Pitman arm replacement - Chevy Impala SS Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 11:30 AM
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I am told my pitman arm and idler arm is bad and need replaced. I need to know if the puller required is a special puller or if it is your tipical every day type of puller.
also any help to make it easier would be appreciated.
thank you.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 12:19 PM
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Idler : you can remove with a pickle-fork, might need a C-clamp to replace.

Pitman Arm : are you sure it is bad? It is VERY rare for them to go bad on our cars! MUCH more likely would be the pitman joint on the centerlink.....in which case, you need a new centerlink. Same tools to R&R the centerlink as for the idler.
post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-16-2004, 05:54 PM
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I'm with Ed here. I don't really see a Pitman arm going bad on our cars. I don't see it as a WEAR item... If I were you, I'd just replace the Idler arm, and the Centerlink.

There is a tool for pulling the Idler arm and Pitman arms. It's the same tool, and to me seems to do less damage to things compared to a pickle fork.. But just incase, I'd rent out BOTH at the local AutoZone... I had two pickle forks, and used the smaller one on the idler arm, and the larger one on the pitman arm. Along with a 4lb hammer... My only concern with using the pickle forks on the pitman arm, is hurting the bearings in the steering box.
post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-17-2004, 01:53 PM
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thanks for your help.
Here's the deal.
inspection mechanic said I need Pitman arm, Idler arm and r.f. Tie rod to pass inspection.
I questioned the pitman arm myself.
I never have had to replace one on any car???
My front tires wore badly on the insides edgesand my chevy tends to walk a little either way as we tool down the road.
I could use some input from those with more knowledge and experience.
what's probably causing this, bwst way to correct it and if this guy is (mechanic)just trying alittle to hard to get my pennies?
thank you.
post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-17-2004, 02:08 PM
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I would check the upper ball joints, how many miles are on this car and the ball joints that are currently in there. If it is alingened correctly ball joints and worn suspension parts are very likely your cause for the tire wear.

post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-17-2004, 02:29 PM
B-Body Builder
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Marvin, Why did you post this topic Twice in the suspension section?? I Replied to you this Morning on this subject. Anyways, Here's my Original reply: (Please go back and Delete The original post as I Had the only reply to you). Here's the Link: pitman arm replacement
My reply has been deleted and moved here.

Originally posted by B-Body Builder:
posted 03-17-2004 08:53 AM

I Assume the Kind of car were talking about here is a Caprice/Impala SS/9C1 (You didn't list it).
The Idler Arm is a Common problem with the B-Body's and should be Replaced with the Moog Problem Solver Idler Arm PN K6187T. I myself would replace both the L&R sets of Inner and outer tie rod ends at the same time(Unless the Drivers side are Fairly new). New Idler arm and Ties rod ends will also require you to get a Front end alignment after they are installed. Have your Ball joints checked Also before installing new parts, No sense in paying for a Front end Alignment TWICE If the ball joints are bad or close to it and will need to be replaced in the near future. The Pitman arm however I have to question? He didn't tell you to replace the Center link also did He? The reason I Ask is: Unless to hole where the Center link mounts to the Pitman arm is out of round somehow from wear, or the Steering gear box is History, My guess is he's just blowing smoke up your A$$ About this one. I Cant see Him Telling you to replace the Pitman arm without also telling you to replace the center link as well! Do a Search in the suspension section for "Moog idler arm, Ball joints, Tie rods ends or suspension" You'll get a ton of info on replacing and Upgrading these parts! Anyone else got any comments?
post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-17-2004, 02:37 PM
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Other than damage the only time I could see it needing a pitman arm is if he found the sector nut or center link nut loose.
Either one is grounds to condemn a pitman.

I would suggest you politely ask him to clarify his reason for telling you he wants it replaced.

Possibly he accidentally thought the joint was on the pitman or there is an actual problem with it.

If he becomes hard nosed and will not explain or refuses to admit he made a mistake.
Take it off, inspect the tapers and splines, paint it and put it back on.
I am willing to bet though, the center link joint is worn and he made an honest mistake.
Oh and if the center link is ok stay away from it with a pickle fork. They will destroy a good joint.
You will need a proper puller to remove the pitman from the sector as any end loading can easily hurt the box internally.
The pitman nut must be torqued, as it is tighter than you would expect. (179 pounds)
post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-17-2004, 08:26 PM
GM Tech
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Sorry this is going to be a long one!!

I think I can shed some light on this for you. The following should help you make an educated decision on the condition of your front suspension.

To do it yourself...
Jack the front end up and properly support the car. Situate yourself between and in front of the tires(facing engine crossmember) and push/pull both tires (inward and outward) at the same time and watch for any/all movement across the steering linkage. The center link pivot studs are facing up and bolt thru the end of the pitman and idler. If they are worn this is where you'll see it. Where the idler attaches to the frame bracket (at the 90 degree bend) you'll see the idler move up and down if there is excessive play. The same procedures apply to the tie rod ends as well.

Checking the ball joints are different procedure. This time jack up car and place jack stands under lower control arms as far toward the tire/lower ball joint as possible. This will remove the cars weight from the ball joints and allow for an accurate assessment. Use a large pry bar/ leverage tool and pry between lower c-arm and spindle being careful all the while not to puncture or compromise the boot. If it moves up or sie to side...Replace it!!
Now for the upper. Push and pull the top of the tire (being careful not to pull the car off the jackstand) If you see movement... Replace it! If you have to do one, it's not much more labor to do the other. Same thing applies to doing both sides as well. It'll save you another alignment charge later.
Also, take a minute to inspect the upper and lower control arm bushings. If they are cut or torn or the shaft is not thru the center of the bushing anymore(over the years and tons of stress the may tend to settle)... Replace 'em.


Now, have that mechanic raise it in the air and have him show you precisely where the play is. If you think he is being dishonest... Well, lets just hope its a simple oversight.
It'll save you a fortune in tires in the long run. Not to mention it'll have more predictable and reliable handling/braking characteristics.

As far as the alignment...
I like to run -.1 to -.2 degrees (thats negative point one to negative point two degrees) camber equal on both sides. This will give you good handling and very little tire wear. And roughly .3 to .5 degrees difference between sides in caster. With less on the left side. This should make up for road crown and make it track straight.

Once again, sorry it took so long. If you've made it thru this and still have questions let me know!

Btw stay away from those pickle forks. They are very bad about tearing rubber boots. Then the grease gets everywhere and on everything. Use the proper equipment and it'll be far less frustrating in the end.
post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-18-2004, 06:44 AM
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what would you sugget instead of a pickle fork?
will the alignment folks set those specs if i ask them to.?
you seem to have answered alot of what my baby does.
post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-18-2004, 06:47 AM
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my appologies.
I'm new to the site.
I did not see my new post so I did it again.
when I become more familiar with how things navigate here I'm sure I'll do better.
I hope I dididn't cause any problems or duplications to others.
I still appreciate the help.
thank you.
I have a
"95 SS, stock and well driven.
approching 170m miles.
gone tru many tires, 1 trany.
trying to get her back like new.
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