How Often Should RV Wheel Bearings Be Repacked?

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How Often Should RV Wheel Bearings Be Repacked?

RV wheel bearings are a hidden maintenance item that can be easy to overlook. However, by ignoring your RV wheel bearings, you’re taking a huge gamble.

We want to make sure you and others are safe while you’re RVing. So today we’ll look at wheel bearings and how often you should repack them.

Let’s jump in!

What Do RV Wheel Bearings Do?

RV wheel bearings play an essential role in keeping your RV traveling down the highway smoothly and safely. These bearings allow your RV’s wheels to turn correctly and carry your RV’s weight. Keep your wheel bearings in good working order.

If not, you risk putting yourself and your RV in a dangerous situation.

How Often Should You Repack Your Wheel Bearings?

To avoid a wheel bearing failure, you should regularly repack your wheel bearings. If you have a large RV and travel regularly, you should do this every year or 10,000 miles.

If you’re not taking your RV on extended trips and it’s smaller, you should do it every year or 2,000 miles. Sitting idle for extended periods isn’t good for your RV’s components.

Tires For RV Camper Van.
Repack your wheel bearings every year or every 10,000 miles.

How to Tell If Your Wheel Bearings Need to Be Repacked

If you’re worried about whether you need to repack your wheel bearings, there are a few things you can watch and listen for while your RV is in motion.

Let’s take a look to help you avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Screeching Sounds

Screeching sounds coming from your wheels while you’re in motion is a major sign that something isn’t quite right. This can be hard to identify because rarely is anyone outside the RV while it’s in motion.

It may be beneficial to keep an ear out while you’re towing through the campground or at slow speeds. You can also take a lap around the campground or have a traveling companion get out while you drive by them. Listen for any irregularities.

Doing this regularly will help you distinguish between normal axle flexing noises and potential signs indicating you need to repack your wheel bearings.

Pro Tip: Unsure what’s causing suspicious sounds on your RV? Sometimes only a mechanic can diagnose the problem, but Should You Avoid Mobile RV Repair?

Tire Movement

If you can move your tire up and down more than usual, it’s another indication that something isn’t right. You may also notice unusual wearing on your wheels as a result of tire movement.

Having uneven wear and tear on your tires can lead to a dangerous blowout at high speeds. Keeping your wheel bearings packed is a great way to protect your wheels and avoid a blowout.

Steering Play

Another significant indication that your RV’s wheel bearings need repacking is when you feel the RV and tow vehicle begin to pull in a certain direction. This steering play will go away when you’re not towing.

This is a major indication that you need to repack or replace your wheel bearings. Don’t procrastinate on the repair. It’ll only get worse.

Woman repairing tire on vehicle.
Incorrectly repacking your wheel bearings can be incredibly dangerous, so hire a professional if you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself.

How Do You Repack Your Wheel Bearings?

If you’re not comfortable with repacking your wheel bearings, hire a professional. Incorrectly repacking your wheel bearings can be incredibly dangerous.

You run the risk of making an expensive and dangerous mistake when it comes to an integral component of your RV. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth putting yourself and others at risk on the road.

Preparation

Start by reading your RV’s maintenance manual. This can provide critical information. One thing to note is the proper torquing procedure. Improperly torquing your wheels can increase the wear and tear on your RV’s bearings and create excessive heat.

Next, use a set of quality wheel chocks to prevent your RV from rolling. Use a trailer jack to lift your trailer until the wheel you want to work on is off the ground. If you haven’t gathered your tools, this is a great time to do so. From here on out, your hands will probably be messy.

Pro Tip: A good set of wheel chocks will be a game changer for RV repairs and parking. Find out What RV Wheel Chocks Are Decent, Better & Best.

Worker reading his repair manual.
Your RV manual will give you critical information to help you repack your wheel bearings.

Removal

Use a hammer and chisel to remove the dust cap from the wheel hub. This will allow you to pull the wheel hub to see the castellated nut and remove any tabs holding the nut in place. You’ll then be able to unscrew the nut and begin removing the wheel.

Removing the wheel may require you to spin the wheel gently. Once the outer bearing is loose, you can remove the hub and wheel. This will give you an easy view of the axle spindle and brakes and help you see if you need to address issues with their components. You can then remove the grease seal to remove the inner bearings, the washer, and the outer bearings.

Cleaning

Place the bearings on a clean towel to wipe all of the remaining grease off of them. Roll the bearings across the towel to ensure you remove all of the old grease. Keep an eye out for any signs of wear and tear on the bearings. If you spot any, visit a trailer supply shop with your old bearings to find replacements.

You can then clean the hub with paper towels and begin greasing the hub with new grease. Avoid getting grease on your brakes as it will make it very difficult to stop. Then reassemble in reverse. It may help to take pictures during disassembly for quick reference during reassembly.

Again, this can be a complicated process, and only someone who knows what they’re doing should attempt it. It may be worth asking a trusted and educated acquaintance to help teach you how to pack your bearings correctly. If not, don’t be afraid to pay someone to do it.

Woman budgeting at office
RV wheel bearings are quite affordable, but if you are not repacking them yourself make sure to budget for the extra cost of installation.

How Much Do RV Wheel Bearings Cost?

RV wheel bearings aren’t overly expensive. You can expect to pay $20 to $30 for all of the parts. However, unless you’re repacking your wheel bearings yourself, you should expect to pay a considerable amount more to have it done for you.

How Much Does It Cost to Have Your Wheel Bearings Installed?

Prices will vary depending on who you entrust to repack your RV’s wheel bearings. If you don’t have a trusted garage for these kinds of repairs, be sure to shop around. Ask other RVers who they use for their wheel bearings and RV services.

Again, the parts will generally cost $20 to $30, but labor will be the bulk of your expense. You can expect to pay $50 to $75 per wheel when it comes to having your wheel bearings professionally packed. It may be expensive, but it’s worth the assurance that it’s done right. 

Pro Tip: Keep your tires protected when your RV isn’t in use with tire covers. Find out if it is worth the investment: Do RV Tire Covers Really Work?

Keep Your RV’s Wheel Bearings in Top Shape

Any time you’re messing with your brakes or wheels, it’s important to minimize risks. You want these essential components in optimal working order to keep you and others safe.

Stay up to date with your wheel bearings, and you’ll help keep your RV traveling down the open road. Do you prefer to pack your wheel bearings yourself, or do you leave this to the professionals?

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2 comments

  1. Many RVs now have Zerk grease fittings on their wheels which allows grease to be pumped into the wheel bearings, reducing the needed frequency of laborious repacking. However, care must be taken not to pump in too much. I know this from personal experience, having blown out the rear seals. The dealer where the repairs were done suggested no more than two pumps of the grease gun handle.

    Thanks for the article on greasing hitch balls. I’ve been confused for years because of the differing advice so prevalent on this subject and the article was very helpful

  2. Honestly, this article could not be more timely! Just last night we had an issue with our 25″ winnebago trailer – the wheel bearings blew out, the hub, brake and axle both damaged irreparably.
    Thankfully we have an extended warranty — but it was a great deal of trouble and the trailer could have caught on fire since the wheel was smoking.
    The dealership told us to pack the bearings “every 3-4 years” when we asked. hmmm. We have only taken this trailer out about 2K miles in 2 years. and this dangerous situation happened.
    We will be checking these religiously from now on and not relying on a specific timeframe.
    thanks for the article!

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