Dexter EZ-Lube Axles – Expensive Mistake

Any RVer or person with a trailer (boat, hauler or any other) knows that axle bearings require regular maintenance.  If you don’t know that, please have your bearings checked soon!  We are surprised by the amount of folks who either don’t know or think it isn’t necessary but every few years or so.  Almost all trailer manufacturers say once a year or a certain mileage (ours is 12k).

Our trailer, being new, comes with EZ-Lube axles made by Dexter.  These aren’t a new type but have gained in popularity so most new trailers come with them now.  The premise is simple, instead of needing to take the wheels off, remove the brake drum, pull out the bearings manually and repack, you use the grease zerk to pump new grease through the spindle while turning the wheel.  This pushes the old grease out and allows the new grease in.  Makes the job much simpler and quicker.  If it worked, that is.  I had read dozens of posts online from folks warning others not to do it.  They highly recommended packing the bearings by hand.  We were at our mileage (and just over a year) so it was time for me to do this job.  Since Dexter themselves say it is safe, I bought a grease gun and did the job myself.  This was during our two month stay in Naples, Florida.  When we left I noticed the brakes on the trailer weren’t working as well and that two of the drums were getting very hot after we had been driving for a time.  So obviously something wasn’t right and I feared the worse.

Too much grease!

Well, fast forward just a few weeks and we are near Crestview, Florida getting our domicile situation squared away and decided to stay longer so we could get our brakes looked at too.  I found a local RV repair place that comes to you and had them come out and inspect the brakes.  First wheel checked was the driver rear.  No grease inside the drum but the pads were worn on the outer edges indicating that the pads were adjusted too tightly (on self adjusting brakes no less).  Back plate (basically the brake assembly) needed to be replaced along with drum.  Next wheel checked was drivers front.  This one was full of grease!  Reason number two the brakes weren’t working well any longer.  Damn.  Back plate and drum needs replacing.

Grease coming out from around the seal.

We decide to not even look at the passenger side since they both were going to need replacing at this point as well.  The tech takes down our axle info so they could order everything needed, we pay a deposit on the order, and they say they’ll be back on Thursday (we were originally leaving on the following Friday).  This was Monday.  Wednesday has come and no word from the tech so I call to see if they are coming out on Thursday.  This is a pet peeve of mine so I’m already annoyed.  I don’t like having to follow-up myself when good service would indicate keeping the customer up-to-date.  They proceed to tell me they only ordered parts for one axle by mistake and the other parts will be here on Monday.  They’ll be out first thing Tuesday morning.  Of course I tell them we’re scheduled to leave on Friday but thank goodness we decided to extend our stay (inside I just knew something like this would happen) and the RV park had our space available for another week!  Annoyed again.

Fast forward to Monday morning when we get a knock on the RV door at 9am.  Yeap, it’s the RV tech.  Seeing that I was still asleep he says, “they didn’t call you did they?”.  Nope, had no clue.  Of course a day early is good but a heads up would have been nice.  Maybe we had plans?  We didn’t but now I’m annoyed again.  He gets to work and I quickly realize that the parts he is placing on our RV are not made by Dexter.  They are TruRyde.  I’ve heard of TruRyde and realize they are drop in replacements, but they aren’t Dexter.  Dexter parts are made in the USA.  TruRyde in China.  Annoyed again.  Actually, now I’m moving from annoyed to angry.  He tells me they are a sister company to Dexter but I’m fairly certain that is not the case.  I’m actually on my phone at this point and quickly find the TruRyde parts he is putting on our RV and see we paid twice as much.  Now I’m really getting upset.  I realize they need to make money and it’s not all with labor.  I get it.  But I’m seeing a 100% markup here.  I can get two backing plates for the price we paid for one.  Ouch!

He gets everything installed and I’m asking him if the brakes need adjusting and he tells me no, they are self adjusting.  The ones he replaced were so I didn’t think much about it.  Until, that is, he had left and I’m reading the instructions included with our brakes.  They clearly state the brakes need to be manually adjusted.  Now I’m pissed.  Did we pay such a high price for self-adjusting brakes made by Dexter and get China made manual adjusting brakes which need adjustment every 3000 miles?  As I write this I’ve called and left a message asking just that so we’ll see what they say.  At this point I’m feeling a bit screwed over to be honest.

So, obviously I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but I’m currently angry and taking it out in this post.  It is helping.  But the whole point of this post is that I made around a $1000 mistake by using the EZ-Lube system to grease my bearings.  Two of the four drums had grease in them causing the brakes to no longer function properly.  So we had to pay to have the backing plates and drums replaced as well as a bearing repack.  Ouch!

I closely watched him so that I can just do the job myself next time.  No way I’m going through this again!  It really does pay to just do work on your own with no short cuts.  Lesson learned!

UPDATE:

The tech that did the work to the RV actually came back later in the afternoon to see what I was upset about (which I appreciated instead of just a call).  I told him that I wanted to make sure I didn’t pay for parts that weren’t installed and that I was really upset we didn’t get self-adjusting brakes.  He just added a lot of maintenance work for me to do.  After some checking he does admit that the brakes he installed weren’t self-adjusting but that I paid “retail” prices for them and that’s what they charge.  I wasn’t overcharged.  Wow, 100% markup.  Ouch!  I’m obviously still not happy so he gets the owner of the company on the phone and hands it to me.

The owner proceeds to say that I have false expectations about the service and that “they got me back on the road”.  He said we only had a week so he ordered the parts he could get in within that time frame.  I proceed to tell him that that’s not his call and that I should have been given the choice of what to put on my RV.  If they couldn’t get the Dexter parts in time, then that would be a decision I’d need to make (like staying even longer, getting the work done elsewhere along our travels, or just going with the Chinese parts from TruRyde).  I was pissed because he took that very important decision from me.  He didn’t seem to understand my point and just stood firm that he got the job done and that’s that.  Yes, they got my brakes fixed.  The kid doing the work did a good job.  None of that was in dispute.  I finally just had to hand the phone back to the tech and wish them a good evening.

I’m a pretty laid back guy who doesn’t get upset easily.  I was upset.  But I suppose they taught us another lesson.  Don’t assume that they are replacing with OEM parts and make sure to ask next time because apparently that’s the customers job to specify.

Jason

Photographer, nature lover and geek. Driver of tow vehicle and setter-upperer of the outside of our RV. Webmaster of this very site.

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