How I Lubricate My Fifth Wheel Trailer
Usually twice a year I will go through the fifth wheel mechanisms and give them a good lubrication. I find that lubing my fifth wheel trailer and hitch regularly really helps it perform better for me. Everything works smoothly and as it should. Keeping the moving parts properly lubricated also prevents wear and reduces the chances of breakdowns. Several of the trailers mechanical systems are driven by electric motors. If you let things start to stick and bind these motors have to work much harder and are more likely to fail. Like they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Note: I am not a certified RV Technician, just an owner. The following information is my own opinion and descriptions of what I do personally on my own trailer. Be sure to consult an RV professional or the manufactures manual for proper lubrication products and procedures for your particular RV. – Ray
The Hitch and Kingpin
First I pull the hitch out of the truck bed so it is easier to work on and get to the underside mechanisms. I start by giving it a good clean up with a wire brush to remove any debris and old lubricants. Next I will wash it and visually inspect it for cracks or worn parts. I then spray down all the moving parts with white lithium grease. The type I use goes on wet, coating the mechanisms in a protective layer, then dries. This is important as you don’t want a lubricant that remains wet and will pick up dirt and debris. I also use the lithium grease on my hitch bed rails, giving them a quick wipe down with it.
The only spot I use different grease is right in the hitches jaws where the kingpin mates up. At this spot I will use a few squirt of axle bearing grease. Because this type of grease can pick up dust and dirt I inspect it and change it more often. I use a plastic Lube Plate instead of any grease on the top mating surface and will give it a quick check over and replace if needed. If you don’t have a lube plate I highly recommend them.
Slide Out Room
There are many varieties of slide outs used on RVs, I can only speak to the one I have on my Keystone Cougar trailer. It is a common electric powered slide using a pair of toothed rails and a round cylinder shaped rod. The manual actually says the slide doesn’t require lubrication, but I like to use a product called Protect All Slide-Out Dry Lube anyway. This lube helps protect the metal gears from corrosion and I think makes the slide work a little smoother. Two other things I do to help the slide out run smooth are waxing the black plastic underside and cleaning and treating the slide rubber wiper seals. As for the round metal actuator, I just make sure it is nice and clean and maybe wipe on a little silicone lube but not much. Anything to help the electric slide motor run easier is a good thing in my book.
Rear Stabilizer Jacks
My rear jacks are the scissor type with a long worm gear. I clean them off with a wire brush and give them a good hose down. This is a good time to check for loose nuts/bolts and visually inspect for damage. Then I apply the same Protect All lubricant that I used on the slide out rails. My jacks are the manual crank variety so I picked up a special socket that attaches it to my cordless drill. Using the drill, I run the jacks up and down a few times to work in the lube.
Front Power Jacks
The trailer came equipped with electric power jacks on the front. It’s a pretty simple system with an electric motor, some gearing and square landing legs. Most of the gearing is sealed and doesn’t need lubricants. I do add a few squirts of bearing grease to the bevel gears on the top of each landing leg pillar and work it in with my fingers. Then I spray some of the dry lithium grease onto the end points of the rotating crossbar. I finish the job by cleaning and lubing the legs and landing feet. Extend them close to the maximum and then use the dry lithium grease on them.
Roof Top TV Antenna
Our rig has the standard Winegard batwing style, hand crank TV antenna. The manual states to lubricate it twice a year with silicone spray. It is important to use silicone spray because the crank shaft has a rubber O-ring seal in it. Silicone is safe on rubber and will lubricate the O-ring. Other types of lubricants may damage the rubber seal and cause possible leaks when it rains hard. It takes a few trips to the roof and back but it gives you a chance to check the sealant up there anyway.
Lubricate rubber quad ring on elevating shaft which is below worm gear with silicone spray lubricant at least twice yearly. This will keep quad ring from becoming brittle which could result in leaks down elevating shaft. Refer to page 7 for removing worm gear assembly. Item #7 on parts explosion. – Winegard User Manual — http://www.winegard.com/kbase/upload/2452013.pdf
I love our power awning, it’s a great feature. To keep it functioning well I clean all the arm pieces and then spray some of the dry lithium lubricant into the joints and height adjustments. I then cycle it in and out several times and wipe off any excess lube.
Trailer Wheel Bearings
Most RV service centers and axle manufacturers recommend servicing the trailer wheel bearings every year or 12,000 miles. I stretch it out to about every two years. At that time, I take it in and have the local RV service department do it for me. It’s a pretty messy job and not one I want to be doing in the campground. I have them repack/inspect the bearings, replace the seals, check and adjust the brakes. I do pull off my wheels every 6 months and while checking the brakes see if any grease has leaked out past the rear seal. I will also pull the rubber cap and have a look at the axle end to see if the grease there looks OK and not missing or burnt looking.
My axles actually have some EZ-Lube grease fittings on them and I will add a few extra pumps of fresh grease into them while spinning the wheel. I make sure to use the same type of bearing grease that is already in there. Finally after every tow and during rest stop breaks I habitually check the temperature of the wheel hubs and tires. After a while, you get to know what normal temps are and hopefully will be alerted to a bearing or tire failure. A great way to check is with a handheld Infrared Thermometer.
Miscellaneous Locks, Sliders, and Hinges
Now that I have done all the hard work I grab myself a beverage and wander around the rig lubing any hinges, locks and sliding surfaces I come across. Mostly I use the dry lithium spray unless there is rubber or plastic near the mechanism then I prefer the silicone. Things I lube are the storage bay hinge, lock and turn knobs, HW heater flap hardware and all the entrance door hardware and locks. Inside I’ll add a bit of lube on any squeaky or tight door hinge and drawer sliders.
Video Detailing How I Lube My Fifth Wheel Trailer
Well there you go, that’s my methods and products I employ in lubing my fifth wheel trailer. This is what works for me and keeps everything running smooth and trouble free. It seems like a lot of work but really it takes only a few hours twice a year and can really pay back in longer life for the RV and less mechanical breakdowns. If you have any tips to add or feel I’m doing something wrong please leave a comment below. Would love to hear from you.
Follow our RV adventures! Sign up for the free monthly Love Your RV Newsletter – Receive the eBook “Tips for the RV Life” as a gift. Also head on over to the Love Your RV Forum and chat with me and other RVers about all things RV. – Cheers Ray