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Overview of Lubricating Grease

Grease being applied

Grease is used to lubricate moving parts, usually where metal rubs against metal. It's made to be thick so that it will stay put in places where it would be difficult to keep thinner oil next to moving parts or where oil could leak out, as in automotive wheel bearings and ball joints.


Grease has two main ingredients--

  1. A lubricant that combats friction
  2. A thickener, which gives the grease the consistency that will hold it in place next to moving parts

Often, a grease product also includes some other ingredient that will improve its performance in a particular application.






NLGI grease label showing GCNLGI grease label showing LB

What the letters mean

  • G - Certified for use in automotive wheel bearings
    • A - Good
    • B - Better
    • C - Best
  • L - Certified for use in automotive chassis
    • A - Good
    • B - Best



Grease packaging may display the code GC-LB, meaning that it meets the most demanding test standards for both chassis and wheel bearings. Grease products displaying this highest rating meet OEM requirements.


Grease Viscosity

Grease is produced in a range of viscosities, or thicknesses, and each grease type is given a numerical rating to indicate its thickness. The most common categories are 0 to 6, with 0 being the softest- nearly a liquid- and 6 being the hardest, like the consistency of a firm cheese. Most grease is rated at 2, a consistency that is similar to peanut butter.






Biobased Grease

The part of grease that provides lubrication can be made from petroleum or from plants (biobased). Oil derived from plants is friendlier to the environment than oil made from petroleum because plant-based oils are renewable and non-toxic. Both types mix freely with each other so you can easily switch between the two.


Note: To determine if one kind of grease is compatible with another type, you must consider what kind of base it uses as well as the type of oil. See grease compatibility table, below.





Choosing the Right Grease for the Job

Note: Be sure to check owner's manuals for lubrication recommendations. Manufacturers often specify which type of grease should be used for their products, especially if they recommend using grease that contains an extra additive.


Multi-Purpose Grease

Multi-purpose grease tub container

This is a general-purpose grease for the home, farm and shop. Use it for car chassis and U-joints, farm equipment, industrial machinery, and anywhere metal contacts metal. If you're using standard multi-purpose grease, be sure to follow the recommended change intervals.


  • Multi-purpose grease is for general use around the home, farm and shop
  • Used for car chassis, farm equipment and industrial machinery


White Lithium Grease

Lithium grease cartridge

Zinc is added to this general-purpose grease, giving it a white color so you can easily see it. You can tell when all the old grease has been replaced in a fitting because it will come out dark, whereas the new grease will look clean and white. Use it wherever you would use a general-purpose grease and want to be absolutely certain that you have applied it thoroughly.


  • White lithium grease is for general use around the home, farm and shop
  • Contains zinc to lend it an easy-to-see white color
    • Helps you make sure that you have applied the right amount of grease to a fitting
  • Used for car chassis, farm equipment and industrial machinery - anywhere you want to see how much grease you have applied



Moly EP Grease

EP Moly grease cartridge

This grease contains molybdenum disulfide (often refered to as "moly") for better performance than general-purpose grease when metal parts are under high loads or extreme pressure (hence the name "EP"). It's intended to be used on parts where sliding motions are encountered, in sleeve-journal rotating shafts, for example. Use it to lubricate car chassis parts such as ball joints and U-joints, as well as farm equipment and industrial machinery.


  • Moly EP grease is for general use around the home, farm and shop
  • Contains molybdenum disulfide for enhanced performance on parts with sliding motions
  • Used for car chassis, farm equipment and industrial machinery



Disc/Drum Wheel Bearing Grease

Wheel bearing grease tub container

This grease is formulated specifically to lubricate automotive wheel bearings, which turn at high speed. In addition, grease for wheel bearings will tolerate the heat created by your brakes, which work by friction. That heat can be transmitted to your wheel bearings. This grease can also be used for general-purpose lubrication.


  • Disc/drum brake wheel bearing grease is especially effective for wheel bearings, and it works on vehicles with either disc or drum brakes
  • Lubricates high-speed wheel bearings
  • Tolerates heat generated by your vehicle's brakes
  • Doubles as a general-purpose grease




LMX Red

LMX Red grease cartridge

This is heavy-duty, premium grease for the toughest lubricating jobs on the biggest, heaviest equipment. It performs better under higher pressures and temperatures than standard multi-purpose grease, and it resists water better. Because it resists water and sticks in place well, this grease will work on external parts that are exposed to the weather. It provides premium protection for car, truck and trailer wheel bearings (especially trailers that are heavily loaded), U-joints, farm equipment, and industrial machinery.


