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Trailer Bearings Failure

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  • Trailer Bearings Failure

    Today was pretty scary as a fairly new trailer owner. I bought my 2016 3 horse Trails West September of last year from D&D in Seguin, TX. When I bought it they said all the maintenance was recently completed and I wouldn't have to do anything until next year (which is now).

    While hauling a round bale today (thank God, not my horse), I was flagged down by a driver that noticed smoke coming out of the back of my trailer. We looked at the offending wheel and the hub cap melted off and fell to the ground. The driver suspected that maybe my trailer brake locked up and that was the reason for the smoke. I called some friends and family to assist in identifying the issue and they all agreed it was a bearing failure. The irony is that I had planned on taking the trailer in for full maintenance in 2 weeks. The trailer technicians at the nearest trailer service center said it didn't look like my trailer had EVER had an axel inspection, which goes against what the dealership said. Dealership is shady and I've had previous bad experiences with them so I completely believe they were not honest.

    My trailer has always pulled well, no issues until today. I am just trying to understand if this is a failure on MY part for not servicing the trailer fast enough. For more information, I have put 5,000 miles on the trailer this year and I trailer several times each week with my round trips totaling approximately 40-60 miles. When I pulled into the trailer center today it did appear that one of the tires was not straight and symmetrical with the other tire. 3 out of 4 tires are 8 layer tires and when I bought a new one right after I bought the trailer because it was flat, the tire place sold me a 10 layer tire. Could that cause this to happen?

    I'm sorry, I just don't know what I don't know and I was trying to do correct trailer maintenance. I'm really worried that I've ruined my trailer somehow. It's in the shop now but they haven't started working on it yet and won't for a few days yet.

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    This is the rear right tire


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    This is the front left tire.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Yes you should have done this sooner. But no use beating yourself up for it. I always have someone else besides the seller go over any trailer I buy. Once upon a time my mom.bought a brand new one that came from the factory with dry bearings
    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
    carolprudm

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by mroades View Post
      Yes you should have done this sooner. But no use beating yourself up for it. I always have someone else besides the seller go over any trailer I buy. Once upon a time my mom.bought a brand new one that came from the factory with dry bearings
      Lesson learned.
      should bearings have maintenance twice a year?

      Comment


      • #4
        Have someone give you an estimate on the repair. Contact the seller first --polite, but let them know that this has happened. See what they say. Follow up with a letter asking for what you want --if you have it in writing in the sales contract that the trailer was new --then I think you can get some compensation -- from what I've seen that company is well regarded on the WWW. Might want to know so they keep that good reputation.

        Like you I do a once -a-year brake/bearing appointment. However, unlike you I bought my trailer used and the first thing I had checked (before I bought it) was the condition of the tires, brakes, and bearings. Ultimately my "hardly used" trailer needed $1500 in wheel/brake/axle work as it truly was hardly used, but had been parked outside and not used for 8 years . . .they call it "lot rot" ---the rest of the trailer was in tip-top shape. The seller took the $1500 off the purchase price.

        Comment


        • #5
          My trailer mechanic repacks the bearings every spring for me. It's a couple hundred dollars and money well spent as a precaution.

          Whenever I buy anything I take it for a mechanical inspection before I take possession and a trip to my mechanic after. I simply don't believe anything the sellers tell me, in large part because they might just not know if something is lurking. I even did a PPE when I bought my last car that was a returned lease at a very reputable brand name dealer.

          If you knew the dealership was shady why did you buy without a PPE?

          Comment


          • #6
            I did see a FB post from a horse acquaintance, actually a very experienced horsewoman. She had her bearings fail and seize up coming home from a trail ride, and said it was lucky her trailer floor didn't catch fire. She posted it on a general FB notice board so didn't talk about it with her personally. She posted it as a warning to everyone. I think she said she'd gone a couple of years without replacing them.

            The bearings issue is one thing that is different on a trailer than on a car, and they do seem to be very very important.

