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The rear drive wheels on my Toro 20340 are plastic with metal sleeve inserts. They ride on shoulder bolt axles.

Should the wheel/axle interface be lubricated and, if so, what is recommended?

Background:

I had some squeaking from the left rear wheel when moving the mower with the front wheels up. Removed the wheel and cover, and found the pinion gear (that drives the wheel) to be half way off the transmission drive shaft. A "C" clip retainer that should have been at the end of the axle to prevent the pinion gear from moving out beyond the end of the drive axle was missing and the gear was rubbing on the inside of the cover. It had also become seized on the axle in that position.

I managed to remove the pinion gear after soaking with penetrating oil, and have cleaned the mating surfaces. I'm planning to coat them with anti-seize and install new retainer clips (on both sides of the mower).

The wheel axles (the shoulder bolts -- not the same as the drive shaft for the pinion gear) and the sleeves in the wheels were dirty, with some corrosion/pitting on the surface. These too have been cleaned up, but it didn't look as if they were ever lubricated (unless what was there had dried up); the machine is in its 4th year of use and I've had it from new.

The shoulder bolts (wheel axles)are relatively inexpensive, but the wheels are not; almost $100 Cdn each up here! I'll be servicing the wheels/axles regularly from now on, but wonder if the axles should have any type of lubricant.

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