When it comes to trailer maintenance and safety, one component that often goes unnoticed - until it causes a problem - is the Trailer Hub.
Trailer hubs play a critical role in keeping your trailer rolling smoothly down the road.
Your trailer hub assembly is primarily responsible for:
- Supporting the trailer's weight
- Preserving the cargo's mass
- Ensuring smooth wheel rotation
With that being said, how do you know if your trailer hubs are in good condition or if they’ve gone bad?
What Are The Signs Of A Bad Hub Assembly?
There are several signs to watch out for that will indicate a failing hub assembly on your trailer - for example:
- Unusual Noises
- Excessive Heat
- Wheel Play
- Irregular Tire Wear
One of the signs of a bad hub assembly is unusual noises coming from your trailer wheels.
If you hear any grinding, humming, squeaking or rumbling sounds while you are towing your trailer, it is a strong indication that something is amiss with the hub or its components.
Raise your trailer’s wheel off the ground, then try to move it back and forth by hand. If you detect any noticeable wheel play or wobbling, this can be an indicator of loose or damaged hub components.
When a trailer hub feels excessively hot after only driving a short distance, it’s a sign of trouble.
A trailer hub assembly that’s overheating is, typically, caused by friction. Friction can occur when there is a lack of lubrication or misaligned hub components on your trailer.
Irregular Tire Wear
Misaligned and damaged trailer hubs will lead to irregular tire wear.
Uneven tire wear, essentially, means that one side of the tire is starting to wear down faster than the other side.
If you notice any of these signs, it is crucial that you address the issue promptly, in order to avoid further damage to your trailer or even a potential accident.
What Causes A Trailer Hub To Fail?
Lack of Lubrication
Inadequate or infrequent greasing of your trailer hub's bearings can ultimately lead to:
- Increased Friction
- Accelerated Wear
Overloading the Trailer
Excessive weight or overloading your trailer can put unnecessary stress on the hub, which will typically lead to premature failure.
Contamination of the Grease
If the grease has been contaminated, it is likely due to a missing or defective grease cap and seal. This will lead to dust, dirt and moisture entering the hub, causing damage to the bearings and other components - for instance:
Neglecting regular inspections and maintenance of your trailer hub assembly can result in undetected issues that are going to eventually worsen over time.
What Happens When A Trailer Hub Fails?
Towing your trailer with a hub assembly that’s failing is highly discouraged.
A damaged hub assembly can result in catastrophic failure, which could essentially lead to a range of serious consequences.
- Loss of Control
A failed hub can cause your trailer to become unstable, which can then lead to a loss of control while towing. This is a significant safety hazard for you and other road users around you.
- Tire Damage
A malfunctioning trailer hub can result in excessive tire wear or even a blowout. With that being said, a damaged hub can be both dangerous and costly.
- Stranded on the Road
Trailer hub failure can potentially leave you stranded on the side of the road, which is going to require immediate attention, causing a delay in your trip.
- Costly Repairs
Replacing a damaged hub assembly can sometimes be a costly and time-consuming repair, especially if there are other components that have also been affected.
It is essential that you address any issues with your trailer hub assembly promptly, prior to towing your trailer down the road. In doing so, you can better ensure the safety of yourself and others.
How To Keep Your Trailer Hub In Good Working Condition
Keeping your Trailer Hubs in good working condition is vital, especially for safety and reliability.
Here’s how to keep your hub assembly in optimal shape:
01. Regular Inspections
Make it a habit to inspect your trailer hubs before and after trips. Be sure to look for any signs of wear, damage or unusual noises.
Follow the regular greasing schedule that’s outlined in your trailer's maintenance manual. Not only should you use the appropriate grease, but you should also ensure that it’s applied correctly to the bearings.
03. Proper Torque
When reassembling your hub, make sure to torque the nuts or bolts to the proper specifications. Over-tightening or under-tightening can oftentimes lead to issues.
04. Inspect Seals
Inspect the hub seals for any signs of leakage or damage, as they play a crucial role in protecting the bearings from contamination.
05. Weight Management
Avoid overloading your trailer, as excess weight can put unnecessary strain on the hub and bearings.
06. Maintain Alignment
Make sure that your trailer's axles and hubs are accurately aligned. Misaligned hubs and axles can eventually lead to premature wear.
By following these maintenance guidelines, you can:
- Significantly reduce the risk of hub assembly failure
- Prolong the life of your trailer hubs
- Ensure a safe and trouble-free towing experience