Repacking and Inspecting Fifth Wheel Trailer Wheel Bearings

Repacking the wheel bearings is an important annual maintenance task for a fifth wheel trailer, especially one that is lived in full-time like ours. This is also a good time to inspect the bearings and brakes.

The first step is to jack up the trailer and remove the wheels.

Remove wheel from fifth wheel to grease wheel bearings-min

After jacking up the trailer, remove the wheels.

A few years ago we did a disk brake conversion on our fifth wheel trailer, upgrading from the factory installed electric drum brakes to electric over hydraulic disk brakes (you can read the details about what was involved in doing this phenomenal and highly recommended upgrade here). So, behind each of our wheels is the disk brake rotor and brake caliper.

Disc and rotor on fifth wheel trailer-min

Inspect the rotor and disc brake pads.

The first step for repacking the wheel bearings was to remove the brake caliper and inspect the brake pads and check out the braking surface on the rotor. All looked good. Then the brake caliper was moved out of the way.

Next, the grease cap and cotter pin were removed. Then the castle nut holding the bearings and the disk rotor in place was unscrewed. Gently pulling the rotor out about an inch and then pushing it back in released the outer bearing so it could be removed. Then the rotor was pulled off the axle spindle which revealed the inner bearing, allowing it to be slid off the axle spindle.

Remove castle nut and cotter pin from fifth wheel trailer hug to grease wheel bearings-min

Remove the cotter pin and castle nut, then the inner and outer wheel bearings and then pull the rotor off the axle spindle.

Greasy spindle on fifth wheel trailer axle-min

The axle spindle is full of grease.

Using shop towels, the grease was wiped off the axle spindle.

Clean spindle on fifth wheel trailer axle-min

Wipe the old grease off the axle spindle.

The inner and outer bearings, D-shaped spindle washer, castle nut and grease cap were then wiped clean of grease.

Inner and outer bearings fifth wheel trailer hub grease wheel bearings-min

Wipe off and inspect the outer and inner bearings, the D-shaped spindle washer, the castle nut and the grease cap.

It turned out that one of our wheel bearings was slightly scored, showing early signs of wear. We decided to replace it. Wheel bearings come in a bearing and race assembly, so the race would be replaced too.

Finding worn parts before they become a problem is one of the reasons that greasing the wheel bearings is an important annual task. Even if a trailer has EZ-Lube bearings, it is still important to remove the bearings periodically to inspect them so they can be replaced before they fail on the road.

Trailer wheel bearing damaged with scoring marks-min

One of our wheel bearings showed signs of wear — light scoring marks on each bearing.

First, the grease needed to be removed from the inside of the hub. It was scraped out and then wiped out with a shop towel.

Remove old grease from fifth wheel trailer disc brake hub-min

Remove the old grease from the rotor.

Greasing wheel bearings on fifth wheel trailer remove old grease-min

After scraping the grease out, wipe the area down with a shop cloth.

Remove old grease from fifth wheel trailer disc brake hub-min

Grease removed.

Then the old race was knocked out and the new race was set in place.

Knock out the old bearing race.

Knock out the old bearing race.

Put new wheel bearings into fifth wheel trailer disk brake hub-min

Set the new race in place.

The race was lightly tapped in place to make sure it was square. Then, using a race setter, the race was tapped securely into place.

Tap in the wheel bearings into fifth wheel trailer disk brake hub-min

Tap in the new race.

Press new wheel bearings into fifth wheel trailer disk brake hub-min


Next, the rotor with the greased inner bearing was mounted back on the spindle.

Place fifth wheel disk brake hub back onto axle spindle

Place the rotor back on the axle spindle.

Put new grease around wheel bearings on fifth wheel trailer disk brake hub

Newly greased bearings and spindle.

Then the castle nut was screwed on and hand-tightened.

Place greased castle nut in fifth wheel trailer disk brake rotor hub-min

Hand-tighten the castle nut.

Adjust greased castle nut in fifth wheel trailer disk brake rotor hub-min

Adjust the castle nut.

A new cotter pin was put in place and bent over to hold everything securely.

Place cotter pin in greased fifth wheel trailer disk brake rotor hub-min

Put a new cotter pin in place and bend it over.

Then the grease cap was screwed back on.

Screw in grease cap on fifth wheel trailer disk brake hub-min

Screw in the grease cap.

Completed grease wheel bearing job on fifth wheel trailer disk brake hub-min

Presto. Three more wheels to go!

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8 thoughts on “Repacking and Inspecting Fifth Wheel Trailer Wheel Bearings

  1. Hi again, EM & M! Yes, this is a teckie article, well written, accompanied by neat photos. Which is superb for guys like Mark that have top-notch mechanical skills (along with excellent photography skills), and a wife who is a talented writer….and a real plus for guys like me, who don’t have to reinvent/recreate the wheel (not a pun) when faced with a similar project. These types of articles are a great resource for us, too.

    Just wanted to mention that you and Mark showed up in RV Travel in the past week in a short article, so your reputation is still spreading! And of course, you’re responsible for us signing up for “Trailer Life” – fortunately, they have a digital edition, cause our magazine storage is overflowing.

    You’re missing some COLD weather, according to my bus-driving friend, who’s watching it snow, as we speak, in minus 15 degree weather; on the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park, in their 38 ft Montana (with the Arctic Pak). And yes, your comment about 5vers vs block constructed – insulated homes, still sticks with us, and will forever. Nice to have wheels to move, if you have the choice, huh? But, in his case, his driving job keeps them in the Park, until September. Will probably warm up shortly – hope so, for their sake. Didn’t keep me from teasing him a little bit, about the cool temperatures here in the Valley of the Sun, with lows in the 30’s, and highs going up to the 60’s or 70’s, in the forecast. But you are probably still hanging around, on the east side of the Valley; enjoying this beautiful weather. Interesting, that folks don’t know how huge our Valley of the Sun is. You’re probably 75 miles from our home in North Peoria/Sun City.

    Again, thanks for this wonderful teckie article. Just a blip in your stream of adventure articles!

    Remember, if you get tired of movin around all the time, don’t forget about the “Artist in Residence” programs at many of our National Parks……Bette & Glen Horsmann

    • I’m glad this techie article hit the spot, Bette & Glen! I like being able to share our little tidbits of knowledge. We are extremely grateful to Chuck Woodbury for sharing our story on RV Travel earlier this week. is a huge website — highly recommended — and he was very kind to turn the bright beam of his spotlight in our direction.

      I can imagine the Grand Canyon is bitterly cold right now. So much of the country is freezing! It would be tough in an RV on the South Rim. It’s definitely warmer in the Valley of the Sun, but not like it was a few weeks back when it was in the 80s. You just never know with wintertime. Luckily, Spring is around the corner. Thanks for the reminder about the Artist in Residence programs in the National Parks!!

  2. Not at all “techie” myself, but admiring of those who have the interest – and the talent ! You certainly make it look do-able…and only 3 more wheels to go !!


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