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Made by Monkeys

This Lube Job Takes a Contortionist

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GTOlover
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Platinum
Get an adapter for the grease gun
GTOlover   12/16/2013 9:42:49 AM
I also have had to grease several GM vehicles from 1968 GTO to Suburban. Ford F150 and even a few Dodge vehicles. Those oddly located zerk fittings can be easily greased with a right angle grease gun adapter.

http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/p-7202-thexton-418.aspx

I use a similar tool as this and it works well. The key is to make sure to keep the fitting clean before and after the lubrication.

naperlou
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Re: Get an adapter for the grease gun
naperlou   12/16/2013 10:22:14 AM
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GTOlover, you beat me to it.  I still have the grease gun my father and I used when I was young.  I think it is older than me (an that's over half a century), but it still works fine.  Of course, the only thing I have to use it on these days is the lawn tractor.  That one is not so hard to get to.

Charles Murray
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My vote is cost
Charles Murray   12/16/2013 8:56:39 PM
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As for why GM made the decision, I'm betting cost had something to do with it. Even if it's just a few pennies apiece, you have multiple fittings per vehicle, spread across all of the GM models described here. It ends up being a significant cost.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: My vote is cost
William K.   12/17/2013 9:34:35 AM
Chuck, it is true that on autos cost is the main reason that any decision is made. Thgis includes the selection of inferior and unsuitable materials and also assembly shortcuts. This explains why Chrysler products had for at least ten years used caliper materials that were going to rust and lock-up, which assured that the disk brakes would wear very unevenly, inside to outside. Cheap cast steel rubbing on cheap cast steel is always going to exibit serious binding as soon as it rusts. Other makers used a range of designs to allow both inside and outside caliper parts to move, so that the binding problem would be avoided completely, while Chrysler kept on using bare iron against bare iron. It was a case of doing things as cheaply as could be done, with no concern for those who kept a car more than a year.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: My vote is cost
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   12/17/2013 1:44:13 PM
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Another possibility that we don't like to consider is that this design is so non-critical that it was done by a first-timer Jr. Designer and never even checked by the design team, or leader. The design review checklist probably just indicated that the fittings were present in the design – good enough. 

Amclaussen
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Platinum
Re: My vote is cost
Amclaussen   12/31/2013 4:21:25 PM
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And it is not only Chrysler: My wife's new VW Jetta also has the brake pads backing plates supported and rubbing on either the caliper support or on the "rail" cast together with the steering knuckle... and, as Murphy would have said: the steel backing plates are harder than the soft cast iron, therefore the backing plate wears away the cast iron, leaving a groove with squared step like sides, that tend to catch the backing plate and impede the free retraction of the pads.

My solution was to take a large flat file and restore the flatness, requiring to remove about 50 mils.  The assembly now has a little forward-backward play, but the pads now slide freely.  It is my impression that this contact points demand relatively frequent relubrication, obviously using the special high temperature grease, of course.  The correct solution would involve the use of harder inserts, but as always, the ultraintelligent bean counters found omitting them would save a couple of pennies and there we have it that way.

cookiejar
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Gold
Re: My vote is cost
cookiejar   12/31/2013 5:10:20 PM
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The wear of caliper castings by brake-pad backing plates is an example of car manufacturers deliberately helping out their parts profit center.

There are two ways to mount a caliper. 

One is on the front side of the axle, the other on the rear side of the axle.  Mounting it on top is sitting on the fence.  

If it is mounted on the REAR side of the axle, the rubbing of the brake pad against the rotor due to rotor throwout will tend to raise the pad and drop it for each rotation of the wheel.  This hammering will wear a groove in the caliper casting - lots of caliper sales.
Mounting the caliper on the FRONT side of the axle will cause the rotor rubbing action to merely seat the pad on its stop - problem solved.

It is no surprise to me that mounting the caliper towards the rear of the axle is by far the more common.  All the vehicles I've had using this design have suffered from grooves worn in the calipers.  All the vehicles I've had with calipers mounted at the front of the axle have been trouble free in this regard.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: My vote is cost
William K.   12/31/2013 5:40:16 PM
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Cooky, my experience is that the grooves get worn in the disk as the caliper locks due to rust. Right now on my PT Cruiser all of the disks have uneven wear, inside to outside, because the sliding parts have locked up a bit. So when the ice and snow melt in a few months there will be another project to do. Would I ever let the dealer work on them? No way, since they would simply replace everything and charge $125 for twenty minutes labor, and about $450 for parts. The dealers are both greedy and very expensive, and they never repair things, only replace things. AND ANYBODY can be a parts changer.

