How To Grease Sealed Ball Joints: Step By Step – Cargister

Dealing with a squeaky vehicle is never pleasant. If the noise is coming from your ball joints, then they need to be greased. The good news is that this is a relatively simple task, once you have all the proper equipment. But what is the right way to get this done, and what should you watch out for?

In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the topic of greasing sealed ball joints and provide a step-by-step guide. By the end of this post, you’ll have an excellent understanding of what needs to be done, so you can take care of this task quickly and efficiently. Let’s get started!

Quick Breakdown of Key Point

Greasing sealed ball joints requires special tools and expertise. It is advisable to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic for a proper service and inspection.

What are Sealed Ball Joints?

Sealed ball joints are highly important components in the suspension and steering systems of modern cars or trucks. They help ensure that the vehicle’s suspension and steering can be adjusted effectively and remain secure. The ball joint is sealed to prevent dust, dirt, water, and other environmental contaminants from getting inside the joint, which would eventually interfere with its function.

The debate between expert mechanics as to whether it is safe to lubricate sealed ball joints has been ongoing for many years. One side argues that lubricating sealed ball joints can help prevent corrosion, extends service life, and decrease premature wear due to friction. On the other hand, some experts say that introducing grease may compromise the waterproofing properties of the sealant used on the joint and could even cause it to crack and fail prematurely.

It is important to be aware of both sides of this argument when considering whether or not to lubricate sealed ball joints. Ultimately, lubrication should only be done if specifically recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer or a certified mechanic.

Now that we have a better understanding of what sealed ball joints are, let’s take a look at the tools needed for greasing up these components. In the next section, we will discuss what you need to do before you start greasing your sealed ball joints, including a list of necessary tools.

Tools You Will Need to Grease Sealed Ball Joints

In order to properly grease sealed ball joints, there are various tools that you need. The most essential of these include: a grease gun or hand pump with grease, an adjustable wrench, as well as a ball joint separator/remover tool.

A grease gun is used to easily and effectively apply the new grease to the ball joint, ensuring that it is delivered directly and fully lubricated. While a hand pump with grease may be used instead, a grease gun is generally more practical for this job. The adjustable wrench is another necessary item for some models of sealed ball joint – its use will depend on the type of suspension system in your vehicle. This can be used to loosen and tighten the four nuts that secure the ball joint assembly. Lastly, in order to remove the sealed ball joint from the suspension system it may be necessary to use a specialized ball joint separator/remover tool. Be sure to research which type of removal tool works best for your specific model of vehicle before beginning the process.

Once you have gathered all of the necessary tools, you are ready to start greasing your sealed ball joints. In the next section, we’ll discuss “How to Grease Sealed Ball Joints” in step-by-step detail.

How to Grease Sealed Ball Joints

Whether you’re doing regular maintenance or replacing a worn out ball joint, having the right tools and following the correct procedure is essential in order to safely grease sealed ball joints. It’s important to remember that ball joints are ultimately responsible for holding up the weight of the car, so if done incorrectly, it could lead to a hazardous situation.

To start, spray some rust penetrant on all of the nuts and bolts, as this will make them easier to remove. Then you’ll want to use an adjustable wrench to hold the nut in place and a ratchet with a socket drive to tighten or loosen the nut. Once you’ve gotten the nut off, it’s time to move onto greasing sealed ball joints.

When it comes to greasing, there are generally two camps: those who prefer using grease guns since they are much faster and less messier than manual methods; and those who prefer using manual lube including a brush-on grease applicator since it offers more control over where the grease goes and it allows for more thorough coverage of each individual joint. Debate aside, whichever method you choose, ensure that your equipment is clean and double check that all bolts and nuts are secure before continuing on.

Once finished with the greasing process, disconnect your suspension system by removing all of its components such as struts, shocks, sway bars etc. Make sure that you are following manufacturer instructions while working on each step of this process and take extra caution when handling components such as springs because they can cause major injuries if not handled correctly.

Now that you have finished greasing sealed ball joints and disconnecting the suspension system it’s time to finish up with installation or reconnection of your suspension system components before taking your car out for a spin. The next section will focus on how to properly install new suspension system components after grease sealed ball joints.

Disconnect the Suspension System

Disconnecting the suspension system is the most important step in the process of greasing sealed ball joints. It requires special tools and knowledge to ensure the safety of both you and your vehicle. Depending on the make, model, and type of suspension system, there are various methods that can be used to properly disconnect it.

