Keeping your wheels bearings greased is a good practice for RV owners. If you take your RV on occasional trips, the greasing can be done once per year. But those who are dedicated to the RV lifestyle can grease wheel bearings every few months.
Most RV fans know that greasing the wheel bearings is crucial. I knew this, but choosing the right grease to use on the trailer is not as straightforward. Since I travel a lot, I need a solution that that lubricates my bearings enough for high mileage demands
The wheel bearings grease that I recommend for travel trailers is the Lucas Oil 10301 Heavy Duty Grease (click to see it on Amazon.com). It’s the perfect grease to use on your camper wheel bearings! It even works for heavy-duty trucks. In severe climate conditions, this grease stays where you put it with no squeeze-out, wash-out, or dry-out. It barely changes color after an entire year. It also resists water which makes it versatile in all weather conditions.
What is the Right Grease to Use on Trailer Wheel Bearings?
Grease has a wide application in different industries. If you are new to greasing, you need to know that you cannot simply use regular oil for lubrication. Such areas as the metal on metal of a wheel bearing need grease which stays in place and doesn’t leak out.
There are many natural and synthetic grease products to consider. However, their profiles can be similar. For example, they include a lubricant which fights friction and metal damage with an added thickener which ensures the grease doesn’t leak out. Leading manufacturers can also use other ingredients which can help with wheel temperatures and can be maintained for long periods when traveling for many hours.
Types of Grease and Their Applications
Of course, not any grease can be used on RV wheel bearings. Most greases are not suitable for RVs because they are not designed for high-temperature and high-pressure use. Some products are fine for general use around the home or farm while those for wheel bearings are specifically made for high-temperature and high-pressure resistance.
This grease is the most affordable. It is not specialized, and as its name suggests, it is useful for various purposes. I have a few types of multi-purpose grease, and I use them on everything from farming equipment to squeaky door hinges. This grease is heavily used on farming equipment as well. These types of industrial machines are not as demanding as the wheel bearings of your RV.
White Lithium Grease
White Lithium Grease contains Zinc. This gives it the white color as its name suggests. But who would use white grease? This grease is recommended instead of general multi-purpose grease as it gets dirty. In time, it turns yellow, so you know when it is time to change the grease, which you may not see with a multi-purpose alternative. Its application is similar as well. It works on industrial machinery or farm equipment. Certain areas of the RV chassis can also benefit from this grease.
Moly EP Grease
This type of grease has its name rooted in extreme pressure. It is recommended for farming equipment or metals with heavy loads. It contains molybdenum disulfide which performs well under heavy loads and sliding movements. It is why, apart from its use on farming equipment or industrial machinery, it can also be your solution for ball joints.
Disc/Drum Wheel Bearing Grease
This type of grease is ideal for wheel bearings on your RV. It is specifically made to tolerate high heat. The heat comes from the high speeds of the wheel. But it also helps with the transferable heat from the disc brakes when temperatures rise during braking. It also resists water. If you need a quick greasing solution around the house, this type of grease can also serve as a multi-purpose product.
LMX Red is a premium solution. The grease resists temperature changes, water, and high pressure, making it a versatile solution for all types of machinery and vehicles. It offers the best protection on cars, RVs, trucks, trailers, heavy loaded trailers, heavy industrial machinery, and farming equipment.
Marine Wheel Bearing Grease
As its name suggests, this category of greases is intended for equipment which gets in contact with water. Its resistance helps grease fight corrosion. Used on wheel bearings on boat trailers, it is truly durable. Steering cables, anchor chain reels, and gimbal bearings can benefit from the grease. Use this grease on parts which need lubrication and contact water.
Fifth-Wheel Trailer Hitch Plate Grease
These practical grease products are ideal for fifth-wheel hitches. Conveniently packaged in pouches, they are placed on the base of the hitch and burst when the fifth-wheel trailer is attached. The grease inside is great for high pressure and water resistance.
Other Factors to Consider
Of course, there are other characteristics to consider apart from the type of grease. The viscosity of the grease is an important characteristic, and it is why many RV manufacturers recommend certain types of greases.
There are two base ingredients in grease products. They are a lubricant and a thickener which mix together for consistency. Depending on their concentration, they lead to a certain viscosity. This is measured in levels from 0 to 6.