Constitution_man
User Rank
Gold
RAM is also guilty...
Constitution_man   12/17/2013 9:16:20 AM
...or should I say Dodge.  My older [1999] Dodge has those goofy low-pro fittings that look like a tiny funnel in the steering knuckles.  BTW they do not work well.  Correction, they rarely work AT ALL.   Any amount of resistance to flow results in a plethora of grease "boogers" that are NOT in the knuckle.  At least the spec for that worthless fitting has a diametric cut that a #2 flat screwdriver tip will neatly engage.  Here's why I say that...

Solution...  After a dozen or so attempts to locate a #10-32 fitting at a hardware or autoparts store, I hit up a buddy of mine at Alemite Corp for a couple of #10-32 straight fittings.  These remain in my tool box under lock and key.  Each time I service the truck, I remove the goofy low-pro fitting, install the gift from Alemite, grease the knuckle, and put the goofy fitting back.  I cannot leave the Alemite fitting in the bearing because if the truck is fully steered either direction there is interference.  I do not remember Alemite's part number but I do recall that the numbers "1032" are hidden within the part number.

kf2qd
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Platinum
Metric fittings...
kf2qd   12/17/2013 9:52:15 AM
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As for those grease fittings... many metric pipe fittings are really BSP (british standard pipe) and are a 55 degree english thread. Only difference between them and our UN threaded fittings is the thread angle. Some metal is dsplaced when using our english pipe threads but they function just fine.

 

Just one of those cases where metric may not be metric...

 

Like the 16 TPI threads on the injsctor parts on a 1970 Mercedes diesel hed I rebuilt many years ago.

bob from maine
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Platinum
Re: Metric fittings...
bob from maine   12/17/2013 10:55:10 AM
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Ah, 'tis a joy to behold. Threads come in so many flavors, NPT, NF, NC, Wentworth, British Standard, BSP, Metric .75, 1.0. 1.25, Aeroquip, and last but not least, stripped. My 2000 Dodge Ram P.U. uses both SAE and Metric. Body parts (steering box mounting, brake stuff, fender mounting bolts) all are SAE, mechanical (engine, gearbox, drive-line) all are metric.  I'm not sure what the big issue is with zerk fittings, no-one greases anything anymore anyway! I routinely see cars with 20K miles that have never had an oil change - the word "lease" means no-maintenance-required, right?

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: Metric fittings...
Larry M   12/30/2013 4:18:59 PM
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Bob from Maine wrote: "Ah, 'tis a joy to behold. Threads come in so many flavors, NPT, NF, NC, Wentworth..."

Uhhh, that's Whitworth.

And he continued: "My 2000 Dodge Ram P.U. uses both SAE and Metric. Body parts (steering box mounting, brake stuff, fender mounting bolts) all are SAE, mechanical (engine, gearbox, drive-line) all are metric."

Yes, my 1985 Caravan (fondly rememberd as "The Last Chrysler Product I Will Ever Own.") was all metric except the alternator which apparently was a design carried over from the pre-metric 1960s or 1970s.

Bob Salter
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Iron
Re: Metric fittings...
Bob Salter   12/30/2013 4:31:40 PM
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I've learned one thing from the various cable channels that show vehicle assembly. Engines with all their accessories are put together on a stand allowing access from all directions in order to tighten nuts and bolts. Once they are installed, access to some fasteners is impossible with typical hand tools when when a pump or other accessory needs tyo be replaced. If you have a GM service maanual, the instructions say to use some "J" tool to remove the last bolt. Not very cost effective for the DIY guy.

I tried to replace a water pump in a Buick Riviera and blindly started removing bolts. Well, one bolt couldn't be accessed, so I had to remove another component. Well, one bolt on it couldn't be accessed, so I had to remove something else. Eventuallu I was stymied because the firewall was in the way. To make a long stroy short, I bolted everything back up and took it to the dealer, finding out somehow that the engine needed to be "jacked" a little. He did replace the water pump, but when I got the car home and looked under the hood, a plastic fuse box mounted to the firewall was broken off, something I was afraid might happen if I tried "jacking" the engine myself.

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: Metric fittings...
Larry M   12/30/2013 9:30:25 PM
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Same thing with a 1994 Buick LeSabre with the V6. Fortunately I had replaced the water pump in my 1995 Chev Lumina with the same engine before. On the Chev all bolts were easy to get. On the Buick I could get all but one--motor mount was in the way. But the first thing I thought to do was jack up the engine so it only took a few minutes. Didn't even have to remove the motor mount.

