Type of Grease in the Knuckles

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Mar 28, 2003
To All,

What is the difference between the moley grease or the red in color bearing grease ?????are they the same ??? and what are if the consequences if you applied red grease instead of the moley to the knuckles ????

Please advise and thanks for your help in advance.


Thanks for replying, I have the rig now it is running fine, belive it or not they had to do the job 2 additional times as each time the Diff. oil continued on mix with Moley grease in the knuckles.

I was told when I picked it up 2 days ago that they had to use the Red grease to repack the knuckles not the moley grease as they have done in the prior attempts. Do not know if that will harm anything on the long haul or not, and that's whay I asked the question above is it a bad thing or is it a good thing ????let me know.

Note: I have all the parts that they replaced on the rig except for the birfields as I asked for them after they disposed of them. :(

Let me know.

I don't think grease color is an indication of whether or not it is a moly grease.  Toyota calls for moly in the knuckle and regular high-speed wheel bearing grease in the wheel bearings.  I used Amsoil grease; the moly was a deep purple, the HD grease was a bright red. I have some HD Valvoline grease that is black and I have seen pics of a Valvoline moly that was blue-green in color.

It is strange that your Toyota mechanic said they couldn't use the moly since that is Toyota specs.

I'm not sure what I would do in your shoes. I would have to think long and hard before I asked them to go in again and use the correct grease (assuming they didn't this last time...)  Then again, the job should be done right and it's their responsibility to do the job right.  Tough decision.

If you don't get other responses that you feel comfortable with then let me know. A guy in our local cruiser club is a genuine expert and an engineer that specializes in lubrication systems. He will know for sure and I will be happy to ask for his opinion.


Thanks for your reply.

As far as to why the stealer did not use the proper grease (Dark Moley) this time around I do not know, my hunch and may be is because the last two attempts they had to go back in and and fix the seals were due to me bitchin about the dark greenish grey diff. oil as I was sampling it after 100 miles or so on the rig.

As the leak stoped but the contamintated diff. oil was the only reason I brought it back every time along with the rubber burning smell like from over under the right front fender (very frustrating).

So maybe and only maybe if they used a different type of grease so the contamination will very hard to detect as well as the burning smell (that's my thought). but I could be wrong. (note: I do not smell that smell any more)

This is why I am asking, and I will welcome your frineds decisions / thoughts / ideas on the lubrication issue.

But again, would I be able to detect if the diff. oil got contaminated this time around or not even if the type of grease had been changed ?????

They told me on the last visit that a left over contaminated oil was still in the axle housing and it took them 2 tries to flush it out by driving on each fill up for 50-60 miles then drain the diff. oil then fill it up again and so on.

Let me know

Al, checking after 100 miles for contamination might be a little early. There was another thread about this same thing and the general concensous was that it could be residue from the earlier failure and to drain and fill the diff oil again to try to guage if it has lessened or still leaking. I'm not a big fan of dealers, but I got to beleive after getting evryone involved as you did it should be right.
Be careful that you don't go as far as to earn "Lunatic Status" with them as that will work against you and the more you complain the more you support that status.

>> ... would I be able to detect if the diff. oil got <<
>> contaminated this time around or not even if the<<
>> type of grease had been changed <<

When grease mixes with oil it will liquify the grease and discolor the oil. Some mixing is not a bad thing and is going to happen. What you are trying to avoid is a failure of the inner axle oil seal such that the diff fluid (over time) "washes" out all of the knuckle grease and then you're left with no lubrication in the knuckle. This happens gradually and over thousands of miles. During this time, you will see leaking at the back of the knuckle as those seals are designed to keep heavier grease in and will leak if the mixture is liquid. In a worst case situation, all the liquified grease leaks out, the diff fluid level gets low enough to stop getting past the seal, the knuckle starts rusting up and busting up.

I'll ask my friend about non-moly in the knuckle.

Landtank is spot on.

  Be careful not to become "Chicken little" I have seen some guys pack the knuckles with red. I think it's more important to have the correct ammount of lube in a properly sealed housing than the type of lubricant used. Remember that during assembly it is very possible to get grease into the center part of the housing when the grease coated shafts are inserted. I would hope that some grease was left on the shafts to keep from tearing up the seals upon insertion. In normal operation the latent grease would get washed off and end up in the gear oil. An oil change after a few hundred miles would confirm this.


