How to Replace the Pitman Arm in a Chevy Truckby Russell Wood
There are a few different types of steering out there, and one of the older models is known as recirculating ball steering. The steering wheel is connected to a steering box, which transfers motion through the pitman arm to the steering linkage, which turns the wheels. If the pitman arm wears out, you'll have sloppy steering, which can be dangerous. Replacing the pitman arm on a Chevrolet truck is not a lot of fun, but it can be done at home with the right tools in about an hour.
Lift up the front of the vehicle using the jack and secure it on jack stands. Make sure the vehicle is completely secure on the jack stands before you crawl underneath it. Also make sure the wheels are pointed straight.
Locate the steering gear box on the truck. It's on the driver's side frame rail and has a dog-legged arm that comes off of it which is the pitman arm. Make an alignment mark across the pitman arm and the steering gear shaft, using a paint marker.
Remove the cotter pin from the ball joint stud on the opposite end of the pitman arm. Remove the nut with a box-end wrench. Remove the Nut on the on the steering gear shaft with a breaker bar and socket.
Place the pitman arm puller tool on the pitman arm so that the center bolt is on the middle of the shaft and the hooks on the side of the tool slide behind the pitman arm. Tighten the center bolt to pull the pitman are off of the steering gear shaft.
Hold the old pitman arm next to the new pitman arm and transfer the paint line measurement to the replacement arm using the paint marker.
Line up the replacement pitman arm on the gear according to the marked line and press it into place. Install the nut and tighten it to specifications -- generally this is 184 foot-pounds on clamp-type pitman arms, and 125 foot-pounds if it is secured by a nut.
Bolt the ball joint on the pitman arm to the steering linkage, tighten the nut, then install the cotter pin. Bend the legs of the cotter pin in opposite directions around the ball joint stud.
Lift the vehicle off of the jack stands with the jack and place it on the ground. Take the vehicle to a local shop to have a front end alignment completed.
Things You'll Need
- Jack stands
- White paint marker
- Needle nose pliers
- Cotter pin puller tool
- Breaker bar
- Replacement cotter pin
- Box-end wrench set
- Pitman arm puller
- 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set
Russell Wood is a writer and photographer who attended Arizona State University. He has been building custom cars and trucks since 1994, including several cover vehicles. In 2000 Wood started a career as a writer, and since then he has dedicated his business to writing and photographing cars and trucks, as well as helping people learn more about how vehicles work.