Trailer bearings are easy to overlook, but a seized bearing can ruin a spindle and cause you to shell out hundreds of dollars for a new axle.
How to pack wheel bearings with grease
First, remove the wheel. Then remove the dust cap. You can use a screwdriver and hammer to accomplish this. Once the dust cap is off, remove the cotter key and remove the nut using a channel-lock pliers.
Next, pull the hub out a little and pull out the outer bearing and washer. Keep the bearing as clean as you can. You can reuse it if it’s in good shape. Then, pull the hub all the way off; the inner bearing and seal should stay in the hub.
Check the seal. If it’s wet, you’re likely losing grease and you should replace the seal. Use a screwdriver to remove the seal and inner bearing. Check the bearing condition for wear.
Use a rag to wipe the grease and debris from the bearing. You can use brake cleaner to cut through the grease. Examine its condition. If you notice wear or it feels rough as you turn it, replace the bearing.
Once the bearing is clean, it’s time to pack it with grease. You can buy a special tool that doesn’t cost much at most hardware stores for this purpose. Clamp the bearing in the tool and apply water-resistant grease until the bearing is full. Place it back in the hub and replace the seal. Use a hammer to lightly tap the seal until it’s seated.
You can also pack the bearing by hand. Fill your palm with grease and rub it into the nooks and crannies of the bearing until it’s full of grease. Make sure to apply grease to both sides.
Now, slide the hub back on the axle and install the outer bearing. Install the outer washer and nut. Take care not to overtighten the nut, otherwise the bearing may overheat. Tighten the nut, then back it off a quarter-turn until the wheel spins freely. Don’t forget to install the cotter key. Put the dust cap back on and you’re done.
Make sure to pack your bearings once a year, and your trailer should work great all season.