Any RVer or person with a trailer (boat, hauler or any other) knows that axle bearings require regular maintenance. If you don’t know that, please have your bearings checked soon! We are surprised by the amount of folks who either don’t know or think it isn’t necessary but every few years or so. Almost all trailer manufacturers say once a year or a certain mileage (ours is 12k).
Our trailer, being new, comes with EZ-Lube axles made by Dexter. These aren’t a new type but have gained in popularity so most new trailers come with them now. The premise is simple, instead of needing to take the wheels off, remove the brake drum, pull out the bearings manually and repack, you use the grease zerk to pump new grease through the spindle while turning the wheel. This pushes the old grease out and allows the new grease in. Makes the job much simpler and quicker. If it worked, that is. I had read dozens of posts online from folks warning others not to do it. They highly recommended packing the bearings by hand. We were at our mileage (and just over a year) so it was time for me to do this job. Since Dexter themselves say it is safe, I bought a grease gun and did the job myself. This was during our two month stay in Naples, Florida. When we left I noticed the brakes on the trailer weren’t working as well and that two of the drums were getting very hot after we had been driving for a time. So obviously something wasn’t right and I feared the worse.
Well, fast forward just a few weeks and we are near Crestview, Florida getting our domicile situation squared away and decided to stay longer so we could get our brakes looked at too. I found a local RV repair place that comes to you and had them come out and inspect the brakes. First wheel checked was the driver rear. No grease inside the drum but the pads were worn on the outer edges indicating that the pads were adjusted too tightly (on self adjusting brakes no less). Back plate (basically the brake assembly) needed to be replaced along with drum. Next wheel checked was drivers front. This one was full of grease! Reason number two the brakes weren’t working well any longer. Damn. Back plate and drum needs replacing.
We decide to not even look at the passenger side since they both were going to need replacing at this point as well. The tech takes down our axle info so they could order everything needed, we pay a deposit on the order, and they say they’ll be back on Thursday (we were originally leaving on the following Friday). This was Monday. Wednesday has come and no word from the tech so I call to see if they are coming out on Thursday. This is a pet peeve of mine so I’m already annoyed. I don’t like having to follow-up myself when good service would indicate keeping the customer up-to-date. They proceed to tell me they only ordered parts for one axle by mistake and the other parts will be here on Monday. They’ll be out first thing Tuesday morning. Of course I tell them we’re scheduled to leave on Friday but thank goodness we decided to extend our stay (inside I just knew something like this would happen) and the RV park had our space available for another week! Annoyed again.
Fast forward to Monday morning when we get a knock on the RV door at 9am. Yeap, it’s the RV tech. Seeing that I was still asleep he says, “they didn’t call you did they?”. Nope, had no clue. Of course a day early is good but a heads up would have been nice. Maybe we had plans? We didn’t but now I’m annoyed again. He gets to work and I quickly realize that the parts he is placing on our RV are not made by Dexter. They are TruRyde. I’ve heard of TruRyde and realize they are drop in replacements, but they aren’t Dexter. Dexter parts are made in the USA. TruRyde in China. Annoyed again. Actually, now I’m moving from annoyed to angry. He tells me they are a sister company to Dexter but I’m fairly certain that is not the case. I’m actually on my phone at this point and quickly find the TruRyde parts he is putting on our RV and see we paid twice as much. Now I’m really getting upset. I realize they need to make money and it’s not all with labor. I get it. But I’m seeing a 100% markup here. I can get two backing plates for the price we paid for one. Ouch!
He gets everything installed and I’m asking him if the brakes need adjusting and he tells me no, they are self adjusting. The ones he replaced were so I didn’t think much about it. Until, that is, he had left and I’m reading the instructions included with our brakes. They clearly state the brakes need to be manually adjusted. Now I’m pissed. Did we pay such a high price for self-adjusting brakes made by Dexter and get China made manual adjusting brakes which need adjustment every 3000 miles? As I write this I’ve called and left a message asking just that so we’ll see what they say. At this point I’m feeling a bit screwed over to be honest.
So, obviously I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but I’m currently angry and taking it out in this post. It is helping. But the whole point of this post is that I made around a $1000 mistake by using the EZ-Lube system to grease my bearings. Two of the four drums had grease in them causing the brakes to no longer function properly. So we had to pay to have the backing plates and drums replaced as well as a bearing repack. Ouch!
I closely watched him so that I can just do the job myself next time. No way I’m going through this again! It really does pay to just do work on your own with no short cuts. Lesson learned!
