How to Grease Ball Joints with or without a Zerk Fitting

how to grease a ball joint

How To Grease Ball Joints

UPDATED: August 2019

This is a question we get at DST a lot: “How do I properly grease my ball joints?” Most aftermarket ball joints have grease zerk fittings which make the lubrication process a lot easier, but some folks want to add a little grease to the sealed, stock ball joints on their vehicles that do not have zerks. This how-to will lay out detailed instructions for greasing sealed ball joints and those that have zerk fittings.

Your vehicle is expensive, the individual parts that make up your vehicle are less expensive, but grease is much cheaper than either. If you can keep your parts in good working order with a little periodic lubrication your vehicle is going to thank you with better service over more miles.

Grease or Replace?

If you think that you might have a failing ball joint you can detour to this handy guide with videos and instructions on how to check for a bad ball joint. Grease is good for noise and maintenance but no amount of it will bring a failed ball joint back to life. If you find that you have a failed ball joint we offer Moog upper and lower ball joints for many makes and models.

What is the Best Grease for Ball Joints?

Which grease you should use depends on a few factors but basically any grease rated “GC-LB” by the NLGI (National Lubricating Grease Institute) is graded to work for all your chassis lubrication needs, including ball joints. We suggest Lucas X-tra Heavy Duty Grease or Marine Grease because they are designed to last in extreme circumstances and environments. While that may seem like overkill, using quality ball joint grease is much cheaper than replacing a ball joint. Also we sell these lubricants 🙂

Check here for more information about the best grease for ball joints.

chassis grease

Pick your ball joint style for lubrication instructions:

How to Grease Ball Joints with Zerk Fittings

Ball joints allow you to steer smoothly and are constantly moving so throwing a little lubrication their way is a small favor for the big job that they do every day. The rule of thumb is to grease these parts every, or every other, oil change which might seem excessive, but again; little thanks, big job.

One concern about greasing ball joints is not wanting to overfill it and bust the seal between the ball joint and the dust boot, which leaves the joint open to contaminates that can potentially lead to failure. This how-to will get you through the maintenance process and back on the road with freshly greased ball joints.

ball joint with a grease zerk fitting


tools for lubricating a ball joint with a zerk fitting

  • A Grease Gun – We suggest a manually powered grease gun that will put you in direct control of how much grease goes in and allow you to “feel” any resistance that the ball joint might be giving while you grease it.

    * A mini grease gun simplifies the greasing process when there is little room to maneuver.

  • Grease – Use the OEM suggested grease or a Heavy Duty Lithium Synthetic or Marine grease. This will serve you better and longer and many brands will actively repel water.

  • Flexible Hose – This is almost a universal requirement. The grease zerks on many vehicle’s ball joints are almost impossible to connect to directly, even with a mini grease gun. Save the frustration and use a hose.

  • Rag – To clean the zerk and wipe excess grease away. This will A) keep dirt and debris from collecting around the joint and B) allow any leakage to show up more quickly later down the road.

DST offers these tools (minus the rag) in a Grease Gun Combo for your convenience.



First, you should inspect the dust boot for leaks. If it is torn or possibly even gone then you should at least replace the dust boot since contaminates can easily get inside the smooth metal innards, and set the part up for premature failure.

torn dust boot leaking grease


Now, you want to clean off the zerk to avoid any contaminates following the grease inside. You should see bright shiny metal before you attach the grease gun. If it’s just too rusty or corroded then you should remove the grease zerk and install a new one.

cleaning the ball joints zerk and dust boot


Next, attach the grease gun to the zerk fitting. Try to meet the fitting as squarely as possible and press down until you feel the “snap” of the adapter grabbing the zerk. If the coupler on your grease gun is adjustable you can twist and loosen the clamping mechanism for an easier application just remember to tighten it before pumping.

connecting the grease gun to the zerk fitting

* If the nozzle of the grease gun hasn’t connected to the zerk then grease will ooze from between the zerk and the grease gun.

grease oozing from between a grease gun and zerk


Then, watch the dust boot and slowly give the grease gun a few good pumps until you see the boot begin to swell. DO NOT CONTINUE GREASING ONCE YOU SEE THE BOOT SWELL. The seal that holds that grease in the ball joint can be compromised if too much pressure is applied. If this happens you will be replacing that part sooner than later.

