W108 – Lubricating the chassis

So when was the last time you heard about having to “lubricate the chassis and suspension“? Maybe when your (grand)father was giving you car maintenance advice? “Don’t forget to lube the chassis and snug up all the bolts…”

The W108 Benz has something like 30+ lubrication points, shown below. And they need attention every 3000 miles or less. No wonder “Free Service for 50,000 miles” became such a popular selling point.

In an older chassis, oils and grease are pumped in to keep wear, friction, corrosion and squeaks at bay. Some of them are quite important, like the king pin uprights (critical for steering tightness) and suspension arm mountings. Even the door hinges have special needle-oiler ports to inject lubricant in to the door hinge pins. Amazing. And I’m so glad I’m not paying someone’s hourly shop rate to do this particular work.

It is amazing how frequent and labor intensive the service intervals were (and continue to be) for this car, especially when compared to modern vehicles, and I’m not just talking about the “mobile appliance” type of vehicle. These days, car owners will go tens of thousands of miles without thinking of suspension bushings and other joints, and if one hears a thunk or clunk, it is likely just a shock needing replacement.

Who could imagine owning a car that needed to have 31 points lubricated, and several times a year at that? Oh, the joys of grease and oil.

Armed with a page from an old shop service manual, shown above, and a pneumatic grease gun, I started at the front (7 zerk fittings on each side, to start with) and pushed fresh grease in to the car’s joints and bushings, working my way aft. The grease gun’s flexible tip was really helpful in getting at all the zerk fittings. Most of them are accessible with the front wheels at full lock either way, but the short hose makes aligning the gun that much simpler. And the pneumatic assist? Priceless. No need for pumping a long lever in confined spaces.

Being careful not to push too much grease is key, as grease traps dirt and debris, too, but it is important to get enough fresh grease in to keep water out of the joint or bushing, while lubricating it at the same time.