Understanding the Differences Between Automotive and Industrial Greases

Noria Corporation

"Our plant is searching for a new type of grease. Can you explain the differences between industrial and automotive greases in composition, features, performance requirements or in any other aspect?"

In short, there is really no difference between automotive and industrial greases. Grease selection will depend on the desired application and performance.

In regards to grease and its application, there are critical elements used in the formulation process that must be considered. These elements include the thickener type and concentration, lubricant type, viscosity and additive package. Greases are rated by the National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI) and range from 000 through 6. An NLGI 2 grade is typically the specification used in automotive greases.

One of the only differences between industrial and automotive greases is that a two-letter designation is often used in the automotive industry to specify the type of grease to employ. For example, greases may be rated as GC or LB. GC is recommended for axle and wheel bearing grease, while LB is the industry standard for chassis grease used on tie-rod ends, ball joints, U-joints and control-arm shafts.

Regardless of the application, greases should reduce friction and wear, protect against corrosion, seal bearings from water and contaminants, and resist leakage. While one of the main reasons for grease failure is selecting the wrong type of grease for the intended application, there may also be other causes, such as incompatibility resulting in excessive softening of the grease, contamination leading to excessive wear or applying too little or too much grease for the application.

For instance, in off-road equipment, the environment generally is harsh with a variety of factors to take into account including water, dirt, poor seals and heavy loads. In this type of situation, grease selection is key. You will need a grease with good rust protection, film strength and water resistance.

Bearings normally see less contamination but often experience wide variations of speed and temperature. In this case, you should choose a grease with excellent oxidation stability, exceptional mechanical stability and good performance over a wide temperature range.

In summary, the constituents of industrial and automotive greases may be quite similar and should be treated as such. The point is that no matter the application in which grease is used, it is critical to know how to properly select a grease while keeping in mind all of the important parameters.

Subscribe to Machinery Lubrication