Repack trailer and wheel bearings
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Photo 1: Remove the outer bearing
Jack up the trailer and support the frame or axles with jack stands. Remove the wheel
and then the hub dust cap with slip-joint pliers. Unbend the cotter pin, grab the head with
side cutters and leverage it out of the castle nut. Spin the nut off with pliers. Then pull
the hub forward until the washer and outer bearing fall into your hand.
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Photo 2: Remove the inner bearing
Pull the entire hub off the axle and place it on the floor. Hold it
with your foot and pry out the grease seal with the seal puller.
Keep the inner and outer bearings separate—they have to go back
in their original locations.
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Photo 3: Clean the bearings
Soak the bearings in the degreaser and use the parts brush to
clean out all the old grease and dirt. Set the bearings on a clean
cloth to dry, or use compressed air. But don't spin them with
compressed air—they can fly apart and cause serious injuries.
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Photo 4: Repack with new grease
Spoon a glop of new grease into the palm of your hand. Then slap
the edge of the bearing into the grease. Force the grease into the
bearing cage like you're scooping dip with a potato chip. Rotate
the bearing and repeat until the bearing cage is filled with grease.
Smear the rest of the grease over the face of the bearing rollers.
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Photo 5: Install the new grease seal
Clean all the old grease out of the hub. Then wipe fresh grease
on the inner race and set the bearing in place. Position the new
grease seal with the open edge of the lip facing in toward the
bearing. Place a flat steel plate or wood block over the seal and
smack it into position until the seal is fully seated. Then wipe a
light coat of grease around the inside of the new seal.
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Photo 6: Reinstall the hub
Remove the old grease from the axle. Slide on the hub, outer bearing,
washer and castle nut. Tighten the castle nut until it's snug.
Spin the hub to spread the grease and seat the bearings. Resnug
the castle nut, then back it off a quarter turn to line it up with the
hole in the axle. Insert a new cotter key and bend the ears. Tap in
the dust cap.
You know you’re supposed to repack
the wheel bearings on your boat, horse
or utility trailer. But do you? Well,
not as often as you should, according
to Field Editor George Andriotis,
who owns D&G Auto and Trailers in
Bridgeport, CT. George routinely gets
calls from stranded trailer owners. The
No. 1 cause? Fried wheel bearings.
You can avoid being stranded by
repacking your wheel bearings on a regular
schedule. If you use your work or
utility trailer daily or drive it long distances,
repack them every six months.
Repack annually if it gets occasional
use and/or the trips are short. For boat
trailers, repack the wheel bearings at
the start and end of the boating season.
Use marine wheel bearing grease.
Repacking wheel bearings is cheap
(less than $15) and you can do it yourself
in a few hours. Pick up new grease
seals, cotter pins and the wheel bearing
grease at any trailer supply shop. Grease
seals come in various sizes based on the
inside dimension of your wheel bearings.
So after you pull off the bearings (Photo 1),
take them to the store to match them with
new ones. You’ll also need a seal puller
(Grip No. 22180 Seal Puller; $7 from
amazon.com) degreaser solution, parts
cleaning brush, washing tub, slip-joint
pliers, side cutters, floor jack and jack stands. Then follow the simple photo series.
Key Tools and Supplies
You can pick up these supplies at an auto parts store.