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Old 12-02-2015, 07:08 PM   #1
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Purging all 4 U-Joint grease seal caps

I am in the middle of my annual preventative maintenance list on the motor-home. I am about done with all the filters, oil and greasing but my u-joints are giving me fits. I only had 2 or 3 of the caps purge grease out on each of the 2 differential u-joints. After a long (and nasty) afternoon of messing around with a manual hand pump style of grease gun (you need 3 or more hands) I decided to get a pneumatic grease gun and one of these babies.


LockNLube Grease Gun Coupler - Zerk Grease Coupler Fitting Tip - Easy Lock-on, Clip-off - Stays on - Grease goes in, not on the machine


both products made the grease job a lot easier, but still could not get all 4 of the ujoint caps to purge grease, and I was pumping it all through just a couple of caps.

I decided to take the motor home to the local Speedco Lube here in Las Vegas to see if they had any tricks up their sleeve to get the grease where it needs to be. They tried and had the same results but didn't charge me anything and suggested I take it to Freightliner and have the u-joints replaced.

I called and made an appointment with Freightliner and took it in this morning. The service writer was very friendly and helpful. I explained all of the above and asked them to replace the u-joints so I would know it was all in good shape. He asked me if they could get it to take grease would I be happy with that or just go ahead and replace. I said that would be great and hoped he was successful because the ujoints felt very solid and I was sure they were in good shape and they took grease last year. (I skipped my 6 month 5,000 mile lube and that may be why I am having problems with the grease drying out?)

In just 30 minutes or so, he came back to the waiting room and informed me that the tech was successful and I was good to go. I asked if the tech said that he had got grease to purge out of all 4 u-joint caps and he said "Yes". They have a minimum of 1 hour shop labor charge so I paid $145 for the lube job and I was tickled with the outcome as I was expecting $300 to $500 when I scheduled the U-joint replacement.

They gave me my receipt and it says:

"motor home has a cage under the transmission all the way too the drive tires had to get the bus in the air to be able to fit under and grease the u joints"

I inquired and the service writer said both I and the Speedco guys eventually just didn't get the grease gun on the zerk correctly due to the frame being so low to the ground. I asked again, did he get grease from all the caps and they said Yes again.

When I got home, I just wasn't comfortable with the whole situation and drove the rear wheels up onto a ramp so I could get underneath it and sure enough, the same cups were dry with no purged grease around them. I hooked up my grease gun and sure enough, I still have a dry cap on each U-joint.

I called and talked to the service writer, and now he says that it isn't necessary for all the caps to purge grease and they almost never have all 4 caps purge when they grease the trucks and/or motor homes. I explained what it says in the SPICER SERVICE MANUAL as copied below:


1. Use the recommended lubricant to purge all four seals of each universal joint. This flushes abrasive contaminants from each bearing assembly and assures proper filling of all four bearings.

Note:
Make sure fresh grease is evident at all universal joint bearing seals.

2. If any of the seals fail to purge, try to push the trunnion away from the bearing cup while applying grease. On two side zerk fittings, try greasing from the opposite side of the fitting.

Note:
Due to sealing capability of the Spicer Life design, there may be one or more bearing assembly seals that will not purge.

3. If any bearing cup assemblies fail to purge, releasing seal tension may be necessary.



The service writer said that just isn't how it is done in the real world and his tech was positive my u-joints were greased and in good shape. I asked what it would cost to have the U-joints replaced and he said 3 hours labor ($450) plus $100 for each of the U-joints for a total of $650 and they would give me credit for the $145 I had paid for the earlier grease job.


I obviously wasn't too thrilled with this choice and told him the only thing that would make me happy was a refund of the money I paid this morning or better I would pay for the 2 U-joints along with the $145 I had paid this morning for a total of $345 and they replace my two U-joints. The response was



"The manager is gone for the day and I will be off until Monday so we will contact you on Monday to let you know what we decide."



The guy was very friendly, and I don't think they were trying to lie or cheat me more like simple ignorance; but what they are calling a lube job is pretty sad in my opinion and unacceptable for an actual Freightliner Dealership/Shop.


