There's no excuse for sloppy steering. Sure, there are many reasons you may not be able to control your vehicle - your ball joints are loose, the steering gear box might be falling apart, or you could have a problem with your shocks or struts. If you have checked or replaced all of these components and are still having trouble, then you may want to look one more place: your pitman arm. It is really easy to tell when the pitman arm needs to be replaced, because you can see it interact with the center link every time the steering wheel is turned. Tight responsive steering is very easy to detect; as your output shaft from the steering box turns, so should your pitman arm. The center link will then follow in a smooth motion. If the arm is bad, then you'll usually see some play or clumsiness in the operation. This will cause a delay between the driver's steering motion and the motion of the center link. Your reaction time is critical in avoiding accidents, so leave nothing to chance.
Ever since the first cars were made, a way to control their direction from the driver's seat was absolutely imperative. In order to translate this motion from the steering wheel to both front wheels, a series of links was required to connect all the parts. The steering knuckles at each wheel are connected to the center link by two tie rods. That center link pivots left and right at its connection to the idler arm, and it receives its input from the pitman arm
. It is connected to the bottom of the steering gear box or steering shaft, and moves left and right as the steering wheel turns. On some power steering systems that use a rack and pinion, the pitman arm is no longer needed. However on older vehicles or those cars and trucks made today that are not equipped with a rack and pinion, a properly functioning pitman arm is key to responsive and reliable steering.
Changing your pitman arm is not a terribly complicated procedure. You only need a few special tools, some patience, and a little bit of brute force. Here's how it's done:
- First, lift your car and put it on jack stands. You will be performing most of this work on your back under the front of your vehicle.
- Next, locate your pitman arm and get your ratchet and appropriately sized sockets. Loosen and remove the nut connecting the pitman arm to the gearbox output shaft. Then use a special puller tool to remove it from the spline shaft.
- Now, pull the cotter pin from the nut below the center link and remove the castle nut. Then, using a different special puller, remove the tapered shaft from the center link.
- Once it is pulled and pried loose, you will have to muscle the pitman arm out of its location. When you've got it free, you are able to install your new one. Simply follow the steps in reverse, and you're done.
Restoring your car or truck's steering linkage is serious business, and choosing the best part for the job is an important decision. At Car Parts Discount, we carry top quality replacement pitman arms from name brand manufacturers like Moog, Raybestos, TRW, and more. Our steering components are all made to meet or exceed original equipment standards, and are priced so low you almost can't believe it. Don't put off buying your new pitman arm any longer.