Maintaining Your Caravan Brakes & Bearings

Thule Roof Rack Finder

Maintaining Your Caravan Brakes & Bearings

Both brakes and bearings are extremely important parts of your caravan – bearings keeping you moving, and brakes stopping you when you need to. So, keeping both of these parts of your caravan well looked after and properly maintained is vital for the safe running of your caravan. You have a choice when it comes to these components – have them services by a service centre, or service them yourself. Today we are going to look at how you can maintain these parts yourself.


What Are Bearings?


Bearings are a vital part of the rotating components of your caravan - the most important of which are your caravan wheels. A bearing essentially helps support a shaft and allows for the free rotation of components without causing them wear or causing the build-up of excessive heat. Though they are simple, these parts of your caravan are highly important and should be maintained thoroughly.


Bearing Components


There are four main parts to a standard bearing, these are the inner ring, the outer ring, the raceway, and the cage. Both inner and outer rings of the bearing are made from high-purity chrome alloy steel. This gives them a long service life and a high load rating. The rotating parts of the bearing are the located in the raceway, these are the ball bearings or roller bearings (rolling elements). To keep all the components of the bearing in place the bearing is supported by the cage.

The most important bearings in your caravan are the wheel bearings. These are located within the wheel assembly. Wheel bearings are under a constant high loading, and on long journeys they are subjected to extreme forces which can lead to high temperatures. Keeping them well-maintained helps to ensure low levels of friction which prolongs their life and keeps temperatures as low as possible.  

Bearing Components

Servicing Bearings


To get the optimum performance and lifespan from your caravan bearings you should try to get them serviced once a season. This might sound a lot, but servicing them is easy and will make sure they keep your wheels turning for years! When servicing your bearings try to keep the components clean and remove as much of the old grease from the bearing as possible before applying the new grease. Cleaning your bearing allows you to inspect the condition it is in and judge whether it should be replaced.

If the bearing is in good useable condition, you can then re-grease the bearing and fit it back into the wheel assembly of your caravan. Ensuring it is sufficiently greased will help keep water out and keep the friction to a minimum. When replacing the bearing be sure to replace all of the seals to stop dirt and debris penetrating the bearing.


Caravan Brakes


Caravan brakes work in a very similar way to the brakes you see on trailers. The most common style of brake you will see on a caravan is the drum brake. This brake works by using a brake shoe which (when braking) is compressed against a rotating cylinder within the drum brake. The friction generated by this causes a braking effect on the caravan. Though drum brakes are not as powerful as the more modern disc brake they are great for use in caravans thanks to their relatively low cost and simple design. Drum brakes provide a smooth and progressive braking force which helps maintain control of your vehicle and caravan even under heavy braking conditions. In a caravan the brakes are usually applied by an over-run brake system. As the tow vehicle slows down the coupling or drawbar is compressed. It is this compression which applies the brakes.

Drum Brake Components

It is best to service your caravan drum brakes while you are servicing the bearings - this saves you removing the wheels of your caravan more often than you need to. A brake service is usually a very straight forward process and will often just involve a slight adjustment of the brake to allow for any wear over the year. You will also be able to check the wear on the brake shoes so you know when they will need replacing in the future. While servicing the brakes be sure to give your caravan coupling a check over and make sure all of the components are free to move.

Due to the design of drum brakes, there is a limit to their ventilation. This means during prolonged use they have a tendency to become very hot which causes a reduction in their braking capacity. Under normal driving conditions this is not an issue as the low frequency of braking gives them enough time to cool. But if you are towing your caravan down steep or winding roads where heavy braking is needed, it is important to give your brakes an opportunity to cool down, especially if you notice a reduction in the braking force. Pulling over for a few minutes will allow them to cool off and restore their function. It is important not to ignore overheating brakes as it can cause permanent damage to your caravan brakes and may even lead to a fire!

Drum Brake

Keeping your caravan brakes and bearings serviced and maintained not only extends the life span of your caravan, but also ensures your caravan performs as it should. Allocating just a few hours a season for servicing can make all the difference and save you hundreds of pounds in the long run. If you have any questions regarding the brakes and bearings on your caravan, just get in touch with one of our experienced team members at Autoleisure on 01962 77 49 88.