Why should you be sure the 5th wheel is properly greased?

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In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: Why should you be sure the 5th wheel is properly greased? We will also explain how you can grease your 5th wheel hitch and bearing in a few simple steps. 

Why should you be sure the 5th wheel is properly greased?

You should be sure the 5th wheel hitch and bearings are properly greased to avoid the damage of these parts. While on the move, the 5th wheel trailer oscillates constantly according to the trajectory of the vehicle. Constantly subjected to these movements, the hitch must be greased regularly.

Consider coating your 5th wheel bearings copiously with thick mechanic’s grease, sold in auto body shops. By doing this simple gesture regularly, you will prevent rust from settling on your trailer, and you will slow down its wear.

How to grease a 5th wheel trailer

Most people have seen a trailer sitting on the side of the road with a block under the axle and a wheel outside. Most people probably think it is because of a flat tire, but in reality, the risk is that a wheel bearing has failed due to poor lubrication and the trailer owner has the wheel and hub and is frantically looking for someone to fix it so it can get back on the road. 

This scenario is very simple to never have to play it out for you though because all that is needed to prevent it is proper maintenance of the trailer wheel bearings. Grease the wheel bearings on a trailer properly and regularly and you’ll have years of trouble-free road travel. 

Things you will need to grease your 5th wheel trailer: 

Here are the steps of greasing a 5th wheel trailer:

  1. Check the hub centre for a small metal or rubber cap. If one is present, remove it and look for a grease fitting inside. A grease fitting makes this a very quick and easy task, as all that is needed is to pump the grease into the fitting until the gauge shows it is full. 

On some hubs, this is a blue line that is exposed as grease is pumped in, on others the grease will begin to fill the cavity around the grease fitting. After the gauge shows adequate grease has been pumped simply replace the cap and you are done.

  1. Jack the trailer if no centre cap exists in the hub cover. Support the trailer on trestles or other strong supports. Do not use concrete blocks like these that can crush and break.
  1. Understand that removal of the hub cover is necessary if no cap is present. Do this by placing the point of a chisel in the area between the ridge on the back of the cap and the hub and tapping the chisel lightly with a hammer. Rotate the wheel 1/4 turn and repeat until the hub cover is removed.
  1. Remove the cotter pin that locks the spindle nut in place. It will turn counterclockwise to loosen.
  1. Keep your hand under the end of the axle and hit the side of the tire with the palm of your hand. This will cause the thrust washer and outer wheel bearings to start coming out of the hub. If it doesn’t come all the way out it will be in a position where it can be finger-grabbed and the axle pulled out. Set the pad on a clean surface, such as a piece of paper.
  2. Grasp the tire firmly on both sides and pull out of the axle. Place the front of the tire on the ground.
  1. Remove the grease seal from the centre of the hub. You may need to knock a screwdriver around it until it can be pried out. Be very careful to avoid contacting the bearing with the screwdriver. When the gasket is removed, discard it. Lift the bearing of the hub with your fingers.
  1. Use a suitable solvent, such as a degreaser or diesel wash parts (never use gasoline, which is a risk due to flammability) and thoroughly clean both bearings, nut and thrust washer. Make sure all the fat is removed. Dry the bearings with compressed air, if available.
  1. Place a ball of bearing grease in the palm of your hand. If you are right-handed, you want to place the fat in the palm of your left hand.
  1. Hold the wheel bearing at approximately a 45-degree angle and with the small side up. Push the bottom of the bearing into the edge of the grease ball and pull it through the grease. These forces grease into the bearing, filling it. 

Continue this until grease escapes the area between the centre and the stop running of the bearing. Turn the bearing in your hand slightly and repeat the process until you are sure the grease has been forced between all of the carrier rollers. Do this for both bearings.

  1. Clean all the old grease from the inside of the hub. Check the bearing races (the polished conical ring the bearing fits in) for rough spots or burnished areas. If any is found, the race must be replaced. Hopefully, coat the races with a light coat of ball bearing grease.
  1. Insert the inner bearing into the race. Install a new grease seal using a seal driver. Lightly grease the lip of the grease seal.
  1. Wrap the threads at the end of the mandrel with masking tape. This protects the seal when the hub and tire are installed on the axle.
  1. Lift the hub and rotate on the axle and push it all the way onto the axle.
  1. Install the outer bearing, thrust washer and nut. Turn the nut clockwise to tighten. Tighten the nut with a socket while turning the wheel, tighten only until you feel resistance in turning the wheel. Then back out the 1/4 turn nut. Tighten the nut again, but only until all slack is removed from the wheel. Don’t over tighten it.
  1. Install a new cotter pin and hub cover. Repeat for all trailer wheels.

The bottom line

Properly maintaining your 5th wheel trailer also means knowing how and when to grease it. A good indicator that your trailer  may need some lubrication is when the hitch, the bearings or the jack of the trailer seems stuck and you can’t use it properly. 

If you don’t feel confident enough to grease your 5th wheel trailer  by yourself, take it to a mechanic or authorised body shop and they will be able to do it for a small fee. 

Please let us know if you have any comments, questions or tips on how to improve this article!

FAQ on Why should you be sure the 5th wheel is properly greased?

Why should you grease your 5th wheel hitch?

It is recommended to periodically grease the hitch of your 5th wheel trailer to avoid premature wear, as well as that of the trailer hitch head (with exceptions, such as when you have an anti-skid system and when using a bracket to hitch bicycles). If the hitch is not used regularly, the grease can prevent the ball from rusting.

How to lubricate a trailer jack?

To lubricate a trailer jack all you need is a simple cloth. You will then use a screwdriver to try to remove the cap. Before you put it aside, you clean the plug. You will need to pour hydraulic jack oil into the same hole and fill it until it overflows.

Should I grease the fifth wheel hitch ball?

Yes, you should grease the fifth wheel hitch ball as it prevents premature wear of the ball joint or hitch head. Apply grease directly to the bottom of your kneecap.

How does the fifth wheel hitch work?

A fifth wheel hitch l works by locking a kingpin in the lockjaw. The kingpin is similar to a hitch coupler and is attached to the semi-trailer, while the locking jaw acts as the receiver for the hitch.

Can a fifth wheel hitch be removed?

Yes, a girth wheel hitch can be removed.  A fifth wheel, or gooseneck, hitch sits in the middle of the sturdy truck bed, where it can support more weight in that area. This also makes it easier to turn around tight corners. 

How do I reduce the weight on my 5th wheel hitch?

To reduce the weight on your 5th wheel hitch, simply move all your luggage in the back of the trailer. If you want to increase the weight on your 5th wheel hitch, just do the contrary – move the things to the front of the trailer. 

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