The pitman arm is one of the most crucial parts of your car's steering system. The pitman arm is connected to your vehicle's steering gear, which is responsible for making your vehicle perform linear movements and be able to turn smoothly. The sector shaft secures the pitman arm in place, while a ball joint is supporting the drag link. Since everything is linked together, the steering box movements transfer through the drag link and the wheels can turn in the planned direction.
The idler arm is basically the mirror part to the pitman arm. It's located on the passenger's side of the steering box and also plays an important role in making sure your steering system works. Just like the pitman arm, the idler arm helps assist your vehicle in turning in either direction. The idler arm mirrors the motions made by the pitman arm.
Pitman Arm Problems
Sometimes there can be issues with your pitman arm which lead to driving problems. If a vehicle has a problem with the pitman arm, the steering will be misaligned and ultimately can lead to faulty steering. Some signs of problems with the pitman arm would include your vehicle strolling slightly in the wrong direction and loose or stiff steering. If not repaired, the pitman arm can cause the steering to worsen over time.
How the Pitman Works
To understand how the pitman arm works, you'll have to understand how the steering system is designed. Both the pitman arm and idler arm are major components of your steering system which provide a linkage for your steering box and center link, and eventually your hub parts. The whole linkage is setup so that when your steering wheel is turned, it will send the movement through the linkage and all the components will complete the motion.
The pitman arm is the leading role for completing steering movements. The idler arm just supports all moves made by the pitman arm by mirroring them so both wheels turn in the same direction. If you begin to notice that your steering system is working poorly, you may need to replace your pitman arm.
Since a bad pitman arm can cause your vehicle to jump over the road, it's definitely dangerous when traveling in isolated areas or at high speeds. You should replace a bad pitman arm immediately, as well as any other parts of the steering system that aren't performing as well as they could.
Replacing the Pitman Arm
Once you determine there are problems with your pitman arm, it's essential to fix it before your steering gets too out of control. You can drive with a bad pitman arm for a while but it'll be a lot rougher and harder to control your vehicle. Make sure you install a new pitman arm as soon as you can.
Depending on your vehicle, you may have to replace your pitman arm frequently. Those that invested in Hummers will probably agree with this statement as many have had to replace their pitman arm as regular as every 20, 000 miles. Pitman arms also get worn out on trucks a lot easier than they do on cars.
If you have experience around cars, you'll probably want to replace the pitman arm yourself. You can find some guides to complete the task and if you follow the instructions, there shouldn't be any difficulties. For those that don’t have the proper tools or experience for the job, it's strongly suggested that you get a professional mechanic to complete the replacement. Since your pitman arm is an essential part of your steering system, getting it replace properly is absolutely crucial.