I got a second hand trailer and in going over it noticed the wheel hubs are somewhat loose. Both wobble a bit when I jack the wheels off the ground, right being worse than left.

I removed the left wheel, hub, and bearings to inspect things. Turns out they were well greased with no corrosion. I didn't yet completely degrease them but having wiped them somewhat clean see no obvious signs of wear. (I wonder if this could be deceptive, however).

I then reassembled to see if I could take the play out. Sure enough, I could turn the castle nut just enough to snug things up and line up with the cotter pin hole. It seemed like it was turned just one notch more than when I took it apart.

Was this just a case of the prior service person not making sure things were tight? Having done this, the wheel feels just a little tight when rotating and I'm not sure if that is expected.

(Note - I will correctly re-grease the hub, replace the cotter pin, etc. before use)

Edit - the second wheel was even more poorly adjusted. The castle nut could be turned 2+ full turns before getting tight. Seemed smooth once I did this however.

  • 1
    Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Apr 19, 2019 at 11:53
  • 1
    I always did the final adjustment with the wheel fitted - that way i could feel the smallest movement in the bearings - set correctly they were always fine.
    – Solar Mike
    Apr 19, 2019 at 12:14
  • @SolarMike good tip, thanks that's how I did the second wheel. Apr 27, 2019 at 1:37

1 Answer 1


From your description, it sounds as though you are spot on: the hubs were not tightened correctly by the last person who serviced them.

As for the maintenance and reassembly:

  • Completely clean the old grease off of the bearings (both bearings). Inspect the tapered rollers to ensure there's absolutely no bluing going on. Bluing is exactly what it sounds like ... you're looking for blue markings on the bearing surfaces, to include the races. Bluing is a sign the bearings have been overheated. If they have any bluing or irregularities in the surfaces, replace them. Bearings are cheap; whatever you have on your trailer may not be.
  • To inspect the inner wheel bearing, you'll need to pull the grease seal ... plan on replacing it.
  • When (re)packing the bearings, get greasy. The glob in the hand method is still my preferred, and tends to work really well. Don't just smear it on the outside of the bearings, because that won't cut it. Grease has got to be between the bearings, race, and retainer.
  • It sounds like you've got it figured out how to re-tighten the bearings. Make sure you're spinning the hub while you are, or you'll end up exactly like what you described from the beginning ... loose hubs.

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