Routine maintenance on your truck can seem like a hassle, especially when it comes to tediously de-greasing and inspecting components of your tractor-trailer. And with so many types of grease on the market and parts to your trailer, it’s hard to know what to do once you’re elbows deep in the stuff. That’s why our diesel mechanics are here to break down some of the basic questions that fleet managers and truck drivers have about this basic routine maintenance service. We’ll be covering how often you should be greasing your tractor-trailer’s parts, what grease you should invest in, and why you should be inspecting the parts of your tractor-trailer after you de-grease and re-grease them.  

What Components of My Truck Need Frequent Greasing?

Anyone who works in a semi automotive service center would tell you that there are several parts of your trailer that need to be greased frequently. The fifth wheel will need to be greased the most. This is the sole component that connects the tractor to the trailer and without it, you can’t carry whatever it is you’ll be shipping. That’s why it’s important to always keep this part of your truck greased before anything else. 

You will also want to make sure that around every 12,000 miles you stop and manually grease the fifth wheel, as well as the kingpins, drag link, tie rod ends, spring pins, and shackles. These parts are considered to be lubrication points of your truck and having them move smoothly is crucial to making sure your tractor-trailer stays in prime condition. 

Your drum brakes’ slack adjuster also needs to be greased regularly. This will help to keep the brakes on your truck from wearing out too quickly and ensure that you can safely brake on the road.

Your fifth wheel pivots and plates as well as the clutch and transmission will also need greasing, but not nearly as often as the fifth wheel of your trailer. It would make sense to keep your semi’s clutch and transmission lubricated so that you can easily change gears while you’re out on the road without worrying about them getting stuck while you drive; however, you don’t want them to be so lubricated that they won’t stay where you need them to. The fifth wheel pivots and plates should also stay lubricated so that your trailer can easily turn with your semi out on the road, but, again, you don’t want them to fishtail out from under you. That’s why you want to make sure you don’t over-grease these components of your truck. 

Why Should I De-Grease and Inspect my Truck Components?

Over time, old grease can begin to build up around the lockjaw, throat, and pivot points of your truck which can affect how you drive and even the quality of the truck itself. Not to mention, once the temperatures outside start to drop, the old grease can freeze and even corrode these trailer components as they pick up road grime and other irritants from the elements outside. If left unchecked, this old grease can also get stuck in your fifth wheel and further damage its lock which can be a major safety issue while you’re out on the road. 

When you take your trailer in to get serviced by a diesel mechanic, you should always ask them to do a de-grease and inspection on all your truck components and lubrication points. This gives you a chance to look for cracks, broken welds, or damaged or missing fifth-wheel components once the old grease has been removed. At a semi automotive service center, de-greasing is done with a cleaning compound or steaming tool to help break down the old grease. It’s a fairly technical process, but it shouldn’t be too demanding to do if you have an ASE-certified mechanic who knows their way around a truck. 

What Kind of Grease Should I Use on My Trailer?

Grease is made up of three ingredients: lubricating oil, thickeners, and additives. When looking for the right lubrication for your truck and trailer, always pay attention to what thickener is being used. The thickener can give you a better idea of how the grease should be used and under what conditions or parts of your truck. Grease thickeners can be made from calcium, polyurea, lithium, and more, but if you are choosing to re-grease your car with new lubrication also check to see if your last grease is incompatible with any thickening elements. Mixing greases can sometimes cause the new grease to coagulate which makes it difficult to spread and use, so always make sure your old and new grease thickeners are compatible. 

Also, be sure to check and see what the grade of your grease is. The National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI) assigns grades that describe the thickness of the grease that you are using. The NLGI grade is widely accepted across the trucking industry, and many fleet managers and diesel mechanics alike consider the presence of an NLGI grade on their grease bottle a deciding factor in the difference between good grease and great grease. 

The mix of thickeners to the base oil is usually what sets the different grades of grease apart from one another. For instance, grease with a lithium-based thickener is usually recommended by diesel mechanics to their truck drivers who have an automatic lubrication system in their vehicles. It has a grade of #00, which means that it contains more base oil and fewer thickeners. In contrast, a #2 grease would contain less base oil and more thickeners than the #00 lithium grease, which means it’s usually better used in smaller quantities and most likely won’t spread and protect your truck’s components as well as the #00 grease would. 

Picking the right grease for your trailer can be a tedious and, at times, confusing process, but a knowledgeable fleet manager or diesel mechanic can help you pick the right product that will help you keep your truck is running at its fullest capacity. 

CDS Is Here to Help You Keep Your Truck Running

At Certified Diesel Solutions (CDS), we know how important routine maintenance check up on your truck can be, which is why our staff is dedicated to getting the job done right on the first try. We are Knoxville’s leading semi-truck automotive service company and have been since we were first established in 2009. With our team of expertly trained ASE-certified staff, cutting-edge diagnostic technology, and the latest equipment in semi-truck automotive services, we are more than ready to take care of any make and model of tractor-trailer and auto—no matter what the problem might be. And we don’t just do greasing and inspection, either. Whether your transportation company is looking for an automotive service partner, fleet management assistance, or a total diesel engine overhaul, CDS has got you covered with professional, efficient service that will have you back behind the wheel and out on the road again in no time. Call us to make an appointment today at 865-964-6598 or contact us online to schedule one of our services.