There are many ways to replace boat trailer bearings, but anticipating when that will happen seems daunting. You can avoid using presses or fancy tools, but instead learn effective methods of replacing boat trailer wheel bearings from this tutorial.
Take the time to learn from these simplified tutorial tips on how to change wheel bearings on a boat trailer:
- Essential items to consider when servicing boat trailer wheel bearings, and
- Step by step instructions for packing or changing boat trailer bearings
Read on for practical tips on changing boat trailer bearings for the safety and convenience of your travels.
Essential Considerations in Maintaining Boat Trailer Bearings
1. Maintenance frequency
- Many major brands and trailer manufacturers recommend maintenance services at least once a year. This does not involve replacing the trailer bearings in normal use as each bearing is specific to its spindle. Each pin that is installed on the wheel axle of the trailer has its specific wheel bearing specifications. Remove the wheel hub for the correct bearing part replacements for your trailer’s spindle.
- Most small boat trailer owners perform bearing maintenance every 2,000 or 6,000 miles, or 6 months, whichever comes first. For owners of larger trailers, maintenance is performed at 10,000 or 20,000 miles or once a year.
- Checking your trailer’s bearings before and after each use will help you know when to service your wheels for noise and loosening. Check for yourself or have someone listen to either side of the trailer while towing at a speed of 20-25 mph.
- Follow or draw a maintenance schedule or maintenance plan for the wheel bearings on your boat trailer. It will depend on the size of your trailer and the trailer load. The more frequently you apply grease, the better for the life of your bearings.
2. Tools and Equipment
When you plan to service the bearings on your boat trailer, make sure you have these basic tools and equipment on hand:
- Small Tools – Simple tools vary from wrenches, car jack, screwdriver, socket set, jack stands, wheel chocks and grease gun. Make sure you have the right tool specifications that match the tasks of removing and reloading your bearing parts. Removing and putting back your bearing takes time when you don’t have the right items or the right alternatives for the actual circumstances.
- Lift lever – to lift the trailer, choose one based on the weight of your trailer. Having a spare jack helps make lifting easier for better lubrication or maintenance.
- Ingenious tools can also be taken into account when the actual work of repacking or changing wheel bearings continues. Using a long, flat stick or thin wood to tap and into the seal ring is a good alternative. A workbench is also useful and accessible instead of using specialized mats for safe work.
In addition to tools and equipment, know the necessary materials or their types to facilitate the maintenance job.
- Make sure that your maintenance materials, especially grease and bearings (if they need to be replaced), are available on hand. This will make maintenance easier with less time spent preparing materials or replacing parts. Use different colors of grease found online for easy identification of new grease and for the safe operation of your trailer.
- The replacement of our bearing parts also depends on the specific axle of the wheel axle of your trailer. Push down on the wheel hub to find out the correct bearing part replacements for your trailer’s wheel axle. Removing the wheel hub allows you to get part specifications for each inner and outer bearing. These bearing specifications or part numbers will ensure the correct match.
- Your ball / roller bearing parts should also have sealing rings that match the specifications of your wheel bearing. Put in order all the items you need for wheel bearing replacement or maintenance tasks. Include rubber caps for the axle cover of your boat trailer in case of wear.
4. Precautionary measures
- Read the product information or owner’s manuals for your boat trailer, wheel hub, bearing assembly, and other part specifications. This will help you maintain proper and timely wheel bearing maintenance and replacement.
- Be attentive and attentive to the movements and sounds of the wheels of your boat trailer. When you hear a noise or feel a shaking trailer movement, it will not only damage your vehicle. The worst-case scenario is that it may cost more to replace other trailer parts or cause the wheels to separate when driving at higher speeds.
- Avoid over-lubricating your bearing as it may cause the ball parts of the bearing assembly to slip. Always keep your grease in the hub and clean the excess from the ball bearing surface.
- Rest assured that your bearings will last around a hundred thousand miles with correct timing, frequent and proper maintenance. Be careful enough to regularly check your wheel bearings for wear before they wear out.
Step by Step Guide to Maintaining Boat Trailer Bearings
Step 1: Prepare your trailer and maintenance area
- Wash as needed to remove mud or dirt from the wheel hub of your boat trailer. Dust off the wheel hubs when the boat trailer is already kept dry in a stable area.
- Check for other signs of damage or tearing that are causing unsafe operations or sudden braking of your boat trailer.
- You can place your hand or feel the surfaces of the wheel hubs for physical damage, hair-like cracks, and the presence of heat.
- Check the owner’s manual and wheel bearing service charts for your boat trailer.
2nd step: Lift the boat trailer
- The lifting of the trailer does not need to be high enough, all it takes is a little clearance from the ground. This will allow for easy checks, applications of grease, replacement of parts and access to the end of the wheel axle.
- Using a car jack or kickstand will keep your boat trailer stable for unintentional movements during maintenance. It will also facilitate the actual job of wrapping or reloading the bearings by hand with the correct tension.
- Allow just enough space to make it easier to slip the wheels and check lubrication or changing bearing parts.
Step 3: Check the wheels
- After lifting the trailer with sufficient ground clearance, check the wheels, wheel hub, axle, grease nipple, etc.
- Check the wheel for looseness, play, and noise, among other maintenance issues. Put your palm on to feel the heat on the wheel hubs. When the wheel hubs are too hot, it indicates poor condition of the bearings. This requires immediate greasing service, or worse, replacement of the bearing if worn.
- Now that you have found the problem, you can move on to the maintenance task. Lubricate or change the wheel bearing as needed.
Step 4: Lubricate the bearings
- Start by unplugging the rubber cover from the end of the axle. Check the wheel running surface or pull the entire hub to see the inner part.
- Squeeze the grease with a grease gun into the zerk until new grease appears on top. Avoid mixing grease or soap based thickeners to avoid damage, become hard or acidic and separate.
- Lubricate every 6 months to extend the life of your bearings. When the axle has a zerk at the end, the use of a grease gun is recommended.
Step 5: Replace the bearings
- The same bearing lubrication steps apply when replacing torn bearings on your boat trailer. Pull out the hub assembly to see the inner part and easily change, repack, grease and reload the bearings on the hub.
- Check for slight play in the wheel, which is about 1/8 of an inch or less, and note if there is noise or play before and after the job.
- Perform regular maintenance checks or replace the bearings on your boat trailer to ensure safe operations.
Check out this Mile High Campers video and Prestige Worldwide Fishing tutorial on YouTube for step-by-step maintenance.
Now that you’ve gone through this tutorial on how to replace boat trailer bearings, you can share it to help your colleagues and how it made your maintenance task easier. Use these effective methods to ensure good condition of your boat trailer wheels. It will help you change or pack bearings or install new ones on your boat trailer easily and quickly.
Facilitate both the safety and convenience of your boating efforts with a proactive mindset and within your diligent options. Enjoy safe boat trips with this tutorial without professional help.