GM Astro/Safari 1985-1996 Repair Guide

Steering Linkage

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See Figures 1 and 2



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Fig. Fig. 1: Exploded view of the 2 wheel drive steering linkage assembly



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Fig. Fig. 2: All Wheel Drive (AWD) steering linkage assembly

The steering linkage consists of: a forward mounted linkage (parallelogram type), crimp (or torque prevailing) nuts at the inner pivots, castellated nuts at the steering knuckle arm, a second idler arm and steering gear pitman arm-to-relay rod connecting rod to maintain proper geometry, and a steering damper (some manual steering models). Each joint is equipped with a grease fitting, for durability.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



See Figures 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7



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Fig. Fig. 3: These special tools are used to seat linkage shaft tapers during installation



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Fig. Fig. 4: A universal steering linkage puller is necessary for almost all linkage replacement procedures



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Fig. Fig. 5: Most steering linkage components are removed by first loosening and removing the nut ...



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Fig. Fig. 6: ... then using a universal steering linkage puller to loosen the stud



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Fig. Fig. 7: Once the stud is freed, separate the linkage

Pitman Arm

See Figure 8



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Fig. Fig. 8: Pitman arm removal requires the use of this special tool

The following procedure requires the use of a universal steering linkage puller such as J-24319-B, the GM Pitman Arm Remover tool No. J-29107 or equivalent, and the GM Steering Linkage Installer tool No. J-29193 (12mm) for most models or J-29194 (14mm) for some early models (or equivalent).

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Disconnect the nut from the pitman arm ball joint stud.
  4.  
  5. Using a universal steering linkage puller (such as J-24319-B or equivalent), separate the connecting rod from the pitman arm. Pull down on the connecting rod and separate it from the stud.
  6.  
  7. Remove the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft nut and washer, then matchmark the relationship of the arm to the shaft (this will permit proper alignment during assembly).
  8.  
  9. Separate the pitman arm from the pitman shaft using J-29107, or an equivalent pitman arm removal tool.
  10.  

When separating the pitman arm from the shaft, DO NOT use a hammer or apply heat to the arm.

To install:
  1. Align the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft matchmark, then install the washer along with a prevailing torque nut. Tighten the pitman arm-to-pitman shaft nut to 185 ft. lbs. (250 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Connect the pitman arm to the connecting rod ball stud (make sure the seal is on the stud). Position a steering linkage installer tool such as J-29193 (12mm) for most models or J-29194 (14mm) for some early models, onto the ball stud. Tighten the installer tool to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the tapers; after seating, remove the tool.
  4.  
  5. Install the pitman arm-to-connecting rod ball joint nut, then tighten the ball joint nut to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Remove the jackstands, then carefully lower the vehicle.
  8.  

Idler Arm

See Figures 9, 10, 11 and 12



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Fig. Fig. 9: Idler arm inspection should be conducted using a spring scale



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Fig. Fig. 10: Loosen and remove the idler arm-to-frame mounting bolts ...



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Fig. Fig. 11: ... then separate the idler ball stud from the relay rod ...



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Fig. Fig. 12: ... and remove the idler arm from the vehicle

The following procedure requires the use of a universal steering linkage puller such as J-24319-B,

and the GM Steering Linkage Installer tool No. J-29193 (12mm) for most models or J-29194 (14mm) for some early models (or equivalent).

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  

Jerking the right wheel assembly back and forth is not an acceptable testing procedure; there is no control on the amount of force being applied to the idler arm. Before suspecting idler arm shimmying complaints, check the wheels for imbalance, runout, force variation and/or road surface irregularities.

  1. To inspect for a defective idler arm, perform the following procedures:
    1. Position the wheels in the straight-ahead position.
    2.  
    3. Position a spring scale near the relay rod end of the idler arm and exert 25 lbs. (110 N) of force upward, then downward.
    4.  
    5. Measure the distance between the upward and downward directions that the idler arm moves. The allowable deflection is 1 / 8 in. (3.2mm) for each direction; a total difference of 1 / 4 in. (6.4mm). If the idler arm deflection is beyond the allowable limits, replace it.
    6.  