One option for disconnecting the suspension components is removal by loosening the lower suspension mounting bolts with a specialized wrench. This method is typically only possible on vehicles with an independent rear suspension or on four-wheel drive vehicles with an engine cradle that utilizes two mounting points. For other types of cars and trucks, the best method is to remove the entire control arm from its mount using a specialized tool such as a ball joint splitter or pickle fork tool. However, these tools generally require a lot of strength and maneuverability around obstacles like brakes, shifters, and exhaust systems, which makes them difficult to use safely.

Alternatively, some modern vehicles are now equipped with a bushing holder that attaches to the axle housing and allows you to quickly remove the control arm without requiring any special tools. While this method is much less time consuming than using a pickle fork tool or ball joint splitter, it still requires some considerable skill and force to ensure that everything is detached correctly.

No matter which approach you use to disconnect the suspension system, it’s important to wear protective gear such as glasses and gloves during this process. Also take care not to apply too much pressure on any component in order to avoid damaging it or causing further complications down the line.

Once you have successfully disconnected the suspension system, you can begin lubricating the joints.

Lubricate the Joints

Once the dust cover has been removed from the sealed ball joint, the next step is to lubricate the joint. This is an important step in the process since it will help keep the ball joints in proper working order and prolong their life.

Two types of lubricants can be used on a sealed-ball joint: oil-based or silicone-based. Oil-based lubricants are typically preferred since they are better at penetrating into tight areas and lubricating at higher temperatures, such as when driving off-road or after a prolonged period of heavy usage. Silicone-based lubricants are less likely to allow dirt and debris to accumulate in the joint, making them ideal for lighter use such as everyday street driving or occasional off-roading.

The type of lubricant should depend on intended use, with harsher off road conditions requiring oil based lubricants if possible, however both oils and silicone are effective options. It’s important that appropriate amounts of lubricant be used for each application—too much could lead to leaking, while too little won’t adequately protect the joint from wear and tear.

Once the lubricant has been applied to all areas of the sealed ball joint, it’s time to install and tighten the nut.

  • Sealed ball joints should be inspected periodically and visually checked for any signs of wear.
  • The recommended service interval for greasing sealed ball joints is between 20,000-30,000 miles.
  • According to JTEKT North America Corporation, sealed ball joints should be lubricated approximately every 12 months in order to prevent premature wear or failure.

Install and Tighten the Nut

After reassembling the upper and lower control arms, as well as connecting them with the new ball joint, it’s time to begin tightening the nut. The nut should be securely tightened in order to prevent the ball joint from working itself loose during operation. Experts typically recommend using a torque wrench for this step. Torque wrenches provide more precise readings than hand-operated wrenches, ensuring that the nut is fastened to the correct degree of tightness.

That said, some mechanics have utilized and advocated for hand-tightening of ball joints in lieu of a torque wrench. Though not as precise, hand tightening can achieve comparable levels of tightness, allowing mechanics to quickly move on and finish the job. This technique may be preferable when dealing with a tricky and limited access point that requires exceptional maneuverability of tools and equipment.

Whether deftly hand-tightening or diligently using a torque wrench, it is essential that a minimum standard of tension is applied to secure both upper and lower control arms together into a complete assembly. When done correctly, this will ensure your sealed ball joints are firmly fastened and immoveable over time.

With the nut installed and tightened, you can now move on to greasing the slides of the assembly before reinstalling your control arms.

Most Important Summary Points

When reassembling and connecting a ball joint to the upper and lower control arms, it is necessary to securely tighten the nut. Using a torque wrench is typically recommended as it ensures more precise readings, though hand-tightening can also be done in limited-access points that require exceptional tool maneuverability. A minimum standard of tension should be applied in either case to ensure the ball joints are firmly fastened and immoveable over time. After tightening, greasing the slides of the assembly before reinstalling the control arms should be conducted.

Grease the Slides of the Assembly

Greasing the slides of the assembly is key for ensuring long-term smooth operation. First, identify the slides and visually inspect for any signs of damage. If there are any signs of wear and tear, it’s best to replace the entire assembly.

You should apply fresh grease to the slides with a small brush or an appropriate application device. The grease should be silicone-based, as this lubricant is designed to withstand higher temperatures and vibrations better than other types of lubricants. Make sure to cover all surfaces being lubricated, including the insides and outsides of each slide.

It’s recommended that you use bearing grease as opposed to chassis grease since it tends to be thicker and offers more protection. It’s also important to avoid over-greasing, which can form clumps in the assembly and make it difficult for components to move freely. Finally, make sure you wipe away any excess grease that may have squeezed out during the process.

