I get this question frequently from customers, and I have recommended to many of them that purchasing “Bearing Buddies” is not a benefit unless the trailer gets dipped into water. Many trailer owners assume that replacing their dust caps with Bearing Buddies is equivalent to repacking their hubs and that as long as the cap is full they won’t have any wheel bearing issues. What a BB does is fills your hub completely with grease, while keeping a slight amount of positive pressure in the hub to help prevent water from possibly running in through the grease seal when the trailer hub is submerged. For boat trailers, BB’s are in most cases a necessity. However, wheel bearings should be checked regularly and the grease still needs to be completely removed and replaced with fresh grease when you see signs of grease failure, such as a change in color or loss of viscosity. Anytime a bearing buddy is used, be sure your hub has a “double-lip” grease seal with a spring to hold the extra pressure the BB puts on it. Bearing Buddies do not have to be constantly pumped with grease. Once the hub is full, look for indications that the BB needs a grease refill before adding. If the BB is full, leave it alone. Over-pumping can force the grease seal to leak, and if you have drum brakes that will basically remove friction and render the brakes useless.
If you have EZ-Lube axles, I recommend the “Kodiak” or “Red Eye” style of bearing buddy, since it does not have a spring-pressured disc that moves into the cap. EZ Lube axles feature a grease fitting at the end of the spindle, and that will often interfere with the BB’s disc movement. I have seen BB’s pop off because the grease fitting will not allow certain caps to seat properly. “Red Eye” style caps have a red button at the fitting base that just “pops out” when enough positive pressure is in the cap.
For utility trailers, consider how a BB works and decide for yourself whether or not they are a good investment for you. The added grease that you pump into the BB cap does not circulate through the trailer hub. It puts added pressure on your grease seal. BB caps are heavier and longer than standard caps, and that makes them particularly vulnerable when your wheel strikes a pothole or other road hazard. They fly off regularly for no apparent reason. Polyurethane BB caps seem to hold better to sudden shocks, and are cheaper, but if the new grease doesn’t circulate or push out the old grease, then you’re not really getting anything out of it.
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