How often should horse trailer bearings be repacked?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How often should horse trailer bearings be repacked? We will explain what trailer wheel bearings are, how long they last and why they fail. 

How often should horse trailer bearings be repacked?

It is recommended by trailer manufacturers to repack your horse trailer bearings every 12 months or 12,000 miles. In any case, wheel bearing maintenance frequency depends on trailer type, wheel size, and average loading weight. 

In general, the smaller the tire, the faster the wheels turn, which puts stress on the bearings. Frequency can also be determined by considering how the trailer is used and where it has traveled.

How much does it cost to repack your horse trailer bearings?

The cost of having this job done by a professional mechanic is approximately $125 per axle, based on average prices obtained from three different repair shops across the US. However, horse trailer owners who try this work at home will spend less than $100 on parts. 

The procedure requires basic mechanical skill, and only requires high-temperature grease, rags, a trailer wheel jack, a torque wrench, and a hammer. A bearing packer makes the cleaner work, but is not necessary.

Wheel bearing design has been modified in the last 50 years, and greasing them is simple. But before trying this at home, it’s a good idea to have a service manual for your horse trailer with instructions for the procedure. The wheels must be properly tightened. Get a proper trailer jack, and block all the tires on the opposite side to ensure your safety while under the trailer.

What is a horse trailer wheel bearing? 

A horse trailer wheel bearing is an essential part of the wheel assembly that connects the wheel to the axle. It is a set of steel balls (bearings) or rollers (tapered bearings), which are held together by a metal ring. It enables the wheel to turn smoothly with minimal friction. Wheel bearings are vital safety components, designed to sustain radial and axial loads caused by the forces of gravitation, acceleration, braking and cornering, and therefore need to be replaced when they stop working properly.

How long does a horse trailer wheel bearing last?

Wheel bearings have an average service life of between 136,000 and 160,000 km (approximately 85,000 and 100,000 miles). But this is just a general rule; the actual service life of a wheel bearing depends on its quality and the conditions in which it operates.

Why do horse trailer wheel bearings fail?

The main reasons why a wheel bearing fails are:

  1. Faulty installation – improper tools, such as a hammer or impact wrench, can cause damage to the exterior and/or interior of the wheel bearing end, causing it to fail prematurely. 

Additionally, using old accessories, such as bolts, nuts, adjusting rings, split pins, seals, etc., not replaced with new ones, may cause the wheel bearing end to operate under abnormal or unsafe conditions, increasing bearing wear and the risk of an accident.

  1. Impact damage or poor quality roads – all impacts that occur from driving through potholes, driving at high speeds over speed bumps, or hitting curbs on sidewalks can damage a wheel bearing and reduce its performance. useful life.
  1. Poor quality wheel bearing – a bearing is constantly under enormous pressure. Wheel bearings made from poor quality materials can have poor heat treatment, resulting in premature wear and failure.
  1. Driving Conditions – Driving through mud or large amounts of water can cause your wheel bearings to fail. Water, mud, and other contaminants, such as dust or road salt, could get through the seals and into the bearing, contaminating the grease and wearing the bearings.
  1. Trailer modifications – installing larger or wider rims, tires with thinner treads, or stiffer shock absorbers and suspension springs, can cause the wheel bearings to receive higher loads and thus accelerate wear. Use only the wheels, tires, shocks and springs specified by the trailer manufacturer to minimize the impact on the longevity of the wheel bearings.

What are the signs of faulty wheel bearings?

Symptoms of faulty or damaged wheel bearings include:

  • Noise: A buzzing, rattling, or grunting noise that increases with acceleration or when the vehicle turns.
  • A constant loud screech when the vehicle is in motion.
  • Knocking noises when driving over uneven roads.
  • Play, excessive wheel play (loose steering);
  • Vibration in the steering wheel that changes with vehicle speed or when the vehicle turns;
  • ABS malfunction. Problems in the ABS system may be related to a failure of the ABS sensor that is built into the end of the wheel bearing.

What are the risks of driving with faulty trailer wheel bearings?

It is very rare for wheel bearings to fail immediately and completely after you have noticed the first sign (s).

That said, it is best to avoid driving with a worn wheel bearing for any length of time. As we have already seen, the wheel bearing is essential to connect the wheel to the trailer, and any weakness in this connection could have serious consequences for the driveshaft and the steering assembly, as well as for your and your horse(s) safety.

The proper maintenance of your horse trailer

It is essential to regularly maintain your horse trailer for both your and your horse (s) safety. Entrusting your horse trailer to a trailer maintenance specialist allows you to travel with peace of mind, as he will check:

  • the general condition of the trailer and the floor
  • tires and bearings
  • the coupling head
  • welding points, bolts
  • the axle
  • the electrical harness as well as the correct functioning of the lights
  • play in the headstock
  • the state of the license plate
  • the brakes (control, dust removal, adjustment)
  • the condition of the brake cables and the lever
  • and grease the different points that need it.

Remember to write down this service in the trailer’s maintenance log (yes, it does exist ….) or keep these very useful documents in the event of a resale.

Final thoughts and recommendations 

Despite the fact that modern wheel bearings are easier to install than those of previous generations, correct installation, the use of suitable tools, and observing the specified torque values ​​are still essential to achieve maximum performance, durability and stability. Therefore, we recommend that you install your wheel bearings with a professional mechanic who has the skills and tools to handle the job.

Do you have any other questions about the subject? Please feel free to get in contact.

FAQ on How often should horse trailer bearings be repacked?

How often do you need to repack wheel bearings?

It is recommended by trailer manufacturers to repack your horse trailer bearings every 12 months or 12,000 miles. In any case, wheel bearing maintenance frequency depends on trailer type, wheel size, and average loading weight. 

How do I know if my trailer bearings need grease?

You will know if your trailer bearings need grease if you spin the wheels and the motion is not smooth, you are hearing a weird noise or if the wheels are not spinning at all. 

How to maintain a horse trailer?

It is important to maintain and keep your horse trailer as clean and safe as possible, which can be achieved by fixing any problems you are having right away and regularly checking the trailer for any new faults.

How to customize a horse trailer?

A trailer can be customized for trail riding or horse shows with a few different pieces. There is no limit to what can be done to make towing a better experience for both horse and rider, it all depends on your needs.

Where do you store a horse trailer?

You can store a horse trailer at your home if you have a shed or garage, or you could look for either outdoor or indoor storage centres. If you are keeping your horse trailer outside, make sure you cover it with a breathable and high-quality tarp in order to prevent premature wear and tear of the trailer. 

What are the top 5 trailer brands for horses?

The top 5 trailer brands for horses are:

  • Sundowner;
  • Featherlite;
  • Trials West;
  • Exiss;
  • Titan. 


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