Greases are an essential part of keeping a truck operating and should not be overlooked when conducting preventive maintenance. Grease not only provides lubrication, but also keeps water and contaminants out of wheel bearings, slack adjusters, spring hangers, articulating joints on steering, the fifth wheel and more.

With advances in technology and truck design has come the need to review and update the current specification for greases. The current standards took effect in 1989 when the National Lubricating Grease Institute (NLGI) began licensing lubricating grease through their Certification Mark program which includes the well-known GC-LB Performance Classification. The GC-LB specifications have been in effect as ASTM D4950 which is the Standard Classification and Specification for Automotive Service Greases. Today, more than 300 total products are licensed by 85 different companies for GC-LB!

Although originally developed as an automotive chassis and wheel bearing specification for aftermarket service greases, GC-LB today is also recognized as a mark of quality for grease used on trucks of all classes as well as construction and agriculture equipment. A performance description for each is below:

  • GC certified greases must lubricate wheel bearings over a wide temperature range and the bearing temperatures may range down to -40°F (-40°C) and up to 320°F (160°C). During its service life, the grease shall resist oxidation, evaporation, and consistency degradation while protecting the bearings from corrosion and wear.
  • LB specification greases must lubricate chassis components and universal joints at temperatures as low as -40°F (-40°C) and at temperatures as high as 248°F (120°C). During its service life, the grease should resist oxidation and consistency degradation while protecting the heavily loaded chassis components and universal joints from corrosion and wear even when aqueous contamination can occur.

New High-Performance Multiuse (HPM) Grease Specifications

Due to advancements in materials, technologies, and applications, as well as several of the D4950 tests being obsolete, the NLGI saw a need to work with lubricant suppliers and vehicle and equipment manufacturers to upgrade the GC-LB specification. In July 2019, the decision was made to develop a new set of specifications with higher performance and broader utility to the industry. The new specifications which took effect this year are known as NLGI's High-Performance Multiuse (HPM) Grease Specifications. In addition, several sub-categories with separate tests and limits for enhanced performance were developed for greases that meet the core HPM specification. They include the following areas:

  • Enhanced Water Resistance (WR)
  • High Load Carrying Capacity (HL)
  • Low Temperature Performance (LT)
  • Saltwater Corrosion Resistance (CR)

In the trucking industry, the HPM specification and GC-LB specification will co-exist together with potential consolidation likely to happen in the future. ASTM D4950 was reapproved in 2019 and will remain valid until at least 2024.

A number of Shell Gadus greases which are suitable for centralized chassis lubrication systems and can also be used on a spring pivot, hanger pins suspension spring pins steering kingpins and fifth wheel turntables are expected to meet the new HPM specification with approval anticipated this summer. These greases include the following.

  • Shell Gadus S2 V220 is a mineral based grease that is designed to be a high-performance multipurpose grease that also meets the LB specification.
  • Shell Gadus S3 V220C is a best-in-class mineral-based grease made for fleet and industrial applications. The grease is also expected to meet the HPM CR, WR, and potentially, the HL specifications. The versatile grease also meets the current GC-LB specifications.
  • Shell Gadus S5 V220 is a premium synthetic grease that offers long service life and enhanced performance in extreme environmental temperatures. It is expected to meet the HPM CR and LT specifications.

Shell Rotella HD Grease, which meets the GC-LB specifications, is a premium multi-purpose grease for on and off-road vehicle applications with the versatility for industrial equipment use. It contains Shell's latest performance additives to provide excellent high temperature oxidation performance, corrosion resistance and extreme pressure and anti-wear protection. Shell Rotella HD Grease is especially suitable for bearings operating at high temperature and under load such as disc brake equipped wheel bearings.

When it comes to grease selection, Shell Lubricants has invested in the future of its Shell Gadus and Shell Rotella grease products to meet the demands. This is important as specifications evolve and performance expectations continue to increase for fleets and owner/operator drivers.