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Old 05-03-2021, 04:34 PM   #1
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Dexter bearings lifespan?

So, I have had our wheel bearings serviced by a local RV shop every 5200 to 8500 miles since we picked up our trailer at the factory in the fall of 2017. Until now. Had an unexpected trip adding 1800 miles since last service, thus totaling 10,000 miles on this repack. Got home last night. Noticed a bunch of grease outside one hubcap. Removed cap and found it was full of grease and the grease cap and another small piece were loose in the hubcap! Raised that wheel off the ground and discovered it was extremely loose! Lug nuts were fine. The axle nut had almost come off! We are very fortunate that the wheel did not come off. I tightened the axle nut as much as possible, but it is still quite loose.

I have an appointment tomorrow at an auto repair shop just two miles away. Hopefully, I get there! Anyway, my question: I will most likely need to replace the bearings on that wheel and maybe other parts as well, but since I now have 30,000 miles on the trailer, is it a good idea to replace the bearings on the other three wheels just for piece of mind or am I paranoid?

And question #2: the shop is in town, so I could easily stay under 35 mph all the way. Am I better off removing that wheel and just going there on three wheels to avoid more damage to the axle/hub/spindle/bearings?
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Old 05-03-2021, 05:36 PM   #2
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You have an issue

I guess I'd do your drive to the mechanics shop "as is". Major tightening of the axle nut is not normally done....there's a "sweet spot", and a torque wrench value, and other tweeks. But never real tight.


Your bearing may be shot, the races damaged and possibly the spindle. No way to know without disassembly. It got you a long distance, it can likely make 2 more miles....but that's just a hope.


I'd replace the other bearings after inspection, and your mechanics opinion. They are not expensive. "Races", in which the bearing is seated against, also are replaced at the same time.


I do not know if the spindle is replaceable, as that may be damaged. That implies a larger repair project, potentially an axle. I've not serviced and inspected my used bought 2016 rig bearings yet (will do this year for sure), so I don't know my or your set-up. Others more intimately knowledgeable of the axle and spindle set-up will hopefully respond.
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:28 PM   #3
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A couple of comments and questions.
- Looking at the picture you posted, the axle nut does not appear to be concentric with the wheel. From your comment that the wheel is still loose after tightening the axle nut, it does appear that either/both bearings have failed. My concern if that is damage to the axle spindle. Does the wheel spin freely when the trailer is jacked-up?
- Can you post a picture of the part you found in the grease cap? The axle should have has a spindle nut retainer on the axle nut under the grease cap. If you are not familiar that that part, see this link: https://www.dexteraxle.com/product/2357/93/retainer-kit
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:48 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by MVA View Post
A couple of comments and questions.
- Looking at the picture you posted, the axle nut does not appear to be concentric with the wheel. From your comment that the wheel is still loose after tightening the axle nut, it does appear that either/both bearings have failed. My concern if that is damage to the axle spindle. Does the wheel spin freely when the trailer is jacked-up?
- Can you post a picture of the part you found in the grease cap? The axle should have has a spindle nut retainer on the axle nut under the grease cap. If you are not familiar that that part, see this link: https://www.dexteraxle.com/product/2357/93/retainer-kit
Yes, it was that retainer plus the grease cap that has the rubber disc that you remove to grease using the EZ lube method.
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Old 05-03-2021, 06:51 PM   #5
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Yes, it was that retainer plus the grease cap that has the rubber disc that you remove to grease using the EZ lube method.
Does the wheel spin freely?

edit - and if so, does it spin concentrically, i.e., not wobble?
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:16 PM   #6
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Concentric

A photo may be worth a 1,000 words, but still not provide necessary information. As noted, is the nut concentric with the opening/assembly?



There is a retainer for that nut that holds it in place. If that came off, that's unusual.


As also previously asked, does the wheel spin freely? Is there a rattle noise when you spin it quickly? If so, there is a bearing issue for sure.

Grabbing the outside of the wheel, is there a wobble and looseness if you pull it from side-to-side, with the wheel raised off the ground?


Tough to know what's going on, being a 1,000 miles away.
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:23 PM   #7
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Does the wheel spin freely?

edit - and if so, does it spin concentrically, i.e., not wobble?
I don’t have it elevated anymore, so can’t replicate this, but even after tightening the nut the wheel was loose. I could easily move it side to side. It did spin freely, and I don’t think I noticed a wobble as it spun. I also think it is sitting at a slightly “off” angle to the ground due to the looseness. And there was no rattle noise.
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Old 05-03-2021, 07:26 PM   #8
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A photo may be worth a 1,000 words, but still not provide necessary information. As noted, is the nut concentric with the opening/assembly?
No, the nut is not concentric with the opening. See picture in my post #1.
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:10 PM   #9
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If I might offer a suggestion, tell your mechanic that you would like to observe him inspect and service your bearings so that you can be familiar with the process if you need to do it yourself in the middle of nowhere at a rest stop. Offer to pay more to observe if needed, although my guy enjoys people who want to learn just so they will know what is involved even if they are not likely to actually do it themselves at a rest stop outside of Flagstaff on a Sunday morning in February. He can show you how to adjust the big nut correctly.
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:19 PM   #10
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What are your options?

