The Importance of Regular Trailer Axle Maintenance
Having bad, unmaintained axles can be disastrous. Axles are the central shafts for rotating a wheel or gear. An axle can be attaches directly to the wheel to rotate them. An axle can also be just fixed to the vehicle and the wheels of the vehicle spin around the axle.
Now even on a normal vehicle, axles have to be running smoothly for the car to actually move. Having unmaintained, built up axles can mean that your vehicle’s tires can pop out at any given moment while you’re driving. Imagine driving on the highway at a high speed and your axle gives way. The result could be disastrous.
Now imagine the threat of having something as important as your axles unmaintained, and multiply it by ten. That’s the threat you have with un-checked axles on your trailer. On a utility or gooseneck trailer, you’re probably carrying some important cargo with you. Imagine your trailer breaking down in the middle of a delivery or in the middle of the highway. Having to unload that cargo, jack up your vehicle in the middle of the highway to possibly repair an axle is a painstaking process. This painstaking process can be avoided entirely by regularly checking up on your trailer’s axle to make sure a wheel or two don’t come flying off at anyone.
Maintain Your Trailer’s Axle
Whether you have utility trailers, dump trailers, gooseneck or car haulers, you would be carrying some sort of cargo with you. Checking up on your axle, an essential part of your entire set up, can save you from potential losses as mentioned.
Here are a few things you should look out for when maintaining your trailer’s axles
· Moisture Build-Up
The biggest reason you need to have your trailer axles maintained is because they have moisture build-up. The lubrication you apply to your axles can be rendered useless as it becomes diluted and breaks down if there is moisture build up. Besides moisture, dirt, dust or debris has a likelihood of accumulating overtime.
Even if your trailer remains idle, a simple clean up can ensure everything is smooth and running by getting rid of moisture build up.
· Ball Bearings
A bearing is made of a cup and a cone. The cup is pressed into the central part of the axle and the cone contained the actual ball bearings. Your bearings should be kept well-greased at all times to protect them from heat caused by friction.
When checking on your bearings, make sure you clean thoroughly to get rid of any build up. While doing the wipe down, check whether the bearings have any cracks, dents or any opening that seems like it may break. If they are damaged, they should be replaced as a set for the cup and cone according to the load rating of the trailer. If the bearing looks good, use a degreaser on it.
Avoid adding too much lubricant, as it can damage the grease seal.
· The Seal
The rubber seal should be flexible and should hold back any fluid. Greasing your bearings too much can cause damage to your seals. If the seals become damaged, grease or oil can begin to leak out of the seal and once it’s open, dirt and debris can come in too. Fluid and dirt combine to form a nasty brown substance that can completely jam your bearings lead to catastrophic results.
Check for any faults in the seal and replace it for any crack you might see.
· The Race
The race is the design of the bearing. The bearing has inner and outer races, or protrusions. Each race is a ring with a groove where a set of balls lay. The balls are meant to be loose in the groove.
Run your hands along the race to find any signs of damage. Any discoloration can cause an improper fit and can cause noise during acceleration or deceleration. If you do find a fault make sure you write down the trailer axle part number for quick reference for a replacement.
If everything looks good, pack the bearings by greasing them up a little. The trailer axle should be coated with grease as well and then slide the bearing back into the hub of the axle and tighten the nut. Make sure you tighten efficiently since loose nuts can still cause the wheels to fall off entirely.
· Grease Efficiently
The majority of your trailer axle problems stem from not routinely greasing your bearings. Greasing is a deterrent to heat caused by friction. An un-greased hub can overheat, it can destroy spindles, break hubs and have your tires running off your axle while you’re driving.
The hub should be greased once a year or every 3000 miles if you use your trailer a lot for cargo. Before a maintenance routine, check if y our hubs are leaking or if the tires are shaking. You can easily spot this by checking the back of the rim for splattered grease. Like we mentioned earlier, if the color of this grease is brown or grey this means that there is a sure sign of leaking and water, dust and debris have flown in to the bearing.
Maintaining the trailer hub effects the trailer’s axle directly. Keep the hub free of dust by giving it a slight shake or tap after you’ve removed it. Remove the key lock to pull the hub off the spindle. Wipe down the spindle with a lint proof cloth. Inspect the spindle for any cracks. If the cracks are deep enough, this means the trailer’s axle has been damaged and needs to be replaced.
After you’ve disassembled the seal and taken apart the ball bearing and you’re ready to put it back together, pack the bearings with grease. Take a piece of grease in your hand roll the bearing around in the grease to get it deep within. The cap of the bearing should be greased pretty well when you’re re-installing the seal and bearing.
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