AREV
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Gold
Re: Metric fittings...
AREV   12/30/2013 9:48:02 PM
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One solution would be to add remote lube points. They are available at industrial sites and many parts stores. They attach to the original zirk like a freeze gun fitting and then through a flexible tube to aother Zirk that can be attached anywhere. No more difficult than remote air shocks fill bibs. As long as you can safely route the tubing you could locate all the zirks under the hood In a line as seen on many industrial pieces of equipment. As long as you can reach them once you'd never have fight to lube then again.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Metric fittings...
William K.   12/31/2013 4:33:46 PM
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Bob, you are right about the engine assemblies. In many GM products the entire front driv package is built up and then attached to the body about half way down the assembly line. I am particularly aware of that because at one time my responsibilty was the electrical testers that verified that everything was in place and connected. The electrically heated oxygen sensors were especially critical since if the ceramic cracked the test would fail, and the replacement took over an hour each, on the brand new vehicle. It seems that they were not accessible from any direction. So it seems that "design for serviceability" is a concept foreign to our automakers. Everything is "design for assembly", and whom cares about ever fixing it. Just about the same attitude as a whole lot of consumer junk these days.

Larry M
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Platinum
O2 sensor accesibility
Larry M   1/6/2014 9:38:58 PM
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William K. wrote: "In many GM products the entire front driv package is built up and then attached to the body about half way down the assembly line. I am particularly aware of that because at one time my responsibilty was the electrical testers that verified that everything was in place and connected. The electrically heated oxygen sensors were especially critical since if the ceramic cracked the test would fail, and the replacement took over an hour each, on the brand new vehicle. It seems that they were not accessible from any direction."

William, that's an interesting comment. It certainly doesn't apply to these GM truck chassis. I just replaced an electrically heated O2 sensor in the described vehicle (2006 Tahoe) and both the upstream and downstream sensors on the left side were extremely accessible. I was impressed with the working room. The change took just a minute or two. (I didn't look at the right side but cannot imagine it would be any different.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: O2 sensor accesibility
William K.   1/7/2014 10:13:59 AM
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Larry, this comment was primarily about the U-Van body style and the smaller cars of a few years back, and it did not relate to the larger vehicles, since I had no experience with them. But picture how close that Taho engine compartment would be with the same engine, if the vehicle were almost 2 feet narrower, and 4 feet shorter. The open space is the first element to be used up when vehicles shrink. 

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: O2 sensor accesibility
Larry M   1/7/2014 12:51:58 PM
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William,

Indeed. The Tahoe replaced a 1995 Chev. Lumina APV with transverse engine. A lot of things were reachable on that vehicle but some were a nightmare. Changing the rear three spark plugs would lead to a back and knees which complained for days.

The neighbor had a 1994 LeSabre with the same V6 and it was even worse.

Larry

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Blogger
Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   12/17/2013 2:40:29 PM
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Another thought just occurred to me – I haven't seen a grease fitting in years. Used to be, Oil change and a Lube Job; but no more. Maybe just on the SUV's and other truck chassis'? I drive a sports sedan ,,,

 

btlbcc
User Rank
Gold
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
btlbcc   12/17/2013 6:45:08 PM
It's not just grease fittings, although I'll admirt to having run across a few tough ones.  The car companies often design their vehicles for ease of assembly in the factory, but for service.  We've all heard about cars where you had to drop the engine off it's mounts to reach some of the spark plugs...  My Ford Focus required the removal of a component - an electrical box, if I recall - in order to replace a headlamp bulb.  A Jaguar S sedan I owned many years ago - a $90 special - had the starter motor fail.  You could see the mounting bolts; you could even get your fingers on them, but the only way you could get a wrench on them was with a 3-foot long series of socket extensions insertad from bahind the transmission.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
William K.   12/18/2013 11:35:38 AM
It is true that current autos are designed for minimum assembly cost, just as they are designed for minimum materials cost. If some service procedure happens to be easy and simple, it was also the cheapest choice. That is how they work. The engineer who is able to cut out one cent is a hero, and those able to cut out a dollar are "superheros", with fame and glory.

On rare occasions a change is made to reduce warranty costs, but that is not very often.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   12/21/2013 3:56:06 PM
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Gosh, I may have been spending my work decades in the wrong industries, because my 1c cost reductions never got any fame & glory – that was always reserved for the non-involved managers, long after shipping. Remember step Six of a program-? Praise & Glory for the Non-Participants.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
William K.   12/22/2013 10:16:48 PM
JimT, you are exactly correct, no doubt about it.

And for those not familiar with "the six phases", here they are:

1. Enthusiasm

2. Disilusion

3. Panic

4 Search for the guilty

5. Punnishment of the innocent.

6. Praise and glory for the uninvolved.

I make no claim as to having come up with this gem, I have seen it posted in several offices. The sad fact is that in manycases it is how things really are.

