USRider Provides Tips for Proper Trailer Axle Care
RELEASE: March 11, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By USRider
One of the more debilitating disablements for a horse trailer is axle failure. In addition to putting you and your horse(s) at great danger by disabling you on the side of the highway, axle failure presents an on-the-scene repair challenge.
“In most cases of axle failure, it will be necessary for you or your motor plan to locate emergency stabling for your horse(s), as well as alternative transportation to the stabling facility. This will require you to unload and reload your horses in an undesirable area. In these rare instances, USRider will request a police presence to stop traffic while the horses are being moved,” said Mark Cole, managing member of USRider.
With its Equestrian Motor Plan, USRider gives you peace of mind as you travel. USRider's motor plan surpasses other roadside assistance plans by also covering horse vans, horse trailers, tow vehicles and horses.
The key to avoiding this situation is simple: preventative maintenance. Make certain that your trailer axles are serviced annually, or every 12,000 miles. While certain manufacturers make claims of lifetime bearings or maintenance—free axles, the risk is too great not to have a simple check-up annually. This requires taking your trailer to a trusted mechanic who will inspect the axle, and replace any worn parts, and re-pack the bearings with high-temperature bearing grease, or change the 90 weight oil for oil bath axles.
The main reason for servicing your trailer axles annually—even if you have not used your trailer in the past year—is that moisture can build up in an axle. This can cause the grease to become diluted and break down, rendering it unable to properly lubricate. Thus, it is important to perform this simple maintenance annually—even if you do not use your trailer often, or at all. In addition to bearing failure, irregular axle maintenance can lead to axle damage, requiring the axle to be replaced—turning an inexpensive maintenance procedure into an expensive repair.
This simple maintenance should be done even if your trailer has hubs that are equipped with grease fittings, such as those found on Bearing Buddies, and other aftermarket axle products. Although the grease fittings will allow you to add more grease, they do not provide a means to remove old, moisture-diluted grease. When adding grease, be very careful not to add too much and damage your grease seals. The weak link in either oil- or grease-based systems are the seals. The seals keep oil or grease in and moisture out.
For oil bath axles, which are lubricated by an oil reservoir, it is recommended to change the oil bi-annually. Even if the oil is full, these axles should be checked annually by a qualified mechanic. Upon visual inspection, if an oil bath system has dark or cloudy oil, have the axle serviced immediately—dark and cloudy oil indicates moisture contamination. Proper looking oil will have a golden or amber appearance.
USRider recommends that horse owners carry a spare set of axle bearings when traveling. “It is much easier to locate a mechanic to make a repair than to have to locate and dispatch specific axle components,” added Cole. This is especially important if you travel great distances, or on nights and weekends, as parts may not be available due to many parts suppliers being closed from noon Saturday until Monday morning. Contact your trailer dealer or manufacturer for the correct replacement bearings for your axles.
Another important reason to have your axles serviced annually is that worn trailer axles will cause tires to wear improperly, introducing a number of other hazards for traveling equestrians.
In a worst-case scenario involving an axle in dire need of servicing, a wheel could actually come off the trailer while underway, possibly causing irreparable damage to the axle—not to mention the danger of a loose wheel on the highway f