace not working on a 20 degree night or the battery going dead than I do the bearings. To be quite honest the bearings are the last thing I worry about.
My ATV trailer has not had the wheel bearings packed for 4 years and the wheel bearing dust caps are only slightly warm to the touch every time I use the trailer.
Have your bearings repacked by a mechanic once every year or two and you should be fine.
I have been towing horse trailers, boat trailers and RV trailers for over 40 years and have never had a bad wheel bearing.

Happy Holidays,

John
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Old 12-14-2007, 07:27 PM   #3
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What gives wheel bearings a bad rap are the boat people. They back their boat trailers into the water to get their boat on and off and seem to never worry about their bearings because they only tow the trailer very little compared to the other vehicles they drive, water gets in with the bearings, things rust, their tail lights get water in them and they go bad right along with the bearings and I know that I see several boats with trailer along side the road each year. (We live on a lake) so I recommend that you take John's advice as it is rock solid.
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Old 12-14-2007, 08:43 PM   #4
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Thanks, John & Darwin, for the prompt response. So your answer to the question isn't yes or no, but that it is most likely a complete waste of time ?
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Old 12-15-2007, 08:03 AM   #5
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So your answer to the question isn't yes or no, but that it is most likely a complete waste of time ?
Anders, safety checks are never a complete waste of time. I do a walk-around of my entire rig every time I stop. I feel the hubs, tires, and wheels as a comparative check for temperature as any one of them that's comparatively warmer may signal a problem. I found that the "D" range tires that came on my Excursion nearly had sidewall failures when I towed my 34' Airstream home several years ago by doing a walk-around at a gas station. The last 60 miles home were scary, but at least I was anticipating a failure instead of having one out of the blue. Fortunately they didn't fail and I made it home, but the tires were replaced (before the Firestone Excursion recall, BTW) immediately.

I check the hitch assemblies for tightness. I check the receiver assembly on the truck to make sure it's not moving (broken or loose mounting bolts). Occasionally I'll "wiggle" the tires on the trailer to check the bearings. I may not do all of the checks at every stop, but I always make sure I do a walk-around.

There have been a number of other items I've found over the years by doing exactly the kinds of things you suggest.

I would say, however, that a failure is less likely after the first thousand miles on a new trailer (after you are convinced that all the running gear was assembled and is working properly) and you won't be likely to see a wear failure for quite some time, unless some component just plain fails.

Regular annual or bi-annual maintenance should be sufficient for you to have worry-free travel.

Roger
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Old 12-15-2007, 02:53 PM   #6
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I think that most of us disassemble and inspect wheel bearings annualy, but how often should we be doing [b]a quick pre trip check ?
Having those electric leveling jacks enable easier inspections than most of us take the trouble to do manually.
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Old 12-15-2007, 03:27 PM   #7
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Having those electric leveling jacks enable easier inspections than most of us take the trouble to do manually.
You are right, that's likely the only reason I went to the trouble on such a drizzly day. For the first few trips I carried a few blocks, mostly out of habit, I suppose, but have now abandoned them. Less to carry and more storage for other "stuff".
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Old 12-16-2007, 09:05 PM   #8
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Sadly, I DID have a wheel bearing failure on my 91S13 and it was severe enough that I had to replace the axle (the shoulder where the seal rides was damaged to the point where a seal wouldn't seal). I had bought the trailer in Vermont and the bearings were repacked(I don't know if the seals were replaced or the old seals reused). I drove to Florida and then across the country to the PacNW. I then lived in the trailer for about a year without moving it, then started off to Alaska.

Driving at night, I didn't bother to check the bearings when I stopped for gas and one set failed. After replacing it and smoothing the shoulder as best I could, I checked the other wheel and found the grease to be water-contaminated.

I surmise that sitting in the PacNW during a rainy winter, with me moving around inside the trailer, caused the seals on both wheels to flex enough that rain water eventually made its way in and contaminated the grease. From the repack to the failure was less than 18 months and about 5-6,000 miles at most.

I recommend repacking every year or so, but more importantly, I recommend developing the habit of checking both the tire and hub temperatures of the TV and trailer at every fuel or food stop, esp after highway driving in hot weather. I do a walkaround check of all tires and hubs, plus I check that stuf is still tied down, plugged in, etc. Temperature checks can be done manually or with a cheap infrared thermometer (you aren't looking for accuracy as much as relativity; if one tire or hub is distinctly hotter than the others, it needs attention and bears close watching).
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