GM S-Series Pick-ups and SUV's 1994-1999 Repair Guide

Steering Linkage

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See Figures 1 and 2

The steering linkage consists of: a forward mounted linkage, crimp or prevailing torque nuts at the inner pivots, castellated nuts at the steering knuckle arm, an idler arm, a steering gear pitman arm, a relay rod and a steering damper (4WD vehicles). Grease fittings are equipped with each joint, for durability. Depending on the application, the relay rod may only be equipped with holes to accept ball studs, or the rod may itself contain ball studs for connection with the pitman/idler arms.

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Fig. Fig. 1: Common steering linkage components



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Fig. Fig. 2: Common 4WD steering linkage components (with steering damper)

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



Pitman Arm
two wheel drive models

See Figures 3 through 8

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the nut from ball stud at the relay rod-to-pitman arm connection. Discard the nut.
  4.  
  5. Using a suitable universal steering linkage puller, such as J-24319-01 or equivalent, separate the relay rod from the pitman arm. Pull down on the relay rod and separate the stud.
  6.  



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Fig. Fig. 3: Remove the pitman arm using a suitable pitman puller tool



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Fig. Fig. 4: Loosen the pitman arm-to-relay rod nut



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Fig. Fig. 5: Use a suitable puller to separate the pitman arm from the relay rod



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Fig. Fig. 6: Loosen the pitman arm nut ...



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Fig. Fig. 7: ... then remove the nut and washer

  1. Remove the Pitman arm-to-Pitman shaft nut, then matchmark the relationship of the arm to the shaft to assure proper alignment during assembly.
  2.  

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

  1. Using a pitman arm remover such as J-6632 or equivalent, separate the pitman arm from the pitman shaft and remove it from the vehicle.
  2.  

To install:

If the pitman arm is being replaced, transfer the alignment mark to the new component.

  1. Install the pitman arm while aligning the arm-to-pitman shaft matchmark. Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable) to properly seat the arm on the shaft, install the correct one onto the shaft and torque it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the taper.
  2.  
  3. Remove the installer tool, then install the pitman shaft nut and tighten to 185 ft. lbs. (250 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Connect the Pitman arm to the relay rod (make sure that the seal is on the stud). Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable), install the correct one onto the ball stud and tighten it to 48 ft. lbs. (62 Nm) to seat the taper.
  6.  
  7. After seating, remove the tool, install the lockwasher and nut and tighten to 60 ft. lbs. (82 Nm). A NEW nut MUST be installed.
  8.  
  9. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.
  10.  
  11. Check and adjust toe, as necessary.
  12.  

four wheel drive models
  1. Slide the intermediate shaft cover off the clamp and matchmark the relationship of the intermediate shaft.
  2.  
  3. Raise the front of the vehicle and support it with jackstands and disconnect the intermediate shaft.
  4.  
  5. Remove the oil filter pipes from the crossmember bracket.
  6.  
  7. Remove the splash shield.
  8.  
  9. Remove the nut from ball stud at the relay rod-to-Pitman arm connection. Discard the nut.
  10.  
  11. If necessary, remove the front differential carrier shield.
  12.  
  13. Using a suitable universal steering linkage puller, such as J-24319-01 or equivalent, separate the relay rod from the Pitman arm. Pull down on the relay rod and separate the stud.
  14.  
  15. Remove the Pitman arm-to-Pitman shaft nut, then matchmark the relationship of the arm to the shaft to assure proper alignment during assembly.
  16.  
  17. If necessary, remove the power steering gear.
  18.  

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

  1. Using a Pitman arm remover such as J-6632 or equivalent, separate the Pitman arm from the Pitman shaft and remove it from the vehicle.
  2.  

To install:

If the Pitman arm is being replaced, transfer the alignment mark to the new component.

  1. Install the Pitman arm while aligning the arm-to-Pitman shaft matchmark. Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable) to properly seat the arm on the shaft, install the correct one onto the shaft and torque it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the taper.
  2.  
  3. Remove the installer tool, then install the Pitman shaft nut and tighten to 185 ft. lbs. (250 Nm).
  4.  
  5. If removed, install the steering gear.
  6.  
  7. If removed, install the front differential carrier shield.
  8.  
  9. Connect the Pitman arm to the relay rod (make sure that the seal is on the stud). Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable), install the correct one onto the ball stud and tighten it to 48 ft. lbs. (62 Nm) to seat the taper.
  10.  
  11. After seating, remove the tool, install the lockwasher and nut and tighten to 60 ft. lbs. (82 Nm) on 1994-96 models and 79 ft. lbs. (108 Nm) on 1997-99 models. A NEW nut MUST be installed.
  12.  
  13. Attach the oil filter pipes to the crossmember bracket and install the splash shield.
  14.  
  15. Install the intermediate shaft making sure to align the marks made before removal.
  16.  
  17. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.
  18.  
  19. Check and adjust toe, as necessary.
  20.  

Idler Arm

See Figures 8 through 12

  1. Raise and support the front of the vehicle safely using jackstands under the frame so the wheels are free to turn.
  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, run-out, force variation and/or road surface irregularities.



