How to Install a Pitman Arm

  • 2-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 30-100
What You'll Need
Breaker bar
Wrench kit
Pitman arm puller
Long breaker pipe or bar
Torque wrench
Flat screw driver, diag wire cutter, and pliers (long nose) for cotter pins
Floor jack and stands
Cotter pins
Pitman arm

The Pitman arm is a part of the steering mechanism of a car or a truck. It is a lever that sends the force for steering from the steering gear to the linkage. There are two types of pitman arms, one which has studs in the center link and deteriorate with use; the other has tapered holes at the center link and needs to be replaced only if they have been damaged by being in an accident. Be sure your wheel is straight before you start installing the pitman arm.

Step 1 - Preparing the Vehicle

Jack up the vehicle’s left side. Put a jack stand at the A-arm underneath the frame on the vehicle’s left side. Lower the vehicle down onto the jack stand to remove the wheel.

Step 2 – Remove the Pitman Arm

Remove the big nut which holds the steering box and the pitman arm together using a breaker bar and a ¾” drive socket. It should be torqued to 180 foot pounds. Remove the pitman arm from the steering shaft using a pitman arm puller.

Step 3 – Continuing the Removal of Pitman Arm

Remove the nut and cotter pin holding the pitman arm and the center link together. Use a puller or pickle fork to separate it from the center link. Pull down on the center link and slip it out. If it does not come out, remove the two bolts which attach the idler arm to the frame and drop it down. Grease the steering box’s tapered bolt to keep moisture and dirt out. Match the cotter pin that was removed and cut down one part of the cotter pin’s length to prepare for a new cotter pin.

Step 4 – Installing the Pitman Arm

There are splines on the steering box and four flat spots that match with the splines. Install the arm to the steering shaft. Ensure the splines are lined up while a tapered bolt is inserted to the center link. Place the split lock washer on the steering shaft. Tighten it to 180 ft. lbs.

Install the nut to the pitman bolt. Tighten the nut to the specs. Make sure that the cotter pin hole is lined up. Install the new cotter pin. Then, grease the pitman arm.