how to lubricate a ball joint with a zerk fitting

* Some ball joints have a grease relief valve that will allow old grease to safely exit the ball joint without compromising the seal. In those cases it’s best to pump till old grease oozes out of the valve.

old grease oozing from a relief valve


Detach the coupler from the fitting. If you tilt the coupler slightly and pull it should come away easily, but be careful not to tilt it too much or you might break the zerk and add a good deal more time to your maintenance plans.

detaching grease gun from a ball joint zerk fitting

* If you don’t have an adjustable coupler on your grease gun you should get one. It really makes detaching the grease gun and the zerk much easier.

how to detach a grease gun from a zerk fitting


Lastly, wipe any excess grease away from the zerk and dust boot. Drive the car around the block and check the joints for leakage.

* If you have a rough commute or hit the trails on the weekend then take your vehicle out on some similar terrain and check the joints afterward.

cleaning any excess grease from the zerk and dust boot

Trouble Shooting:

How to clear a plugged grease zerk fitting

Few things are more frustrating than knowing a job is going to be a piece of cake and then have something go wrong. You expect the lubrication process to be short and sweet but if grease is oozing out of every connection on your gun when you start pumping then something is definitely off.

You can remove the zerk and try to pump grease through it as a first step but if nothing comes out then your zerk is probably plugged with old hardened grease. Here we will show you a simple way to clear that zerk fitting.

a plugged zerk fitting not accepting grease

First, remove the zerk fitting and attach it to your grease gun.

removing a grease zerk fitting

Try pumping some grease through the zerk and this will sometimes push hardened grease out of the fitting.

pumping grease through a plugged zerk fitting

If there is still no grease moving you can use a propane torch to heat up the zerk. This will boil out any hardened grease that is plugging the grease fitting.

using heat to clear a plugged zerk fitting

Now just reinstall the zerk and you should be able to get some grease into your part.

Now we will look at some other problems that can come up when greasing a zerk fitting.

  • Make sure your grease gun is fully connected to the zerk. If you’re sure it’s connected well and grease is still escaping from around the zerk fitting make sure the coupler is as flush as possible against the zerk.
  • Keep some pressure on the coupler to make sure the seal is tight.
  • NO POWERED GREASE GUNS. You lose the ability to “feel” when the joint begins to resist the pressure and there is no better way to blow a seal than a powered grease gun.
  • Grease zerk fittings can be replaced with 45 or 90 degree angle fittings, making present and future maintenance easier in terminally hard to reach spots.

So, there you have it. Like we said, the process is really easy and if you want to give this simple DIY a try, DST offers a Grease Gun Combo that includes all the tools we used in this article. You can also look at our post about how to grease tie rod ends with a zerk fitting for another suspension part that can be greased in your own garage.

Does anyone have any other helpful tips or tricks for easy lubrication of a ball joint with a zerk fitting? Please leave them in the comments section at the bottom of the page or if you have questions you can contact the customer service folks at Good luck!

How to Grease Ball Joints without Zerk Fittings

Most manufactureres use sealed ball joints that do not come with grease zerk fittings. Theoretically, these ball joints will not need any extra grease and are sealed up tight so contaminates can’t get inside, but if you notice a groaning while turning then the culprit might be a grease-thirsty ball joint.

You can use a grease zerk needle attachment to get past the dust boot and pump some grease into that ball joint. This can eliminate those noises and potentially extend the life of the part, but this method will almost certainly not grease the entire part. As a stop-gap measure this should stretch the life span of your ball joint.

sealed ball joint without a zerk fitting


tools for lubricating a sealed ball joint
  • A grease zerk needle adapter – This needle is fitted with a grease zerk and will attach to your grease gun.
    * Take care when attaching the needle, since some force is required you could easily skewer your hand. Most needle attachments come with a plastic sheathe, so leave that on until the zerk is attached to the grease gun.
  • A grease gun – We suggest a hand powered grease gun that will put less pressure on the seal of the ball joint and allow you to monitor how much grease is getting in the joint.
  • Grease – You should use the OEM suggested grease or a Heavy Duty Lithium Synthetic or Marine grease. These are perfect for automotive applications and will last longer than other types.
  • Flexible Hose – This is not necessarily a requirement, but it makes the job about 10 times easier. Save yourself some frustration and use a flex hose.
  • Rag – The mechanic’s friend. Stuff one in your back pocket and use it to clean the boot before (to keep dirt from entering with the needle) and after (to keep debris from collecting around extra grease).

