How to Repack Wheel Bearings

Simple maintenance prevents the No. 1 cause of trailer breakdowns

Repack trailer wheel bearings to prevent the most common breakdown. It's an easy and cheap maintenance chore.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Repack trailer and wheel bearings

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.

Key supplies
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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Hammer
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Parts cleaning brush
  • Slip joint pliers

You'll also need a seal puller, washing tub, parts brush, floor jack, jack stands, side cutters and plastic gloves.

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

  • Marine wheel bearing grease
  • Grease seals
  • Cotter pins
  • Degreaser solution