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Fig. Fig. 8: Checking the idler arm for wear or damage



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Fig. Fig. 9: Using a back-up wrench and a ratchet and socket, remove the idler arm-to-frame nuts and bolts



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Fig. Fig. 10: Remove the nut from the idler arm ball stud



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Fig. Fig. 11: Use a suitable steering linkage to separate the relay rod from idler arm ...



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Fig. Fig. 12: ... then remove the idler arm

  1. To inspect for a defective idler arm:
    1. Position the wheels in the straight ahead position.
    2.  
    3. Position a spring scale near the relay rod end of the idler arm, then exert 25 ft. lbs. (110 Nm) of force upward and then downward. Measure the distance between the upward and downward directions that the idler arm moves. The allowable deflection is 1 / 8 in. (3.18mm) for each direction for a total difference of 1 / 4 in. (6.35mm); if the idler arm deflection is beyond the allowable limits, replace it.
    4.  

  2.  
  3. If equipped and if necessary, remove the steering linkage and differential carrier shields.
  4.  
  5. Remove the idler arm-to-frame bolts/nuts.
  6.  
  7. Remove the nut from the idler arm-to-relay rod ball joint.
  8.  
  9. Use a suitable steering linkage puller such as J-24319-B or equivalent to separate the relay rod from idler arm.
  10.  
  11. Remove the idler arm assembly from the vehicle.
  12.  

To install:
  1. Install the idler arm, then tighten the arm assembly-to-frame bolts to 60 ft. lbs. (82 Nm) on 1994 models and 79 ft. lbs. (108 Nm) on 1995-99 models.
  2.  
  3. Connect the relay rod to the idler arm. Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable) to seat the relay rod-to-idler arm ball joint stud. Tighten the tool to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm), then remove the tool.
  4.  
  5. Install the idler arm-to-relay rod stud nut and tighten it to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm) for 2WD vehicles or 60 ft. lbs. (82 Nm) for 4WD vehicles.
  6.  
  7. If removed, install the steering linkage and differential carrier shields.
  8.  
  9. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.
  10.  
  11. Check and/or adjust the toe-in, as necessary.
  12.  

Relay Rod (Centerlink)

See Figures 13 through 17



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Fig. Fig. 13: Exploded view of the relay rod-2WD model shown



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Fig. Fig. 14: Exploded view of the relay rod-4WD model shown



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Fig. Fig. 15: Unfasten the relay rod-to-inner tie rod nuts



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Fig. Fig. 16: Use a suitable puller to separate the relay rod from the inner tie rod



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Fig. Fig. 17: Remove the relay rod from the vehicle

  1. Raise and support the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. If equipped and if necessary, remove the steering linkage and differential carrier shields.
  4.  
  5. Remove the inner tie rod stud nuts, then separate the tie rods from the relay rod using a suitable linkage puller. For details, please refer to the tie rod procedure located later in this section.
  6.  
  7. On vehicles equipped with a steering damper, remove the shock absorber ball stud nut, then separate the shock from the relay rod using a suitable linkage puller, such as J-24319-01 or equivalent.
  8.  
  9. Remove the ball stud nut from the pitman arm-to-relay rod connection, then use a suitable steering linkage puller, such as J-24319-01 or equivalent, to disconnect the pitman rod from the idler arm.
  10.  
  11. Remove the ball stud nut from the idler arm-to-relay rod connection, then use a suitable steering linkage puller, such as J-24319-01 or equivalent, to disconnect the relay rod from the idler arm.
  12.  
  13. Once the linkage components have been removed from the relay rod, it is free to be removed from the vehicle.
  14.  

To install:
  1. Clean and inspect the threads on the tie rod, the tie rod ends and the ball joints for damage, and replace them (if necessary). Inspect the ball joint seals for excessive wear, and replace them (if necessary).
  2.  
  3. Connect the relay rod to the idler arm. Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable) to seat the relay rod-to-idler arm ball joint stud. Tighten the tool to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm), then remove the tool.
  4.  
  5. Install the idler arm-to-relay rod stud nut and tighten it to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm) on 2WD models or 60 ft. lbs. (82 Nm) on 4WD models.
  6.  
  7. Connect the pitman arm to the relay rod (make sure that the seal is on the stud). Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable), install the correct one onto the ball stud and tighten it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the taper.
  8.  
  9. After seating, remove the tool, install the lockwasher and nut and tighten to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm) on 2WD models or 60 ft. lbs. (82 Nm) on 4WD models. A NEW nut MUST be installed.
  10.  
  11. If equipped, install the steering shock absorber.
  12.  
  13. Install the inner tie rods to the relay rod, then install the mounting nuts and tighten to specification. For details, please refer to the tie rod procedure located later in this section.
  14.  
  15. If removed, install the steering linkage and differential carrier shields.
  16.  
  17. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle, then check the steering linkage for proper operation.
  18.  

