OT-- Pitman arm removal

I'm trying to replace the pitman arm on my '94 Dodge 3/4 ton, 2 wheel drive. I have a puller, but it won't budge the arm, and I've applied enough force to deform the center on both the puller and shaft in the steering box. No real damage done, but it's apparent I need something more substantial. I don't want to use heat, I'm not trying to destroy the steering box. Any suggestions?


Reply to
Harold and Susan Vordos
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Try tapping on the side with a hammer while holding a larger hammer on the back side. Pitman puller tend to be fixed jaw heavy duty types.


Reply to

Thanks. I'll give that a try just as quickly as a get a different puller. True to my hunch, the one I have is too light to do the job. It's not a fixed jaw type, and that had me concerned.

Those suckers are really put on there. Makes you wonder why they need a nut and lock washer!


Reply to
Harold and Susan Vordos

there is a hint that I run across in some old car repair books that says to loosen the nut a few turns and drive around for a while - I don't think I'd try that.

second point - I tried a cheapie puller to pull the arm on my 38 plymouth - didn't do anything but bend the puller - got the right tool and it came off with no further problems

Reply to

An approach I've taken in the past is to go have have a shop with a good puller break it loose for you, then put it back with 'sane' torque on the nut for the trip home. As always, use good judgment and common sense, don't drive it long or far like this...

Just out of passing interest, $nap On makes absolutely WONDERFUL (note caps) pitman arm pullers... they effortlessly 'pluck' off the arms God himself couldn't budge. They'll slap a big cheesy grin on your face every time you use one.


Reply to

Harold, there's been some mention of having a mechanic remove the nut and replacing it with less torque and then driving the vehicle. Or worse, of loosening the nut and then driving the vehicle to loosen the arm on the sector shaft. I'm sure you're not so foolish as to act upon those pieces of (very bad) advice.

Here are some R&R tips:

  1. Safety first. It's not uncommon for pullers to fracture in use. Also, when the pitman arm lets go, it can release with a BANG! Make sure you're wearing at least eye protection (preferably, face protection). Leather gloves aren't a bad idea either. Make sure your fingers, hands, and other body parts are not in a position to get crushed or otherwise injured if something lets go violently.

  1. Soak the joint with a little Kroil (or similar penetrating oil). Let it work at least overnight.

  2. Get the proper tool for the job: a pitman arm puller. You shouldn't have to hammer, pry, or heat. I would invest in a high-quality, name-brand tool for this job. Cheap pullers tend to bend or explode.

  1. Do not completely remove the pitman arm retaining nut until the arm has been loosened from the steering box sector shaft. The nut will safely retain the arm on the shaft if the arm releases violently. Just unwind the nut until the outer face is flush with the end of the sector shaft (the threads of the nut should be fully -- or almost fully -- engaged on the shaft). You can wrap a heavy rubber band or a piece of cord around the shaft between the arm and the nut so that the two pieces don't slam together when the arm lets go.

  2. Use a very large socket wrench (or breaker bar) to tighten your puller. That way you can put some distance between you and the parts. It also gives you more leverage so that you can apply torque evenly without straining. Use a six-point socket (not a twelve-point) to tighten the puller; an impact socket is best. But don't use an air-impact gun on the puller.

  1. After you put some heavy tension on the arm with your puller, you can

*lightly* tap the end of the arm with a hammer where it envelopes the shaft. The vibration can help the arm release its grip on the shaft. Do not hit it hard (unless you want to replace your steering box too).

  1. When replacing the arm, a little anti-seize on the sector shaft can help prevent the arm and shaft from corroding together (and will make any future R&R jobs much easier).

  2. Make sure you line up the indexing splines between the arm and the sector shaft. The arm should only go on in one position.

  1. Make sure you torque the retaining nut to the manufacturer's specifications. This can be as much as 200 ft-lb (or greater) for some vehicles, so be sure you have access to a torque wrench with the rated capacity for the job.

Good luck!

- Michael

Reply to

...while the puller has been tightened onto it and the parts are under tension.

Reply to
Rex B

Well said! I find it hard to believe that Harold needs help with ANYTHING, he's always been the final word on how to do something. I wish him the best of luck and with your directions I'm sure of his success.

Reply to
Tom Gardner

If you have an AutoZone in your area go there and ask for a loner pitman arm puller. They actually make you buy it but you get a full refund when you return it so it's free.

Best Regards, Keith Marshall snipped-for-privacy@progressivelogic.com

"I'm not grown up enough to be so old!"

Reply to
Keith Marshall


I'll agree with everything here except for the impact socket on a breaker bar part. Impact sockets aren't meant to take this sort of use, I've broke them by doing that. Other than that, good stuff.


Reply to

After the hammering fails, it is usually time for the heat wrench. Put the pitman arm under tension and apply some heat from a O/A torch to an available part of the arm, preferably away from the arm itself and it should pop loose with a nice crack sound. The rest is a quick removal of the arm before the thing cools.

-- Why isn't there an Ozone Hole at the NORTH Pole?

Reply to
Bob May

I've had a few real stinkers to remove - and found a chisel in a good air-hammer applied to the outer circumference, arallel to the shaft, can spread it just enough to make it easy (relatively) to remove.

I've also often used the airhammer with a punch (hammer head style) to whack at them from the top. Carefull though - I once ended up with 2 very badly crushed finger tips when the hammer slipped.

Reply to

On Thu, 19 May 2005 21:40:42 -0700, the inscrutable "Harold and Susan Vordos" spake:

I've used pipe clamps to hold movable jaw pullers in place before. T'aint purty.

Also, be sure that any side loading you put on the gear is backed up by a larger hammer to avoid mashing seals and flattening bushings. Hit with a 2-pound rock hammer backed up by a 5-pounder.

If you have an AutoZone in town, borrow one from them FREE! Yeah, they're REALLY on there, aren't they?

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Reply to
Larry Jaques

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