Caravan wheel bearings (or car)

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015 at 22:59
ThreadID: 117588 Views:5527 Replies:10 FollowUps:7
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Today was the day to do the dreaded wheel bearing inspection on the van getting ready for the big trip (15,000kms or more this year). It is a 2012 model and because every time I take anything to get repaired or serviced there is always some sort of issue with faulty workmanship, I try and do everything myself. Unless it is a fixed price service on a new car then I grit my teeth and hope some 16 year old barely supervised "technician" can manage to change the oil and filter, maybe clean an air conditioner filter and wash the car without too many issues. (cant go past the $130 Toyota fixed price servicing.).....
Anyway my point is that after 15,000kms, which is what my van has travelled since new and has never had any wheel bearing attention..... I assumed I would be simply be dismantling, cleaning, repacking with grease and reassembling,,,,,,,,, but when I saw the state of the bearing grease (black as black can be and thin) and the bearing rolling areas were quite worn...... I made the decision to just knock the cups out of the housing and replace with new bearings...... The price of the bearings were $39 a wheel which included inner and outer bearings, the grease seal, a split pin and the protective steel centre cap.... Why would anyone even muck around cleaning and repacking old bearings.....
I guess my other point is that the grease was quite bad after what I would have thought a relatively easy life and I am so glad I didn't think it would be good for another trip... Last year I think I may have passed no less than 5 trailers of some sort with a wheel missing or someone swinging a hammer trying to knock of a stuck (from heat) wheel bearing or waiting for wheel bearings to come into a remote place and this has always been my fear when towing..
For all you that read this which are pondering this exact question "do I do it now or wait another year",,,, do it now..... So easy to do yourself and so cheap to replace with new... My knowledge on how many types of vans are cup and cone style bearings isn't great but the guys that served me the bearings said that is the most common type of van setup.... If I changed one person's decision then my post is worth it..
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Reply By: Been-Everywhereman - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015 at 23:01

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2015 at 23:01
And of course even when you replace cup and cone bearings you still have to pack them with grease,,, they are not just ready to go.
AnswerID: 552828

Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 08:49

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 08:49
NOW you tell me !.
FollowupID: 838517

Follow Up By: 671 - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 08:58

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 08:58
Another point to remember is the type of grease that you use.

Just about every time this question comes up on net forums, the answer is usually High Temperature bearing grease. It will certainly lubricate them but when you read the grease manufacturer's specifications for it you see that it is clay based and has no resistance to water washout.

Car manufacturers usually specify a lithium based wheel bearing grease. It will easily handle the amount of heat generated in car bearings but also resists water damage.
FollowupID: 838518

Reply By: pop2jocem - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 09:21

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 09:21
Grease with molybdenum disulphide is pretty black when new and it doesn't need to be "thick".
Oil, which is usually a compound of grease is pretty thin and lubricates pretty well.

Roller bearings that have worn to the point of needing replacement at 15,000 k's make me think that either they weren't adjusted properly at initial installation, water or dirt contaminated, or were just crap bearings.

AnswerID: 552831

Follow Up By: 671 - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 09:55

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 09:55
If they did have moly grease in them and were worn out then the grease could have caused it.

Molybdenum disulphide grease is for sliding ball joints. If used in roller bearings it can cause the rollers to side instead of rotate.

On my car for example, it is listed in the handbook for the suspension ball joints and the double carden joint in the front drive shaft but not in the drive shaft universal joints.
FollowupID: 838521

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 10:59

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 10:59
My off road van has electric over hydraulic disc brakes and marine seals on the hubs. The hubs can get pretty hot in traffic. I use Castrol LMX grease - the blue stuff. It is waterproof, high temperature, high drip point grease. Has never let me down.

Something a lot of people don't know about, including the "technicians" who service van hubs, is that a hot hub that gets wet can suck water in through two paths. First is, if the seal is an ordinary seal, it will keep the grease in but it cannot keep water out if the hub cavity forms a partial vacuum through rapid cooling. If you regularly immerse your hubs in water crossings or boat ramps you should have hubs that use marine seals.

If you have marine seals, they will likely resist the partial vacuum. The entry path for water is then through an unsealed dust cap. This can also apply to any hub with any type of seal. That domed dust cap should have a bead of sealant applied around the shoulder before being knocked onto the hub.

This can create a problem if the hub has conventional seals AND the grease-monkey overfills the hub with grease leaving no room for expansion as the hub heats up. A conventional seal will hold the pressure and the dust cap may pop off, especially if the cap fits too loosely, or the hub is overfilled.

A marine seal will allow for air and grease expansion, and IMO is the far better option.


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FollowupID: 838527

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 15:53

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 15:53
Agree with what 671 has posted. I should have been more specific.