I will let you know how it ends up, does anyone think I am out of line and should simply accept what they say and replace the U-joints somewhere else or do you agree it is totally unacceptable and really kind of shocking.
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Old 12-02-2015, 07:29 PM   #2
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Never worried about grease coming out all four caps.

Maybe with a wheel off the ground and the brake off, you could turn the shaft to other positions.
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Old 12-02-2015, 07:35 PM   #3
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I wasn't able to turn the wheel or driveshaft, but I did drive it around the block and back up on the ramps and still the same cap wouldn't purge.

As a kid, I would grease my car and never worried about grease coming out of all 4 caps, but have been told many times since that u-joints needed to purge all 4 caps and once I looked it up, the manufacturer confirmed that it was correct to insure all 4 caps purged grease.

The Freightliner guys are pretty firm in they don't do it that way in the real world so I could be wrong.....
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Old 12-02-2015, 07:53 PM   #4
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I also have done my oil & diesel filters and chassis lube on coaches. Been using air/grease gun forever. I am not always (every time) able to get all universal caps to purge. Have marked mine with colored paint for ID. As long as its now the same ones, I don't worry about it. And yes sometimes you can not get on the zerks good. When ever I have the drive tires in the air I rotate DS by hand grease them all good. I use the leveling jacks and safety stands. Have had all four corners off the ground for months at time. For those owners here that tell you shouldn't do that have never worked on OTR trucks with air suspension. They just "think" its bad, with many other false assumptions as they have never had any experience actually doing what they're giving advise about.. But they sure as hell have an opinion on everything. I feel better now..Lol! Truck shoppes do it daily. The shocks are built to support the weight. If you are concerned that one or more may not be getting lubed. When stopped on road trip slide under and feel by touch if any are hotter then others.
Im afraid you got a $145 dollar experience lesson in life. Caulk it up to $$ well spent.
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Old 12-02-2015, 07:55 PM   #5
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JRPA,
It sounds like you are somewhat knowledgeable about maintenance.

After I got ~100k miles I started to wonder how long U-joints were good for. I would grease mine 2 times per year and had always been able to get the grease to purge.

I decided to invest in a couple spares just in case. I bought 2 for ~$110 including shipping. I stored them in a sealed container in one of the storage bays.

This last year I had a radiator replaced at the Cummins shop. It had to be towed so the driveshaft was out when it was delivered to their shop and they had to reinstall. After I got the rig back home I had a number of issues, one of them being that the technician did not put the drive shaft back in phase. I'm also a little miffed at how professionals can get by with putting out crappy work product.

I went ahead and pulled the rear U-joint to put it back in phase but I could not get one of the caps to budge and ended up breaking of the tabs that the bolts go through. I went ahead and installed a new U-joint and put everything back together. Took me about 1 hour due to the trouble getting the one cap off/out. Probably should have been a 20-30 minute job. This was the first time I've replaced a U-joint on one of my vehicles.

I am not ignorant Maybe you should go ahead and try replacing yourself or at minimum buy a couple as spares. Normally when a U-joint starts to go you will notice a vibration.
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Old 12-02-2015, 08:35 PM   #6
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Thanks for the comments, I plan to change the u-joints out myself if Freightliner decided they did me right, to be honest the $145 isn't worth a whole lot of my time or energy to recover. My biggest concern and main point of such a long post was to point out the deception. In a briefer version

1. The Spicer service manual says purge all 4 caps or replace u-joint. This may just be a cover your ass type statement they put in the service manual.

2. The Freightliner service writer know purging all 4 caps was the reason I was there and I was willing to pay to replace u-joint if all 4 caps wouldn't purge like the service manual states.

3. The Freightliner service writer stated to me twice that all 4 caps purged even though he knew they didn't simply because he didn't think I would check and I honestly think he felt they didn't need to all purge. Maybe he is right on this according to some, I simply don't know.

