GM Full-Size Trucks 1980-1987 Repair Guide

Steering Linkage

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



See Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11

Pitman Arm
  1. Raise vehicle on hoist.
  2.  
  3. Remove nut from pitman arm ball stud.
  4.  
  5. Remove pitman arm or relay rod from ball stud by tapping on side of rod or arm (in which the stud mounts) with a hammer while using a heavy hammer or similar tool as a backing. Pull on linkage to remove from stud.
  6.  
  7. Remove pitman arm nut from pitman shaft or clamp bolt from pitman arm, and mark relation of arm position to shaft.
  8.  
  9. Remove pitman arm, using Tool J-6632 or J-5504.
  10.  

To install:
  1. Install pitman arm on pitman shaft, lining up the marks made upon removal.
  2.  

If a clamp type pitman arm is used, spread the pitman arm with a wedge and slip the arm onto the pitman shaft. Do not spread pitman arm more than required to slip over pitman shaft with hand pressure. Do not hammer or damage to steering gear may result. Be sure to install the hardened steel washer before installing the nut.

  1. Make sure that threads on ball studs and in ball stud nuts are clean and smooth. If threads are not clean and smooth, ball studs may turn in sockets when attempting to tighten nut. Check condition of ball stud seals; replace if necessary.
  2.  
  3. Install pitman shaft nut or pitman arm clamp bolt and torque to specifications.
  4.  
  5. Position ball stud onto pitman arm or relay rod. Use a 5 /8 in.-18 free spinning nut to seat the tapers, as shown.
  6.  
  7. Lubricate ball studs.
  8.  
  9. Lower the vehicle to the floor.
  10.  



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Fig. Fig. 1: Checking idler movement



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Fig. Fig. 2: Crimp nut locations



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Fig. Fig. 3: Removing pitman arm

Idler Arm
TESTING

Use of the proper diagnosis and checking procedure is essential to prevent needless replacement of good idler arms.

  1. Raise the vehicle in such a manner as to allow the front wheels to rotate freely and the steering mechanism freedom to turn. Position the wheels in a straight ahead position.
  2.  
  3. Using a spring scale located as near the relay rod end of the idler arm as possible, exert a 25 lbs. force upward and then downward while noticing the total distance the end of the arm moves. This distance should not exceed plus or minus 1 /16 in. for a total acceptable movement of 1 /8 in.. It is necessary to ensure that the correct load is applied to the arm since it will move more when higher loads are applied. It is also necessary that a scale or ruler be rested against the frame and used to determine the amount of movement since observers tend to over-estimate the actual movement when a scale is not used. The idler arm should always be replaced if it fails this test.
  4.  

Jerking the right front wheel and tire assembly back and forth, thus causing an up and down movement in the idler arm is not an acceptable method of checking since there is no control on the amount of force being applied.

Caution should be used in assuming shimmy complaints are caused by loose idler arms. Before suspecting suspension or steering components, technicians should eliminate shimmy excitation factors, such as dynamic imbalance, run-out or force variation of wheel and tire assemblies and road surface irregularities.

REMOVAL
  1. Raise vehicle on a hoist.
  2.  
  3. Remove the nut from ball stud at the relay rod. Remove the ball stud from the relay rod by tapping on the relay rod boss with a hammer, while using a heavy hammer as a backing.
  4.  
  5. Remove the idler arm to frame bolt and remove the idler arm assembly.
  6.  

INSTALLATION
  1. Position the idler arm on the frame and install the mounting bolts (special plain washers under bolt heads); torque to specifications.
  2.  
  3. Make sure that the threads on the ball stud and in the ball stud nut are clean and smooth. If threads are not clean and smooth, ball stud may turn in the socket when attempting to tighten nut. Check condition of ball stud seal; replace if necessary.
  4.  
  5. Install the idler arm ball stud in the relay rod, making certain the seal is positioned properly. Use a 5 /8 in.-18 free-spinning nut to seat the tapers, as shown.
  6.  
  7. Lower the vehicle to the floor.
  8.  



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Fig. Fig. 4: Use a large socket and ratchet or breaker bar to loosen the inner tie rod stud nut



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Fig. Fig. 5: The nut must be removed in order to separate the inner tie rod end from the center link (relay rod)

Center Link
  1. Raise and support the vehicle with jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the inner ends of the tie rods from the center link.
  4.  
  5. Remove the nuts from the pitman and idler arm ball studs at the center link.
  6.  
  7. Remove the center link from the pitman and idler arms by tapping on the center link ball stud bosses with a hammer, while using a heavy hammer as backing.
  8.  
  9. Remove the center link from the vehicle.
  10.  

To install:

WARNING
These fasteners are important attaching parts in that they could affect the performance of vital components and systems, and/or could result in major repair expense. They must be replaced with one of the same part number or with an equivalent part if replacement becomes necessary. Do not use a replacement part of lesser quality or substitute design. Torque values must be used as specified during reassembly to assure proper retention of these parts. For the nut(s) and bolt(s) torque specifications please, refer to the chart which follows.

  1. Make sure that threads on the ball studs and in the ball stud nuts are clean and smooth. If the threads are not clean and smooth, ball studs may turn in sockets when attempting to tighten nut. Check condition of ball stud seals; replace if necessary.
  2.  
  3. Install the center link to the idler arm and pitman arm ball studs, making certain the seals are in place. Use a free-spinning nut to seat the tapers, as shown.
  4.  
  5. Install the tie rods to the center link as previously described under Tie Rod Installation. Lubricate the tie rod ends.
  6.  
  7. Lower the vehicle to the floor.
  8.  
  9. Adjust toe-in and align steering wheel as described previously.
  10.  



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Fig. Fig. 6: To separate the outer tie rod end, you must first remove the cotter pin from the castellated nut



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Fig. Fig. 7: With the cotter pin removed, use a large ratchet or breaker bar to loosen the nut



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Fig. Fig. 8: Remove the nut from the tie rod stud



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Fig. Fig. 9: Loosen the tie rod stud from the steering knuckle using a linkage puller. The nut must be thread onto stud to protect the stud threads.



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Fig. Fig. 10: Carefully remove the stud from the steering knuckle



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Fig. Fig. 11: If the inner tie rod was separated from the center link, the tie rod and sleeve assembly may now be removed from the vehicle

Tie Rod Ends
  1. Loosen the tie rod adjuster sleeve clamp nuts.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tie rod end stud cotter pin and nut.
  4.  
  5. You can use a tie rod removal tool to loosen the stud, or you can loosen it by tapping on the steering arm with a hammer while using a heavy hammer as a backup.
  6.  
  7. Remove the inner stud in the same way.
  8.  
  9. Unscrew the tie rod end from the threaded sleeve. The threads may be left or right hand threads. Count the number of turns required to remove it.
  10.  
  11. To install, grease the threads and turn the new tie rod end in as many turns as were needed to remove it. This will give approximately correct toe-in. Tighten the clamp bolts.
  12.  
  13. Tighten the stud nuts to 45 ft. lbs. and install new cotter pins. You may tighten the nut to align the cotter pin, but don't loosen it.
  14.  
  15. Adjust the toe-in.
  16.  

 
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