by Alain Hoffmann
art of greasing gets more and more lost. This is due to the spreading
of 'sealed for life' components. Well, this is fine for road going cars
but I'm not so sure about this on 4x4's that get used in the environment
they are meant for.
The procedure is identical on Defenders, Discoveries and classic Ranges.
An pneumatic grease gun is a great help as you need only 2 hands to operate
it and not 3 as with an conventional gun..
Put a brick in front of the rear wheel. Put it out of gear....
...loose the hand brake and lift one front tire. You should place it on
axle stands too..
Start with cleaning the 2 grease nipples on the track rod (the link behind
the front axle) and injecting grease into them. On the picture above right
you see how fresh grease looks like. You must continue to inject grease
until absolutely clean grease comes out.
Above: This is how old grease looks. It has a much harder consistency
and a different colour. In fact it looks a lot like mud...could it really
This is the same linkage without a grease nipple. Note the difference
in the sealing rubbers. Sealed-for-life components have a much tighter
seal all around keeping dirt out more effectively. Both versions can be
found on Defenders, Discoveries and Ranges. If you shop for new ones it's
your choice. I found no significant differences in life span.
So now on to the prop shaft. They have 3 nipples. One on the sliding part
and one on each U-joint. Turn the wheel by hand until the nipples are
in a convenient position. Clean them with window cleaner....
...and a clean paper towel. The sliding part needs only 2-3 shots of grease.
Take care not to unseat the plastic collar near the nipple.
Now watch closely. Fresh grease starts coming out with the noise of sizzling
beacon. Now look closely that on all 4 ends of the U-joint fresh grease
comes out. Above right you see that one end has still black grease emanating.
Well, you must continue until only clean light brown grease appears. The
black colour is grease with metal particles.
After greasing the 3 nipples on the front shaft it's now for the rear.
Change the brick to a front wheel (watch out for the car moving, bonehead!)
and jack up a rear tire..
Same procedure for the Defender.
Almost identical to the front, here are the 3 nipples on the rear shaft.
Above left: Already lots of fresh grease emanating from the U-joint. BUT...when
I turned the wheel I saw the upper end was still dry as a bone (Above
right). Now I had a problem. In most cases this is a sure indicator that
a new U-joint is soon to be fitted. But you can still continue pushing
grease in and hope the plug will give up. This is what I did and after
half a dozen more shots it really gave up. .
Above left: The U-joint near the rear diff had another surprise for me.
When grease emanated it was white. This happens when water gets in and
forms an emulsion. Great. This usually means rust inside the caps. Maybe
I can still drive some months with this as it still hasn't any play. Above
left: It may take this much grease to push out ALL the dirt inside. Poke
it out with your finger and smear it on a rug - or in a corner of the
Above right: An important point is to clean the grease gun's head EVERY
time before you apply it. You will be surprised how much dirt will accumulate
in those seconds you put it down.