I have had the same experience (moly grease mixing with diff oil after repack) I first thought there was a problem when I checked the diff oil level and oil started coming out the hole - I know I filled it level with the filler hole, so some oil had to have made its way in from somewhere. I'm interested to know - did you have an over filled diff when you checked your oil level?

Cheers, Jim

Sorry, one other thing... Did Toyota mention whether any of the diff oil had made its way into the birfield or was it only moly going to the diff? One way or two way traffic?

Cheers :beer:
Rick, B, Dan & Jim,

Thanks guys for your input and direction.

At this junction I will follow with your recommendations, they said that they have drained the diff. fluid twice before they handed the rig back to me, I have 200+ miles on the ODO so far and I do not see any leaks or detect any rubber burning smell like.

I will sample the oil again once I hit the 1000 mile mark and see what it looks like, if it is conatminated then I will replace it and run on the new oil for 1000 or so add'l miles to see if that will contaminate again, at that time I will seek your advise.

As far as complaining, only Lexus HQ has me on file for my bitchin if you got my drift, lexus assured me if it happens again this time around to cotact them and possibly be pointed to another stealer.

Rick, I was never fan of dealers in my whole life, the only reason I went to them because my mechanic is out business due to injury and when I asked around no body wanted to touch the rig, as it is not a common vehicle for mechanics, so I visited the lousey delaer in Watertown, MA, if you know any body in the area that you would trust on your vehicle I would welcome that conatct, as I am planning on keeping the rig for a very long time.

B, Please let me know what you find out about the lubrication matter, as if it will harm the kunckles I will go in in 15K miles down the road and see if I can repack them again.

Jim, Yes it was over filled last time, as when I opened the filler hole the oil started to come out, keep in mind it was jacked up slightly from the front and it still seeped (a sign of overfill), so I proceeded to drain from the flush hole to have a better sample for coloring purpose.

Dan, All I can say that I have maintained a tremendous level of patience throughout the whole ordeal, every time I came back with the rig to them I was correct, they responded with one word (will get it done right), but I can assure you that my Customer Service Rep. had tried in a direct and indirect manner to sell me on the idea to tarde in for the new GX470 or the LX470, even his boss very casually said that my truck has 88K on it and it will continue to give me problems (little that he knows).
But if I have my way again I would have searched for a reputable mechanic through you guys in the area even out of state to get the job done right as the extended warrenty works for all shops.

Thank you all for your great support.

Rick, Is the basement done yet ??? I doubt that it is, but if it is, then let's set up a time prior to next winter to get the diff. breathers done and again drinks and lunch is on me.


On the first and second time around it was both ways due to grooving in the axle shaft and the failure of the inner seals (I have those parts in my poession) and the grooves are very visible.

on the third time around they confirmed that it was left over conatminated oil with grease only from the prior attempts so nothing was done except draining and refilling twice within 100 miles of each other to clean the inside of the housing. and finally re-packing the knuckles with the red grease.

Hope this helps.

Rick, B, Dan & Jim,

Jim, Yes it was over filled last time, as when I opened the filler hole the oil started to come out, keep in mind it was jacked up slightly from the front and it still seeped (a sign of overfill), so I proceeded to drain from the flush hole to have a better sample for coloring purpose.

So the last time you checked it was over filled? Where has the extra oil come from?

Sorry to bang on about this, but I'm facing the same problem. I'd like to think the contaminated grease in my diff is a reside from before I changed my oil seal. But, the extra oil is causing me concern - it had to come from somewhere.

If I understand you right, the last time you check the diff oil (3rd time) the diff was over filled? It crossed my mind that I should have drained the diff for more time to allow any oil in the axle to drain down. This may be the reason for what we are experiencing. Any thoughts?

Speaking of types of greases to use, is there a detrimental effect of using moly grease in the wheel bearings/d-shafts? I've been using Valvoline synthetic grease w/ moly, and it says on the package that it's great for wheel bearings. I was just wondering if there was some reason why Toyota would have spec'd the d-shafts w/ MP non-moly (on my runner, the u-joints are spec'd to use MP grease, only the front d-shaft's double cardan joint is spec'd w/ moly). I've been using moly grease in everything...so far, so good. :) I plan to get a second grease gun and run both MP and moly Amsoil next time. Just hope the u-joints/wheel bearings don't prematurely fail because I've been using moly grease on them! Guess it's still better than not greasing at all! (prev. owner never repacked the front wheel bearings in 100K mi [OTOH, the vehicle never saw dirt/water, either]). Bearings/races looked good last time I did them at 125K mi.
Jim P.,

You got me, I have no idea where the excess oil is coming from, the front diif. spec calls for 2.2 quarts if I am not mistaken, they could have added more oil than it is recomended and therefore this explaines the over fill, but in your case I would reffre to B, Rick or Dan for input on this one, could some other parts / angles of the front axle housing can hold dirty oil after darining it ???????

