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John Deere Maintenance Monday: Choosing grease

Select the best grease for your utility tractor.

Know your numbers

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Listen to this radio show (MP3 download) or read below.

Radio interview source: Dick Parish, professor of agricultural engineering, LSU Ag Center

In this edition of Maintenance Monday, we're answering a question from Kevin in Texas. He just bought a used utility tractor and needs to take care of some general lubing. He's wondering how to choose the best grease for the job.

Dick Parish with the Louisiana State University Ag Center says pay attention to the viscosity rating. Low viscosity greases are needed for high-speed applications to enhance flow. High viscosity is better for slow-moving components. The thickness of grease is determined on a scale of 0-0-0 to six, with 0-0-0 being heavy oil and six a brick grease.

For a good, all-purpose grease, Parish recommends number two.

"This refers to the viscosity of the grease," Parish says. "Number 2 is a good general purpose viscosity that's used a lot for wheel bearings, chassis lubricants, bearings, this type of thing. And we also have classifications on performance levels. A typical recommendation for small tractors, lawn and garden equipment, would be a number 2 grease, rated GC-LB."

That means for wheel bearings it's rated for severe duty, and for chassis it's rated for moderate duty.

Check the additives

You'll find different additives in grease, which can enhance performance and help under extreme pressure.

"The two most common are probably graphite and molybdenum disulfide," Parish says. "These increase the lubricating ability of the grease, and in some cases they may be recommended. It's not a problem if they do; even if it's not recommended, it's not going to hurt anything. But it may not be necessary for most purposes."

Don't forget a good grease gun. Parish says small guns for home and garden use don't hold much and the cartridges are expensive. Look for a full-size, pistol-grip for one-handed operation to pump the grease under pressure into fittings called "zerks". You'll need the other hand to hold the hose on the zerk. There are power grease guns, but these aren't practical for non-commercial use.

Kevin gets a free John Deere cap for submitting his maintenance question, and you will, too, if we use your question in our program.

Find more maintenance tips and submit a question of your own >>

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