Cost to replace zerks

The zerks (aka grease fittings) in my car (2002 Subaru Legacy L wagon) are not plugs but actual zerks with the ball bearing to allow injection
of lube. Standard zerks won't fit: Subaru used some fine threaded or over-sized zerk (I forgot what the tech told me about the oddball size).
The zerks should be cheap (note that I said "should" since Subaru will overprice the part). I'm wonder what a car shop should be charging to replace the zerks and do a balljoint lube job. Neglecting the cost of the zerks, what should a grease jockey get paid to use a grease gun?
Yes, Subaru might claim the ball joints are lifetime parts. All that means they last until they fail; i.e., you replace them when they fail because, gee, that's their lifetime. There are zerks, so the assumption is that the ball joints are lube-able. Why wait until the ball joints fail if they can be lubed to prolong their lifespan? Newer cars don't have grease fittings but mine is a 2002 - and there ARE zerks.
The price the car shop quoted ($178) seems way too high, so I'm asking here what the labor should cost to replace the zerks (screw out the rusted ones and screw in new ones) and what a lube job should cost to inject new lube into the ball joints? I'm not sure if their quote includes the tie-rod ends (but then I only noticed the zerks for the ball joints when the muffler shop had the car hoisted). Replacing all the zerks should take all of about 10 minutes (for them on a hoist versus me under the car on jacks) and another 10 minutes to squeeze in some lube with a grease gun. For less than half an hour's work, their quote seems high. Don't they just pop off the wheels to get at the zerks while the car is hoisted? Maybe Subaru is charging them (and then me) an arm and leg for the zerks.
Besides seeing how rusted were the zerks (the muffler shop guy pointed them out to me noting they had never been used and they looked like it), I hear a bit of squeak when cranking the wheels to turn while backing out of the car port at home. I replaced the fan belts (which were old and cracked) just it case they were slipping but the squeaks didn't go away.
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On 7/28/2018 2:28 AM, VanguardLH wrote:

I haven't checked into this lately, but it used to be that there were both metric and non-metric ("sae"?) zerks. They looked very much alike: I think they were probably 5/16 inch and 8 mm threads, with fine (1 mm) threads on the 8mm version, 24 tpi on the non-metric. That was definitely the case years ago when I was assembling a 1960 Alfa Veloce Spider I had bought in pieces. At that time, when metric parts on cars were much less common in the US, some mechanics would use "metric-ness" as an excuse to charge more. I also have a 2002 Suby, an Outback, but I have never looked at a zerk on it and don't know for sure it has any! But if you can get your hands on one of the zerks, try a metric thread gauge on it.
But one comment on the mechanic's side: If they are really all that rusted, they may well break when you try to unscrew them. They get rusted in place, but also the rust will have weakened the zerk. And they are pretty weak to begin with, due to the hole down the middle. If one does break off you are in for a battle drilling out the broken off part and hoping you can rethread the hole or else tapping a larger hole and screwing in one of the thread repairing bushings. Bob Wilson
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There is a pretty good Subaru ball joint replacement video at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQeMiMlPe94
. As the filmmaker shows, you don't need a lift to replace the ball joints. It looks like a relatively simple task. The ball joints may be found for $25 each. If you need a ball joint seperator tool Harbor Fright has them for $10.
People have different opinions about Zerk fittings --- or the lack thereof -- on newer cars but all I can say is that I have over 500,000 miles of driving experience and have had two powerline components fail, both on American trucks with Zerk fittings, and no failures with permanently-sealed "lifetime lubricated" parts.
On 2018-08-06 01:06:29 +0000, Bob Wilson said:

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Ben Jammin wrote:

One car shop has loaner tools, including the ball joint seperator (pickle pry bar).
Wow, that "looks" pretty easy. Don't have a floor jack or stands anymore: got too old to be crawling around underneath the car even with a creeper for the oil changes. However, this job doesn't have me under the car ... well, maybe, depending on hard is the disassembly.
In my area from the local car parts stores, each ball joint is $55; however, that includes ball joint, pinch bolt & lockwasher, castle nut, and cotter pin. Another place had just the ball joint for $40 but I'd have to also find and buy the other parts.
That guys car had little rust, so the ball joint only took some wiggling to get out and in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV_vRNOQti0

