What is the Best Grease for Travel Trailer Wheel Bearings?

Posted by Wesley Kolbe on

Selecting the right grease for travel trailer wheel bearings is a task not to be taken lightly. The longevity and performance of your trailer heavily rely on the condition of its bearings. And, to keep these bearings in top shape, choosing the appropriate grease becomes an important decision you must make. This guide will explore the factors that determine what the best grease is for travel trailer wheel bearings.

Furthermore, it will provide you with valuable insights into the types of grease available in the market, their appropriate usage, and the best application methods for optimum wheel performance.

Maintaining the health of your travel trailer’s wheel bearings shouldn’t be perplexing. By understanding what to look for and how to use it effectively, you can ensure a smooth and trouble-free journey each time you hit the road.

So, let’s dive into the fundamentals of wheel bearings, their importance, and the role of grease in their maintenance.

Understanding Wheel Bearings and Their Importance

Wheel bearings are a crucial component of any vehicle. They are a set of steel balls held together by a metallic ring, known as a race. The bearings facilitate smooth wheel motion by reducing friction between the wheel and the trailer’s axle. Moreover, they help carry the weight of the trailer, allowing the wheels to spin freely even under heavy load conditions.

Given their significant role, it’s clear why keeping greasing wheel bearings well-lubricated is essential. Proper lubrication ensures that the bearings operate smoothly, preventing premature wear and potential failure. Specifically for travel trailers which often face harsh road conditions and heavy loading, the importance of maintaining the bearings cannot be overstated.

The right grease serves as a protective barrier for the wheel bearings against the detrimental impacts of friction, heat, and contamination. It ensures the bearings move easily and freely, decreasing the risk of frictional wear. With the incorrect or poor-quality grease, you may face problems like overheating, increased friction, and even total wheel bearing failure.

Thus, it’s not just about applying grease to the bearings; it’s about using the right kind—a decision that can significantly impact the durability and dependability of your travel trailer’s wheel bearings.

Factors that Affect the Choice of Grease

It’s imperative to understand that various factors can influence the choice of grease for your travel trailer’s wheel bearings. Each bearing grease comes with its unique properties, suitable for specific conditions.

  • Temperature: The temperature range your travel trailer will be exposed to has a significant bearing on the type of grease you need. High-temperature environments can thin out or even degrade some types of grease. On the flip side, colder climates can cause certain greases to solidify. Thus, picking a grease with a suitable temperature range for your usual travel environments is vital.
  • Frequency of Use: How often you use your travel trailer influences the frequency of reapplication and the type of grease you’ll need. Regular use and long trips call for robust, long-lasting grease to resist wear and steer clear of frequent reapplications.
  • Environmental Effects: Exposure to water, dust, and other environmental contaminants can affect the performance of grease. If your trailer often encounters harsh conditions, it’s wise to select a grease with robust water and contaminant resistance.
  • Type of Bearings: Different types of bearings may require different grease. It’s important to check your manufacturer’s specification or consult with a professional to ensure compatibility.
  • Trailer Specifications: Also, trailer specifications, like load weight and wheel size, can influence the requirement of the bearing lubricant. Heavier trailers might need heavier-duty grease to deal with larger loads.

Choosing to install the correct grease keeping these factors in mind will ensure that your wheel bearings are well-protected, and they serve you smoothly for many miles to come.

Lube-Shuttle®: Lever Handle Grease Gun

Lever Handle Air-Tec Lube-Shuttle® Grease Guns are made of the highest quality steel tubes with corrosion-resistant zinc plating.

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Different Types of Grease and Their Properties

There are various types of grease available for wheel bearings, each with their unique properties, advantages, and downsides.

Here’s an overview of some of the most commonly used types.

  • Lithium Complex Grease: This is one of the most common types of grease, known for its high dropping point (ability to withstand high temperatures before it begins to drip), good pumpability, and wear resistance. This makes it suitable for high-temperature applications. However, it doesn’t perform as well in colder temperatures.
  • Calcium Sulfonate Grease: Calcium Sulfonate grease is respected for its excellent water resistance, making it ideal for travel trailers that are frequently exposed to water. It offers superior rust protection and a high dropping point similar to lithium grease. It, however, can be costlier compared to other types of grease.
  • Polyurea Grease: Polyurea grease has excellent thermal stability, offering good performance even under high-temperature conditions. It also supports longer service intervals due to its durable nature. Though it might not be as water-resistant as the calcium sulfonate grease, it still offers an acceptable level of resistance to environmental contaminants.

Top Recommended for Grease for Trailer Bearings

Based on market reviews, customer feedback, and expert opinions, here are some of the top recommended greases that have established themselves as reliable choices for travel trailer wheel bearings.

1. Lube-shuttle®

Revered for its ease of use, the Lube-shuttle® system is designed to keep your hands clean when greasing or changing a grease tube.

The system utilizes an innovative design with safeLOCK and a 90-degree coupler to reach hard-to-lubricate zerk fittings commonly found on suspension points. This added benefit makes it an attractive choice for trailer maintenance, especially for those hard-to-reach areas.