You can get all of these tools (find your own rag) in a Grease Gun Combo from DST.



As with any part with a dust boot, you should check the boot. If it is torn or missing completely then you need to replace the dust boot since contaminates might already be inside the smooth metal innards, wearing the part down and setting it up to fail soon.

torn dust boot
torn dust boot leaking grease


Clean off the boot and joint so you can see what is going on with the boot and the seal when you begin pumping grease into it.

cleaning dirt and debris from a ball joints dust boot


Attach the zerk needle adapter to the grease gun. This can be tricky so we advise caution. If you are not careful you could easily be using the rag to wipe blood off of the needle (like I did making this article). If the coupler at the end of your grease gun is adjustable try loosening it to make the process easier.

* Remember to tighten the adapter once the needle is on or grease will ooze out from between the needle and grease gun without making it to the joint.

how to attach a zerk needle to a grease gun


Insert the needle into the side of the boot near where the boot is connected to the housing of the ball joint so new grease has a better chance of getting into the bearing.

using a zerk needle to grease a sealed ball joint


Pump slowly until the boot begins to swell. Some say you should continue greasing until you see grease ooze around the boot but maintaining that seal is important so we opt for the safer route. Make sure you can watch to dust boot while you are pumping grease, because once it begins to swell you are done and pumping beyond this point could damage the seal. No more than a few pumps should be necessary.

dust boot of a ball joint swelling with grease


Remove the needle and clean off any excess grease. There probably won’t be much if any excess grease but if there is wiping it down will keep dust and debris from collecting on that extra grease around the joint and allow a quicker diagnosis of future problems.


Lastly, take the vehicle around the block or down a dirt road if that’s your daily commute. Once you’re back in the driveway take a look at those wiped down joints and see if any grease is leaking. This could mean a busted seal, but if everything looks and sounds in order then congratulations, you’ve just greased the un-greasable.

Trouble Shooting:

  • NO POWERED GREASE GUNS. There is no reason to use a powered grease gun for this application. Only bad things can happen, so stick with the hand pump.
  • Keep the hole as small as possible. Be wary of any dirt, debris, or water on the needle or boot since they could follow your needle inside.
  • Using a flex hose makes the puncturing of the boot easier and keeps pressure off the needle while it’s in the boot to keep the hole small.

Weather Stripping Adhesive Patch

Weather stripping adhesive can be used to cover the needle hole in the dust boot if you’re worried that water or contaminates might make their way through to the smooth working surface of the ball joint. This adhesive forms a flexible, water-proof seal that is resistant to the elements. Simply cover the area with the adhesive and be sure to follow the instructions and safety precautions.

sealing ball joint dust boot

And that is how a sealed ball joint can be safely lubricated. All of the tools that were used in this how-to are part of DST’s Grease Gun Combo if you want to give this project a try. You can use these same tools and our post about how to grease tie rod ends with a zerk fitting to lubricate another sealed suspension component on your vehicle.

Has anyone used this method to grease a sealed ball joint? We would love to hear about any success stories or helpful hints that you’ve uncovered. If you have any questions please contact the customer service experts at or leave them in the comments section below. Good luck!

Quick word about failed ball joints

This method will buy a noisy ball joint some time, but if you notice excessive vibration, a “clunking” sound, or you drift to one side while driving then you probably have a failed ball joint. Moog offers premium upper and lower ball joints for many vehicles, and they usually come with a grease zerk fitting among other advantages over OEM replacements.

  1. Edwin Lingle
    Edwin Lingle
    May 19, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    This is good information. What about the cup style zerk that are in the u-joints?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      May 23, 2017 at 7:15 am

      Hey Edwin,

      Good question! U Joints usually come equipped with these female (flush, cup, etc.) zerk fittings. This style of grease fitting is usually necessary since a standard zerk would break off against another component during operation of the vehicle. They can be a real pain since they require a special grease needle for lubrication, but here are some quick tips for a female U Joint zerk:

      • Make sure you use the right size grease needle for the zerk on your U Joint.
      • Try to find the needle’s pressure “sweet spot” — push too hard and it impedes the flow of grease, too soft and most of the grease ends up on the outside.
      • You could try replacing with a standard zerk fitting, but it might break off against another part of your vehicle.
      • One of the easiest tricks is to treat the zerk like a cap. Just remove the fitting, pump in grease with a needle, and put the zerk back on.