That guy had more problems and noted watching the end of the pinch bolt to make sure it is turning to prevent torquing off the head. When the guy gets to his air-powered impact wrench (and actually a little earlier), you can see the rust flake off as he works. The video you linked to has the guy working on a nearly rust-free car. I live in an area where they salt the roads during the winter. I'm definitely not spending money on the "Big Nasty" tool to separate the ball joint from arm. In your video, the guy just pushed in a new ball joint. In my video, the guy has to clean out all the rust in the groove before putting in a new ball joint. I doubt my car is as clean as in the video to which you linked.
From the video to which I linked, sure the parts and assembly are easy but disassembly (to remove the old ball joint) and preparation (for the new ball joint) may be very difficult. Since the front & rear pads and rotors need replacing, I'll probably just have the shop do the front ball joints at the same time since the car has 83K on it now.
I just had the shop replacing the lug nuts that I bought. I had figured to put them on myself but figured, what the hey, the shop is doing the zerks and lube so let them do the lug nuts. The original lug nuts were still on the car and all rusty. The shop had to run a tap on the bolts to remove the rust so the new nuts would go on. I watched as he worked on it a lot longer than I expected. He said he would've normally charged about $100 for all the extra work but didn't charge me (he knows I'll be back for lots more repairs). What was supposed to be a simple job of just unzipping the old nuts with an impact wrench and zipping on the new ones was a LOT more work. I suspect the same will be true for the ball joints replace.
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Only 83K miles on a 2002? You don't get out much, do you? (I'm just kidding: My 2005 WRX has only 68K miles.)
I have an aerosol can of Permatex Penetrating Oil that has been in my garage since the 1970's and gets occasional use and I recently heard good things about Blaster PB penetrating lubricant so I got a can of that as well. I've been refurbishing Japanese motorcycles of the early 1980's; a lot of fasteners are corroded because old bikes weren't always covered or garaged.
It can take some time -- and perhaps a couple of applications -- for the penetrating oil to work its way into a fastener. Sure, I'd love to have an impact wrench but I'm an amateur shade-tree mechanic. I also have sets of metric and SAE thread chasers for nasty threads and often use a non-galling compound to protect threads on re-assemply.
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Ben Jammin wrote:

The '94 Legacy was used the most as it was the only commuter car up to 2002. Got an '02 Legacy which became the primary commuter, so the '94 sat around and used for the dirty deeds (hauling to the waste center, carry lumbar, lug the mower to shop, etc). Got an '05 Legacy which got used the least. Then up to 3 Subies (well, the '94 was really used like a junker by then). The '94 got too expensive to repair, so scrapped it in 2016 (24 years of service), so down to 2 Subies. Last February the '05 got totalled leaving us with just one '02 Subie. In a couple months, we got a 2018 Outback (Legacys haven't been available in the US since 2009), so now back up to 2 Subies.
The '02 was bought used (in 2007) with 63K already on it (and why I paid to have it thoroughly inspected before buying). In the 11 years that I've had it, only 20K has been added. I don't remember what the '05 had for mileage when it got totalled last February. I had just put new tires on the '05 but the insurance let me grab them with the mag wheels to use on the '02. Insurance only needed the vehicle be rollable (it's current state), so I found 3 spare tires for ~$30 at a salvage yard (the 4th was the one that came with the '05). Nice upgrade (new tires + mag wheels) to the '02 but at the loss of the '05.
Peculiarly, or fortunately, I had already been saving up for a new car, so I paid cash for the 2018 Outback. I remember the salesman handing me some paper to allow them to do a credit check. I refused and said no credit check was necessary. He said it was required. I was paying cash, not getting a loan. His manager figured it out.