Guys please your thoughts........

Jim C.

At least you are doing what C-Dan had recomended althought he said that he had seen the repack is being done with Red grease, I guess any grease at this point is better than nothing.


Here is the response from my friend. I am reluctant to advise you to take it back to the dealer for the same reasons mentioned by cruiserdan and others. I know this reply doesn't help because you are getting conflicting advice from Dave.

Sorry. :tear:


======== snip ===========
That's a tough one.  Given the vehicle's history with Birfield problems, if it were mine I'd probably be inclined to have them go in and replace the grease.

Moly grease has moly disulfide (which is a dark grey powder) added to the basic grease.  Moly dilsulfide is an extreme-pressure lubricant, and helps prevent metal-to-metal contact under extreme loads, particularly sliding load conditions that can occur in a Birf when the front axle is steered while the axles are transmitting a heavy drive load.  Red grease is typically a sodium-based grease (basically it's oil mixed with a sodium-based soap to give it stiffness), which does not give as much protection for extreme loads and particularly for sliding loads.

The red grease will hold up and will probably not damage the birfs, but for my money I think I'd put my faith in the Toyota
engineers who decided that the birfs need the extra protection of moly grease.


> Hi Dave!
> I have a virtual friend on another list that needs some lubrication
> advice.
> Background:
> He has an 80 series (FT 4WD) that had clicking birfields. The list
> advised him to get it serviced under his extended warranty by a local
> dealer. They serviced the axle and replaced both birfields. Following
> the work, he reported to the list that the diff fluid was mixing with
> grease (discolored diff fluid) and that the knuckles were leaking.
> The list couldn't determine from this guy if the dealer had replaced
> the inner axle seals and we suggested that the job had been
> incomplete or botched. He took it back in and the dealer inspected
> the axles and determined there was excessive wear where the inner
> axle seals touch the axle. This wear was confirmed by his extended
> warranty company and they approved the 2nd repair, replacing both
> axles and the inner axle seals.
> When he picked up the vehicle he was told they had not used "dark
> moly" grease.  His question to the group was whether or not to have
> them go in a 3rd time to use Toyota spec moly grease in the knuckle.
> He said they used "red" grease.
> Do you have a recommendation?
============= snip ==================

Thank you very much for your feed back and thaks to your friend Dave for his as well.

O' Boy, this is really a tough one, I am going to think this through, although what Dave have said in his reply back to you earlier today makes a lot of sense I just do not want to be viewed as the chicken little or the lunatic status as Rick & Dan mentioned above.

My questions is what if I have to wait to put on the rig 5K-6K miles then have it repacked then, also from memory I belive I can apply Moley grease through the small opening on each knuckle all the way up to 3/4 of the knucle capacity(recommended) ???????

The reason I want to wait is to make sure that seepage / mix is not taking place between the oil and the grease, if that is the case then I am covered under the 12K mile dealer warrenty on parts in case if they get damaged and since I have lexus HQ behind me I will end up haveing them cover the rest of the labor cost if the extra warrenty refuses to cover.

I am open for your feed back guys let me know....... What would you do if you were in my pair of shoes ?????



>> I am open for your feed back guys let me know....... <<
>> What would you do if you were in my pair of shoes <<

I would send that worn out old Lexus with over 80k miles to Beowulf@PayPal.com and buy yourself a new LX470. :G


You are sounding more like the service guys @ the lexus dealer, if they can't get the mechanical issues fixed right, they advise you to buy a new one.

I appreciate the advise but no thanks I am stuck with the 80 version and have no desire to go to the 100 series version at least for the next 5-6 years.


Belive it or not I will be starting the basement project on my house sometime next year, I will be seeking some advsie from you on that. I will look forward to our future get together and getting the Diff Breathers done once you are all settled with your project.



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