      Does anyone else know of any tips or tricks for a U Joint or other greaseable suspension parts?

      Thanks again Edwin!

  2. Laurence Mason
    Laurence Mason
    May 22, 2017 at 7:35 am

    How do you re-seal the hole created by the needle in the non-greasable ball joint boot so the grease does not leak out of the new void?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      May 23, 2017 at 7:16 am

      Hey Laurence,

      Great question and one of the biggest issues most folks have with this method.

      Puncturing the boot really seems like a silly thing to do since you’re essentially compromising the integrity of the shield that keeps the grease in and debris out. There are a few ways that you can keep the boot completely intact.

      First, some dust boots can actually be lifted away from the housing of the ball joint enough to insert the needle between them, so you can get around sticking the boot.

      Another solution we mentioned in the trouble shooting section of the article involved using weather stripping adhesive to cover the hole left by the needle. This will give you a flexible, heat resistant barrier that will keep grease in and debris out.

      In all honesty the hole should be small enough that there won’t be much grease leaking out unless the boot is already damaged. In this case it’s a good idea to replace the dust boot. If there isn’t any adverse handling problems or excessive noise coming from the ball joint then it might not need grease that badly, so you might consider taking the manufacture’s word that it doesn’t need periodic grease and just replace the ball joint when problems do arise.

      Does anyone else want to weigh in on the “benefits vs risk” issue of greasing sealed ball joints with a zerk needle? We would love to hear what you think!

      Thanks for the question Laurence.

  3. Randi Farney
    Randi Farney
    May 22, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    This is so helpful!! So if my current ball joint is not greaseable, is there a way I can add a grease fitting? Also, are there different sized zerks for each ball joint?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      May 24, 2017 at 1:59 pm

      Hey Randi,

      While it is possible to drill and tap a zerk fitting into a sealed ball joint, this is generally not advised.

      For one thing greaseable ball joints are designed to allow grease to flow out, taking contaminates and old grease with it. But a sealed ball joint is just that; sealed. With no where for the grease to go you will have a hard time getting any into that ball joint even with a grease zerk installed.

      Secondly, you run the risk of getting metal shavings into the smooth inner workings of the ball joint during installation, and that will send your part down hill faster than a grease deficit.

      In regard to your other question, the most common sizes are 1/8″ and 1/4″ but, there are a few different sizes of zerk fittings so you won’t know which size is on your particular ball joint unless a) the manufacturer has it listed or b) you measure the zerk yourself.

      Has anyone installed a grease zerk into a ball joint? Was it successful?

      Thanks for the questions Randi.

  4. Tammy Johnson
    Tammy Johnson
    June 15, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    This is awesome information but what if you have the new ball joints with the integrated dust boot? How can you tell is there is any damage to the dust boot? How do you know if there is enough grease in them?

    Thank you

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      June 16, 2017 at 8:34 am

      Hey Tammy, great questions.

      First of all, it really takes some effort to damage Moog’s integrated dust boots. They are seated below the lip of the housing and you would have to be going over some crazy terrain to tear that boot.

      But to answer your question, the best way to check for a damaged dust boot is:

      • cleaning the boot
      • adding 1-2 pumps of grease
      • driving around for a while
      • manually inspecting the boot

      You should notice some grease oozing from any tear on the boot you just cleaned.

      Now with Moog’s servicable ball joints it’s recommended that you refresh the grease around the same time you get your oil changed.

      This is a rule of thumb and a maintenance suggestion which can vary depending on many circumstances. Say you’re taking your 4×4 axle deep in mud every weekend; you may want to grease those ball joints a little more often. Unless you’re hearing some groaning from the ball joint when you turn or your steering gets a little sticky as, you can safely assume there is some grease on that bearing.

      If you decide you want to add more grease then don’t overdo it. Pump a little grease out of the grease gun before attaching the it to the zerk fitting to make sure its charged, then just pump once or twice. The techs I’ve spoken to at Moog say that “people tend to add more grease than necessary”. Remember, you’re only greasing the metal to metal surface of the ball joint which is easily done with 1 shot of grease. After the second pump you could be causing undue pressure on the seal holding that grease inside the ball joint and blowing the grease seal does much more harm than not adding new grease since the grease you do have will ooze out as the suspension travels.