Grease compatibility is crucial. It is why you should always replace old grease with the same grease for the thickener to remain constant. Ideally, you would remove the old grease first, even if you are reusing the same type of grease. If you cannot do this, a simple alternative is to use enough new grease to push the old grease out. There are quick methods to establish the type of thickener to use in the new grease. Most manufacturers put it on the product’s label, but it can also have different names such as “base.”
Biobased greases represent a small margin of the market. They equal in performance with mineral greases, but they are made to comply with regulations and especially with the amounts of grease which can be released back into the environment.
How Often Should You Grease Travel Trailer Wheel Bearings?
All trailer wheel bearings need to be greased. As seen above, there are certain products which make this process successful. However, there are certain intervals when this needs to be done.
When I travel a lot, I grease the bearings after a few months. But generally speaking, RV owners who travel occasionally should grease the bearings every 12,000 miles or every year. At the same time, over-greasing can also be a problem so RV fans should note their greasing intervals.
How Much Grease to Put In A Trailer Wheel Bearing?
As a general rule, you should try and learn the best grease quantity for your trailer’s wheel bearings. But if you want to save money or save grease, you can apply enough grease to cover the bearing. When the grease starts leaking out, you will know that you applied too much.
Greasing the wheel bearings is one of the easiest processes which can be done by any RV owner. But as simple as it is, if neglected it will lead to serious problems. Just as with your car’s oil, the RV bearings need greasing as well.
Replacing the trailer bearing is not complicated. I did the same for my trailer, but even so, I had a quick look at the owner’s manual to be sure everything is clear.
The first thing is to remove the actual wheel. This allows access to the dust cap of the bearing. Using a channel lock, the cap is wiggled until it comes off.
From here, I was able to straighten the end of the cotter pin which holds the castle nut in place. I use a needle nose plier for this operation. Now the outer bearing can be jiggled and removed by hand.
Some designs have a washer between the castle nut and the outer bearing. In any case, you can now remove the elements and place them aside in a clean area or container. I then remove the inner bearing and the grease seal. The inner bearing can also be removed by hand. Store these in a clean place, too. At this time, you can replace the grease seal, as this is a best practice.
This is a good time to inspect the bearing and castle nut. Wipe them with a paper towel. I look for signs of scratches, discoloration or other damage which indicate replacement. If the bearing is fine, I clean it with acetone before placing it back into position.
It is also important to check the inner and outer races. Scratches can indicate damage. If there are no signs of nicks or discoloration, the races don’t need replacing, and they can work with the bearing as well.
When the bearing is dry and wiped from acetone, the re-assembling process can begin. The bearing can be packed by hand with a bearing-specific grease. But it can also be done evenly with a solution such as the Lisle 65250 Bearing Packer. As a general rule, it is important to ensure there is plenty of grease inside the bearing.
The inside of the hub also needs to be greased. But before greasing, I always check that it is clean and wiped. I apply grease to the inner race. Place the bearing inside the hub followed by the new grease seal. A light tap secures it in place.
I then proceed to put the hub back into its position. This process always starts by inspecting the spindle, removing grease and dirt from it. The outer race is greased at this stage. Then, the outer bearing slides in its place in the outer race. Designs with washers need to use new washers as well.
The clean castle nut is threaded on the end of the spindle. I tighten it until safe. Moving it ensures it is snug and in its position. To avoid faster wear, loosen the castle nut with a quarter of a turn. A good way to tell when the bearing is too tight or to loose is to simply rock the wheel back and forth. There should be no excessive play. After this step, I insert the cotter pin, bending the end to lock it in place. Place the dust cap back into position and replace completely.
This is also a good time to measure the hub opening. At 2”, it is the size I need for the Bearing Buddy 42102 Chrome Bearing Protector. The protector works great to keep the grease inside the bearing. The Bearing Buddy can install directly on the hub, but it needs to be tapped with a hammer to evenly place it into position. To avoid damage, I use a piece of wood between the protector and the hammer.
Use a hand grease gun to add grease. I use the Lumax LX-1152 Black Heavy Duty Deluxe Pistol Grease Gun. There is a piston inside the Bearing Buddy. If it rocks, it means that the gun did a good job and that the hub is properly greased. When traveling, the Bearing Buddy Bra is a good way to ensure grease stays in and dirt stays out of the bearing. Installing it is easy. I found that pressing right on its center helps it slide into position. This is the entire process, and it ensures the bearings are maintained to function for a long time.