But the other one, about the square peg, is my creation

notarboca
User Rank
Gold
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
notarboca   12/30/2013 3:44:11 PM
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William K, thanks for reminding me of the six phases of a project.  Every one of them is true now as it was in the past.

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
Larry M   12/30/2013 9:31:58 PM
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JimT wrote: :Another thought just occurred to me – I haven't seen a grease fitting in years. Used to be, Oil change and a Lube Job; but no more. Maybe just on the SUV's and other truck chassis'? I drive a sports sedan ,,,"

Yes, only the truck chassis. I took pains to mention that in the article.

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   12/30/2013 11:40:19 PM
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LarryM-

Your listing of the various truck chassis requiring periodic lubrication in the opening statement is very clear. I guess I just don't follow the logic of why truck chassis' still require regular and systematic maintenance, but auto chassis' do not.  Both are still, steel frame structures which dynamically mount engines and suspension systems; they are not vastly different. I'm missing the purpose of their distinct segregation.

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
Larry M   12/31/2013 9:27:00 AM
The automotive guys could probably express this better than I can, but:
  • People drive trucks for 300,000 miles or more. Most cars don't make it to 200,000. The "lifetime lube" of cars probably makes it that far.
  • A selling point for car buyers is minimal periodic maintanance. Hence self-adjusting brakes, lifetime lube, 50,000 mile spark plugs, etc. Perhaps not so important for truck ownwers.
  • Lightweight cars don't exert the same stress on joints as heavier trucks.

Larry

a.saji
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Silver
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
a.saji   12/31/2013 10:06:56 AM
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@Larry: 1st 2 points are very clear and informative. Not clear about your 3rd point though. Why do you feel like that ?      

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
Larry M   12/31/2013 6:10:16 PM
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a.saji wrote: "@Larry: 1st 2 points are very clear and informative. Not clear about your 3rd point though. Why do you feel like that ?"

Well, the tie rod ends and ball joints on a 2000 pound Toyota are nearly the same size as those on a 6000 pound Yukon Denali XL. The heavier vehicle is more likely to extrude the factory-applied grease out of the bearing surfaces than the lightweight vehicle. I have no measurements to justify this opinion. Maybe some of the people with auto-industry experience can weigh in. (pun intended)

Tool_maker
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Platinum
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
Tool_maker   1/6/2014 12:24:59 PM
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  I am not sure about your numbers, but I know I have not driven a car as my primary vehicle since 1977 and have always had better luck with properly maintained trucks than I experience with the autos owned by my wife and kids. Today we all drive trucks or SUV's. Oops, I can no longer say all, as my youngest daughter recently traded her Jeep for a Mustang. As a side note, can anyone tell me why a Mustang needs a 320 hp eight cylinder engine. That is more than my Expedition.

The Stick
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Iron
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
The Stick   1/8/2014 3:25:03 PM
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"can anyone tell me why a Mustang needs a 320 hp eight cylinder engine. That is more than my Expedition."

Simple, because its a Sports car. Sidenote: Your Expedition is underpowered.

a.saji
User Rank
Silver
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
a.saji   12/31/2013 10:20:58 AM
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@Larry: I don't think there are any grease fittings around any more.           

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: Haven't seen a grease fitting in years
Larry M   12/31/2013 6:12:00 PM
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a.saji wrote: "@Larry: I don't think there are any grease fittings around any more."

But there are. I am writing about GM 2006 models. I expect the 2014 models are no different.

William K.
User Rank
Platinum
The square peg, the round hole.
William K.   12/22/2013 10:24:46 PM
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IT turns out

that if you use a large enough hammer

YOU CAN GET A SQUARE PEG INTO A ROUND HOLE,

BUT

there may be some serious damage done

THEREFORE:

Think carefully

before hannering away.

I originally printed this in a page centered format ina larger font, with arrows pointing at the "therefore", and the "think carefully" underlined. 

The effect was to lead others to understand that there were more than one way to run an engineering group.

Toaster
User Rank
Silver
Grease fittings can be done
Toaster   12/30/2013 3:47:45 PM
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I have a 2003 Suburban. The way to get at all the fittings is to raise the chassis on jack stands so that the front wheels can be turned right and left. You will need to turn the wheels left for some fittings and right for others. Also a "shorty" grease gun end is in order. you can also a right angle fitting for the grease gun. That helps.

