If you want to see the massive stresses at work in action, watch someone with a tandem axle van making a tight turn. The wheels actually begin to twist under the extreme strains. Imagine just how much force is being applied to those little rollers, all across the space of around 2 inches. When they finally fall victim to these stresses, it can be pretty disruptive to your holiday. Not only could it seriously damage your van, but just the hassle of having to be recovered from a potentially remote location simply is not worth it. This is why we pay such close attention to these vital, albeit small, components of your rig.
Here’s some things for you to think about when you next set off. Assuming the majority of vans run with 14″ tyres, we can deduce the following:
- At 100km/h, your rig will travel 1 kilometre in the space of 36 seconds.
- Your wheels, and in turn, your bearings will rotate 534 times in every kilometre driven.
- This equates to roughly 14.8rps, or revolutions per second.
- This is the same as 889rpm, or revolutions per minute.
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Wheel bearings are essential components of a caravan’s wheel hub assembly. They allow the wheels to rotate smoothly and support the weight of the caravan. Wheel bearings consist of a set of metal balls or rollers enclosed in a metal ring (race) that fits inside the wheel hub.
It is recommended to have the wheel bearings inspected and repacked with grease every 10,000 to 12,000 miles (16,000 to 19,000 kilometers) or at least once a year, whichever comes first. However, if you notice any signs of wear, such as noise, vibration, or excessive play in the wheels, it’s important to have them checked immediately.
Common signs of worn-out or damaged wheel bearings include:
- Grinding or humming noise coming from the wheels.
- Excessive wheel play or looseness.
- Uneven tire wear.
- Steering wheel vibration.
- Overheated wheel hubs (can be felt by touch).
- Pulling sensation while driving.
If you have the necessary mechanical skills and tools, you can replace the wheel bearings yourself. However, it can be a complex task, especially if you are not experienced with automotive repairs. Improper installation can lead to further damage or unsafe driving conditions. It is generally recommended to have a professional mechanic or technician perform the replacement.
The lifespan of wheel bearings can vary depending on various factors such as driving conditions, maintenance, and quality of the bearings. On average, properly maintained wheel bearings can last around 80,000 to 100,000 miles (128,000 to 160,000 kilometers). However, they may require replacement sooner if subjected to harsh conditions or lack of maintenance.