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Thread: Trailer Wheels & Axles

  1. #1
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    Default Trailer Wheels & Axles

    Thought I'd share some stuff. Most of you probably already know all this, but I'll toss it out anyway:

    1) Trailer wheels are torqued to pretty high numbers - higher than most cars. Do you have a lug wrench that's big enough to get a wheel undone by the side of the road? The 15" wheels on my boat trailer took everything I had with an 18" breaker bar. Mine matched the 90-120 spec below (thanks ETrailer.com!) - but whoever mounted the wheels obviously pounded them way too tight with an impact wrench as I had to do the same thing to get them off. I gave up on the breaker bar & used an impact to loosen them, then greased the threads & put 'em back with a torque wrench. Don't forget to check the bearing adjustment, grease, and tire pressures while you're at it.




    2) Axles: Whenever I buy a trailer, I always check the axle alignment. I've been shocked how far off they can be - on my newest (to me) trailer, the axle was about 2 inches out of true and my 22 ft equipment trailer was even more. To check, get a tape measure (a second person helps too) & measure from the coupler to where the axle attaches to the spring. An out of true axle not only wears tires & bearings faster, but can also cause squirrely handling - particularly at higher speeds.

    The alignment can be adjusted several ways depending on the trailer. On my big trailer, I had to cut & reweld the spring mounts - not a small job. On my "new" boat trailer, I was able to loosen U bolts where the springs attach to the frame & move them. Make sure you loosen both sides so springs aren't forced out of alignment with the mounts. After re-aligning, check the measurements again, as things can shift.

    When checking these things, it doesn't hurt to check the coupler & make sure it's tight enough (adjust with the nut underneath unless you have a Bulldog style coupler) & also make sure your safety chains are in good shape & mounted securely.

    Thus endeth today's lesson - hope it helps!
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    Garret, thanks for the topical ( for me ) information. I took my RAV4 to the dealership for new tires a while back. Recently, I went elsewhere for an oil change and tire rotation. It turns out that the dealer tech ( will not call him a mechanic ) had cranked the lug nuts tight with an air impact wrench, and galled the threads on all 20 of them. It took the tire rotation guy using a big impact wrench to get them off , and replacing the studs and lug nuts to safely remount the wheels on the car

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeye54 View Post
    Garret, thanks for the topical ( for me ) information. I took my RAV4 to the dealership for new tires a while back. Recently, I went elsewhere for an oil change and tire rotation. It turns out that the dealer tech ( will not call him a mechanic ) had cranked the lug nuts tight with an air impact wrench, and galled the threads on all 20 of them. It took the tire rotation guy using a big impact wrench to get them off , and replacing the studs and lug nuts to safely remount the wheels on the car
    Makes me crazy to see that - especially at a dealer. There are specific torques for lugnuts/lugbolts & not tightening them to that can not only mess up the threads, but warp brake rotors & crack allow wheels. Any reputable shop uses a torque wrench, tightening in a star pattern, after having the wheel off.

    The dealer should be paying for what the tire guy did.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    Yep.
    Lost a wheel off my 2-wheel boat trailer a few years back- my torque wrench didn't read high enough, so I guessed...

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    The dealer should be paying for what the tire guy did.
    Actually, a formal complaint to the dealer would be doing his business a favor, although he might not be smart enough to see that. He needs to learn where the failure lies in the chain of command and fix it.

    Some things are remarkably able to focus the mind and a letter from a lawyer is one of those things.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    greased the threads
    say whut?

    i thought lubrication on wheel studs/nuts was a no-no.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    The tightening torque is different for dry and lubricated threads.
    Life is complex.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    Quote Originally Posted by L.W. Baxter View Post
    say whut?

    i thought lubrication on wheel studs/nuts was a no-no.
    Not that I know of. Here in salt/rust country it's mandatory if you ever want to get them off again. I (& most all wrenches I know) always grease or never-seize them.

    You don't need anything more than a light film.

