How Often Should Travel Trailer Wheel Bearings Be Repacked?

Wheel bearings are the unsung heroes of travel trailers. They allow us to get down the road safely, and literally, without the wheels falling off. However, many of us, particularly new travel trailer owners, are unaware that wheel bearings exist.

The problem with not knowing about wheel bearings is that they are a part that often goes unmaintained on many travel trailers. Travel trailer wheel bearing repack is an important and essential maintenance task that all RV owners should be doing periodically.

In this article, we will take a look at the process for travel trailer wheel bearing repack and cleaning. For those new to wheel bearings, we will cover the basics that you need to know as a travel trailer owner and give you some tips for when and how to repack and clean your travel trailer wheel bearings.

What Do Wheel Bearings Do?

What Do Wheel Bearings Do?
Lippert wheel bearing diagram

Travel trailer wheel bearings are a hidden part of your trailer’s wheel and axle
combination. These small metal spheres sit between the wheel and the axle and are
an important feature for allowing the wheel and axle to work together properly.

Wheel bearings connect the wheel and the axle. The small spheres are highly
polished and are seated in a thick grease. There is a set of bearings on the front and
rear of the wheel connection. The bearings allow the wheel to turn smoothly while
connected to the axle.

When wheel bearings are not properly maintained or repacked regularly, you
could be setting yourself up for a travel disaster.

4 Signs Your Wheel Bearings Need To Be Repacked?

Repacking your travel trailer wheel bearings is a maintenance task that should
done periodically. However, sometimes wheel bearings may need to be repacked
outside of the normal maintenance window.

There are some telltale signs that you should pay attention to, that indicate that your wheel bearings need a bit of maintenance.

1. Grinding or Whine That Gets Worse With Speed

If your travel trailer wheels are making noises while you are driving down the road, this is the first indicator that your wheel bearings need to be repacked. The grinding or screeching noise that you may hear tells you that the grease that the bearings sit in or are packed in has worn away or become dirty.

If you start to notice grinding or screeching, do not wait too long before you schedule
your travel trailer wheel bearing repack.

2. Hot wheels

No, we’re not talking about those fun little toy cars. In this case, if your travel trailer wheels are hot to the touch, they are at a critical point where the bearings need a repack. The heat is caused by the friction of the bearings inside the wheel rubbing together.

The grease that the bearings are normally packed in is designed to reduce friction and heat. If your travel trailer has hot wheels, it is time for an appointment with your local RV repair person.

3. Burning smell

Signs Your Wheel Bearings Need To Be Repacked

This will likely go along with hot or warm wheels. If you notice a burning smell while you are towing your travel trailer, it may be a good indication that the wheel bearings for the trailer need to be repacked.

Of course, other things can cause a burning smell, but if you’ve noticed your wheels are hot and there’s a grinding noise while in motion, it is a good guess that your wheel bearings need some TLC.

4. Wheel play

If you are getting to a point where your wheels do not seem to sit securely on the axle and move more than they previously had, this can be a good indication that your wheel bearings need maintenance or need to be replaced.

This can also be a good indication that you are nearing a point where a bearing could blow, and this will create an extremely hazardous condition for you and others on the road around you.

How Often Should You Repack Travel Trailer Wheel    

There are two options for how often you should schedule a travel trailer wheel
bearing repack. The option you choose may depend on how much you use your
travel trailer.

The first option is to repack your wheel bearings once per year. Even if you are not
traveling a lot, the grease inside the bearing assembly can break down or become
dirty. This is a great maintenance task that you can add to your checklist before
heading out for the first trip of the year.

An annual travel trailer wheel bearing repack is a simple way to remember to maintain your travel trailer wheels and axles. If you are a full-time RVer or travel a lot during the year, you may want to go with option two, which is to repack your travel trailer wheel bearings every 10,000 to 12,000 miles.

If you travel extensively, this may be a task that you complete with every other oil change of your tow vehicle. Since most vehicles have a 5,000 or 6,000-mile service recommendation, this can be a good indicator of timing for
wheel bearing maintenance as well.

Can You Tow A Trailer With A Blown Wheel Bearing?

Can You Tow A Trailer With A Blown Wheel Bearing?

If the wheel bearings of your travel trailer get to a point where they are in critical condition, they can become dangerous to drive with. A wheel bearing that breaks
or “blows” will likely cause your wheel to seize up and stop turning.

If your wheel stops turning, especially if you are driving at a high rate of speed, you may lose control of your vehicle, causing an accident. The best thing to do, to avoid traveling with a blown wheel bearing is to maintain your wheels and axles properly.

If you notice that your travel trailer is making noises (grinding, whining, screeching) while the wheels are turning, this is a good time to stop, head to a repair garage, and have your wheel bearings repacked.

A travel trailer wheel bearing repack is a lot more affordable than any cost that
comes with repairing your travel trailer and tow vehicle after an accident.

Can You Repack Wheel Bearings Yourself?

Repacking your travel trailer wheel bearings is a task that is mechanically inclined
RV owners can do it on their own. In fact, it is a fairly easy and inexpensive task if
you want to do the work yourself.

If you have never done this work before, there are lots of resources on the internet
that can help you learn how to properly repack your wheel bearings. While the
task is simple, if not done correctly, you can cause more problems than you

You will want to keep in mind that a travel trailer wheel bearing repack is not a tidy
task. If you are experienced in the process, it is less messy. For beginners, you
will quickly learn that bearing grease is thick, slimy, and messy. You need a good
amount of grease to properly pack your wheel bearings, and it will end up

As you repack your wheel bearings more often, the task will get
easier and less messy, but be prepared to always have a bit of a greasy mess

How Much Do RV Wheel Bearings Cost?

You might be thinking that this is just another expensive part that you have to
replace on your RV. However, travel trailer wheel bearings are inexpensive
and are one of the more affordable maintenance and replacement costs.

Typically, wheel bearing assemblies cost between $20 and $50 depending on the
size of the assembly and your travel trailer. If you are doing the work yourself,
each axle will need two bearing assemblies. One will go on the inner part of the
wheel and the other will go on the outer.

Along with the assemblies, you will also need wheel bearing grease. This is also an inexpensive item costing between $10 and $30. For a single-axle travel trailer, the cost to repack your bearings will be between $50 and $150.

If you would rather have a professional do the work for you, you can expect to add
around $100 to this cost for labor. All in all, the expense of having your travel
trailer wheel bearings repacked is minimal and can save you a lot of money in the
long run.

Final Thoughts About Repacking RV Wheel Bearings

Travel trailer wheel bearings are very important to get us down the road safely. They
keep our wheels turning and our course set on our next fun destination. However, many
RV owners do not realize that wheel bearings need to be cleaned and maintained
before it is too late.

If you have never had a travel trailer wheel bearing repack, now is a
great time to schedule this task. With summer quickly approaching, you will want to hit
the road for warm-weather adventures. Healthy wheels and wheel bearings are the
perfect way to keep you on the road and having fun.

Related Reading:

10 Most Common Travel Trailer Problems and How To Avoid Them
Can You Use Truck Tires On A Travel Trailer?
How Are Airstreams Made?
How To Jack Up A Travel Trailer To Change A Tire

About the Author:

Jason Gass is a full-time freelance writer and part-time RVer whose goal is to share great stories around a campfire with good friends.

When he’s not working, he spends most of his time camping, searching for the best breweries, and road-tripping in his teardrop trailer with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.