Intro: Sloppy Steering? Change the Pitman Arm!
Lately the truck has had some steering issues (having a lot of play). When the steering wheel turns more than a quarter inch before it engages the wheels is a good sign of worn parts, and should be looked at soon. However the typical mechanics cost for this simple and easy replacement can really take a chuck out of your wallet. Good news though; this is also as cheap as it is easy and can be done in about 30 minutes.
WARNING: This is a part of the vehicle that controls the steering, so remember to take care and follow the instructions, remember to inspect how your old part is positioned before starting. Finally (as always) performing your own vehicle maintenance is at your own risk.
Step 1: Tools Needed
While the cost of tools may seem intimidating, AutoZone like a lot of big name auto parts stores have a tool loaner program, where you can borrow a tool for a small deposit and when you return the tool you get your deposit back. Best part about AutoZone no fees for the tools!
Tools you'll need:
Pitman Arm Puller
1 5/16 socket (you can also use a 36mm socket which is also available for loan at AutoZone)
Various standard size sockets (depending on your vehicle you may have to use metric sizes)
Needle nose pliers (a good multi-tool will work good too)
Hammer (best to use a mallet for more weight)
Grease gun and grease (not pictured)
Also this rental "Pitman Arm Puller" would not allow a socket to tighten the lug so it might be a good idea to have a set of wrenches handy.
Parts you should have ready:
Pitman Arm (Make sure it has all the required replacement parts i.e. "Castle Nut", "Cotter Pin", and "Grease Fitting"
Step 2: Removal
First locate the Pitman arm, follow the steering shaft to the gearbox, then underneath the gearbox you'll find the pitman arm.
Next using the breaker bar and 1 5/16 socket, loosen the large nut with the lock washer, and remove the nut and washer.
Then place the pitman arm as shown in the pictures over the ridges of the arm and begin tightening the lug. The lug should get tight, to aid the removal tap your hammer on the outer ring of the arm lightly while tightening down on the lug, it should pop loose.
Next using your needle nose pliers bend straight the old cotter pin and remove it from the castle nut.
Loosen and remove the castle nut
Then using your pickle fork (tie rod removal tool) place the tines between the pitman arm and the track bar and begin hammering it in wedging the two pieces apart, again it should pop loose.
Finally maneuver and remove the Pitman arm.
Step 3: Reverse the Removal
Now for the easy part!
Simply reverse the process placing the new Pitman arm back in it's proper place making sure to tighten down the two nuts till they are nice and tight.
To replace the new cotter pin, slip it in the hole and using needle nose pliers to bend it down and around the bolt.
Finally place in the grease fitting and tighten it down, then fill it with grease.
Your all done! No go for a quick test drive and make sure your steering is no longer sloppy.