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86-95 Trucks & 4Runners 2nd/3rd gen pickups, and 1st/2nd gen 4Runners with IFS

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Old 08-13-2009, 07:50 PM   #1
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Replacing Pitman Arm +???

Hey Everyone,

New here and have been looking around, and I couldn't really find a answer to my exact question, so here I am now!

I have a 95 4Runner 2wd SR5, and I went to have the front end alligned, and I was told the Pitman arm and Idler Arm needed to be replaced as well as the Left Front shock was bad, the steering sta. shock, both front tires, and a few other things as well for a total of $1,400!!!

The steering was GOOD AND TIGHT when I bought the Toy untill I was pulling in the driveway one afternoon, and while at a full right turn I dropped the tire off of the edge of the driveway, and I heard a loud POP!!!

So I pulled forward into my spot then backed out and looked at the steering settup and al seemed fine. So I figured it was the tire slipping off of the edge of the concrete. Well the next day I noticed it pulling to the right some. So when I returned Home I jacked the Toy up and checked the steering links ect.. and noticed that the right tire ( passenger) was toed in a little compaired to the Left. I pulled the tire and really ooked over everything, and couldn't find any excess play in any part. I then checked the tightness of the adjustment sleeve for the inner and outter tie rod ends and the outside nut was somewhat loose compaired to the inner bolt and nut. I figuerd that the loose sleeve clamp allowed it to "SLIP" a thread! So I bought a new sleeve and replaced it and got it as straight as I could. Then took it to PEP BOYS, on the advice of a buddy, and that was when I was told I needed all of the parts listed in the begining!

Well a week or so has passed and I ordered the Pitman are and Idler arm that PepBoys said were bad. So tonight I went to begin to remove the skid plate and I noticed the Idler arm was newer! So I checked in the glove bao, and sure enough there was a receipt from a Yoda house for replacement of the Ideler Arm. It was replaced only 12,000 miles ago, so NOW I AM WONDERING if the Pitman Arm is actually BAD or if they were just trying to screw me for some cash!!!

So now for my question!!

HOW DO I CHECK to see if the "new" idler arm is bad or for that matter if the pitman arm is even bad??? The new patrs will be in tomorrow morning, so I am going to jack up the Toy then and remove the tires to check everything again, but I am unsure if I will be able to tell if just 1 of the parts is bad, or do I need to undo the pitman arm and check it by itself and do the same for the idler too???


PLEASE HELP A NEWBIE OUT!!! I am good at doin my own repaires as I grew up on a farm, and I am basicly a Jack of all trades and a master of none! So I feel very comfortable doing the work myself, but I am just unsure what to look for in these 2 parts. By the way I have the Hayne Book of the Yoda, and it tells how to sheck most of the steering parts( Ball Joints, ect..) but not the Pitman or Idler! Just my Luck!!!

THANKYOU ALL in Advance for ANY HELP!! And Sorry of the long explaination too!!!

Drew
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Old 08-14-2009, 06:30 AM   #2
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Grab the centre link of the steering and try to move it sideways. If the idler arm is bad you'll see it move, but with only 12,000 on a new one I really doubt it would need replaced already.
Not sure how to check the pitman, but I would see if there is any movement there too.
The worn shock shouldn't have any effect on the alignment. I would take it somewhere else for a 2nd opinion if Pepboys won't do it.
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Old 08-14-2009, 07:28 AM   #3
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The issue with the Pittman is probably not going to be movement or wobble, so much as whether or not it's bent. 2nd opinion from a better place than Pepboys is in order!
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:26 AM   #4
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Here's my $.02

Idler arms are weak in these trucks. I'm glad I don't have one. Anyways, with the front end jacked up and supported with weight on the LCA's and tires off the ground, you can put your hands on the rf tire at 9 and 3 o'clock and jolt the tire/wheel in and out while watching the movement of the idler arm at the elbow. Thats where the play will be. You can really see how much looking at where it connects to the centerlink. How much up and down movement do you see? Also, this movement of the centerlink continues down to the other end where it joins the pitman arm and can easily be interperated as excessive movement in the ball of the pitman arm. If your idler arm has more than a 1/4 inch of up and down play, its sloppy and does need attention. I've heard they are rebuildable but I have never even bothered trying as Moog parts have a lifetime warranty.
So, that being said, after you eliminate a bad idler arm recheck the play at the pitman arm. You will most likely see a lot less. (do the shake now on the driver side to check)
Neither of these were likely harmed by your sliding off the curb. On the other hand your toe was off so, yes your tie rod could have jumped a thread or 2. Or one of your lower cam bolts could have slipped also. This would show up as toe being off as well as camber or caster depending on which cam may have slipped. I think it was probably you rear cam on your LCA. You mentioned it pulled right after this curb incident. Caster is likely off and your truck will pull to the lower caster side.

Look really good at the rear cam and the walls it rides on (the side that slipped off the curb) and also confirm that the lobes of the cams are going the same way on each cam set. There are 4 sets or 8 lobes.

Some people describe a crooked steering wheel as a pull because when they straighten the wheel it goes this way or that. If, when going straight down a flat (not slanted) road and you let go of the wheel and the vehicle wants to go off to the left or right consistantly, that is a pull. Its important to describe this to us as well as possible so we can give the best answer.

Lastly, you can't check your alignment angles with the vehicle jacked up. Even after you get it back on the ground the suspension is still not in its normal position until it gets rolled forward or back to take the tire's grip on the driveway out of the picture.
I hope this doesn't confuse you, its hard to put some of this into text.

Good luck!
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Old 08-14-2009, 09:26 AM
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