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Old 01-21-2011, 08:13 AM   #1
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Default Ball joints, tie rods, pitman arm, and idler arm

Found this write up, thought it would benefit some here !!

Tools -

* Ball joint fork = 9$ at Advance Auto Parts
* Large adjustable wrench = $14 at Lowes (Kobalt)
* Piece of pipe to slip over wrenches and break things loose
* Breaker bar = $18 at Advance Auto Parts
* Pitman arm puller = Free rent from Advance Auto Parts
* Ball joint removal tool = Free rent from Advance Auto Parts
* Grease Gun = $20 numerous places
* Full set of sockets
* Large Crowbar
* Good heavy hammer
* Large socket for axle nut, mine was 35mm
* I don't know how much your parts are going to be. I bought all mine off ebay I think my total after everything was $80 for OEM.

I already owned most of these tools, but I remembered a few prices from looking around for other things so hopefully it'll get you on your way. When you rent the others, you have to pay upfront, but receive a refund when you return them.

My air compressor is broken at the moment as well, so if you have one, or access to one this job will be A LOT easier.


* Pulled my truck into the garage onto ramps, make sure your tires and steering wheel are as straight as possible, and I am cautious so I placed a wheel chock in front of 1 rear tire, and behind the other.
* Removed the plastic skid plate (5 bolts)
* Removed the nut off the pitman arm where it attaches to the center link
* Used my ball joint fork (some call it a pickle fork) slipped it between the center link and the grease boot on the pitman arm and tapped it with a 3lb hammer til the tapered end broke loose from the center link. Best route I found was to stick the fork over the cross member for a straight shot.
* Now that its loose from the center link, I removed the large nut from the steering shaft that holds the pitman arm on all I could find to fit the nut was a big adjustable wrench, it was VERY tight. Set this nut and lock washer to the side because it will be re-used.
* After fighting with it and trying to be a hero by removing it without a puller I found it impossible and went the other way with it. My steering box is held on by three bolts through the frame. Very easy to loosen the top bolt, and remove the bottom two which will allow you to push the steering box from the front toward the rear and slip a pitman arm puller on it.
* Once the puller is on go ahead and crank down on it. My steering wheel is broke and no longer locks when the truck is off, so I had to take a steel pipe and run it up through the motor and down to the floor to hold my pitman arm from spinning the shaft when I tightened the puller. Even after attaching my pipe to the ratchet for more leverage the arm didn't pop off til I tapped it once with my 3lb hammer.
* Once you have the old one removed, be sure to put your grease fitting in the new one, and re-install. The steering shaft has notches in it, so as long as your tires and steering wheel are straight the arm should go on with no issues. Tighten your nuts on the shaft and the center link, and place your cotter pin in the slot if you have one. Give it one good shot of grease once installed, and be sure you have re-attached your steering box.


* Same scenario as the pitman arm, truck on ramps, remove plastic skid plate, and remove the nut from the tapered end on the center link. Use the ball joint fork to separate it from the center link.
* Then, the large end of the idler arm is attached to a large pivot, in my case, it had two large bolts going through it. Remove those two bolts, and take the entire assembly from the vehicle (arm and pivot)
* I put my idler arm in my bench vise with the pivot facing DOWN. Removed the nut holding the idler arm to the pivot. Then I carefully tapped it with my hammer til the pivot fell off.
* Now, put the pivot in the vise with the shaft facing up, and attach the new idler arm. In order to tighten the nut I had to tap the new idler arm onto the tapered shaft on the pivot, not hard, but just enough to hold it.
* Now, after tightening the nut, put your grease fitting on, and you should have the entire assembly ready to install. Place the end back into the center link, put the nut on, and leave loose. Then re-attach the pivot in its designated area and tighten it down. Attach cotter pins if available, and double check your work for any errors. Give it one good shot of grease as well after installation.


* Tie rods are pretty easy, after removing the wheel you plan to do first, remove the nut on the tie rod end that is attached to the spindle.
* After removing the nut, carefully tap the bolt with a hammer til it pops out.
* Then, at the end of the center link, there is a large nut, it may be covered with a rubber boot, but should be relatively easy to locate. Take your large adjustable or wrench of your choice (channel locks if you are super careful) and loosen that nut. Once you get it loose, you can remove the entire tie rod assembly in one piece, the end still attached to the inner.
* I took mine to my work bench, and with a measuring tape and some good eyes I took my new inner and outer tie rods and assembled them to the same length as the one I removed. By making sure everything is matching you alleviate having any Hugh problems with your alignment.
* Once everything is the same length and you have it tight and ready to install you can attach your grease fitting to the tie rod end.
* Installing your new assembly should be just as easy as removing the old one. Screw the entire tie rod assembly into the end of the center link, and slip the bolt on the tie rod end up through the ear on the spindle. The end that attaches to the center link can spin with some force since its new, so you can fasten it tight, and then twist the tie rod end until its able to go through the ear on the spindle.
* You can now tighten the nut on the tie rod end, and attach cotter pins if you have any. Repeat the steps for the other side, and be sure to grease the to joints (end and inner). Mine did not come pre-greased, make them plump, but DO NOT make them hard. More of a gooey consistency or you will bust the grease boot and it will be ruined.