I would expect this from Camping World or some other type of secondary type shop but not from a chassis dealer.
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Old 12-02-2015, 08:55 PM   #7
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Think about how many miles OTR trucks put on U joints...Most RV's won't get in their whole life cycle what OTR tractor gets in one yr. Course sched maint. has to be carried out. jus sayin
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:09 PM   #8
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Seems you worried about a non issue Google maintenance on a spicer 1800 series u joint it will tell you lube at 50000 mile intervals. You basically have a truck chassis under your coach and I can guarantee you no truck gets lubed at 5000 miles
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:19 PM   #9
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I have ran trucks in severe conditions and hauling extreme loads. I have always greased my own and have never worried about all caps not purging.
I was told long ago and found through experience that when greasing a u joint that as soon as you hear the grease start to purge you stop there. Pumping excessive grease through the seals eventually wears the seals and the grease after warming will leave the joint faster. It makes sense to me that the seal is just that and should not be compromised. It has worked for me for 40 years.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:35 PM   #10
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Bob,

Here is what the Monaco Service manual says (this is for ALL MONACO MODEL YEARS)

Lubrication Maintenance

The drive shaft requires periodic lubrication maintenance. Lubricate the slip joint and universal joints every 5,000 miles or 6 months, whichever occurs first. Use Texaco Starplex 2 or equivalent NLGI #2 GC-LB Lithium soap base lubricant

I don't know which series of drive shaft/ujoint I have, but I did google the spicer 1800 series as you suggested and the Spicer Service Manual says the larger U-Joints should be greased at 100,000 miles or 6 months which ever comes first. (the smaller ones are 15,000 or 3 months)

I am going to go with the Monaco service manual and 5,000 miles or 6 months which ever comes first.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:39 PM   #11
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Water flows through the easiest channel.

Grease same thing.

Look at it this way...The caps that do not pass grease may have strong seals where the ones passing grease may not.

What you do not know is if there is enough grease present.

You instructed a "qualified service center" to grease the u joints with specific instructions to make sure grease comes out all 4 caps and you have the manufacturer data sheet indicating that the proper service is same.

Safe to assume the qualified servicer would or should know the requirements per the data sheet so when they accepted the work it should have been business as usual and really should have stated they were defective and suggested replacement.

But instead they claimed they did as instructed and charged for it.

But the dry caps indicate no work completed as they are dry and you paid for greased.

If they stated they tried and failed but pay for time worked fine but they stated all good.

Bring this to attention of manager/owner/ higher headquarters as your case may not be a major issue but some other case where some worker does not do the job correctly or completely could be a major safety risk.

After you get their attention you can request they replace the u joints with new ones and take photos or show you the work.

You will be happy to pay for all parts but no labor.

And discount on the parts would be a good jesture.

If they tell you to pound sand then file a case with the consumer affairs department in your state as you were charged for work not done.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:40 PM   #12
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Dennis
I have heard the same things, but I have also heard of several folks out in the middle of nowhere or maybe worse right in the middle of the highway that have lost a drive shaft.

Here is the statement right out of the MONACO Service Manual. (I posted the Spicer Service manual above which says the same thing)

Greasing the Drive Shaft Universal Joints:
1. Check the drive shaft for looseness. Repair if loose or worn.
2. Apply lubricant at the grease fitting(s) on the universal joint. Apply until new grease purges from all the seals.
3. If new grease does not purge at the seals, loosen the bearing cap bolts and re-grease until all four caps purge. If new grease still does not purge, disassemble and clean or replace the universal joint.
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:45 PM   #13
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Very interesting thread. Bought our coach in 2008. I grease the driveshaft every 5000 miles. To date I have not been able to purge grease through the u joint seals. I used to worry about it. I just keep greasing it. 145,000 miles and still no problems.

Jim
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Old 12-02-2015, 09:48 PM   #14
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Tony

You are right on track and that is exactly where we are at. I think they will most likely refund the $145 simply because of the facts you stated above and that is how our conversation went today, but we just have to wait for the the Manager to make his decision once the service writer returns.

Thanks for your input, I think Freightliner wants to do what is right and now we just have to decide what that is. The $145 isn't as big a issue to either of us as getting it right is.
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