Work on your own rig and save money!

Jim Repacking the Trailer Wheel BearingsThere is one good thing about visiting Los Angeles.

Aside from seeing La Familia, that is. OK two things … Oh, and the food. I guess that makes three things.

Anyway, access to the right tools makes working on your rig easy. And that can help you save a lot of money.

And believe me, El Jefe has all the right tools … and the shop, and the brain, which I picked to learn how to to pack the wheel bearings on our fifth wheel trailer.

Recommendations for mileage on wheel bearings range from 3,000 to 30,000 miles before repacking them with fresh grease. Our Arctic Fox dealer suggested we have it done at 10,000 miles. I have a lot of faith in René’s father when it comes to things like this, since he put plenty of years in under plenty of trucks.

Repacking Trailer Wheel BearingsHe suggested 20,000 miles would be fine, which was fine with me. That gave us ample miles to make it back to his garage, where he could help us. And by doing the job ourselves, we probably saved at least $300. René called a local shop that wanted $150 per axle.

At least once annually is a good schedule for repacking the bearings on any trailer on the road full-time. But here’s one basic rule of thumb: The smaler the wheel, the fewer the miles. On small wheels, the bearings rotate faster. But our trailer rolls on standard truck tires and has two axles.

While I found some pretty detailed instructions for repacking trailer wheel bearings, I decided to make my own in the form of this video. Besides, that handyman’s hands are way to clean for a dirty job like this…


Fair Warning: You might find the video long and boring, unless you’re looking for simple directions for how to save money by re-packing your own wheel bearings. It just helps to have the right tools!

Many thanks to El Jefe for imparting his mechanical wisdom, and for use of all the right tools. I guess we’ll just have to come back in another 20,000 miles or so. Hopefully the job I did on our bearings, will last that long.

El Jefe teaches Jim how to repack trailer wheel bearings

12 thoughts on “Work on your own rig and save money!”

  1. bearing buddies were a great invention for the guy that travels less than 50 miles from the lake and submergies the trailer bearings at the ramp each time . white lithem grease is used its water proof and the hub is pressureized to keep water out, ok the down side on long hauls the open area of the hub is also a cooler to keep the bearings cool and to disperse heat the cages on the roller bearings that you pack contain suffecent grease to do the job, fine line dont over pack or under pack (over pack the hub full of grease pushing the seal or cap out) basic rule smaller the tire less time between repack

  2. All this rave about bearing buddies, but the only probelem with them is eventually you willl have grease shooting out the rear seal lubing up your brakes and then what! They are ok as long as you pay attention to the amount of grease that is already in the system. Many believe the grease vanishes into thin air I guess!!!

  3. Ahh yes I can see that many could over grease the BB and produce the issue you mention.

    As for doing it yourself, it’s hard to find time and cars just keep getting more and more complicated. But I like to get get my hands dirty and I like knowing it’s done right. If it’s not done right, I have no one to blame but myself.

    This is especially true when it comes to my bikes, with nothing to protect you but your skill and a thin layer of leather, I take comfort in knowing I do all maintenance work.

    Thanks for the tip, looks like I will not put the BB’s on my Chalet afterall 🙂

  4. when i was working for cal-trans we found that the bearings were being over seviced & the grease would blow out the seal & render the brakes inoperable.
    the issue was resolved by banning the use of the brg. buddy, easier than trying to “educate” a lot of knuckle draggers!
    i commend anyone who undertakes his own maintenance these days!

  5. Not trying to argue with you, I totally agree I’ve cleaned and hand packed too many bearings. I was commenting on the “Grease Squirting” comment above.

    You can ask J&R I do all my own maint, almost 100k on my 2004 Honda VTX, 190k on my 1993 Chevy Z28 and I do all my own work. As for the trailer issue, that was my first boat/trailer, it was 2nd hand and I did not know much about trailer maint. at the time.

    Never had an issue post install of the Bearing buddies, and they are standard on most boat new trailers I see on the lots up here in NorCal (course I have not looked at new boats in the last year or two).

  6. btw, if bearing buddies are so
    great ! why do you suppose the ca. dept. of transportation outlawed them about 15 yrs ago ?

  7. the whole purpose of packing bearings is`nt just packing bearings!, it`s part of a preventive maintainance philosophy!, check brakes, brake lines & undercarriage of the unit. i don`t subscribe to “breakdown maintenance”!!

  8. Ya, I switched to the Bearing Buddy set up on the boat trailer years ago after installing with new bearings on the side of Hwy 5!

    Boat trailer bearings are prone to issues what with all the water they deal with and then sitting for the winter and rusting if not properly cared for. Not sure if these are great for a big rig like yours but I think I may put them on the Chalet 🙂

  9. Jim Jim Jim… Now if you had the “EZ” grease bearing nipples on those bearings…I’d would have seen you having a beer and giving them a “squirt” of grease! Oh…That reminds me that i need to have a beer…no i mean squirt some grease on my bearings before the next tow. Ahh maybe tomorrow but i’ll grab a beer now! 😉 All fun..That’s why we have trailers…always watching, talk soon.

  10. wish now we had learned the electrical trade! we’d be saving thousands by doing it ourselves. $2000 on solar last week and now who knows how much on electrical issue with parking brake this week, 8+ hrs of labor!! Oh the joys of living in an rv! 🙂


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