Philip Lord — 22 May 2012

WHEEL BEARINGS GET a workout on any caravan and should be checked and regreased every 12 months. Don’t forget you’ll need a new split-pin and a bearing seal for each axle, and be prepared to replace the inner and outer bearings if pitted or worn.


01 Park the van on a level surface and keep it hitched to the vehicle. Chock a van wheel and loosen nuts half a turn on the particular wheel you’re taking off. Jack up the van, supporting the chassis with an axle stand. Undo nuts and remove wheel, then prise off bearing dust cover with a pair of multigrips or, if it’s stubborn, by tapping a hammer on a screwdriver (as pictured).

02 Remove split-pin by straightening the pin and pulling out with pliers. Loosen castellated spindle nut and remove.

03 Remove outer washer and outer bearing from spindle. They should come out easily, but manipulate brake drum, if required, to loosen them.

04 Remove brake drum from spindle. The inner bearing and bearing seal will likely be attached to drum. Carefully pry out inner bearing and seal for inspection.

05 Degrease and dry bearings, inspecting for damage, particularly pitting or scoring of the rollers. While its rollers look okay, the above bearing body is corroded.

06 Regrease bearings (using high-temperature bearing grease) by pushing the grease into rollers by hand (wear disposable gloves), or by using a bearing packing tool such as the one shown, commonly available at auto parts shops.

07 Clean the inner surface of the brake drum thoroughly with a solvent such as wax and grease remover, otherwise your brakes may not work.

08 Refit inner bearing and new bearing seal to brake drum, tapping in the seal with a wood block drift so it sits flush. Fit outer bearing and washer and mount drum on the spindle. (Wipe spindle with solvent before mounting drum.)

09 Tighten castellated spindle nut, easing off and retightening a few times to allow the grease to properly work its way into the bearings. Tighten so the drum can still spin smoothly, then ease off so you can fit a new split-pin through.
At this point, you may wish to refit the wheel; it will be easier to spin than just the brake drum, and will give you a better feel of when the bearing is too tight. Once you’re happy with the tension on the bearings, fit split-pin, locking it in place by ensuring the head of the pin is seated and bending one half of the ‘split’ section towards you, along the spindle. Using pliers, cut the section of pin where it protrudes past the spindle. Tap dust cap back on.

10 Fit wheel (if you haven’t already done so) and tighten nuts enough so it’s secure on the hub. Spin the wheel to ensure it’s moving freely, then grab the top and bottom and see if there is any movement. If the wheel is binding you may have overtightened the bearings and need to loosen to the next pin hole. If not tight enough, the wheel will have some ‘play’ in it. If you do not need to recheck bearing tension, return wheel to the ground, remove jack/axle stand and tension wheel nuts. Check wheel nut tension again after 100km.

Thanks to Jayco Sydney for its assistance with this article.

Source: Caravan World Feb 2012

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Philip Lord

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