  • LMX Red heavy-duty premium grease meets the toughest lubrication requirements
  • Resists pressure, temperature and water better than standard grease
  • Used for car chassis, agricultural equipment and industrial machinery
  • Rated for use in wheel bearings



Marine Wheel Bearing Grease

Marine wheel bearing grease tub container

This grease is formulated for enhanced ability to resist water that could cause corrosion. Use it especially to lubricate wheel bearings on boat trailers, or for anything that is used where it could get wet. Besides lubricating bearings, this grease works on swivel hinges, winches, anchor chain reels, steering cables and gimbal bearings.


  • Marine wheel bearing grease is especially formulated to resist water
  • Used to lubricate anything that could be exposed to water
  • Rated for use in wheel bearings - a great choice for wheel bearings on boat trailers


Snowmobile Grease

Snowmobile grease in cartridge

Specifically made to perform well and apply easily in cold weather, this general-purpose grease will work for all your winter equipment. The base of this grease is thinner than the base of most other types of grease (it's rated NLGI grade #1), which helps it to perform consistently in cold weather. Since it's thinner than most other types of grease, you can apply it more easily when the temperature is cold.


  • Snowmobile grease performs well in cold temperatures
  • Made with a lower viscosity base than that of standard general-purpose grease, allowing this grease to be applied easily and to provide best lubrication in cold temperatures
  • Used on any cold-weather equipment that needs lubrication, especially snowmobiles and snowblowers



Fifth-Wheel Trailer Hitch Plate Grease

Fifth wheel grease in packet

This grease is formulated to handle high pressures, stay in place and resist water, making it well suited for lubricating the base plates of fifth-wheel hitches. You can find this grease conveniently packaged in pouches that you place directly onto the base plate of your fifth-wheel hitch. The pouches burst when you hook up your fifth-wheel trailer, thereby applying the grease. It can't get any easier than that.








Grease container label pointing out base specification

Grease Compatibility

Not all types of thickeners are compatible with each other. When replenishing old grease, you should try to use a type with either the same kind of thickener or one that is compatible. If you don't know what kind of grease you're replacing, try to clean out the old grease, if possible. If you can't get the old grease out of a fitting, then put in enough new grease to push out as much of the old stuff as you can. You will find the information you need about the kind of base used in your grease somewhere on the label or packaging. The manufacturer may refer to the base as "base", "thickener" or "soap".



The following table shows the compatibility of different grease bases:


Base Type
Base
Type
Aluminum
Complex
Barium
Complex
Calcium
Stearate
Calcium
12-Hydroxystearate
Calcium
Complex
Calcium Sulfonate
Complex
Bentonite
Clay
Lithium
Stearate
Lithium
12-Hydroxystearate
Lithium
Complex
Polyurea
(Conventional)
Polyurea
(LUB-LM Type)
Aluminum
Complex
NoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoYes
Barium
Complex
NoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNoNo
Calcium
Stearate
NoNoYesNoYesYesYesNoYesNoYes
Calcium
12-Hydroxystearate
YesYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYesNoYes
Calcium
Complex
NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
Calcium Sulfonate
Complex
NoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoYes
Bentonite
Clay
NoNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Lithium
Stearate
NoNoYesYesNoNoNoYesYesNoYes
Lithium
12-Hydroxystearate
NoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesYesNoYes
Lithium
Complex
YesNoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesNoYes
Polyurea
(Conventional)
NoNoNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNoYes
Polyurea
(LUB-LM Type)
YesNoYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYes






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  • Take standard-size grease cartridges for convenient loading
  • Accept different pipes and hoses

Standard LubriMatic grease gunLubriMatic heavy-duty mini grease gunLubriMatic mini grease gun kit with multi-purpose grease


Bearing Packer

  • Provides a sure, consistent way to grease bearings

Bearing packer


Zerk Fitting

  • Replaces a clogged or broken standard zerk fitting

Zerk Fitting


















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