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Grease fittings can be done
Larry M   12/30/2013 4:25:04 PM
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@Toaster: That technique is necessary for the outboard tie-rod ends. Those two grease fittings are pressed in and cannot be changed. And for the upper ball joints (also pressed in), the easiest thing to do is jack the car way up on the frame (as you suggest) and reach in over the top of the tire instead of working from below.

But how do you get the that fitting on the stationary sleeve of the idler arm? If you don't have a right-angle grease-nozzle, it's pretty hard--maybe you've been overlooking it. The two fittings on the Pitman arm and the one on the other end of the idler arm aren't particularly easy either.

J. Williams
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Platinum
Re: Grease fittings can be done
J. Williams   1/8/2014 5:26:29 PM
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It's funny that when I saw the title for this "Monkeys", I thought I would tell about my travails lubing my Suburban.  Lo and behold, it was about MY Suburban.  I have a 2002 and the easiest way to get at the pitman arm and tie rod inners, is to unbolt the plastic splash guards from the bumper to the front diff, then it is much easier.  As previously mentioned, jacking up the front wheels and hard-left and hard-right makes it easier to get at the ball joints.

But yes, GM made this a tough truck to lube.  I suspect many of these vehicles on the road do not get regular lubing because it is such a itchbay to do.

J. Williams
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Grease fittings can be done
J. Williams   1/8/2014 5:28:43 PM
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P.S.  I also use a flexible hose on my grease gun obviating the need for a right angle fitting. 

Larry M
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Platinum
Re: Grease fittings can be done
Larry M   1/8/2014 11:05:33 PM
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J.Williams wrote: "P.S.  I also use a flexible hose on my grease gun obviating the need for a right angle fitting. "



Well, I wrote the article and I also use a flexible hose on the gun. Even with that hose, it is nearly impossible to keep the nozzle on the Zerk when greasing the stationary part of the idler arm. You may have never even noticed that fitting it's so deeply buried. You have to reach up between the core support and the front of the engine and leading edge of the skid plate. There's not quite enough room to bend the hose 90 degrees to get it onto the Zerk fitting. That was the first one I changed to a 90 degree Zerk fitting and the driver for writing the article. It would have been SO easy for GM to have used an angle fitting there.

J. Williams
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Platinum
Re: Grease fittings can be done
J. Williams   1/8/2014 11:31:37 PM
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Larry:  I have to use one hand to hold the grease gun fitting securely to the zerk fitting otherwise it pops right off given the crazy angles you have to bend the hose.  Removing the skid plates makes it so much easier.  Only takes a couple of minutes with a 15 mm socket to remove them. I get all of the zerk fittings including the stationary part of the idler arm.

cookiejar
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Gold
grease gun fittings
cookiejar   12/31/2013 1:01:14 PM
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There are fittings available for the end of your grease gun that inject at right angles to its line.  It seems that's what GM dealers and many grease shops use.

cookiejar
User Rank
Gold
replacement parts have grease fitttings
cookiejar   12/31/2013 1:11:56 PM
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It has been my experience through the years that replacement ball joints, tie-rod ends and U joints all come with grease fittings.  The replacement joints, when greased, easily outlast the OEM sealed joints.

When pumping grease into a fitting until the rubber seal bulges, as is recommended, I've often wondered where the old grease has gone.  If you accidentally pump until the grease goes out past the seal, you will often see water coming out.  The water can't be good for the joint.

wbswenberg
User Rank
Gold
Grease Fittings and Metric Fasteners
wbswenberg   12/31/2013 9:33:09 PM
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My 1929 Ford Tudor has 25 grease fittings.  24 have been changed to zerks.  I have grease guns for marine, disk breaks (covers everything else like steering and driveline also) and snowmobile.  The original fittings look to me like a portal straight into the bearing.  I'm collecting original tools provided with the car from Ford.  And have an adapter for the gun to modern zerks.  In my tool bag I planned on only SAE tools.  Guess again, the heads of a some bolts and nuts are either worn or non-standard original 1929.  So I have a metric set to get a tight fit.  Ford did make their own fasteners.

I'm re-assembling my 350 cid for my 1995 K2500 from left side partial rebuild.  There are metric and SAE fasteners all over to no rhyme or reason.  What a pain where I sit.

I think there are 45 degree zerks also.  I have a flexible hose on the gun I use the most.  However, sometimes its hard to hold the hose on and force the grease in.  Gads that molybedenum disulfide grease is sticky nasty black stuff.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
The voice of the home mechanic
Charles Murray   1/7/2014 6:59:57 PM
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This story, and the associated comments, speak volumes about how much attention the automakers pay to the voice of home mechanics. If they did listen, we wouldn't be seeing this blog or many of the follow-up comments.

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