My buddy likes DeWalt cordless tools. Well, he builds houses and his son works on cars as a mechanic. His DeWalt cordless impact wrench came in handy when we went to the salvage yard to snag the new tires and mag wheels off the totalled '05 Subie to replace with spare tires. I'm not into their level of tool use (or abuse), so Ryobi cordless tools are okay with me. They have an impact wrench for $119 (lot cheaper than the DeWalt at $199). That's the tool-only as I've got plenty of the Ryobi One+ 18V Lion batteries, including the 4X units that I rarely drain for a job.
While I'm eyeing a new cordless impact wrench, two things deter me: I will rarely use it and the cost of impact sockets is expensive. A 1/2" drive 64-piece impact socket set costs $200. Yes, I could get smaller sets that covered just what I needed at the time; however, I hate having to buy piecemeal the tools parts needed for later jobs.

I have SAE and metric tapping kits but not "chasers" per se. A thread chaser just seems to be a screw with slots cut into it but you can make your own (
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfPm1W89TO0
). That's what I've done with a Dremel and a cutting wheel (which was cleaner and a lot easier than me trying to use a hacksaw blade on the screw). Sure wish those discs weren't so fragile, though. They cut great but any flex and, whing, there goes a chunk and you have to install a new cutting wheel. For exposed bolts, I just use a die. If the bolt is too damaged to use a die to recondition its threads, time for a new bolt.
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So similar. I'm on Subaru #5 (1988, 1990, 1995, 1997, and 2005) and my wife's 2007 makes #6 in the household. Ran two of my earler Subaru's up over 200K miles with no major repairs.
I agree about Ryobi tools of which I have a few. I've also come to respect Harbor Freight tools which are not professional-grade but fine for a shade-tree mechanic like myself. Cordless tools rock!
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Ben Jammin wrote:

I've had a Ryobi 1-gallon sprayer go bad. Their 3-year warranty rocks. Home Depot seem to be pretty good for customer service.
I find the Pittsburgh brand at Harbor Freight to be pretty good. All hand tools have a lifetime warranty (hopefully you don't need to keep a sales receipt). For stuff like air compressors, eh, about the same quality as the Tools Shop brand at Menards which has a 1-year warranty versus just 3 months at Harbor Freight. That's pretty short warranty for an air compressor (and other power tools), especially if you're stocking up or replenishing rather than for immediate use. Some table saws have a 3-month and some have a 1-year warranty, so you have to check before buying.
At Menards and Home Depot, you can check online their inventory. I've not used Menard's We-Pull service yet where they get the items together instead of you wandering around their store to double your shopping time. Home Depot's app shows where is an item and they have in-store wifi where Menards doesn't (cell phones don't work inside metal-roofed buildings). At Harbor Freight, no checking inventory online. Many times I've come in and their store was out of stock or it was a limited stock sales item used as a lure.
For Harbor Freight, I go there when I happen to be in the area, not to specifically make a run to their store. As it happens, Menards, Home Depot, and Harbor Freight happen to be close enough to each other and to where I live that I can combine the trips; however, stopping at Harbor Freight is more of "Gee, what might I find today" versus the others where I have a shopping list.
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VanguardLH wrote:

Update:
Turns out only the rear had zerks. None in the front. They couldn't drill and tap the fronts because the drill tip would hit the ball joint; however, if and when those joints get replaced then they'll drill and tap to add zerks up front.
So, only the rear zerks got replaced and those joints lubed. Job cost was around $50. The shop keeps sending me discount cards, so I used one for $25 off and the job cost only $25. I could've used their $50 card but I don't like them feeling they're working for free.
They said the rears were getting rusty and really needed lube. This is a '02 Legacy that had 63K when I picked it up in '04 (and paid something like $150 for a full inspection) and now it has 83K: just 20K in 23+ years on that car. Now they're greased which is still cheaper than replacement due to neglecting the lube. If the fronts go out and get replaced, the cost to drill and tap to add zerks to the fronts was so small that I don't remember it (the cost was trivial).
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