      Just curious, has anyone managed to tear one of the integral dust boots on one of Moog’s ball joints? We would love to see some pictures.

      Thanks for the questions Tammy!

  5. Walter Langley
    Walter Langley
    August 23, 2017 at 1:02 am

    OK and OK! What? Nobody has examined this newsletter but? Maybe they study, however, didn’t comment, even to say THANKS? Sheesh! Some humans! THANKS, GUYS!

  6. How to Grease Sealed Ball Joints
    October 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    […] easy lubrication of a ball joint with ball joints? Please leave any comments or questions in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Good […]

  7. Stephen
    January 12, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Very useful and detailed information. I appreciate the time and effort that went into it. Thanks agin.

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      January 15, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      No problem Stephen!

      We’re glad you found the article useful. Ball joint maintenance is important for the longevity of the part and, consequently, the steering of your vehicle so throwing a little grease their way can pay you back handsomely. If your original tie rod ends or ball joints ever need to be replaced, finding an option with zerk fittings will make refreshing that grease very simple.

      We appreciate the appreciation Stephen. Stay safe out there.

  8. Lorenzo Gallegos
    Lorenzo Gallegos
    January 25, 2018 at 9:34 am

    After unplugging both zerk fittings on ball joints I still cannot get any grease to the ball joints on 2000 Ford F-150. Any suggestions ?


    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      January 26, 2018 at 10:26 am

      Hey Lorenzo

      If you’ve already cleared the zerk fittings by either pumping grease through them or boiling out the old hard grease then you might have a severe issue within the ball joint itself. Before you do anything else you should jack up the area where the ball joints in question are located and try greasing them again. Taking pressure off of the ball joint can allow the grease to get through when it wouldn’t otherwise.

      If you’re using a manual grease gun, you could try a powered grease gun to flush out whatever is in that ball joint.

      If this doesn’t work then a last ditch effort would be using a grease zerk needle adapter and putting a little grease through the dust boot of the ball joint. This is a method for greasing ball joints that do not have zerk fittings and it’s not really advised to puncture the dust boots since this could potentially allow grease to escape and contaminates to enter the joint, but getting a little grease in there to prime the pump might loosen up the joint enough to allow you to use the installed zerk fitting.

      Hope this helps and you get everything squared away, but if all else fails you may just need to replace those ball joints when they start getting loose.

      Anyone else have another trick for a ball joint that won’t take grease?

      Good luck Lorenzo.

  9. Dana Deering
    Dana Deering
    February 18, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    i just replaced upper and lower ball joints on my dodge ram 4×4 I filled the upper just fine but I could get no grease in the lower. I changed fitting w/ no results What have I done wrong?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      February 19, 2018 at 8:53 am

      Hey Dana,

      If you’ve already ruled out the zerk fitting then you might jack your truck up on whichever side your having problems and try greasing that lower ball joint again. Many lower ball joints are weight bearing and jacking up the truck will take a little pressure off and allow you to get some grease in there. This is a trick that others have tried with good results.

      Does anyone else have an idea? Good luck and hope this works for you Dana.

  10. Amber
    April 3, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you for the information. I replaced my upper ball joint/control arm on my 2003 GMC Yukon, but am not certain I put enough grease in. It’s been two days now and my tire is making a clunking sound, like something is in my rim. Is my ball joint ruined now? If so, how long before it completely gives out?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      April 5, 2018 at 8:11 am

      Hey Amber,

      Most replacement ball joints should be properly greased before you ever open the box, but if the ball joint has a zerk fitting then it should be able to accept and flush grease and any extra should be icing on the cake. It would be very strange if your ball joint failed after only two days, but you can check the ball joint pretty easily using this guide. If the stud of the ball joint is visibly moving up and down in the housing then your ball joint could be close to failure.

      A few quick questions:

      • Is there a lot of vibration from the front when you drive? (sign of a bad ball joint)
      • Does your steering excessively wander on it’s own? (sign of a bad ball joint)
      • Did you have the alignment checked after the install? (should be done after any work on the suspension)
      • What brand/part number was used?

      Again, it’s pretty unlikely that the ball joint is causing your noises unless it has a factory defect, but it would be a good idea to check. If it isn’t exhibiting signs of premature failure then your noise is probably not being caused by the ball joint.

