Book an appointment online

KEEP THOSE WHEELS SPINNING

First a Happy 4th of July to everyone, and I hope you are all keeping cool out there and enjoying the holiday and maybe even a 4 day weekend. It is the perfect opportunity for those with boats, RV’s, travel trailers etc. to get and enjoy the “warm” weather. A quick question though. When was the last time you had your trailer inspected and wheel bearings checked/serviced? If you do not remember now is a good time. In general, wheel bearings in your car should be checked about every 24,000 miles or 24 months, but you should be inspecting and lubricating your trailer tires at least once a year, especially if it is a boat trailer.

Every wheel on every vehicle or trailer spins thanks to smaller wheel bearings. They allow the wheels to spin with minimal friction and they support the vehicles weight. While, all wheels have them, not all of them are serviceable: some are sealed while others are pressed onto the axle-shaft or integrated into the hub assembly. However, many front axles and most trailer axles have removable bearings that must be kept lubricated as part of normal maintenance. Boat trailers are especially susceptible to premature bearing death because the axles are normally submerged while unloading and loading the boat. Most bearings are engineered to last over 100,000 miles, however constant load can take a toll and if a seal is damaged all bets are off.  If a wheel bearing fails prematurely, it is usually a result of maladjustment, contamination or loss of grease.

The weak link in the system so to speak is the seal. Once a seal starts to leak, the bearings are in trouble. A damaged grease seal can allow grease to leak out of the bearings, without adequate grease, bearings will wear out, seize and cause the wheel to lock, creating enough friction and heat to shear an axle and lose a wheel. On the other hand if grease is escaping dirt and water can also enter the bearing cavity leading to contamination and rust which will also damage the bearings. If the seals on sealed bearing assemblies fail, the seals cannot be replaced separately, the entire hub assembly needs to be replaced. Yet, in some older vehicles, a bad seal can be replaced with a new one to extend the life of the bearings.

 

The first symptom of wheel bearing trouble is noise. There is usually a rumbling, growling, chirping or cyclic noise of some kind that will come from the vicinity of the wheels. This is a good indication that trouble is now brewing and therefore immediate attention is needed. If you ignore a noisy wheel bearing it could suddenly fail. This could be fatal as the vehicle could lose a wheel while driving.
Wheel bearing noise doesn’t change when accelerating or decelerating but it may change when turning, or it could even become louder or even disappear at certain speeds. Other symptoms you may notice on your vehicle or trailer include splattered grease on the rims, metal shavings in the grease or possibly a smoking wheel.

A good way to check wheel bearings without disassembly is to jack the wheel in question up off the ground, grab it from both the top and the bottom, and attempt to move it. There should be very little or no movement at all. Or have the seals and bearings inspected when you have your brakes serviced. If you do need to have your wheel bearings replaced the ease and expense will depend on the type of assembly.

First a Happy 4th of July to everyone, and I hope you are all keeping cool out there and enjoying the holiday and maybe even a 4 day weekend. It is the perfect opportunity for those with boats, RV’s, travel trailers etc. to get and enjoy the “warm” weather. A quick question though. When was the last time you had your trailer inspected and wheel bearings checked/serviced? If you do not remember now is a good time. In general, wheel bearings in your car should be checked about every 24,000 miles or 24 months, but you should be inspecting and lubricating your trailer tires at least once a year, especially if it is a boat trailer.

Every wheel on every vehicle or trailer spins thanks to smaller wheel bearings. They allow the wheels to spin with minimal friction and they support the vehicles weight. While, all wheels have them, not all of them are serviceable: some are sealed while others are pressed onto the axle-shaft or integrated into the hub assembly. However, many front axles and most trailer axles have removable bearings that must be kept lubricated as part of normal maintenance. Boat trailers are especially susceptible to premature bearing death because the axles are normally submerged while unloading and loading the boat. Most bearings are engineered to last over 100,000 miles, however constant load can take a toll and if a seal is damaged all bets are off.  If a wheel bearing fails prematurely, it is usually a result of maladjustment, contamination or loss of grease.

The weak link in the system so to speak is the seal. Once a seal starts to leak, the bearings are in trouble. A damaged grease seal can allow grease to leak out of the bearings, without adequate grease, bearings will wear out, seize and cause the wheel to lock, creating enough friction and heat to shear an axle and lose a wheel. On the other hand if grease is escaping dirt and water can also enter the bearing cavity leading to contamination and rust which will also damage the bearings. If the seals on sealed bearing assemblies fail, the seals cannot be replaced separately, the entire hub assembly needs to be replaced. Yet, in some older vehicles, a bad seal can be replaced with a new one to extend the life of the bearings.

Want to know more about how to care for your car properly? Learn more about your car by reading our posts! 

 

Call Your Location
Call Your Location