    ETA: I just googled this & it seems some do say not to. Not sure I get it - though (as TLT mentioned) torque should be reduced for lubricated threads. I've been doing it for 50+ years personally & professionally & have never had an issue. I have seen dry threads here on lugbolts that were so hard to remove because of rust that the bolt snapped.
    Last edited by Garret; 09-28-2022 at 05:03 PM.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    Quote Originally Posted by L.W. Baxter View Post
    say whut?

    i thought lubrication on wheel studs/nuts was a no-no.
    I have been doing it for 40 odd years and won't ever not do it.
    Ever since I read an article discussing the advantages in "Fleet Maintenance" magazine (written by lubriplate) about 40-50 years ago.
    If the fastener is lubricated the actual clamping pressure goes up by a significant factor (Lube the seat of the nut as well as the threads) or, the fastener is "tighter" for a given rotational torque value, and thread deformation, wear and damage is significantly less.
    If you do much engine assembly or tractor repair work (where you are constantly cursing the amateur bastard that didn't use anti-sieze) you will soon learn that well lubricated threads (with anti-sieze) is the only way to go. More expensive fasteners will give you a stretch limit in thousands of an inch (or portions of a full rotation beyond "snug" in degrees, which is in effect a distance) and demand more expensive lubricants like molybdenum. Some will specify "torque to yield" which is the maximum tension for that fastener and are not reusable. This has become a common standard for diesel head bolts, beware of reusing head bolts...
    (Wheel studs are not torque to yield, they are designed to be reusable)
    Torque specs as a measure of rotating resistance for threaded fasteners is largely an obsolete technique. Far better to use a portion of a revolution in degrees beyond "snug" (a six point nut is 30°each flat)
    (Divide the number of threads per inch to learn the "stretch distance" to yield, say at each 30° of rotation) The yield strength of any good fastener is a published number.
    *Note that a threaded fastener can be considered as a sort of "bungee cord" or spring, clamping the items together (Steel is elastic, until it reaches yield)
    Even with wood screws I always use a lubricant to assist in the clamping pressure.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    well nuts.

    guess i heard something a long time ago that made intuitive sense to me and i just never inspected the idea. to be fair to me, i've never noticed any evidence of grease used on the studs by tire garages in these parts. pretty sure they don't do it.

    no salt on the roads here, so not a big seizing issue. on my salt water trailer i learned to cheat the "no lube" notion with some spray, and reinstall lugnuts at least every season, but never thought grease was an option. the more you know.

  11. #11
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    Default

    I believe in antiseize and at least annual loosen and retorque of all lug nuts on trailers and vehicles. Even on vehicles that dont tow anything.

    As for removing higher torque lug nuts, I carry a cordless impact driver and the appropriate size socket.

    These adapters let you chuck a socket in a drill or impact driver.



    Kevin


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    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    Quote Originally Posted by L.W. Baxter View Post
    well nuts.

    guess i heard something a long time ago that made intuitive sense to me and i just never inspected the idea. to be fair to me, i've never noticed any evidence of grease used on the studs by tire garages in these parts. pretty sure they don't do it.

    no salt on the roads here, so not a big seizing issue. on my salt water trailer i learned to cheat the "no lube" notion with some spray, and reinstall lugnuts at least every season, but never thought grease was an option. the more you know.
    Well nuts you old lug! Folks may not need to use a lube in your climate. As we've both mentioned, people out there say not to and I was surprised to find that TireRack is one of them. However, whether one uses grease, a spray, or anti-seize, the amount of lubricant that fits in the threads is really tiny.

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    I believe in antiseize and at least annual loosen and retorque of all lug nuts on trailers and vehicles. Even on vehicles that dont tow anything.

    As for removing higher torque lug nuts, I carry a cordless impact driver and the appropriate size socket.

    These adapters let you chuck a socket in a drill or impact driver.


    Kevin


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    You must have a big cordless impact! My corded one will do over 150 lbs, but my cordless is small & does less than 50. In the case I mentioned in the OP, each lug bolt took 10-15 seconds of the wrench "pounding" before it's break free.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Trailer Wheels & Axles

    New wheels tend to loosen, even when torqued properly. When first using a new trailer or wheels, I stop and check them a few times.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garret View Post
    Well nuts you old lug! Folks may not need to use a lube in your climate. As we've both mentioned, people out there say not to and I was surprised to find that TireRack is one of them. However, whether one uses grease, a spray, or anti-seize, the amount of lubricant that fits in the threads is really tiny.



    You must have a big cordless impact! My corded one will do over 150 lbs, but my cordless is small & does less than 50. In the case I mentioned in the OP, each lug bolt took 10-15 seconds of the wrench "pounding" before it's break free.


    Nope, just a regular cordless.
    Try it! Youll like it!

    Kevin


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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