      Hope this helps and good luck.

  11. Charles
    May 11, 2018 at 7:50 am

    For Moog ball joints that have the grease relief valve on the boot itself, when servicing them with new grease should you pump it until all old grease is expelled? Or just until you see old grease come through and wipe away as necessary as it is pushed out during normal driving?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      May 15, 2018 at 10:16 am

      Hey Charles,

      The tech we spoke to at Moog recommended just a few pumps and to stop once there is any swelling in the boot. This is the safest course of action since there is less chance that you will break the seal between the boot and the ball joint.

      It helps to remember that the boot is not a reservoir of grease for the ball joint, it’s there to keep contaminates from getting into the joint. The space in-between the ball stud and the bearing is very small so one or two shots of grease should be enough to cover the surface you’re aiming for.

      The use and driving conditions of your vehicle can play a part here. If you’ve got an off-road vehicle and you’ve sunk the axles in mud over the weekend then you might want to try and push out anything that might have wormed it’s way past the dust boot during extreme articulation. If you’re just hearing some noises from the ball joints on your daily driver then you’re probably fine just giving it a few good pumps.

      So, less is more… unless there’s a reason to use more.

      Hope this answered your questions Charles, and thanks for bringing this up.

  12. Matt
    July 17, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Excellent article! Very well written with clear and concise instructions. THANK YOU!

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      July 17, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks Matt,

      We put a lot of work into it so we’re glad it’s helpful! Stay safe out there.

  13. jose
    November 9, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    Hello, can put a link or name of what kind of seal or tape to use in order to cover the injection hole on the boot?? i just replaced my front right ball joint on honda crv 2005 but the mechanic lost the valve where you insert the gun to add grease. there is like a small bolt to remove instead where the little valve was supposed to be, my question is, can i insert grease in the hole with the neadle or the gun (unscrewing that little bolt) ???? thank you

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      November 19, 2018 at 9:42 am

      Hey Jose,

      As for tape or sealant the most common kind we’ve heard of is weather stripping adhesive, but any waterproof adhesive should work.

      So your mechanic lost the grease zerk? I imagine it would be pretty messy and difficult to try and get grease in without a zerk. Without a good seal between the grease gun nozzle and the zerk I’m not sure you would be able to push the grease between the stud and bearing, it’s just going to come back at you. Your long term solution is finding a replacement zerk at your local hardware store. You can try measuring or buying several sizes and trying them out until one fits.

      Does anyone have another good solution?

      Good luck Jose.

  14. Scott
    January 3, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    I recently added some aftermarket UCA’s to my 4Runner. It has a zerk fitting under a rubber cap so it should be easy for me to add the grease. My questions are as follows: can I keep the vehicle ground level with tires on and simply fill the boot with grease? Do I need to loosen anything? And what type of grease do you recommend? There are no zerk fittings for the bushings, only the ball joint.

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      January 7, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      Hey Scott,

      Unless you’re worried that you’ve picked up some dirt or debris in that upper joint you should be fine just giving the joint two pumps for maintenance. If you’re trying to flush out old grease or debris then pumping until the boot swells will push the junk down away from the bearing, but if the boot does not have a release valve of some kind you could bust the seal between the joint and the boot with too much grease.

      The upper ball joints are followers and non-load bearing like the lowers so you should be fine to grease them without lifting your 4Runner, no loosening required.

      Here at DST we suggest Lucas X-TRA Heavy Duty Grease because it’s a great option that is rated for use on chassis parts… and we sell it as part of our Grease Gun Combo 🙂

      We had a similar question come up regarding grease for tie rod ends which is a similar part and you might find the response helpful.

      Hope we answered your questions and feel free to contact us with any more.

      Have a good one Scott.

  15. Anthony Copas
    Anthony Copas
    January 10, 2019 at 1:10 am

    Hey, thanks a million. I’ve a few thing from this website. Thanks

  16. Eric Schaefer
    Eric Schaefer
    February 11, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Hello, I own a Honda CRV and there is only 2mm clearance for a Zerk nipple between the ball joint and the spinning CV axle. This makes it impossible to use a grease-able ball joint. In order to re-grease the joint I would have to pull the axle out and unscrew a plug then screw in a grease fitting, Then put it all back together with the plug installed where the grease fitting was. This seems to be the only way.. I dont care for the needle puncture grease job idea. In upstate NY we have much snow and salt with temp changes and water can be drawn into the joint as it cools in wet weather. Also the grease needs to be inside the joint and I dont think you can get very much of in there with the needle method it will no t actually be inside the joint itself.

