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Pitman Arm

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Pitman Arm

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What is a pitman arm and where is it located?

A pitman arm is a steering component in vehicles with parallelogram steering (i.e. those that use a center link). That is the steering system found most commonly in trucks and SUVs. A pitman arm assembly is not present in vehicles that use rack and pinion steering. The pitman arm works in concert with the idler arm to allow the center link to move and in turn move the tie rods and steer the wheels of the vehicle. The pitman arm is turned by the steering box and moves the center link left and right, while the idler arm keeps the center link tracking correctly on the other side and keeps it parallel to the road.

The pitman arm attaches to the steering gearbox, which turns with the steering shaft, and to the center link. The rotation of the steering gearbox turns the pitman arm, which moves the center link to the left or right. That pushes the tie rods, which turns the wheels. 

If the connection between the steering gearbox and the pitman arm, or between the pitman arm and the center link, becomes worn or loose, you may start to experience steering problems which could cause havoc on the roads. For your own safety and the safety of others, it’s best to replace steering parts sooner rather than later.

How do I know if my pitman arm needs to be replaced?

Pitman arms are built to be sturdy, but they spend a lot of time literally hanging out underneath your vehicle. There they can be exposed to dirt, road salt, and other rough conditions that can cause wear and tear, and connections to become loose. Some designs also have a joint in them similar to a ball joint or tie rod, and this can wear out from use or lack of grease. In addition, the hole in the pitman arm can get worn out or elongate from wear, abuse, etc.  If the pitman arm starts to wear, you may experience a loss of steering responsiveness, wandering steering, or shimmy in your front end. If your car or truck tries to change lanes every time you hit a pothole, then you may have a problem with your pitman arm. A worn pitman arm can also cause uneven tire wear.

One way to test your pitman arm assembly is to try to turn the steering wheel while the car or truck is parked. Inspecting for wear/damage is easier if you have someone in the vehicle rotating the wheel in different directions while you check to see if the arm is not moving at the same rate (or if its sloppy) at the gear box or center link. Also, if you can turn the steering wheel a significant amount without meeting resistance, this can be a sign of a bad pitman arm. Alternatively, you could raise the front end on to jack stands and try to move the wheels. If you can move the wheels any significant amount without the steering wheel moving, this can indicate a worn pitman arm. Of course, some of these problems described above can be caused by failures in other steering components, so it may be wise to check the condition of all steering parts if you are experiencing steering problems.

Can I replace a pitman arm myself?

Although it will take some time and effort, it is possible for you to replace your own pitman arm assembly. A specialty tool called a pitman arm puller will make this process a little easier.

To replace the pitman arm, you’ll have to raise the front end onto jack stands and remove the pitman arm from the steering gearbox using the pitman arm puller. This will cause the center link to drop.  Then, disconnect the old pitman arm from the center link. Since the idler arm and pitman arm are exposed to similar wear conditions, it’s usually a good idea to replace the pitman arm and idler arm together. Remove the pitman arm before removing the idler arm. Reverse this process to install the new one. Afterwards, you’ll want to have a professional alignment done.

Need a pitman arm replacement?

The pitman arm plays a major role in your car or truck’s steering system. A faulty pitman arm will compromise the control you will have over your car or truck and thusly it should be replaced immediately. Luckily, 1A Auto has a large selection of aftermarket pitman arms for many makes and models, and at great prices. Our replacement pitman arms are just what you need to ensure the safety and integrity of your vehicle's suspension and steering.

At 1A Auto, we make shopping for a replacement pitman arm for your car, truck, SUV or van easy - we're here to help you select the right part for your vehicle! Call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393 if you have any questions about our aftermarket pitman arms, warranty, compatibility or to purchase, or you can buy online.

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