* The smartest way to do this is to replace both upper and lower at the same time, but I didn't have the money at the time to do both so I had to be careful and do just the lower.
* Remove your wheel, and them remove the two large bolts that hold your brake caliper on and set it up on the upper control arm out of the way.
* Remove the brake rotor, remove the tie rod end from the spindle, and your spindle should turn with ease back and forth.
* Now, follow your brake line to a small metal bracket with a plastic clip on one end holding another line (speed sensor). Use a small set of pliers and squeeze the clip for the speed sensor to remove it from the bracket
* Remove the 1 10mm bolt that holds the bracket to the spindle, and remove the Allen key bolt from where the speed sensor enters the spindle. You will have to wiggle it out, but once you do, you can lay it back behind the upper control arm, and this also gives you the ability to tie strap your brake caliper to the back of the fender well and out of your way.
* Now, nothing should be attached to your spindle and it should move freely back and forth. Take a small flat head screwdriver, and remove the metal cap on the hub. You can now take your large socket, 35mm in my case, and take the nut off the end of the axle.
* The only thing holding the entire assembly to the control arms is the upper and lower ball joints now. Loosen the nut on the upper ball joint but do not remove it, take it down to the last couple threads, and put your ball joint fork under the rubber grease boot and tap it easy as to not rupture the boot. It should pop out for you, and the nut will stop it from falling.
* The lower ball joint will be done the same way. Loosen the nut to the last few threads, and stick your fork between the grease boot and spindle ear. You can hit it on in there since your replacing it, and it should pop free. Once free, if you use your hand you can push down on the upper control arm to remove the nut from the upper ball joint, and pick up on the spindle to remove the nut from the lower. Now you can maneuver the spindle til you get it free from both ball joints and the axle. I just picked up on the upper and pulled the spindle out, and wiggled it off the bottom one.
* Time to break out the Ball joint removal tool. Follow the instructions and place the correct sleeves where they need to be on the top and bottom of the lower ball joint. Once ready to tighten the tool, if you don't have an air gun, I turned the tool til it rested on the lower control arm for stability, and cranked down on it with my breaker bar and the piece of pipe. Took some serious muscle, but it broke free of the control arm.
* You will need to use the tool to press the new ball joint in as well. Just take your time and use good judgment with the pieces you are using. There is a small indention on the control arm where you will have access to the grease fitting once the new ball joint is installed. Take note of that, and remember to not install the grease fitting till you have the ball joint in and set in the correct place. If the tool slips or you do use the wrong sleeve or cap you will damage that fitting and risk breaking it off in the ball joint and it will just fail from no lubrication. Once installed, you can install your grease fitting, but DO NOT grease it before re-assembly of everything.
* Re-assembling everything is pretty much reversing the removal. My upper ball joint was lubed pretty well which causes the shaft on it to spin when tightening the nut, so I used the ball joint tool to push the spindle up on it a bit so it would I could tighten it good. Also, just in case, wipe the sensor off before reinstalling to remove any dirt that may be stuck to it.

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Old 01-21-2011, 08:36 AM   #2
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Thanks, I'll see what can be done with it. Pictures would be great.
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Old 01-21-2011, 08:42 AM   #3
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Picture 1 is the ball joint
Picture 2 is the idler arm
Picture 3 is the pitman arm, kinda wierd, mine didn't have the usual grease boot on it
Picture 4 is the pitman arm installed
Picture 5 obviously is tie rods

Hope this is good information.
Attached Thumbnails
Ball joints, tie rods, pitman arm, and idler arm-ball-joint.jpg   Ball joints, tie rods, pitman arm, and idler arm-idler-arm.jpg   Ball joints, tie rods, pitman arm, and idler arm-pitman-arm1.jpg   Ball joints, tie rods, pitman arm, and idler arm-pitman-arm2.jpg   Ball joints, tie rods, pitman arm, and idler arm-tie-rods.jpg  

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