            Comment


            • #7
              Fire Extinguisher! If you don't have one in your trailer, make sure you get one!! I always have one and thought everyone else did too --then a friend (really smart lady, very knowledgeable), picked up horse and me for a trail ride. Less than 3 miles from our area --her trailer began to smoke ---she pulled over on a 4 lane highway ---and there was definitely a fire going in the tire area --I said where's you fire extinguisher?? She didn't have one!! At that moment the "fire" seemed to sizzle out and we limped off the highway to a very close tire shop who diagnosed "locked brake and frozen bearings." I asked her when she had them packed? She said, "Oh, I don't know. I don't use my trailer that much!" --Since then, I always carry a fire extinguisher in my kit if the owner of the trailer doesn't. And now I rarely let anyone haul my horse ---

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Foxglove View Post
                Fire Extinguisher! If you don't have one in your trailer, make sure you get one!! I always have one and thought everyone else did too --then a friend (really smart lady, very knowledgeable), picked up horse and me for a trail ride. Less than 3 miles from our area --her trailer began to smoke ---she pulled over on a 4 lane highway ---and there was definitely a fire going in the tire area --I said where's you fire extinguisher?? She didn't have one!! At that moment the "fire" seemed to sizzle out and we limped off the highway to a very close tire shop who diagnosed "locked brake and frozen bearings." I asked her when she had them packed? She said, "Oh, I don't know. I don't use my trailer that much!" --Since then, I always carry a fire extinguisher in my kit if the owner of the trailer doesn't. And now I rarely let anyone haul my horse ---
                I just did a search on amazon for "automotive fire extinguisher". Can you recommend one?
                https://www.amazon.com/s?k=automotiv...b_sb_ss_i_1_18

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Yikes! I’m definitely going to put a fire extinguisher in my trailer. I have several at home. Thank you for the tip I didn’t even consider that even WITH what just happened.

                  Definitely should have done a PPE I honestly just didn’t think about it and when I bought it it was 2 years old so it couldn’t be THAT bad, right? Wrong.
                  What I did have to do was purchase 2 new tires because one was flat and the spare was bald.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Put a fire extinguisher in your truck and in your trailer. You don't necessarily want to be trying to open the tack room door in an emergency.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I took my trailer in to get the bearings checked and they said that I had sealed bearings so no need to do anything. Why would you not have sealed bearings?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In my mind, there is no point in connecting with vendor. Your purchase was made 13 months ago, and as you have stated, trailer has performed well until now. Wheel bearings do require maintenance, and do fail.

                        Sorry that this happened to you.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Never heard of sealed bearings on any trailer hubs. Yes they can "seal shut" when reassembling the wheels after repacking, with grease or oil caps, but trailer bearings (so far) are not meant to last forever.

                          OP, I consider 5000 miles to be high miles in using a trailer over one year. Did you get an owners manual with the trailer? If not, you could call the trailer maker and ask how often the bearings, brakes, need servicing? Then use their recommended timing to keep things working. You will want brakes checked too because they work hard with weight of horse, in stopping the trailer. May need replacing. You may need to get twice a year sevicing, which gives you peace of mind, prevents roadside sitting, especially with a horse inside.

                          You also might want to learn how to grease wheel bearings and know what you are looking at if you take off the grease caps. U-tube videos abound on how to do things.

                          I borrowed a trailer, blew a bearing on the toll road. This was our "learning moment" in not believing lender about upkeep. Small horse, we parked at a toll gate, unhitched trailer. I stayed with trailer while husband went searching auto shops for new bearings. They told him how to remove old bearings, repack wheel and get back on the road. I learned how to repack bearings watching him. I carried a set of new bearings that fit the trailers and axle grease for YEARS!

                          Just 2 weeks ago a woman at a show blew her bearings heading home. Evidently this is fairly common with this trailer!! She said it is serviced yearly. She had all the stuff to fix it because it happens regularly, though she only goes out to compete 6-7 times a year. She said trailer came with new sets of bearings when she bought it used!! Maybe that is why it got sold! My husband suggested to her husband that getting axles checked for correct alignment, tire toe-in, might solve the bearing problem if tires are not running straight.

                          Back "in the day" trailer bearings were recommended to get greased yearly or every 2500 miles! You changed the oil in your truck every 3000 miles, because times were different. Mechanical vehicles wore out much faster. So you were more careful, to keep things lasting as long as possible. You proably would not buy a truck with "high mileage" of 80,000, because it was nearing the end of a reliable life. It might look good, but the mechanics were very worn with so "many" miles. Low mileage trucks, well maintained, drove great but were more likely to rust to death in those times. They made good farm trucks then, looked terrible yet they worked hard.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                            Never heard of sealed bearings on any trailer hubs. Yes they can "seal shut" when reassembling the wheels after repacking, with grease or oil caps, but trailer bearings (so far) are not meant to last forever.
                            Brenderup and Bockmann trailers (and maybe other European brands) have sealed bearings. Presumably the bearings may have to be replaced at some point, but they do not need annual maintenance/re-packing.
                            Last edited by Gardenhorse; Oct. 20, 2019, 02:00 PM. Reason: Left out a word