The tech that did the work to the RV actually came back later in the afternoon to see what I was upset about (which I appreciated instead of just a call). I told him that I wanted to make sure I didn’t pay for parts that weren’t installed and that I was really upset we didn’t get self-adjusting brakes. He just added a lot of maintenance work for me to do. After some checking he does admit that the brakes he installed weren’t self-adjusting but that I paid “retail” prices for them and that’s what they charge. I wasn’t overcharged. Wow, 100% markup. Ouch! I’m obviously still not happy so he gets the owner of the company on the phone and hands it to me.
The owner proceeds to say that I have false expectations about the service and that “they got me back on the road”. He said we only had a week so he ordered the parts he could get in within that time frame. I proceed to tell him that that’s not his call and that I should have been given the choice of what to put on my RV. If they couldn’t get the Dexter parts in time, then that would be a decision I’d need to make (like staying even longer, getting the work done elsewhere along our travels, or just going with the Chinese parts from TruRyde). I was pissed because he took that very important decision from me. He didn’t seem to understand my point and just stood firm that he got the job done and that’s that. Yes, they got my brakes fixed. The kid doing the work did a good job. None of that was in dispute. I finally just had to hand the phone back to the tech and wish them a good evening.
I’m a pretty laid back guy who doesn’t get upset easily. I was upset. But I suppose they taught us another lesson. Don’t assume that they are replacing with OEM parts and make sure to ask next time because apparently that’s the customers job to specify.
Thanks for this post, Jason. Really appreciated it. I want to make sure I understand this, as I’m shopping for a flatbed gooseneck trailer. What I got out of your post was DO NOT rely on the EZ lube system to grease your bearings. Rather pack the bearings yourself (I.e. disassemble). Secondly, are the Dexter torsion/oil bath axles a far superior product? Less maintenance time?
Hey Kevin! Thanks for the reply. I keep hearing different opinions (as you might expect) regarding this topic. Friends say they always use the EZ Lube setup with zero issues and are often confused by my issue. I will likely try it again since I may have very well done something wrong. I think I just over greased but then again, the rear seal should have held up and not blown out. Since everything is new now, maybe it will work properly. As for the axle question, I’m really not sure. Our rig as the torsion axles and so far we’ve had zero issues with zero maintenance.
If you blew out the rear seal, you put way too much grease in it. Just two pumps, slowly, while turning the wheel is all it needs. It isn’t a steering linkage ball joint on an old Chevy that you grease until some comes out.
Copied from dexter manual for bearing maintenance. Please review & confirm procedure. See steps 3 & 4 as points needingclarification.
E-Z Lube® Lubrication
The procedure is as follows:
1. Remove the rubber plug from the end of the grease cap.
2. Place a standard manual grease gun onto the grease fitting located in the end of the spindle. Make sure the grease gun nozzle is fully engaged on the fitting.
3. While rotating the hub, pump grease slowly into the fitting. The old displaced grease will begin to flow back out the cap around the grease gun nozzle.
4. When the new clean grease is observed, remove the grease gun, wipe off any excess, and replace the rubber plug in the cap.
5. Rotate hub or drum while adding grease.
Note: The E-Z Lube® feature is designed to allow immersion in water. Axles not equipped with E-Z Lube® are not designed for immersion and bearings should be repacked after each immersion. If hubs are removed from an axle with the E-Z Lube® feature, it is imperative that the seals be replaced BEFORE bearing lubrication. Otherwise, the chance of grease getting on brake linings is greatly increased.
Note: Dexter strongly recommends not using pneumatic powered grease guns as these can inject grease too fast and force grease past the seal, or in rare cases dislodge the seal.
Grease Fitting Metal End Cap
Spring Loaded Double Lip Seal
I wouldn’t put torsion axles on a flatbed gooseneck. None of the five hotshot drivers I know run an oil bath setup, EZ lube axles, or self adjusting brakes.
I hope next time you need any trailer maintenance you turn to YouTube first. Also, over tightening is common with self adjusting brakes. With today’s brake shoe technology the 3,000 mile adjustments are serious overkill. Manually grease your bearings once a year and adjust your brakes at that time.
MUST rotate the wheel while adding grease SLOWLY. I’ll bet you did neither.
I applied the grease exactly like the Dexter video indicated. Two wheels were fine while two were not. I believe I had two rear seals blow but why is the real question.
Working on my trailer now and found that two of the seals were blown on the driver’s side allowing grease to get to the brake shoes. Haven’t got to the passenger side yet as have to order seals. I use Lucas Marine Grease ad follow Dexter’s instruction for greasing. The ones I cleaned, I removed the dust cap with rubber seal and greased again following Dexter’s process. Hopefully with the outer cap removed, grease gun pressure will be unrestricted and force the old grease out front bearing area. Seems to be a good system, just quirky.