2 miles slow drive, with 3 of 4 wheels presumably OK? You do not have many alternative choices, other than having it loaded on a flatbed trailer and delivered to the repair shop.

If the nut is not concentric as you say, that wheel is hurting for certain.

Your original question was about the lifetime of wheel bearings. I am no gear head, but around the block or 250,000 miles are both possible. It depends...as always.
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:22 PM   #11
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I would remove the wheel. There is an outside chance the spindle is not ruined yet, but also a chance things could really go south in those couple of miles. Not worth the risk in my opinion, a guy who has been wrenching for almost 70 years.
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColoradoSwany View Post
So, I have had our wheel bearings serviced by a local RV shop every 5200 to 8500 miles since we picked up our trailer at the factory in the fall of 2017. Until now. Had an unexpected trip adding 1800 miles since last service, thus totaling 10,000 miles on this repack.
Personally I would not go back to the "local RV shop".

We have our wheels/brakes/bearings inspected every 10,000 miles or so. I refuse to use Dexter's EZ-Lube and have the bearings inspected and repacked the old-fashioned way. YMMV. I also use mechanics that I either know or have great references. I refuse to use RV shops, but instead use trailer repair shops (flatbed or enclosed trailers) because they usually are either one-man or the mechanics have been there a long time.

For nearly 40 years I inspected and repacked my own bearings, so I know what is involved. It's simple, but easy to screw-up by a lackadaisical mechanic.

Good luck!

Perry
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:41 PM   #13
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Reasonable advice

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Originally Posted by Tom&Joan View Post
I would remove the wheel. There is an outside chance the spindle is not ruined yet, but also a chance things could really go south in those couple of miles. Not worth the risk in my opinion, a guy who has been wrenching for almost 70 years.

That is another alternative. There aren't many.
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Old 05-03-2021, 08:59 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
Personally I would not go back to the "local RV shop".

We have our wheels/brakes/bearings inspected every 10,000 miles or so. I refuse to use Dexter's EZ-Lube and have the bearings inspected and repacked the old-fashioned way. YMMV. I also use mechanics that I either know or have great references. I refuse to use RV shops, but instead use trailer repair shops (flatbed or enclosed trailers) because they usually are either one-man or the mechanics have been there a long time.

For nearly 40 years I inspected and repacked my own bearings, so I know what is involved. It's simple, but easy to screw-up by a lackadaisical mechanic.

Good luck!

Perry

I must wholeheartedly Agree with Perry.

1. When I started reading this post, my first thought was "poor re-installation", so I wouldn't go back to that shop.
2. Like Perry, I've been doing bearing repacks, and replacements, since being taught how-to 6 decades ago. I do it about every 10k miles as well.
And yes, it is simple and straight forward. But, lack of attention to details can screw it up.

3. Trailer repair shops typically have more commercial customers than RV shops, and thus will have more repeat business (the bread & butter of business!). So, they have to consistently provide reliable and knowledgeable service, or they're out of business.
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Old 05-03-2021, 09:19 PM   #15
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I also agree, I took mine to a trailer shop and they also found a broken wire to one of the brakes. Something I suspect the rv shop missed the year before.
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Old 05-04-2021, 02:44 PM   #16
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Thanks everyone. Took it to a local trailer manufacturer/servicing place. They should be able to even replace the axle if needed. They won’t get to it till May 20, but it is sitting there waiting behind a fence and locked gates. Limped the 10 miles on three wheels, but made it.
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:08 PM   #17
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Good you made it safely and to a likely better shop

Do tell, when you find out, what is/was the problem and solution.
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:43 PM   #18
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Do tell, when you find out, what is/was the problem and solution.
Will do.
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Old 05-13-2021, 10:43 PM   #19
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So, it turns out that the outer bearing failed, probably from too little grease even though it only had 10k miles since the last service. 10k miles is the precise interval Maxey Trailer quoted as their recommended service interval. The good news is that I apparently caught it just in time to save the axle. The spindle had very slight abrasion that they evidently easily smoothed out. I now have four new bearing sets and a new preferred service provider for my running gear. Thanks to everyone that recommended I take it to a trailer service company versus an RV shop. Bill was $466, partly because they had to cut off the drum which had apparently gotten so hot it welded itself onto the assembly. Could have been a much higher bill if I needed a new axle.
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Old 05-14-2021, 04:38 PM   #20
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Bill was $466, partly because they had to cut off the drum which had apparently gotten so hot it welded itself onto the assembly. Could have been a much higher bill if I needed a new axle.
That part is strange, since the brake drum is the hub... they're one cast iron part, so it's not possible to remove the drum from the hub. I suspect that there has been some miscommunication, which doesn't matter as long as the work has been done properly.
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