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How to Load a Grease Gun

Man loading a grease gun

A grease gun can help you keep your car's components properly lubricated.Proper vehicle maintenance goes beyond just changing oil and filters. Certain car, truck, and equipment parts need lubricant to function at their best. Suspension and steering components on cars and trucks usually have grease fittings. On heavy equipment anything that moves can usually be found with a grease fitting at the joint. Decades ago it was common to grease these components by hand or with an oil cup, but there is a much better way to keep things moving smoothly.  That’s where a grease gun comes in. This tool allows you to easily lubricate the parts that keep your car running smoothly and reliably.

To do its job, an automotive grease gun needs to be loaded with adequate amounts of lubricant. Wondering how to load a grease gun? Follow the steps listed below.

This task takes about 10 minutes. You’ll need the following items:

  • Rubber gloves
  • A rag
  • A new grease cartridge or bulk grease container
  • A grease gun

1. Get the Right Type of Grease

You have a lot of different choices when it comes to the type of grease used in your grease gun. The options range from general-purpose grease to grease designed specifically for high-temperature wheel bearings. Before loading grease into your grease gun, make sure you’re choosing the right type of grease for the task at hand. Typically grease is sold in cylinder cartridges, but large volume users like fleet vehicle owners can also opt to buy grease in bulk containers like 5-gallon pails or even drums.

2. Prepare for the Task

Loading a grease gun can be messy. Tackle the task in a clear space like a work bench. If there are items nearby, cover them to protect them from grease splatter. Put on gloves, and wear them throughout every step of loading the grease gun.

3. Unscrew the End Cap of the Grease Gun

Loosen the head of the grease gun and unscrew it completely. This will allow you to access the cartridge it contains.

4. Remove the Empty Cartridge and Reset the Spring

Next step is to remove the empty cartridge if it has one. The grease gun has a spring and plunger rod handle that allow this device to dispense grease. To retract the spring, pull the plunger rod handle. Then, twist it and lock it to set it in place. Once the plunger has been retracted it can then be used to push the empty cartridge tube from the grease gun. Pull back and twist the plunger to unlock it and allow it to slowly push the old spent cartridge from the grease gun body. Hold on to the plunger handle to act as a brake so it doesn’t eject the cartridge too quickly. Once the old cartridge is out you can once again pull the plunger rod handle and lock it in place.

5. Load the New Grease

Most people will want to know how to load a grease gun cartridge. The new grease cartridge has a plastic cap. Remove and discard it. You’ll see that the new cartridge isn’t completely full of grease. Insert the cartridge into the body of the grease gun, starting with the end that shows there’s some empty space in the cartridge. It may be necessary to twist the cartridge a bit to get it to fit properly.

For those loading a grease gun without a cartridge but from a bulk container the steps are slightly different. You will use the grease gun plunger to suction grease from the bulk container. Start by releasing the plunger rod slowly so it travels to the top of the grease cylinder. Place the open end of the grease cylinder into the bulk grease container. Firmly grasp the plunger rod and the grease cylinder, pulling back on the plunger rod to draw grease into the cylinder via suction. Lock the plunger rod in place again. You can then skip to step seven as there is no grease cartridge seal to remove.

6. Remove the Cartridge Seal

Next, remove the seal from the exposed end of the grease cartridge. Typically, this seal looks like an aluminum tab. To remove it, simply tear it off. If you’re using a smaller cartridge, the seal may be made of foil. Either way, make sure to completely remove the seal so that no small pieces remain.

7. Prepare the Grease Gun’s Body

Once you’ve loaded the cartridge or bulk grease, attach the grease gun’s body to its head. Screw the head onto the body, but don’t fully tighten it. Give the plunger rod handle a twist so the spring can be released, then push this handle all the way into the grease gun. This will help remove any trapped air that can prevent the grease gun from performing as it should. Now that the trapped air has been removed, you’re ready to fully tighten the grease gun’s body.

8. Prime the Gun

Priming the grease gun ensures that it’s ready to perform when you need it. To do so, pump the handle until grease begins to flow. Use the rag you have on hand to catch the grease.

Now you know how to load a grease gun, and you’ll be able to easily keep your car, truck, tractor, or any other equipment parts lubricated. Luckily grease gun designs have been pretty standardized for decades so it doesn’t matter if you have a Milwaukee grease gun, a DeWalt grease gun, or a Lincoln grease gun they almost all work the same. The process for how to load a mini grease gun is the same, just with a smaller amount of grease. It is also the mostly the same for an electric grease gun or cordless grease gun.

Check out all the lubrication equipment available on NAPAOnline or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on grease guns and how to find the best automotive grease gun for your needs, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.


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Warren Clarke View All

I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.

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