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Repacking Trailer Wheel Bearings

Repacking the wheel bearings on your utility or boat trailer is quick and easy, and you'll avoid the breakdown that'll leaves you stranded along the road. How many trailers have you seen on the side of the road this year with one wheel propped up? Don't let it happen to you. If you haven't checked your wheel bearings lately, read this article. You can complete this simple task in about an hour and save yourself a big repair bill.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

  • ComplexityComplexity Simple
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    If you have the tools shown, the process should go without a hitch. If you find severely corroded or worn parts, take it to a service center.

Project overview

Many trailer manufacturers recommend this maintenance every year if your trailer gets normal use, or at least every 20,000 miles. To do this job, you'll need a jack, a pair of jack stands, a large screwdriver, a hammer and a needle-nose pliers, clean rags, a small pan, about a quart of kerosene and a spray can of brake cleaner.

First, loosen the lug nuts on one wheel and raise the side of the trailer with a jack. Support the trailer with jack stands and then spin the wheel and listen to the bearings. If the wheel spins freely and quietly, proceed with repacking the bearings. If you hear friction or a growling sound, you most likely have a bad bearing or spindle. If this is the case, take the trailer to a service center to get the bearings replaced.

Bearings and hub parts

Bearings and hub parts

Figure A: Typical trailer hub assembly
Note: You can download and print Figure A from the Additional Information section below.

Bearing repacking – start to finish

Simply follow the photo series for the complete project.

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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

Jack, Wrench for lug nuts, Jack stands (2), Large screwdriver (flat tip), Adjustable wrench (large)

Required Materials for this Project

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

    • Penetrating fluid
    • Brake cleaner (spray can)
    • Kerosene
    • Small pan
    • Clean rags
    • Bearing grease

Comments from DIY Community Members

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1 - 3 of 3 comments
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February 24, 5:31 PM [GMT -5]

The difference with my trailer was a tang bent in one of the slots of the nut, not a cotter pin. Otherwise it was informative.

October 20, 11:33 AM [GMT -5]

Great DIY article. Living in Michigan, I'm quite used to seeing folks heading "up north" for weekends dragging their toys behind them. I have said for years that I've yet to drive up north once where I didn't see a trailer of some sort sitting on the side of the road with one wheel propped up. You would think people would learn from seeing that. My son-in-law was getting ready to drive out to Phoenix dragging a motorcycle behind his van and together we re-packed his wheel bearings which never would have survived that trip west!

July 26, 6:16 PM [GMT -5]

Pretty good step by step. Maybe I missed it, but you should consider installing a NEW grease seal, not re-install the old one.
All in all pretty good directions.

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Repacking Trailer Wheel Bearings

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