Truck owners must know the number of pitman arms in their vehicle and their location to maintain the steering system properly. A standard truck typically has two pitman arms on each side, connecting to the steering box and steering linkage. Pitman arms allow the wheels to turn when you turn the steering wheel. The arms are different lengths, with the driver’s side being longer than the passenger’s side, compensating for the difference in turning radius between the two wheels.
Distinguishing Pitman Arm and Idler Arm
Although pitman and idler arms work together to help the wheels turn, they function differently. The pitman arm, connected to the gearbox, rotates the middle link when the driver steers the car. Meanwhile, the idler arm opposes up-and-down movement while allowing swivel movement. Worn or damaged pitman or idler arms affect the steering system’s responsiveness, making it difficult to control the car.
Pitman Arm Replacement Cost and Consequences of Neglect
Replacing a pitman arm ranges from $100 to $300, depending on the vehicle’s make and model. Neglecting to replace a worn-out pitman arm can lead to steering problems, compromising safety. It’s best to leave this job to a professional mechanic.
Effects of Broken Pitman Arm
A broken pitman arm causes a loss of steering control, making it difficult to turn your vehicle. Several reasons cause pitman arms to break, including metal fatigue, corrosion, and impact damage.
Loose Pitman Arm and Death Wobble
A loose pitman arm can result in a death wobble or a dangerous steering wheel shaking, making it challenging to control your car, potentially leading to an accident. A qualified mechanic must check any suspicion of a loose pitman arm.
Testing Your Pitman Arm
Here are simple tests to check if your pitman arm is in good working condition:
- Inspect the arm for signs of wear or damage.
- Check the joints for signs of wear or damage.
- Try to move the arm back and forth.
- If it is challenging to move the arm, or there is excessive play in the joints, replace it.
Replacing an Idler Arm
An idler arm maintains tension on the drive belt and can cause the belt to slip and the engine to stall, making a noise when it wears out. Replacing an idler arm takes approximately an hour. However, depending on the car’s make and model, the parts may need to be ordered from the dealership, which may take one to two days.
Effects of Broken Idler Arm
If the idler arm breaks, it can cause misaligned wheels, making it difficult to steer the car in a straight line and increasing the risk of accidents. A broken idler arm can damage other steering system parts, including the tie rod and steering gearbox. Finally, it can cause uneven tire wear and premature tire failure. It’s vital to repair or replace a damaged idler arm promptly.
Pitman and idler arms are essential components of a truck’s steering system. A broken pitman or idler arm can result in a loss of steering control and even cause an accident. Therefore, having them repaired or replaced by a professional mechanic as soon as possible is crucial to ensure safe driving on the road.