RV Maintenance – things to check

Rv service

Its early spring, I guess very early….there’s still snow on the ground. It’s time to think about taking the RV out of moth balls and check out the systems to make sure everything is ship shape for the up coming RV camping season.

There are many things to checkout and three of the most important items are tires, wheel bearings and brakes. Maybe you remember heading out and seeing at least one RV on the side of the freeway with a flat or wheel missing.

Wheel bearings

Whether you have a monster 5th wheel a tent trailer or the smallest of utility trailers, they all have wheel bearings.

wheel bearings

These hidden guys are especially important because it is likely there will be little or no warning before they fail. Wheel bearings usually fail due to lack of lubrication (grease). It will cause the bearing to overheat and seize (stop turning), as you can imagine, considerable damage could occur, severe damage to the axle, hub, wheel rim, tire or worse separation of the wheel from your vehicle or trailer.

Bearing Buddies

Most trailers these days have bearing buddies, one per wheel. A bearing buddy is a grease nipple located on the outside of the wheel center. It may be behind a cover that snaps into place or a rubber nipple cover or both. The procedure is simple, remove the cover or covers and use a grease gun to inject grease into the grease nipple. There is a channel through the axle that allows the grease to  travel through the axle to lubricate the outside and inside bearing.

How your Buddy works.

Bearing buddy

The axle hub is filled with grease until the grease forces the Bearing Buddy piston outward about 1/8 inch. Because the piston is spring loaded, the piston exerts a slight (3 psi) pressure against the grease, which maintains a slight pressure between the inside of the hub and the outside environment. When the hub is submerged, water cannot enter the hub because of this pressure. An automatic pressure relief feature prevents over-filling and over pressurization.

Grease wheel bearing

How’s buddy doing?

Bearing buddies should be greased once a year or more if your trailer travels more than 10K miles.  When injecting grease it should pump with some resistance, if the resistance level is high or if one wheel is harder to grease than the rest it needs to be checked. Remove the wheel, the hub and bearings to see if the bearing buddy is plugged.

Wheel bearings should be checked for wear every 5 years, or more often if your trailer is used frequently. I usually check the bearings when I check the trailer brakes. At this time your bearings will need to be repacked.

Below is a video on repacking trailer wheel bearings.

Them’s the Brakes

Trailer brakes as a rule are not self adjusting, so they will need to be adjusted manually. Probably once a year or like anything else, the more you use it the more often it needs attention. The following is a video on adjusting electric brakes.

Brakes Working

Checking to see if the electric brakes are working can be done using the break away pin. Jack up one side of your trailer spin the wheel and they pull the pin, your tire should stop and you should not be able to move it. The trailer battery must be charged for this test to work.

Trailer brakes should be checked for wear every 2 – 3 years depending on use. Click here to check out R1 Concepts brake supplies

Note – it is very important that the electric break control in your vehicle is adjusted properly. If it is not adjusted properly you may not have enough breaking power when you need it. See your owners manual.

Motor Home Brakes

I like to check the brakes myself, it usually is easy enough to do. Take a flash light and crawl under the front next to each tire, you should be able to see the disc or rotor. If not rusted they should be smooth to the touch, if you feel deep grooves or roughness you need a brake job.

When you have your rig serviced ask the technician if there are brake pad wear indicators, and ask how they work.

On your travels don’t get caught with no help, sign up for Good Sam Roadside Assistance click here.

Where the rubber meets the road.

flat tire 2

Tires on your RV need attention. Tires are like clouds, you never know when they are going to spoil your day. Your RV tires can be a problem waiting to happen especially if they are more that 5 years old.

Rubber when not in use seems to break down quicker….it will let you know with a bang.

I have never had a tire blow on any vehicle except my RVs, 3 times, twice on the same trip. If you would like to read the whole story click here. If you need tires check out this online store, click here.

I hope this article has shed some light on bearings, brakes and tires. A little attention to these vital parts can avert the cost and inconvenience of an untimely break down.

I have created a comprehensive list of equipment and items you may need for your RV travels click here to check out my list.


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Hit the Road

If you have any comments or questions, I would love to hear from you.

Gord B.


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