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      February 15, 2019 at 3:46 pm

      Hey Eric,

      That’s a bummer about the low clearance. Moog has manufactured some creative offset zerk placements for ball joints in tight quarters, but there doesn’t appear to be one for the CRV. You might give them a call and talk to their techs since they look for problems like this so they can offer an aftermarket solution.

      Yeah, using the needle is pretty much a last ditch effort to squeeze some life out of/quiet down a ball joint that’s on its way out soon anyway. Probably not a good idea for someone driving through snow and salt on an annual basis.

      Stay safe out there on the slush.

  17. Fred
    March 31, 2019 at 6:14 am

    Hi I greased outer tie rod ends on my 14 Sierra .. after a few pumps old grease came out on the passenger side but none came out of drivers side and the boot swelled a lot so I made a small puncture to release the pressure do you think this will cause the boot to split or fail?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      April 8, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      Hey Fred,

      If the hole is a size that is concerning you one fix we’ve heard is using liquid weather stripping adhesive to paint the hole which should give you a pretty reliable seal.

      A couple of things; 1) How big a puncture are we talking? A pinprick shouldn’t cause you much trouble, but 2) What kind of driving are you doing? If you’re burying the axles in mud on a regular basis then any kind of hole or tear could allow contaminants to enter the boot.

      I would also check those boots to see if they have a grease release valve. If not I’d just give it two pumps instead to trying to flush the old grease completely out of the boot. That should give you enough to get new grease on the ball stud surface.

      Hope this was helpful and thanks for the question Fred.

  18. Rob
    April 8, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    I’m glad I found this I’m going to try this weekend. two questions, one is all the reviews on the needles half the people say they break is that from like a stick or they bust from pushing too much pressure of grease thru them?
    Second, it’s a 99 Land Cruiser to which original lower ball joints and control arms. when bouncing and underneath the car, it seems like the squeaking could be from the actual pivots on the control arm bushings. I soak them good with PB and silicone it almost seems like it got worse haha. Any advice on the LCA bushing area. {They are not visibly damaged.}.

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      April 10, 2019 at 1:51 pm

      Hey Rob,

      Are you talking about the dust boot busting? When using a needle attachment if you pump too much grease into the boot the seal can break. Once you notice any kind of swelling from the boot you should stop pumping grease. If you’re worried about contaminates coming through the pinhole you can use liquid weather stripping adhesive to cover the spot.

      Adding grease this way is not really a long term solution for maintaining your ball joints since the grease probably won’t cover the entire ball of the stud, but it can keep them quiet and rejuvenate them for a while.

      As far as the LCABs go our resident ASE certified mechanic said without seeing the vehicle he couldn’t really diagnose the problem. He said you might try WD40 along with silicone instead of PB but his first suspicion is worn sway bar bushings or end links since they are the most common culprits for squeaking noise in his experience. He also said there could be control arm bushing damage that isn’t visible from the outside. In the end, his suggestion was taking the vehicle to an auto tech (mechanic) if the problem isn’t obvious.

      Good luck Rob, and let us know how the search for the squeaking goes.

  19. avi
    April 23, 2019 at 6:29 am

    can I use Graphite grease (Liqui Moly 47) for the ball joints& tie rods end?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      April 23, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      Hey Avi,

      Short answer: Maybe

      Liqui Moly 47 appears to be a lithium/petroleum grease with a molybdenum disulfide additive and an NLGI 2 rating which makes it about on par with many chassis grease options. That said I couldn’t find an “LB” rating for it which is the NLGI standard for ball joint and tie rod end grease. We can’t really suggest using it because of this but it has most of the basic components of chassis grease.

      My biggest concern would be if your vehicle is around rain, snow, or mud a lot. In those cases, marine grease or another option that is designed to repel water is going to serve you better. You might check out this comment about chassis grease ratings for some related information.

      Has anybody else tried this grease on their ball joints or tie rod ends before with good results?

      Hope this was helpful.