  2.  
  3. Remove the idler arm-to-frame bolts.
  4.  
  5. Remove the idler arm-to-relay rod ball joint nut.
  6.  
  7. Using a universal steering linkage puller tool (such as J-24319-B or equivalent), separate the relay rod from the ball joint stud.
  8.  
  9. Inspect and/or replace (if necessary) the idler arm.
  10.  

To install:
  1. Install the idler arm-to-frame bolts and tighten to 52 ft. lbs. (70 Nm) for all 1985-91 vehicles, 78 ft. lbs. (105 Nm) for 1992-95 vehicles (except 1992-93 AWD vehicles which should be tightened to 102 ft. lbs. using Loctite® on the threads) or to 102 ft. lbs. (138 Nm) for 1996 vehicles.
  2.  
  3. Connect the relay rod to the idler arm ball joint stud. Using the proper sized GM Steering Linkage Installer tool (either No. J-29193/12mm for most models or J-29194/14mm for some early models), seat the relay rod-to-idler arm ball joint stud. Tighten the tool to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) in order to fully seat the taper, then remove the tool.
  4.  
  5. Install the idler arm-to-relay rod stud nut and torque it to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.
  8.  
  9. Check and adjust the front end toe-in, as necessary.
  10.  

Relay Rod

The following procedure requires the use of a universal steering linkage puller such as J-24319-B,

and the GM Steering Linkage Installer tool No. J-29193 (12mm) for most models or J-29194 (14mm) for some early models (or equivalent).

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Refer to the Tie Rod, Removal and Installation procedures in this section and disconnect the inner tie rod ends from the relay rod.
  4.  
  5. Remove the connecting rod stud-to-relay rod nut and the idler arm stud-to-relay rod nuts.
  6.  
  7. Using the universal steering linkage puller, disconnect the connecting rod from the relay rod.
  8.  
  9. Using the universal steering linkage puller, disconnect the relay rod from the idler arms, then remove the relay rod from the vehicle.
  10.  

To install:
  1. Clean and inspect the threads on the tie rod, the tie rod ends and the ball joints for damage, then replace them (if necessary). Inspect the ball joint seals for excessive wear, then replace them (if necessary).
  2.  
  3. Position the relay rod onto the idler arms (no mounting nuts). Thread the GM Steering Linkage Installer tool No. J-29193 (12mm) or J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent, onto the idler arm studs. Tighten the tool to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) in order to seat the tapers. Remove the installer tool, then install the mounting nuts and torque the idler arm-to-relay arm stud nuts to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Position the connecting rod onto the relay rod (no mounting nut). Thread the proper steering linkage Installer tool onto the connecting rod stud, then tighten to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the taper. Remove the installer tool, then install the mounting nuts and torque the connecting rod-to-relay rod stud nuts to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Position the inner tie rod ball joints onto the relay rod (no mounting nuts). Thread the proper steering linkage installer tool onto the tie rod studs and tighten to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the tapers. Remove the installer tool, then install the mounting nuts and torque the tie rod-to-relay rod stud nuts to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  8.  
  9. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle. Check the steering linkage performance.
  10.  
  11. Check and adjust the front end toe-in, as necessary.
  12.  

Connecting Rod

The following procedure requires the use of a universal steering linkage puller such as J-24319-B, and the GM Steering Linkage Installer tool No. J-29193 (12mm) for most models or J-29194 (14mm) for some early models (or equivalent).

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the connecting rod stud-to-relay rod nut and the connecting rod stud-to-pitman arm nut.
  4.  
  5. Using the universal steering linkage puller, separate the connecting rod from the relay rod and the pitman arm, then remove the connecting rod from the vehicle.
  6.  
  7. Clean and inspect the ball joint threads for damage, then replace the rod (if necessary). Inspect the ball joint seals for excessive wear, then replace them (if necessary).
  8.  

