GM Buick/Oldsmobile/Pontiac/Full-Size 1975-1990 Repair Guide

Steering Linkage

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



See Figures 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Pitman Arm

To perform this procedure, you will need special pullers to pull the center link out of the pitman arm, and to pull the pitman arm off the steering box shaft without stressing the bearings in the steering box.

  1. Raise the vehicle and support it with jackstands by the frame rails. Remove the nut from the pitman arm ballstud.
  2.  
  3. Disconnect the center link at the pitman arm with a puller. Then, pull down on the intermediate rod to remove the stud.
  4.  
  5. Remove the pitman arm nut and lockwasher from the pitman shaft. Provide replacement parts and discard them.
  6.  
  7. Mark the relationship between the pitman arm and the steering box shaft. Then, pull the arm off the shaft. Mark the new arm at the same place as the old one was marked.
  8.  

To install:
  1. Install the new arm on the shaft, aligning the marks. Install the new nut and lockwasher, and torque the nut to 185 ft. lbs. (260 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Put the center link into position onto the pitman arm, install the attaching nut, and torque it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Lower the vehicle and check steering operation before driving.
  6.  

Idler Arm

You will need a puller suitable for removing the tapered stud on the idler arm from the center link.

  1. Raise the vehicle and support it with jackstands by the frame rails. Remove the nuts, bolts, and washers that attach the idler arm to the frame.
  2.  
  3. Remove the nut that attaches the idler arm to the center link ballstud.
  4.  
  5. Pull the idler arm out of the center link with the puller and remove it.
  6.  
  7. Note that the idler arm has a threaded support. The threaded bushing must be loosened and the support turned in the arm to adjust the distance between the lower bolt hole and the top surface of the arm to 2 11 / 32 in. (59.5mm). This ensures that, when installed, the idler arm ball socket will be level with the Pitman arm ball socket. Retighten the threaded bushing. Make sure all idler supports will still be fully free to rotate at least 90°.
  8.  

To install:
  1. Position the idler arm support against the frame, lining up the two sets of holes. Install the bolts, washers and nuts, and torque to 60 ft. lbs. (81 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Install the center link to the idler arm by inserting the tapered section on the arm into the link. Make sure the seal is on the stud. Install the nut and torque it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm). On some models, this nut uses a cotter pin. If so, tighten the nut just enough farther to line up holes and then install and secure a new cotter pin. Lower the vehicle.
  4.  

Center Link

You will need pullers that are suitable for separating the tie rod ends, idler arm, and pitman arm from the center link. It is ideal to have a tool J-29193 or equivalent to seat the idler arm into the center link.

  1. Raise the vehicle and support it with jackstands by the frame rails. Remove the cotter pins, remove the nuts, and then disconnect the tie rod inner ends at the center link with pullers.
  2.  
  3. Remove the nut from the ballstud on the center link where it attaches to the pitman arm. Then, use a puller to remove the arm from the ballstud. Shift the linkage to eliminate torque and pull the link away from the pitman arm.
  4.  
  5. Remove the nut attaching the center link to the idler arm from the idler arm. Use a puller to separate the center link from the idler arm.
  6.  

To install:
  1. Inspect all seals and replace any that are damaged. Make sure all seals that are satisfactory are in place.
  2.  
  3. Install the center link onto the idler arm. If it is available, install the special tool, and torque its nut to 15 ft. lbs. (20 Nm). Remove the tool and install the attaching nut. Torque it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Raise the end of the center link and install it onto the pitman arm. Install the nut and torque it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Install the inner tie rod ends into the center link. Install the nuts and torque them to 30 ft. lbs. (41 Nm). Tighten them just enough farther to line up the holes and then install new cotter pins.
  8.  
  9. Have the toe-in set at an alignment shop.
  10.  

Tie Rod Ends
  1. Remove the cotter pins and nuts from the tie rod end studs.
  2.  
  3. Mark the tie rod adjustment sleeve at both ends with tape.
  4.  
  5. Using a tie rod end removing tool J-6627, remove the rod end from the steering knuckle.
  6.  
  7. Remove the inner stud in the same manner as the outer.
  8.  
  9. Loosen the clamp bolts and unscrew the ends if they are being replaced.
  10.  

To install:
  1. Lubricate the tie rod end threads with chassis grease if they were removed. Install each end assembly an equal distance from the sleeve.
  2.  
  3. Ensure that the tie rod end stud threads and nut are clean. Install new seals and install the studs into the steering arms and relay rod.
  4.  
  5. Install the stud nuts. Tighten the inner and outer end nuts to 35 ft. lbs. (41 Nm). Install new cotter pins.
  6.  
  7. Have a qualified alignment mechanic adjust the toe-in to specifications.
  8.  

Before tightening the sleeve clamps, ensure that the clamps are positioned so that adjusting sleeve slot is covered by the clamp. Never back the nut off to insert cotter pin, always tighten it until the pin can fit through the castellations.



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Fig. Fig. 1: Steering linkage assembly; all models similar



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Fig. Fig. 2: Tie rod clamp and sleeve positioning



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Fig. Fig. 3: Removing the outer tie rod attaching nut



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Fig. Fig. 4: Use a suitable puller to disconnect the tie rod end



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Fig. Fig. 5: Removing the tie rod end from the steering knuckle

 
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