Moly greases are generally pretty black so if this is what was used it MAY have contributed to early bearing failure.

Usually lithium based grease is for wheel bearings, preferably the water resistant types. This is what I have always used in wheel bearings.

I have however used moly grease in uni joints and the last set in my Cruiser towing a 2800 kg van and various off road trips lasted well over 200,000 k's.

FollowupID: 838546

Follow Up By: Phil 23 - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 20:25

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 20:25
Just Crap bearings.....

I've replaced a few sets of them on the boat trailer.
Slightest sign of moisture & they're stuffed.

Have actually put some of the cups in the vice & squashed them flat.
They were nothing more than case hardened.
A decent cup will shatter if crushed in the vice.

Replaced with something decent like Timken's & they go on for years.
A bit of water in them & they still hold up.

Have always used Castrol LMX & it's ability to contain moisture seems really superb.

FollowupID: 838563

Reply By: spannernuts - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 09:42

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 09:42
I also am about to do my bearings before our Cooktown trip, I inspect and repack before a long trip, just to be on the safe side, last year on the great ocean rd, I seen this poor guy on the side of the rd single axel van like mine ,what a mess he was in. do not risk bearing inspection.
AnswerID: 552832

Reply By: Alan S (WA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 09:50

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 09:50

I have a similar story, during January whne it was stinking hot, i thought a good low exersion activity would would be to repack the trailer bearings. I had only done them 2 years previosly, and have done less than about 10k km's. But it was hot and i was bored.

Upon removal of the first wheel i saw the grease was contanimated with water. I had done the holland track the previous september and it was wet, so water had got past the seal. As it had then sat for 3 mths there was the start of corrosion on the bearings. The other side was fine, just water ingress on one bearing but had i not checked it could have got worse.

I have now made a note that for the small effort involved that I will every january pull the wheels of and check/repack the bearings.

AnswerID: 552833

Reply By: gbc - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 12:28

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 12:28
Reading this makes me remember how lucky I am to not own a trailer boat at present. I can't begin to imagine how many times i've changed bearings/calipers/pads/discs/brake masters/lines. Vans and trailers are a dream in comparison.
AnswerID: 552838

Reply By: duck - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 16:33

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 16:33
Bearings & grease, there are some big differences in quality & this will make the difference if fitted correctly but that word correctly is quite different between most on how they should be fitted
AnswerID: 552844

Reply By: swampfox - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 21:34

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 21:34
Clay based grease Eg CASTROL HTB [high temp bearing grease ]
Suitable for disc brakes and the occasional dip. It looks in good condition even after 15,000 to 20,000 km on road use
Moly grease [the black stuff ] is not suitable and never has been suitable for brake /un braked hubs .
Combination greases chassis /bearings is a mixed bag . Some are just ok at both but the rest are rubbish [grease runs out] . Castrol APXT now called something else was/is a good allrounder .
When filling a hub wiping a reasonable amount of grease into it is ok . The grease displaces water and adds corrosion protection and is a backup in a minor way for the hub bearings .

From memory the greases with an alluminium base is good for water immersion within a brake assembly and still tolerate heat.
[there are charts for this ]
Some u can mix if u clean very very well
As I operate machinery that sees water immersion a lot I use a "AQuis " grease by Shell .Lithium /calcium combination grease
Shell does have a lot of greases for industrial applications

The trailers [single and dual ] I have owned ,the bearings last around 40,000-45,000km before replacement .A regrease around 20,000km mark.

Hope this helps
AnswerID: 552863

Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 21:48

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 21:48
"Castrol APXT now called something else "

It's now called LMX

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FollowupID: 838573

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 23:52

Thursday, Apr 23, 2015 at 23:52
I also think they may have been crap bearings - some cheap rubbish has been coming out in recent years and usually has "China" written on the bearing. Quality bearings such as Timken or Japanese brands such as Koyo or NTN are all I use.
AnswerID: 552865

Reply By: cruza25 - Friday, Apr 24, 2015 at 12:25

Friday, Apr 24, 2015 at 12:25
As others have mentioned it is important to use quality bearings.
visit a good bearing store and get the best. Stay away from the super crap specials from wherever. Only good for the trailer that goes to the tip twice a year.
That $10 dollar saving wont feel so good at the side of a remote track or road.

Make sure they are a good fit on the axle and and always check the temp and re adjust after a short test run.
AnswerID: 552884

Reply By: Member - cherrywipe - Friday, Apr 24, 2015 at 14:24

Friday, Apr 24, 2015 at 14:24
Just replaced the seals\ bearings on our van total cost $281.21 ,at that cost I am prepared to clean , inspect and repack with grease. That's for a single axle van, with 10 inch hubs, big difference in price.
AnswerID: 552886

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