If you need to haul important parts or supplies using a heavy-duty trailer, you will want to ensure that this crucial tool is kept in good condition at all times. Certainly, you may pay close attention to the wheels, with a view to making the tyres last as long as possible due to their high cost. However, are you looking beyond the wheels and to the crucial interface between them and the truck itself? What can happen if you don't keep up with this essential element of maintenance?
A large commercial trailer may be fitted with several axles, each of which will contain a row of wheels and tyres. Those tyres may each cost hundreds of dollars to replace annually, so long as they can be revolved without any issues and are properly aligned. Yet all of this work is not good enough if you have not looked closely at each wheel bearing. After all, this component effectively carries the entire weight of the load above as it forms that interface between a static hub and a moving wheel assembly.
How Things Work
Each bearing is self-contained and made up of an outer casing, an inner chamber and many individual tapers or roller bearings. The interaction of these bearings when the truck is in motion helps to deal with friction so that the wheel can turn unhindered and the temperature is kept in check. This would not be possible without a copious amount of grease, and each bearing is tightly packed with this hard-working material before it is installed.
Yet, the grease can only do so much and will begin to lose its capability as the months pass by. Constant high temperatures will take their toll, and as this happens, the bearing will begin to fail.
Early Warning Signs
Bad wheel bearings will certainly give you some early warning, and you may hear an earsplitting screeching noise or a rhythmic bang as the wheel in question turns. The rig may start to wander to one side for no apparent reason, and this also indicates that at least one of the bearings on that side has started to fail.
Implications of Inattention
Get into the habit of checking each bearing and, if necessary, repacking with grease during a scheduled major service. If you don't pay attention to detail, then the bearing on that wheel could seize. Before this happens, it may tighten up and its associated tyre may lock in place, causing significant flat spots and a potential puncture.
Don't risk the larger cost associated with a failed bearing, but keep an eye on each one through the year instead. Keep these tips in mind when looking for auto services that work on trailers.Share