Tie Rod

See Figures 18 through 27

The following procedure may be used to remove the entire tie rod assembly. If only one tie rod end of an assembly is being replaced, the entire assembly does not have to be removed from the vehicle. The opposite tie rod end (the end not being replaced) may remain attached to the steering linkage/knuckle, as applicable.

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

DO NOT attempt to separate the tie rod-to-steering knuckle joint by driving a wedge type tool between the joint and knuckle or seal damage could result.



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Fig. Fig. 18: A proper tools such as the wheel stud remover/tie rod separator tool should be used to free the tie rod ends



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Fig. Fig. 19: Matchmark the tie rod before removal, this will aid during installation



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Fig. Fig. 20: Loosen the adjuster clamp bolt ...



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Fig. Fig. 21: ... then remove the tie rod from the vehicle

  1. Using a suitable tie rod remover such as the wheel stud/tie rod tool No. J-6627-A or equivalent, separate the outer tie rod stud from the steering knuckle and the inner tie from the relay rod.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tie rod from the vehicle.
  4.  
  5. If one or both of the tie rod ends are being replaced:
  6.  

Tie rod adjustment components tend to rust in service. If the torque required to remove the nut from the bolt exceeds 62 inch lbs. (9 Nm), the nuts should be replaced. Also, the components should be lubricated with a penetrating oil, then the clamps should be rotated until the move freely. Pay attention to the clamp positioning before loosening or removing them.

  1. Measure the installed length of the tie rod end(s) for installation purposes.
  2.  
  3. Loosen the adjuster tube clamp bolt(s).
  4.  
  5. Unscrew the tie rod end from the adjuster tube; count the number of turns necessary to remove the tie rod end. This can be used to help preserve the toe adjustment during installation.
  6.  

To install:
  1. If one or both of the tie rod ends were removed:
    1. Clean, inspect and lubricate the adjuster tube threads.
    2.  
    3. Thread the tie rod end into the adjuster tube using the same number of turns necessary to remove it. Once installed, measure the length of the tie rod end, as done during removal to help assure toe adjustment.
    4.  
    5. Position the clamp bolts between the adjuster tube dimples (located at each end) and in the proper location. Tighten the adjuster tube clamp bolt 14 ft. lbs. (19 Nm).
    6.  

  2.  
  3. Position the tie rod ends to the steering knuckle and/or the relay rod. Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable), install the correct one onto the ball stud and tighten it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the taper(s).
  4.  
  5. Once the ends are properly seated, remove the tool and install the retaining nut(s).
  6.  
  7. Tighten the inner and/or outer tie rod end retaining nuts to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm) on 1994 models. On 1995-99 models tighten the inner nut to 35 ft. lbs. (47 Nm) and the outer nut to 39 ft. lbs. (53 Nm).
  8.  
  9. Install a new cotter pin to the castle nut(s), as applicable.
  10.  
  11. Check and adjust the toe, as necessary.
  12.  
  13. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle, then check the steering linkage for proper operation.
  14.  



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Fig. Fig. 22: When removing a tie rod end, first straighten the ends of the old cotter pin ...



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Fig. Fig. 23: ... then pull the cotter pin from the ball stud and retaining nut



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Fig. Fig. 24: Loosen and remove the stud nut



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Fig. Fig. 25: Use a suitable tool to push the tie rod end free. DO NOT use a wedge-type tool



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Fig. Fig. 26: Once the ball stud has be unseated, withdraw the tie rod end from the component



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Fig. Fig. 27: If replacing a tie rod end (in this case still on the vehicle), loosen the adjuster clamp bolt/nut

Damper Assembly

The damper assembly is used to remove steering wheel vibration and vehicle wander; not all vehicles are equipped with it, though most 4WD vehicles should come with a damper assembly.

  1. Raise and support the front frame of the vehicle safely using jackstands.
  2.  
  3. If equipped, remove the differential carrier shield.
  4.  
  5. Remove the damper assembly-to-relay rod cotter pin and nut.
  6.  
  7. Use a suitable universal steering linkage puller such as J-24319-01 or equivalent to separate the damper assembly from the relay rod.
  8.  
  9. Remove the cotter pin (if equipped) and the damper assembly-to-frame bracket nut/bolt, then disengage the damper assembly from the vehicle.
  10.  

To install:
  1. Install the damper assembly to the frame bracket, then secure using the retainers. Tighten the bolt/nut to 26 ft. lbs. (35 Nm) on 1994 models and 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm) on 1995-99 models. If equipped, install a new cotter pin.
  2.  
  3. Position the damper assembly to the relay rod. Use a steering linkage installer such as J-29193 (12mm), J-29194 (14mm) or equivalent (as applicable), install the correct one onto the stud and tighten it to 40 ft. lbs. (54 Nm) to seat the taper.
  4.  
  5. Remove the installation tool, then install retaining nut and tighten to 45 ft. lbs. (62 Nm). Install a new cotter pin.
  6.  
  7. If removed, install the differential carrier shield.
  8.  
  9. Remove the jackstands and carefully lower the vehicle.
  10.  

 
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