View Full Version : WAY off topic

09-14-2004, 09:28 AM
Towing rigs.... Actually - linkage & ball joints.

I've never done anything front-end related on cars before, but - it's about time.

I am a proud owner of a brand-new 1988 Chevy 1500 4x4 with 72k miles. (got a good deal).

Anyway - if I jack up the front end, I cannot move the wheels up & down, but can from left to right what I think is a fair amount (1/2 inch or so).

I'm thinking I need new pitman & idler arms. How hard are they to put on? Any advice? Should I get the parts from auto-zone so they'll loan me the tools - or should I break down & purchase them & go with possibly higher quality parts?

Any adivse is better than what I have now - which is nothing.... :D

09-14-2004, 10:18 AM
Jimmer I donít know who makes A Zs parts for them. So I donít know about the quality.. But make sure you are replacing a bad part. Have someone move the wheel while you look under at the parts for movement

09-14-2004, 10:20 AM
Check the ball joints.

09-14-2004, 10:28 AM
Here are the parts associated with that truck. I would check the idler arms and inner tie rods:


09-14-2004, 11:04 AM
With it up in the air, grab the tie rod ends and see how far they move on the stud end that goes into the center link(the part that gets turned by the Pittman arm) and the spindle end. These are spring loaded and should require some force to compress them. If yo see water seeping out of the boots or the boots are ripped, replace the ends. Also, grab each wheel and try to turn it right and left, looking at the steering components for movement. If you can turn it a lot and you see the joints moving all over the place, you'll probably need to replace the parts.

If there is a mechanic in your area who you trust, have them inspect it for you and show you what is bad and why. The parts aren't too hard to replace, but it does require special tools for some things and it will need alignment after. These trucks aren't known for extremely tight steering, anyway. With the motor off and the key on, see how far you can turn the steering wheel. It shouldn't go more than 1-1/2"-2" total, after moving it till you feel it stop with just light turning, then turn it the other way till you feel the same stopping resistance.

You can get a tie rod separator for less than $10, and a Pitman Arm puller isn't much more than that. The tie rods can be removed with a hammer, but it's a lot easier with a separator and there's less chance of damaging something if you use it. The Pittman Arm needs to be removed with a puller. Make sure you get the correct Pitman arm. There is one for the earlier model trucks, and one for your model. You'll know if you get the wrong one because your wheels won't go all the way to the right with the steering wheel at it's limit.

If you do the work yourself, remove the tie rods together, without separating the inner from the outer. You should replace the sleeve, too. Once you have the tie rods out, assemble the right side and left side rods and rotate the sleeve so it's as close to the same length as the one it replaces. Don't confuse the right with the left at this point. If you need to, do one side at a time.

The Pitman Arm will be a little tricky to get on if you do this without removing the idler arm. If the truck has high mileage, replace this too. The Pitman arm has a gap in the splines to locate it correctly.

The Idler arm should be separated from the center link before removal. If it's too hard to separate, leave it loose in the link and remove it after you unbolt it from the frame. If you have a magnetic tool for getting into tight spaces, you can use this if the nut or socket fall off when you are removing them. There are 2 holes in the outside of the right frame member for access to the idler arm nuts.

Make sure you tighten all of the nuts to spec and put a little anti-sieze on everything before assembly (especially the sleeves and castellated nuts). Once it's together and tight, check the play and you will notice that it's a lot tighter than before. Take it in for alignment(ABSOLUTELY!) Your ball joints may need replacement, too. If you take it in for inspection, they can show you how to check these as well (you need a pry bar). The upper ball joints aren't greasable unless they were already replaced and the rivets will need to be drilled out. The new ones bolt in. Get a good brand of replacement parts, like Moog or Warner. Some places sell steering parts with a lifetime warranty.

If the bushings are original, replacing these will smooth out the ride and it won't rattle as much on bumps. The steering stabilizer should be replaced if it's old, too.

09-14-2004, 12:22 PM
WOW - great info... thanks! Boots - what boots? There aren't any boots on anymore. Hmm... guess it needs replaced then:eek:

I'll start looking for the parts & tools. My wife is going to laugh when i tell here I don't have the proper tools (she swears I have everything ever made)

09-14-2004, 12:26 PM
Here are the parts associated with that truck. I would check the idler arms and inner tie rods:

I hate to bug you again - but can you tell me which part is what?

part #1=
part #2=

I want to be sure I'm using the right term for the part.

thanks again.

09-14-2004, 01:30 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong....

1 & 2 - tie rod ends
3 - tie rod (or 1,2 & 3 make a complete tie rod?)
4 - Center link?
5 - Idler Arm
6 - Pitman Arm
7 - Steering Stabilizer arm.


thanks again

09-14-2004, 01:53 PM
Jimmer...go to the web address and look up your vehicle under "mechanical" / "Steering" / "Steering gear" / "idler arm" / "4x4" and then click on the view illustration icon next to the price point.

09-14-2004, 02:32 PM
Jimmer, another good source is 4-Wheel Parts Wholesalers

09-14-2004, 03:26 PM
#1 are the outer tie rod ends, #2 are the inner ends, #3 are the sleeve assemblies. The inner ends have left hand thread and the outer have right hand thread. That way, you turn one way to lengthen the tie rods, the opposite to shorten during alignment. The clamps on the sleeves come with the sleeves.

Jimmer- if you had everything, you'd be driving a Snap-On truck, right?
Next time she says that you have all of the tools you could need, just say "Pffffft! NOBODY has enough tools!" If you have an air chisel, ask for a "pickle fork". Even if you don't have one, sometimes it still called that. The Pitman Arm puller is definitely needed, though. No other tool works well enough to bother with. Not terribly expensive. I had the pickle fork from another car, but I have a '90 Silverado and did the tie rods, idler and Pitman arm not too long ago. Like I said before, if you have a magnetic grabby tool, you will probably need it if a socket or nut/bolt falls off inside the frame member.

09-14-2004, 03:43 PM
thx for the advice. I'll be sure my magnetic thingy is handy.

You just reminded me I have a buddy who drives a MAC truck now. I'll have to ask him to "borrow" some....

I'm looking at replacing the entire tie-rods & center links? The Idler looks new so I'm assuming it's ok. The pitman looks original. Would you go ahead & do that one also?

thanks again.

09-14-2004, 03:47 PM
I would check the center link to see if it's bent or worn before replacing that. The tie rods are relatively cheap and if one breaks, you are goin' for a bad ride! Just check everything for wear, or have it checked.