  20. Tammy
    August 19, 2019 at 7:54 am

    What do they mean by tapping the ball joint for the zerk?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      August 26, 2019 at 10:20 am

      Hey Tammy,

      Tapping a ball joint means drilling a hole in the cover plate, using a “tap” to create threads in the hole, and screwing a zerk into it. This is a pretty advanced method that could provide some benefits but there are two big drawbacks to consider:

      1) The process of tapping a ball joint could result in metal shavings working their way between the ball and the bearing surface, or the surface of the ball itself could be damaged.

      2) Since most ball joints without a zerk fitting are designed as a sealed bearing, grease pumped into the joint likely does not have a place to go meaning you may not get much lubricant where you want it to go. This picture illustrates the difference between a sealed ball joint and one designed to be lubricated.

      sealed vs greasable ball joints

      In any case, tapping a sealed ball joint generally has more risks than the rewards are worth, so you’re better off sticking with the original as is unless it’s showing signs of wear. If you want to be able to consistently lubricate your ball joints buying one that already has a zerk fitting installed is the best option.

      Hope this answers your question Tammy.

  21. Pete Covell
    Pete Covell
    December 11, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    I have always jacked up my vehicle to take the weight of the vehicle off the ball joints when I lubed the ball joints. My thinking is that the grease would flow better between the ball and the socket with no load on it. I am still on the original ball joints on my heavy (9500 lb) 2006 Chevy Express conversion van with 120k miles. I lube at every oil change: at 5000 miles. I have replaced all the other front suspension joints (tie rods, idler arm, pitman arm) with Moog and have a set of Moog ball joints ready to go when needed. So maybe I have been lucky with the original parts, or my process has helped. Not sure which.

    So, does this make sense to take the weight off the ball joints? What are your thoughts?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      December 16, 2019 at 3:57 pm

      Hey Pete,

      Good for you for taking the time and care to maintain your vehicle! It sounds like it’s paid off for you so bravo.

      As for your question, our resident mechanic said that he would probably not go to the trouble of jacking up the vehicle just to service the ball joints. It is suggested by some that if you’re having trouble getting the grease to go in that unloading the joint can do the trick but we haven’t verified this phenomenon for ourselves.

      Does anyone have experience or insight about jacking up your vehicle helping with greasing ball joints?

      In any case, keep fighting the good fight of grease maintenance and may you be blessed with many more miles of smooth and quiet driving.

      Thanks for the question Pete.

  22. Tidan
    July 15, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Is Super Lube Multipurpose Grease a good grease for ball joints?

    • Josh Daniels
      Josh Daniels • Post Author •
      July 15, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      Hey Tidan,

      As a GC-LB rated grease Super Lube can be used for ball joints or chassis parts, but you’re paying for a lot of extra that you probably don’t need. I guess the short answer is – Yes, it’s good for ball joints, but it’s probably too good.

      The grease you mentioned is very multi-purpose which is why it’s more expensive. For example, not only is it rated for incidental food contact but it’s also Kosher Certified. So if you just can’t resist having a snack while doing some grease maintenance on your vehicle then this may be the lubricant for you.

      Joking aside, you’re likely paying almost 4X more for Super Lube than you would for a grease that we recommend (Lucas X-Tra Heavy Duty) which is designed specifically for chassis and articulating automotive parts on farm and heavy duty vehicles. So even at a much lower price the Lucas grease is going to be overkill for most daily drivers.

      Thanks for the question Tidan, hope this helps.

      • Tidan
        July 15, 2020 at 1:32 pm

        Haha, I love your response!
        I have Lucas Xtra also, but swapping out greases in my gun is a pain…purging old grease, priming new….so I was hoping to be able to just use one or the other. I currently have super lube loaded specifically for my UMI lower control arm bushing(Delrin) and other poly bushings. I used the Lucas Xtra for my wheel bearings.

        • Josh Daniels
          Josh Daniels • Post Author •
          July 16, 2020 at 9:02 am

          That’s understandable. Exchanging grease in a grease gun is a pain so you’re balancing the cost against the time and effort.

          I will say that depending on how often you are greasing the bushings and chassis parts it might make economical sense to just load up two grease guns for the different components. While this would save some money over the long haul it’s not a necessity, though there’s not really a reason to use Super Lube instead of the Lucas for chassis parts… unless that’s what you’ve already got loaded up 🙂

          Thanks for the comments and good on you for keeping up the grease maintenance.


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