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Keep those wheels spinning – trailer wheel hub maintenance made easy

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The wheels on your trailer are connected to the axle by means of the wheel hub, so it needs to be kept in top condition. Luckily, it’s a fairly straightforward procedure to pull the hub apart and check on it as part of your regular trailer maintenance.

Let’s look at the parts of the wheel hub, and what you can do to keep them ready for the road.

First, you’ll need to jack up the trailer and remove the wheel. Remember that when the trailer’s wheels are off the ground it’s potentially unstable, so make sure you always work well back from it and no part of your body is underneath it at any time.

The bearings

Bearings are made up of two parts – the ‘cup’, which is pressed into the hub and the ‘cone’, which contains the rollers. It’s important they are kept well-greased at all times, as this will protect them from heat caused by friction.

When doing your trailer maintenance, wipe down the bearings and check they don’t have any nicks, dents or discoloration. If they’re okay, clean them thoroughly using a degreaser. If they need to be replaced, they should always be replaced in a set with cup and cone together and be matched to the load rating of the trailer.

The seal

Check that the rubber on the seal is still flexible and in good shape, because if it’s not it won’t work well. If it needs replacing, make sure you take note of the number stamped on it so you’ll know what to get.

The race

Run your fingers round the race to check for scratches and note any discoloration. Like the other parts, write down its number so it can be replaced.

After checking everything, ‘pack’ the bearings by rolling them in your hands with plenty of grease. Coat the axle shaft with grease, slide the hub in place and tighten the nut. Test it by holding on to the top of the tyre and rocking it gently. If it wobbles, loosen and tighten the nut again until it settles.

Dirt, salt, sand and water can quickly destroy your bearings, so it’s a good idea to have a grease or ‘dust’ cap as it fits over the outside of the trailer wheel hub to keep the grease in and impurities out.

Investing in a trailer hub kit, which usually contains the wheel hub, bearings, seal, dust cap and wheel nuts, can pay off in an emergency. As long as you’ve bought one that matches the trailer’s bearings, you’ll have everything you need to do any repairs or replacements.

How do you know when other parts of your trailer are getting worn? Here’s a quick guide on what to look for.

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