What Can Cause Trailer Wheel Bearings To Fail?
Have you ever seen a car trailer stranded by the side of a road without its wheel? You may wonder how this could happen, as it appears the driver failed to tighten the wheel nuts. However, this is more likely something to do with the bearings, so if you own a boat or car trailer, how can you ensure that this type of incident does not happen when you next set out on a journey?
Understanding The Potential Issue
When a wheel falls off in this type of situation, it could be down to several different factors. However, it pays to understand how the bearings work in the first place and what kind of stress they are under.
How Bearings Work
Trailer wheel bearings are self-contained devices that fit onto each end of the axle within the hub assembly. Inside the outer cover, you will find a number of individual taper roller bearings that are designed to cope with thrust loads and a tremendous amount of friction. In essence, these bearings allow the road wheels to turn at high speed while the axle remains static, and they need to be carefully installed and inspected if you are to avoid any issues.
Causes Of Failure
There are several different causes of wheel bearing failure. Sometimes, the protective cap can come away, allowing dirt to enter and cause contamination. Occasionally, the axle nut will be incorrectly installed (either too loose or too tight), making it hard for the bearing to perform as it should. Clearly, if you have overloaded the vehicle, this can stress many different parts but will certainly affect the bearings. The other cause of any bearing failure is usually a lack of lubrication.
Growing Signs Of A Problem
You will normally get an early warning of potential failure. You may be able to hear a strange noise emanating from the trailer when in motion, and in worsening conditions may also smell burning or even see wisps of smoke. You may not be able to control the trailer in a straight line and can see that the tyre tread on one side of the trailer has worn down significantly.
What You Should Do
Don't risk a complete failure where you will lose the entire wheel and hub assembly, but ensure that you service your trailer as recommended by the manufacturers. The mechanic will take a close look at the bearings and either replace or lubricate them as necessary. Take your trailer to a repair service to learn more.