No matter what your choice of vehicle, you probably are aware that they will require routine maintenance. If you are using a 5th wheel for your camping needs, certain parts of this pull-behind must get greased. Should you be wondering how often this task needs to be completed, we can help you. We researched 5th wheel maintenance in depth so that you'll know for sure when it needs to be done.
There is not a set time frame that you should grease your 5th wheel. It's recommended to check the hitch periodically to see if it needs grease. The bearings should be greased every 2,000-10,000 miles depending on the size of the 5th wheel.
Now that we know that the amount of time between greasing will vary, we'll take a look at the reasons for this variance. You might also be wondering what regular 5th wheel maintenance consists of or what the symptoms of a dry 5th wheel are. For the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post to see what our research has uncovered.
Why A 5th Wheel Will Need To Be Greased At Different Intervals
You will need to make sure that the parts of your 5th wheel that need constant lubrication will have it. This takes a bit of effort on your part. But to keep your 5th wheel running smoothly and to prevent vital parts from rusting, this effort is worth it.
How often you apply the grease will depend. It's recommended that you use this section as a guideline but deviate from it if you notice that these vital parts are needing an application of grease more often.
Humidity, the amount of use, and the level of dust from the roads you drive on will all impact how long the grease will last. Keep all of these in mind when you are inspecting your 5th wheel for grease.
Greasing The Hitch
The hitch will need an ample amount of grease. If you do not keep this part greased, it will rust quickly. You should routinely inspect the hitch to see if more is required.
Some experts will recommend that the hitch be greased every six months. Others maintain that it should be inspected every time you detach the 5th wheel from the hitch. They maintain that certain conditions will make it necessary to add additional lubricant more often than that.
We recommend you re-grease your hitch every six months. This requires you to clean off the old grease and the debris that has accumulated. You then apply new grease. In the interim between re-greasing, we recommend checking the hitch to see if any additional grease needs to be applied.
Smaller 5th Wheels
The hitch isn't the only part of the 5th wheel that will need grease. Whether large or small, your 5th wheel will have bearings that need this vital lubricant.
If you have a wheel bearing that fails, you'll be stuck until you can get it replaced. This can be quite an inconvenience when you're camping and away from civilization.
Experts suggest you grease the bearings on smaller 5th wheels every 2,000 miles. These vital parts will heat quickly when the wheels are spinning. They will also rust and seize up if they aren't properly lubricated.
You should keep this bearing grease on hand when you travel. If it's been a while since you've traveled in your 5th wheel, inspect the bearings before you leave. Apply any grease if needed.
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Larger 5th Wheels
If you have a larger 5th wheel, you will not need to grease the bearings as often. You should inspect them twice a year, but you will likely not have to apply any grease to them this often. Experts recommend that you grease the bearings on these 5th wheels once a year or every 10,000 miles, whichever comes first.
As we pointed out earlier, how you drive the 5th wheel will affect how often you need to grease it. Dusty gravel and dirt roads will certainly interfere with the grease and can lead to you re-applying it more often.
Be aware of where you are driving and how often, and let that help you determine if you need to inspect these bearings a bit more often.
What Do You Need To Grease On A 5th Wheel?
The constant movement of these parts requires a copious amount of mechanic's grease. These parts constantly move. The movement creates a good deal of friction. Friction will generate a lot of heat quickly, especially when it is metal-on-metal.
The grease drastically reduces the amount of friction. It also acts as a cooling agent. If there is not enough grease (or no grease at all), the metal parts will rub and grind against each other. This will cause them to seize (bearings) or severely wear (the hitch).
Greasing your 5th wheel also prevents rust. This is another reason why you should periodically inspect your 5th wheel to see if any additional grease needs to be applied. Old grease is better than no grease, but it will be less effective at preventing oxidation than new grease.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Dry 5th Wheel?
A dry 5th wheel is when the hitch doesn't have enough grease to be properly lubricated. This is a significant problem. It will not only lead to premature wear and rusting but can also pose a safety risk.
A dry 5th wheel will be more difficult to handle. It won't go into turns as well, interfering with your driving. It can also make a popping or clunking sound. If it's been a while since you've inspected the hitch for grease and you experience these symptoms, remedy them immediately.
We hope that you keep your 5th wheel properly maintained so that you never experience a dry 5th wheel. When it gets to this point, it means that maintenance has been long neglected.
And if greasing the necessary parts has been put off, chances are there are other items on the recommended maintenance checklist that haven't been done either.
Can A 5th Wheel Fail?
A 5th wheel has moving parts, none of which are impervious to the elements. If you properly maintain them, the 5th wheel will last a great deal of time. But nothing will last forever.
5th wheel campers can certainly fail over time. The wheels and axles are tough but not indestructible. The frame is made from the most durable of metals but will slowly oxidize over the years.
5th wheels will last a good number of years. You will still see Airstreams on the road that were manufactured 40 years ago or more. But for these vehicles to last, you will need to make sure that you perform all required maintenance at the recommended intervals.
5th wheels need maintenance regularly, including greasing some of the moving parts. It's recommended to routinely inspect the areas that need grease so that you will be sure that enough clean grease is covering the area. Not having enough grease can result in wheel bearings failing, hitches rusting, and a decrease in how well the 5th wheel handles on the road. Drive safe!
We hope this post on 5th wheels has answered all of your questions. For additional helpful information, we recommend reading the following automotive posts:
RV Water Heater Isn’t Working On Electric Or Gas – What To Do?
Do You Need A Diesel Truck To Pull A 5th Wheel [Including 5th Wheel & Pick-up Models]
Can You Stand Up In A Ford Transit? Would It Make A Good Camper?