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Toyota Maintenance: Lubrication Points

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Joe Micciche - June, 2000

Whether your Toyota is a trail-only machine, a weekend trailrider and daily driver, or a commuter vehicle, there are many lubrication points on the chassis which should not be overlooked. For longevity of moving parts, it's important that all greasable points in the chassis are regularly checked and pumped with grease: and depending on severity of use or mud and water encountered, these points should be checked after every vehicle use.

Note: The Toyota Owner's Manual and the Factory Service Manual both recommend an NLGI-2 moly grease for the double-cardan joints, and an NLGI-2 lithium-based grease for the u-joints and slip yokes.

Your Toyota Owner's Manual or Factory Service Manual specifies the proper type of grease to use on each part - either a moly or lithium base. Some feel it's not necessary to use both types of grease (due to having to keep 2 grease guns available), but I'm a strong believer in following the factory recommendations. So far, I haven't been let down, and the second grease gun doesn't occupy much space in the garage.

The following pictures are intended to provide you a step-by-step review of the grease fittings on your drivetrain.

First, the infamous steering stops.....

Looking at the passenger side lower control arm from the front, the steering stop (yellow circle) is missing it's cap and overdue for some grease. The arrow indicates it's movement toward the limiting tab. The green circle highlights the lower balljoint zerk fitting.
The upper ball joint zerk is evident when looking down at the upper control arm.

One area which is a "gotcha" for every Toyota owner is the front steering stops. On the IFS vehicles, tabs are welded onto the lower control arms front and rear, and bolts are threaded into the knuckles to limit the range of front wheel movement. The bolts come with a plastic cap from the factory, but the caps quickly wear away. Then, on full steering lock, the bolts contact the tabs and usually produce a horrific screech. Instead of buying new caps every month or two, simply place a heavy dab of grease on the bolt heads, and eliminate this noise. It's a good idea to grease the stops at every oil change, and don't forget -- there are four total to grease!

The balljoints retain grease with a rubber boot around the joint itself. When greasing your ball joints, lightly poke the boot with your finger to determine how much grease it needs. If the boot is taut, the joint doesn't need any. But if you can easily push it in, give the joint a couple of pumps from the grease gun. Be careful not to overfill it, as grease will find a way to escape, and probably ruin the boot!

The Driveshafts.....

The center support bearing is found on long wheelbase Toyota trucks.

The Toyota driveshafts are actually a combination of u-joints, double-cardan joints, and slip yokes (the tube and inner splined shaft). The number and types of joints vary depending on model year and wheelbase, but generally all Toyota driveshafts have a front and rear "joint" and slip yoke. The joints are subjected to plenty of stress both when wheeling and commuting, and should be checked regularly.

Note: Some of the long wheelbase Toyota trucks have a center support bearing for the 3-joint rear driveshaft. This bearing is generally not serviceable. When performing other maintenance, the center support bearing should be checked for free movement of the driveshaft, while not allowing any lateral play. If the bearing is binding the driveshaft movement or if there is excessive play, it should be replaced.

The front slip yoke zerk is visible in the circle, while the arrow points to the u-joint grease fitting. At the transfer case end of the front driveshaft is a double-cardan joint, with 2 grease fittings (one visible).

The front driveshaft has a slip yoke grease fitting at the forward end of the driveshaft, along with a front u-joint. The end of the front driveshaft at the transfer case has a double-cardan joint with two zerks. Because the slip yoke can compress and extend and expel grease, it's a good idea to clean the built-up grease and grime from the driveshaft tube. Pump grease into each fitting, being careful on the u-joints not to add an excessive amount (ideally you do not want grease escaping from the caps), and adding just enough to the slip yoke to fully extend it. When regular lubrication is performed, I've found the front slip yoke only requires 2 to 3 pumps on the grease gun.

The forward end of the rear driveshaft has a single zerk for the u-joint. At the differential end of the rear driveshaft are two zerks: the circled one is to fill the slip yoke with grease, while the u-joint zerk is not visible in this photo (arrow). Aft of the center support bearing is the third joint on the rear driveshaft. This double-cardan has 3 zerk fittings.

The rear driveshaft also has a slip yoke which expels grease upon compression and extension. With the constant movement - onroad and off - on a leaf-sprung vehicle, this item should receive regular attention. There are u-joints at each end of the rear driveshaft which require regular inspection and maintenance.

Do you have driveline "clunk"?
I've found that my '94 Extracab with the stock rear suspension tends to buck, or "clunk", when coming to or taking off from a stop. After following endless discussions on this topic, which seems to be common among Toyota owners, I found that the clunk is the end result of 3 causes: 1) "soft" leaf springs which allow the pinion to pivot when 2) the rear brakes are in need of adjustment and 3) the rear slip yoke is in need of grease. If the rear brakes are out of spec, or the rear proportioning valve is not set properly, the front brakes will be the primary stopping force, while the "soft" or worn leafs allow the pinion to move and thereby extend the slip yoke. As soon as the clunk appears, I check the rear brake adjustment (read Scott Wilson's rear brake article) and pump the yoke full of grease, taking care not to over-fill the rear driveshaft and damage any seals. Of course, some aftermarket lift springs or considerable power upgrades can also cause the pinion to pivot (also known as spring wrap), which would require other remedies.


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