2. LI400 Grease

This is a heavy-duty grease that offers maximum protection to axles, wheel bearings, and suspensions. Through its industry-leading wear and temperature protection, it provides your travel trailer with all the grease and resilience it needs to withstand long trips and harsh road conditions.

It’s a valuable addition to your maintenance routine, particularly if you frequently travel in extreme weather conditions or rough terrains.

AirTec Grease: Li400 Extreme Duty Grease

Li400 is the flagship grease from AirTec. Thickened with Lithium complex and reinforced with AirTec/Wagner Micro Ceramic Li400’s performance under extreme temperatures and pressures puts it in a class of its own.

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The Process of Applying Grease on Wheel Bearings

Applying grease appropriately to your wheel bearings plays a decisive role in their performance (wheel spins freely) and long-term durability. Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can do it:

  1. Clean the Bearings: Start by cleaning your wheel bearings. Take them out of the wheel and use a degreaser to remove the old grease. Once done, dry them thoroughly.
  2. Apply the Grease: Using a grease gun such as the Lube-shuttle® allows easy and clean application. Apply a generous amount of grease, like the LI400, on the bearings, ensuring it reaches all parts.
  3. Reinstall the Bearings: Once the bearings are fully greased, reinstall them carefully back into the wheel hub.
  4. Clean the Hub: You should also clean and apply new grease to the hub area where the bearings sit. This helps in creating a smooth surface for the bearings to function.
  5. Secure Everything Back: Secure the hub back on the trailer. Make sure the hub and the bearings move freely without any resistance.

Regularly greasing your travel trailer’s wheel bearings maximizes their life and ensures a smooth journey. Always make sure to use high-quality grease products and apply them correctly for the best results.

Maintenance Tips for Longer Bearing Life

Taking care of your travel trailer’s wheel bearings not only requires selecting the right grease but also involves proper maintenance. Here are some crucial tips and recommendations to ensure the longevity of your wheel bearings:

  1. Regular Inspection: Conduct periodic inspections of the wheel bearings to check for wear, corrosion, and damage. Doing so will allow you to detect and address potential issues early.
  2. Use High-Quality Grease: Use grease from a reputable manufacturer, guaranteeing robust quality and performance. High-quality grease ensures better protection and minimizes the need for frequent reapplication.
  3. Clean the Bearings: Regularly clean your bearings using a degreaser before applying grease. This practice keeps your bearings in top shape by removing contaminants and old grease residues.
  4. Grease Before Storing: Grease the wheel bearings before storing your travel trailer for an extended period. Doing so will help prevent rust and corrosion from forming.
  5. Load Within Vehicle Limitations: Ensure your travel trailer is loaded within its specified weight limits. Overloading can lead to increased stress on the wheel bearings, reducing their lifespan.
  6. Monitor Tire Condition: Regularly check the condition of your trailer’s tires. Unusual tire wear patterns may indicate an issue with the wheel bearings that may need addressing.

By following these maintenance tips, you can extend the life of your wheel bearings, ensuring smooth and trouble-free journeys.

AirTec Grease: G200 Multi-Purpose Plus

AirTec’s G200 Grease is a premium multi-purpose grease. It features a calcium sulfonate complex thickener, EP additives, and a heavier base oil than most multi-purpose greases.

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Conclusion

The right grease for your travel trailer’s wheel bearings plays a pivotal role in their performance and durability. It’s essential to consider factors such as temperature, frequency of use, environmental effects, type of bearing, and trailer specifications when selecting the best grease.

Understanding the properties of different types of grease, including lithium complex grease, calcium sulfonate grease, and polyurea grease, can significantly affect the longevity and dependability of your trailer’s wheel bearings.

In summary, using the right grease and maintaining the wheel bearings as described above will lead to an optimal performance of your travel trailer on all your future trips.

FAQs

What kind of grease do you use on trailer wheel bearings?

There are various types of grease (grease seal, marine grease, brake cleaner grease, etc.) available for trailer wheel bearings, including lithium complex grease, calcium sulfonate grease, and polyurea grease. The choice depends on the travel conditions, trailer’s specific needs, and personal preference.

Is Lithium Grease OK for trailer bearings?

Yes, lithium grease fitting is suitable for trailer bearings. It is known for its high dropping point and good pumpability, making it an excellent choice for high-temperature applications. However, it might not perform as well in colder temperatures.

Is red and tacky grease good for boat trailer bearings?

Red and tacky grease is usually a lithium complex grease. It can be a suitable choice for boat trailer bearings as it is water-resistant and has a high dropping point. However, it’s essential to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before applying it.

What’s the best wheel bearing grease?

The best wheel bearing grease would be the one that fulfills your trailer’s specific needs and is suited to the environment it operates in. Choosing the right grease depends on factors such as temperature range, operating conditions, and bearing compatibility.

How often should trailer bearings be greased?

Trailer bearings (outer bearing and inner bearing) should be greased at least once a year or every 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. This frequency can vary depending on the grease type, the frequency of use, and the severity of the travel conditions. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to greasing intervals.

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