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Old 07-19-2021, 08:21 AM   #1
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I SMOKED my front wheel on it's maiden voyage

Driving my "new to me" 20 year old 31foot e450 to it's first camping trip i smoked my driver side front wheel.

What I mean by that is, about 15 miles from the house after a 5mile stretch of non stop road I pull up to a red light and... I noticed smoke! I pulled over and the wheel was hot i mean very hot! I could not put my hand even on the chrome hub cap for more than a second. It was not brake fluid, it was (best i could tell) grease, not sure if it was bearing grease or brake grease.

So yeah a waited about a hour for the wheel to cool down to normal temp then drove it back home checking it very 2 miles. It did not over heat anymore.

I took the wheel off, and the caliper apart, and it really did not look bad. pins greased and every thing seemed to move freely. put it back together and went camping. Fortunately the campsite was not that far 80 miles round trip only drove side streets.

So now the question is, what to do now?

1. I was thinking ill just replace the calipers and hub rotors.
2. I'm wonder about the tire at that temp was it compromised?
3. Valve stems for after market TPMS? if i get solid stems what do i do about wheel balancing for the long stemed rear wheel?

Lesson learned... NEVER DRIVE RV WITHOUT WORKING TPMS SYSTEM. I'm thinking this could have been ugly
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Old 07-19-2021, 09:18 AM   #2
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I'd tear it all the way down. Check the drum/rotor and spindle to see if they are scored.

At the minimum, I'd guess wheel bearing.

Good luck.
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Old 07-19-2021, 09:27 AM   #3
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Sounds like you had a brake issue. When was the last time the brake fluid was changed? When was the last time the brake hoses were inspected? You could have a collapsed brake hose, which pinched off the fluid return and partially activated the left front brake, causing the heat. At a minimum, replace the fluid, replace that brake line, replace the axle seals and repack the bearings and inspect the brake pads and rotor.
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Old 07-19-2021, 09:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland J View Post
Driving my "new to me" 20 year old 31foot e450 to it's first camping trip i smoked my driver side front wheel.

What I mean by that is, about 15 miles from the house after a 5mile stretch of non stop road I pull up to a red light and... I noticed smoke! I pulled over and the wheel was hot i mean very hot! I could not put my hand even on the chrome hub cap for more than a second. It was not brake fluid, it was (best i could tell) grease, not sure if it was bearing grease or brake grease.

So yeah a waited about a hour for the wheel to cool down to normal temp then drove it back home checking it very 2 miles. It did not over heat anymore.

I took the wheel off, and the caliper apart, and it really did not look bad. pins greased and every thing seemed to move freely. put it back together and went camping. Fortunately the campsite was not that far 80 miles round trip only drove side streets.

So now the question is, what to do now?

1. I was thinking ill just replace the calipers and hub rotors.
2. I'm wonder about the tire at that temp was it compromised?
3. Valve stems for after market TPMS? if i get solid stems what do i do about wheel balancing for the long stemed rear wheel?

Lesson learned... NEVER DRIVE RV WITHOUT WORKING TPMS SYSTEM. I'm thinking this could have been ugly

If you drove it 80 miles after inspecting it and there was no noise or over heating I doubt the problem was a wheel bearing .

It's more likely the brakes sticking and dragging causing the over heat .

A 20 y.o. MH that has been sitting for a long time will usually have sticky brakes . The calipers won't retract and the brake pads will drag .

If the calipers , rotors and pads look okay , I would flush and replace all the brake fluid . With the MH being 20 y.o. the fluid needed to be flushed anyway.
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Old 07-19-2021, 10:25 AM   #5
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99% sure it's the rubber brake line that goes from the hard line to the caliper. Common issue, it's happened to me as well. Replace both front brake lines and flush/bleed the system. They start to collapse, due to age, when you release the brake pedal, holding fluid, and the keeping the caliper slightly clamped. The friction of this will cause a fire (ask me how I know).
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Old 07-19-2021, 10:39 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Roland J View Post

Lesson learned... NEVER DRIVE RV WITHOUT WORKING TPMS SYSTEM. I'm thinking this could have been ugly
A TPMS system would likely not have helped much. As long as you are moving, they pretty much read ambient air temp. You might have seen a rise when sitting still but other than that not much.
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Old 07-19-2021, 10:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland J View Post
Driving my "new to me" 20 year old 31foot e450 to it's first camping trip i smoked my driver side front wheel.

What I mean by that is, about 15 miles from the house after a 5mile stretch of non stop road I pull up to a red light and... I noticed smoke! I pulled over and the wheel was hot i mean very hot! I could not put my hand even on the chrome hub cap for more than a second. It was not brake fluid, it was (best i could tell) grease, not sure if it was bearing grease or brake grease.

So yeah a waited about a hour for the wheel to cool down to normal temp then drove it back home checking it very 2 miles. It did not over heat anymore.

I took the wheel off, and the caliper apart, and it really did not look bad. pins greased and every thing seemed to move freely. put it back together and went camping. Fortunately the campsite was not that far 80 miles round trip only drove side streets.

So now the question is, what to do now?

1. I was thinking ill just replace the calipers and hub rotors.
2. I'm wonder about the tire at that temp was it compromised?
3. Valve stems for after market TPMS? if i get solid stems what do i do about wheel balancing for the long stemed rear wheel?

