How and Where To Use Lithium Grease on Your Car
Keep white lithium grease on hand for a variety of uses.
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Greases and oils are inextricably linked to the human experience. Oil literally seeps from little holes in our skin. We put it in our hair. We use it to cook our foods. And most importantly, we use it to keep our automobile functioning correctly.
Decades ago, there were a few basic greases and oils used on cars, but today there are dozens of products designed for different specific tasks. Silicone grease, dielectric grease, WD-40, and penetrating oil are a few of the most commonly seen options, as well as the subject of today’s discussion: lithium grease.
Lithium grease, specifically white lithium grease, is widely used in garages, but for beginners it’s not super clear how and for what. Everybody who works on their cars should understand the differences between these greases, so we’ve laid out a guide as to what exactly lithium grease is.
What Is White Lithium Grease?
Lithium grease is a popular medium-to-heavy-duty multi-purpose grease that is often used to lubricate metal-on-metal surfaces around the home and for automotive applications.
What Is in White Lithium Grease?
Each brand might have a slightly different formula for its grease, which is why you should always read the instructions as to how it can be applied, just as you would with an automobile owner’s manual. In general, you’ll find a base oil, a thickener, and additives. Lithium is the thickener. In general, grease is a medium that holds lubricating oil.
To get specific, Liquid Wrench’s white lithium grease ingredient list, with the CAS number in parentheses, includes petroleum distillates (8052-41-3/64742-47-8/64742-96-7), 2-(2-Butoxyethoxy) Ethanol (112-34-5), PTFE/BN Colloid (9002-84-0/10043-11-5), proprietary lithium grease, and carbon dioxide (124-38-9).
What Is an NLGI Number?
NGLI stands for National Lubricating Grease Institute, and it has a scale to rate and certify greases. According to the NLGI, the scale is for, “classifying the consistency of lubricating greases, based on the ASTM D217 worked penetration at 25Â°C (77Â°F).” NLGI Grades are in order of increasing consistency (hardness) as follows:
[Consistency number: Worked penetration range]
000 : 445-475 (very fluid)
00: 400-430 (semi-fluid)
0: 355-385 (fluid)
1: 310-340 (soft)
2: 265-295 (medium)
3: 220-250 (medium-hard)
4: 175-205 (hard)
5: 130-160 (very hard)
6: 85-115 (block)
What Is Lithium Grease’s NLGI Number?
Lithium grease will typically be rated NLGI 2, but always check the information to learn its capabilities and limitations, the product you have might be different.
What Is the Difference Between Regular Grease and Lithium Grease?
Although lithium grease can be a multi-purpose product, it is designed to operate under specific performance loads, temperature ranges, and environmental conditions for which certain types of regular grease could not be used. This is due to the differing ingredient makeups of the greases.
Advantages of White Lithium Grease
Lithium grease is common due to its numerous advantageous properties. These include:
- Water resistance
- Corrosion resistance
- Viscous and lightly sticky, so it stays in place
- Works in wide range of temperatures
Where Can I Use Lithium Grease On My Car?
Lithium grease can be applied in numerous areas on your car. It can be used for:
- Chassis lubrication
- Trunk and hood latches
What About Wheel Bearings?
Not every lithium grease is capable of handling bearing lubrication, so it’s best to get a heavy-duty high-pressure grease designed for the job. The NLGI also makes this easy to find. Look for the certification tag, “NLGI GC-LB.” The GC means it is certified for disc brake wheel bearings. The LB means it is certified for chassis lubrication. The NLGI has a list of certified products on its website.
Applying Lithium Grease
Now that you know what it is, let’s dig into how to use it.
The Safety Brief
Use this equipment to prevent mishaps and keep you safe.
The Tools and Parts You Need
- Lithium grease, tube or spray
- Applicator brush or Q-Tip, if necessary
- Paper towels to clean up excess grease
- All-purpose cleaner and/or degreaser
- Cleaning brush
- Microfiber towels
How To Apply Lithium Grease To a Car Door Hinge
This is a simple task that shouldn't take much time at all.
With a Spray Can
- Open the door.
- Clean the door jamb and hinge.
- Attach the small applicator hose to the spray can.
- Spray the hinge with grease. Be sure to spray away from the interior of the car.
- Wipe away any overspray or messes.
With a Tube
- Open the door.
- Clean the door jamb and hinge.
- Using your finger or an applicator brush, apply the grease to the hinge. Don’t glob it on there, but make sure you cover it completely.
- Wipe away any overspray or messy application.
Here's a Video Tutorial About Greases and Lubricants
The video below has some great information about lubricants, but we do not recommend putting anti-seize on spark plugs as he does in this clip.
Q. Is WD-40 Lithium Grease?
A. No, WD-40 Multi-Use Product and lithium grease are two different things. The company actually will not release the information of what’s in WD-40’s “secret ingredient list.” However, the brand WD-40 does make its own WD-40 lithium grease.
Q. Does white lithium grease damage plastic or rubber?
A: You should never use grease on rubber, because the petroleum will eventually degrade the rubber and destroy it. This applies to plastic, as well, though it might take much longer to break down. If you’re unsure if your product is safe to use on the plastic, read the instructions and precautions.
Q. When shouldn't you use white lithium grease?
A. Don’t spray lithium grease on electrical wires or connections. Use dielectric grease instead. You also should not use it for heavy-duty applications that require grease rated for high pressure. Again, read the instructions on the product you have.
This article originally published on Car Bibles.