Now that you’ve successfully greased up the slides of the ball joint assembly, it’s time to consider some final points before reassembling your vehicle. The following section will outline these final considerations before putting everything back together.

Final Considerations

Before beginning the greasing process, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, different vehicles may have slightly different set-ups when it comes to ball joints, so check your vehicle manual or service center if you are unsure of which type is compatible with your particular vehicle. In some cases, specific tools such as wrenches, pliers, and C-clamps may be necessary. Ensure that all components and tools needed for the job are available before starting. Also take note of whether the ball joint is classified as non-greasable or greasable; while most new ball joints can be serviced using grease, there are exceptions.

Additionally, some experts suggest greasing ball joints no more than once every 5,000-10,000 miles. Depending on driving frequency and terrain frequented, this interval length may vary. periodically inspect the ball joint for signs of wear and tear and replace if necessary in order to ensure the ball joint is functioning optimally. Finally, always wear safety glasses when servicing a ball joint as debris could damage your eyes.

Now that you’ve been fully informed of what’s involved in greasing sealed ball joints, let’s discuss some frequently asked questions in the next section.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use any kind of grease on sealed ball joints?

A: While you are able to use any type of grease for lubricating a sealed ball joint, it’s important to note that some grease can be more effective than others. Lithium-based grease is the most commonly accepted and recommended type of grease because it has superior heat-resistance capabilities and will last longer than other types. Additionally, choosing an NLGI grade 1 (or thicker) lithium-based grease is ideal in order to ensure full protection as thicker viscosity greases often provide better coverage against water or extreme temperatures.

Q: Is it dangerous to over-tighten the nut after greasing a sealed ball joint?

A: Yes. It is important to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when tightening the nut back onto the ball joint after greasing. Over-tightening can result in damaging the threads and even potentially breaking off the stud. Additionally, over-tightening can cause damage to other components such as inner cv boots or gaskets, resulting in costly repairs or replacements.

Q: Do I need to replace my sealed ball joint if I’ve greased it?

A: Not necessarily. Greasing a sealed ball joint does not guarantee that it will never fail–it merely adds additional protection against wear-and-tear which will inevitably occur due to normal use. If you notice any signs of damage or unevenness during operation, you should take your vehicle into a certified mechanic for a professional opinion and assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

How often should I grease sealed ball joints?

It’s important to regularly grease your sealed ball joints in order to ensure they continue to function properly. How often you should do so depends on the type of vehicle you own and its general usage. If you mainly drive on paved roads, it is recommended to grease the ball joints every 6 months or 6,000 miles. If your vehicle sees a lot of more off-road use such as mountain roads, desert roads and muddy terrain, check and regrease the ball joints more frequently every 3 to 4 months or 3,000 miles. Be sure to check manufacturer guidelines for further instructions regarding grease types and intervals.

Is it possible to grease sealed ball joints without removing them?

No, it is not possible to grease sealed ball joints without removing them. Sealed ball joints are designed to run for a long time without the need for routine maintenance and greasing, so the seal prevents any grease from reaching the joint. Additionally, because it is sealed off, there is no access point to apply grease in the first place. Therefore, in order to properly lubricate the joint you must remove the seal and then apply grease.

What tools do I need to grease sealed ball joints?

To grease sealed ball joints, you will need the following tools:

1. Socket Wrench and Socket Set – This is necessary to remove the nut that holds the ball joint in place. Choose a socket set with different sizes of sockets as this will allow you to fit the correct size on your specific part.

2. Grease Gun – You will need a grease gun to dispense the type of lubricant needed for greasing sealed ball joints. Make sure it comes with the right fittings, or purchase the proper adapter, so that it fits snugly onto your ball joint.

3. Grease Fitting Cleaner – A cleaner specifically designed to help remove dirt and debris from your grease fitting will help ensure better results with less effort. It can also extend the life of your ball joints by preventing contamination of your lubricant.

4. Grease – Be sure to use only high-quality grease specifically designed for greasing sealed ball joints. If you’re unable to find this type, a compatible multipurpose automotive grease can be substituted, but it’s best to research and be sure it meets all applicable specifications for your application.

5. Protective Equipment – Finally, for safety reasons, you should wear safety glasses, rubber gloves, and other protective equipment when working around machinery or chemicals. This is especially important when using any lubricants or solvents that require special care or handling.

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