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gardenhorse View Post

                              Brenderup and Bockmann trailers (and maybe other European brands) have sealed bearings. Presumably the bearings may have to be replaced at some point, but they do not need annual maintenance/re-packing.
                              Thank you for that information. I will have to check them out!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Dexter Axle (made near me) have a sealed bearing axle ---something I will definitely look into if I ever part with my beloved Merhow --that and a RUMBLER floor! Until then, I take donuts to the trailer-fix shop when I take my trailer in --want those guys/girls to look forward to me coming in!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Ytr45 --re: what kind of fire extinguisher -- I'd go to the automotive parts store and ask them. Near me the ACE hardware has a trailer parts section (did I mention that I live in "the trailer capital of the world--Elkhart IN?" ---anyway --I got what I needed for $12 --as you said, automotive fire extinguisher ---I ask the trailer people who check my brakes/bearings (and my spare tire) to always check the level of the fire extinguisher, too. They do --and the charge in my trailer battery.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                                    Never heard of sealed bearings on any trailer hubs. Yes they can "seal shut" when reassembling the wheels after repacking, with grease or oil caps, but trailer bearings (so far) are not meant to last forever.

                                    OP, I consider 5000 miles to be high miles in using a trailer over one year. Did you get an owners manual with the trailer? If not, you could call the trailer maker and ask how often the bearings, brakes, need servicing? Then use their recommended timing to keep things working. You will want brakes checked too because they work hard with weight of horse, in stopping the trailer. May need replacing. You may need to get twice a year sevicing, which gives you peace of mind, prevents roadside sitting, especially with a horse inside.

                                    You also might want to learn how to grease wheel bearings and know what you are looking at if you take off the grease caps. U-tube videos abound on how to do things.

                                    I borrowed a trailer, blew a bearing on the toll road. This was our "learning moment" in not believing lender about upkeep. Small horse, we parked at a toll gate, unhitched trailer. I stayed with trailer while husband went searching auto shops for new bearings. They told him how to remove old bearings, repack wheel and get back on the road. I learned how to repack bearings watching him. I carried a set of new bearings that fit the trailers and axle grease for YEARS!

                                    Just 2 weeks ago a woman at a show blew her bearings heading home. Evidently this is fairly common with this trailer!! She said it is serviced yearly. She had all the stuff to fix it because it happens regularly, though she only goes out to compete 6-7 times a year. She said trailer came with new sets of bearings when she bought it used!! Maybe that is why it got sold! My husband suggested to her husband that getting axles checked for correct alignment, tire toe-in, might solve the bearing problem if tires are not running straight.

                                    Back "in the day" trailer bearings were recommended to get greased yearly or every 2500 miles! You changed the oil in your truck every 3000 miles, because times were different. Mechanical vehicles wore out much faster. So you were more careful, to keep things lasting as long as possible. You proably would not buy a truck with "high mileage" of 80,000, because it was nearing the end of a reliable life. It might look good, but the mechanics were very worn with so "many" miles. Low mileage trucks, well maintained, drove great but were more likely to rust to death in those times. They made good farm trucks then, looked terrible yet they worked hard.
                                    Thank you SO much for all of this information. I did not receive a manual but now I’m going to find one for my specific trailer.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Foxglove View Post
                                      Dexter Axle (made near me) have a sealed bearing axle ---something I will definitely look into if I ever part with my beloved Merhow --that and a RUMBLER floor! Until then, I take donuts to the trailer-fix shop when I take my trailer in --want those guys/girls to look forward to me coming in!

                                      what is a rumbler floor?

                                      on a side note I asked for a complete service to include cleaning. I hope that means they will check the trailer battery too. I dropped off my trailer in an urgent manner and they were about to close. I will call on Monday when they open to get more information on what’s included and everything else. I did ask them to check the brakes as well. If I need to get new tires I will too. No one has touched on the different trailer tire layers having an effect on the trailer. When I bought the 10 layer tire I did ask if it would negatively effect the trailer and they said no. To refresh, the left rear tire is a 10 layer and the other 3 are 8.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Yes, grease your hubs periodically (your shop will show you how & you should have a grease gun, if you don't, get one) in addition to the annual packing. If you are using the trailer that much, I'd check/grease them quarterly.

                                        Don't forget to also grease your ball hitch so the trailer doesn't bind.

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