To install:
  1. Position the connecting rod onto the relay rod and the pitman arm (no mounting nuts). Thread the steering linkage installer tool onto the connecting rod studs, then tighten to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the tapers. Remove the installer tools, then install the mounting nuts and torque them to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle. Check the steering linkage performance.
  4.  
  5. Check and adjust the front end toe-in, as necessary.
  6.  

Tie Rod

See Figures 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21



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Fig. Fig. 13: Inner tie rod and relay rod connections require the use of a press-type linkage/wheel stud remover



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Fig. Fig. 14: Proper orientation of the tie rod clamps and adjuster tube



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Fig. Fig. 15: To separate the tie rod end from the steering knuckle, first straighten the cotter pin ...



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Fig. Fig. 16: ... then remove and discard the old cotter pin



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Fig. Fig. 17: Using a wrench (shown) or a deep socket, loosen the tie rod stud retaining nut



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Fig. Fig. 18: Unthread the nut from the stud ...



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Fig. Fig. 19: ... then use a universal steering linkage puller to free the stud from the knuckle



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Fig. Fig. 20: If only the rod end is being removed, matchmark the threads (to preserve toe adjustment) ...



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Fig. Fig. 21: ... then loosen the adjuster clamp bolt and unthread the end from the adjuster tube

The following procedure requires the use of a universal steering linkage puller such as J-24319-B, the GM Wheel Stud and Tie Rod Remover tool No. J-6627-A or equivalent, and the GM Steering Linkage Installer tool No. J-29193 (12mm) for most models or J-29194 (14mm) for some early models (or equivalent).

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the cotter pin from the tie rod-to-steering knuckle stud.
  4.  
  5. Remove the tie rod-to-relay rod stud nut and the tie rod-to-steering knuckle stud nut.
  6.  

DO NOT attempt to separate the tie rod-to-steering knuckle joint using a wedge type tool for seal damage could result.

  1. Using the GM Wheel Stud Remover tool No. J-6627-A or equivalent, separate the outer tie rod stud from the steering knuckle and the inner tie rod stud from the relay rod. Remove the tie rod from the vehicle.
  2.  
  3. If removing ONLY the tie rod end, perform the following procedures:
    1. Disconnect the defective ball joint end of the tie rod.
    2.  
    3. Loosen the adjuster tube clamp bolt.
    4.  
    5. Unscrew the tie rod end from the adjuster tube; count the number of turns necessary to remove the tie rod end.
    6.  
    7. Clean, inspect and lubricate the adjuster tube threads.
    8.  
    9. To install a new tie rod end, screw it into the adjuster tube using the same number of turns necessary to remove it.
    10.  
    11. Position the clamp bolts between the adjuster tube dimples (located at each end) and in the proper location (see illustration). Torque the adjuster tube clamp bolt 13 ft. lbs. (17 Nm).
    12.  

  4.  

To install:
  1. Position the tie rod onto the steering knuckle and the relay rod. Thread the proper sized steering linkage installer tool onto the studs and tighten to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the tapers. After seating the tapers, remove the tools, install the mounting nuts and torque mounting nuts to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  2.  
  3. At the tie rod-to-steering knuckle stud, tighten the nut until a castle nut slot aligns with the hole in the stud, then install a new cotter pin.
  4.  
  5. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle. Check the steering linkage performance.
  6.  
  7. Check and adjust the front end toe-in, as necessary.
  8.  

Damper Assembly

The damper assembly is used to the remove steering wheel vibration and vehicle wander; not all vehicles are equipped with it.

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the damper assembly-to-connecting rod cotter pin and nut.
  4.  
  5. Remove the damper assembly-to-bracket nut/bolt and remove the damper assembly from the vehicle.
  6.  

To install:
  1. If necessary, install a new damper assembly. Torque the damper assembly-to-bracket nut/bolt to 22 ft. lbs. (29 Nm) and the damper assembly-to-connecting rod nut to 41 ft. lbs. (56 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Align the castle nut slot with the hole in the ball joint stud and install and secure a new cotter pin.
  4.  
  5. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle. Check the steering linkage performance.
  6.  
  7. Check and adjust the front end toe-in, as necessary.
  8.  

 
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