Lesson learned... NEVER DRIVE RV WITHOUT WORKING TPMS SYSTEM. I'm thinking this could have been ugly
First there is no such thing as brake grease. The grease you were seeing was from the wheel bearing. The smoke you were seeing was from the brake pads.

As most everyone has said, if this happens, the rotor and pads on that side are done. Once they get hot like that, I don't care what anybody says, the pads are glazed and the integrity of the rotor is compromised. You may be able to save the calipers. You can buy seal kits for the fords.

Not knowing how long it sat, yes the break fluid needs to be replaces. The entire system flushed. Brake fluid is water soluble. Dump a little on your driveway and wash it down with a hose. You'll see how fast it mixes with water.

The wheel that got hot needs to be taken apart. At minimum, the bearing needs to be completely washed, in solvent first and then hot water. Then you can spin the bearing in your hand and feel if there are any rough spots. Personally, on one that got that hot, I would just replace the bearing set and seals inner and outer. After having one fail on my 2000 HR F53 chassis I carried a set with me. Front and rear. About $20 from Rock Auto.
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Old 07-19-2021, 10:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland J View Post

Lesson learned... NEVER DRIVE RV WITHOUT WORKING TPMS SYSTEM. I'm thinking this could have been ugly
That's good advice. My EEZ RV let me know of hot brakes twice on my Gasser I used to have. I lost brakes twice because they got so hot. Turned out to be brake calipers. I replaced the rubber hoses also just to be safe.

I often wonder if they would have eventually caught fire.
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Old 07-19-2021, 11:09 AM   #9
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Happened to me on my old class c. Common brake issue with the older Ford vans.
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Old 07-19-2021, 11:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amosnandy View Post
A TPMS system would likely not have helped much. As long as you are moving, they pretty much read ambient air temp. You might have seen a rise when sitting still but other than that not much.
That's not true. I had a brake drag on the toad and the valve stem sensor indicate a 20 degree temperature difference between the problem wheel and the other three. The temperature reported might not be the exactly that of the individual wheel assemble but indicating a difference from normal and what the other tires were operating at is reason enough to stop and check.
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Old 07-19-2021, 11:27 AM   #11
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On my 1997 Rexair back in April 2020, I had the rear brakes replaced by a shop here in Spokane. They said it was all good, so instead of just heading home we decided to take a spin over to Coeur de'Alene and sit by the lake.

We didn't make it out of Spokane Valley when the same thing happened to us...smoke coming from the back driver-side tire. (I even have a picture!)

We quickly pulled off and into the mall parking lot...all the while smoke coming out from behind. I crawled under and quickly touched the rim of the tire OUCH! Instant sizzle on my finger!

You can read the rest of the story here, but long story short, the shop replaced the caliper's on both wheels and the brake line and hoses.

10K miles later (trip to Florida and back to Spokane, WA) we're still good!
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Old 07-19-2021, 11:45 AM   #12
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Super helpful info guys, Thanks
I never thought about a collapsed hose/line. I'll add those to the list.

Anosnandy, I would think the TPMS. Alarm would have at least caught the psi rise if not both temp and psi. Remember the tire itself was also super hot, guessing 40-80 degrees hotter than the other side , and so was the valve stem.

When I said brake grease, I'm speaking of the grease on the brake caliper pins and some add to other small spots on brakes. The smoke source was hard to pinpoint.

Yes I agree most likely brakes caused not bearings.

I did not see any metal discoloration.

So as of now I'm changing
brake lines, flushing B fluid, I'll do pads and rotors/hubs, seals and bearings both sides.
The tires are old so I'm going to likely do them too. So the only thing leaving alone is the calipers. I guess if I can find calipers cheap enough I should do them too while I have it all apart.
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Old 07-19-2021, 11:53 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriMoot View Post
On my 1997 Rexair back in April 2020, I had the rear brakes replaced by a shop here in Spokane. They said it was all good, so instead of just heading home we decided to take a spin over to Coeur de'Alene and sit by the lake.

We didn't make it out of Spokane Valley when the same thing happened to us...smoke coming from the back driver-side tire. (I even have a picture!)

We quickly pulled off and into the mall parking lot...all the while smoke coming out from behind. I crawled under and quickly touched the rim of the tire OUCH! Instant sizzle on my finger!

You can read the rest of the story here, but long story short, the shop replaced the caliper's on both wheels and the brake line and hoses.

10K miles later (trip to Florida and back to Spokane, WA) we're still good!
Yeah fortunately I can do the work myself. And this find of light-ish mechanical type work is better done at home when possible which works out great when you're on a budget
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Old 07-19-2021, 01:50 PM   #14
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You got lots of great advise.

Regarding the rubber brake hose. I agree it can fail internally creating a weak one-way valve that allows brake fluid to pass thru with force via the brake pedal, but unable to relieve the back pressure. I have seen this happen on occasion with other vehicles. It generally occurs at the crimped rubber-to-metal connecting points shown. It rusts badly, then the metal crimp swells inward constricting the brake hose at the crimp.

The hose pictured is for a 2001 Ford E450 chassis.


Regarding the wheel bearings. They should be inspected. It sounds like you did so. If the bearings look shiny silver, they are fine, but if they have that yellow/blue/purple rainbow on them, they were over-heated and have lost their hardness. They are compromised and must be replaced. Also replace the two races on the hub and also the grease seal. At the very least it is a good idea to repack the bearings with fresh wheel bearing grease.
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