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Old 02-18-2009, 02:06 PM   #1
Lebo
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Default How do I get the idler arm and tie rods off


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Hi. How do you get the idler arm and tie rods off a 98 Tahoe? I am trying to remove the idler arm as well as the inner and outer tie rods. I am going to leave the pitman arm to a shop. The nuts were no problem getting off the idler arm and outer tie rods. I thought that they would slide out once the nut was removed. I was wrong. Do they press out?, hammer out? Do I need a special tool to press them out. Any help is appreciated.

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Old 02-18-2009, 03:06 PM   #2
NYrr496
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You can use a tapered fork and hammer them off, but that's a little barbaric. There are pullers for them that don't beat the parts up too badly.
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Old 02-18-2009, 07:10 PM   #3
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Thanks NYrr496,

I tried the fork but it did not work to easily so I tried the puller. The puller worked great. Now, is there a trick to getting the nuts to tighten down on the tie rod studs without the studs turning? Looks like the nuts have some compressed threads at the top. When I hit these threads the stud in the tie rods spin. I tried wedging a fork/seperator in between but I was afraid I would damage the boot. If I fail at this my wife is going to have even more ammo for a new Tahoe but I like the one I have. Any additional help is greatly appreciated.

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Old 02-18-2009, 11:06 PM   #4
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If you squashed the threads, you'll never get the nuts started. I guess maybe you could clean the threads up with a die or thread chaser. I squeeze the parts together with a big pair of channel locks to start the nuts until the taper takes a seat.
Also, Energy Suspension or one of the poly bushing companies makes replacement boots out of poly. I used them on my truck when I accidently ripped one of my tie rod boots. They work great and seal tight.
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Old 02-18-2009, 11:41 PM   #5
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I should have been more specific. The nuts are designed like that. The top thread is compressed just a little. I did not compress the threads. I assume they are like that for a reason. Maybe it substitutes for a castle nut and cotter pin in a way. Any way I wedged a piece of wood behind the inner tie rods and was able to get enough pressure on the stud to get the nut on. Once the tie rod stud seated tightly it did not spin any more. I put a jack under the outer tie rod and lifted it up just enough to keep the stud from spinning. Once they slide in far enough the tapered design of the stud gets enough pressure to stop spinning. Everything worked out OK except now my steering wheel and wheels do not line up as well. I marked the old tie rods before and tried to set the new ones the same. If I drive and let go of the wheel it tracks straight but the wheel is slightly cocked off. Is the Idler arm hard to get off? Can I get it off without taking other components off? Thanks again for your help.

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Old 02-19-2009, 09:41 AM   #6
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Do you mean from the steering box or the frame on the opposite side? The idler arm is held on with three bolts. If you drop the air shield beneath the radiator, you can access it from there and the passenger wheelwell. The factory one is one piece. The Moog one I replaced it with is two pieces.
The Pitman arm on the steering box is also easy if you use the right tool. There's a pitman arm puller for SUVs that has the wrench hex on the ram on the inside of the tool. It allows you to leave the steering box in the vehicle. You still have to unbolt it, but it stays connected to the column and power steering hoses. It's the only way to go.
When reinstalling a pitman arm, add a little Nev R Sieze to the spline so you're not fighting a lot of friction when re torquing the nut. That way, it goes on and seats in the correct position on the steering box.
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Old 02-19-2009, 11:43 AM   #7
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I couldn't get a fork anywhere near the right position to get my idler or pitman, much less a hammer behind the fork. No one in town had a puller that was the right size, they were all too small.

I had to borrow a compressor and $15 harbor freight air hammer from a friend. I just ran a wedged chisel bit of the air hammer between the idler and center link about 5 times and they just popped open.

(it's really time that I get a compressor myself)

The inner tie rods I tried with the air hammer but the wedged chisel bit was too small to do anything to them except destroy the boots and make a mess. I took the wheels off (was doing all this so far with wheels on) and put the fork in them from the side and 2 hits with a BFH and they came loose.
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Old 02-19-2009, 02:34 PM   #8
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Thanks guys. Now, do I need to replace the bracket as well? I did not have any luck with the forks but I was able to get a puller from Oriley's that made getting the idler arm off fairly easy. I was just planning on replacing the arm. However, when I took the bracket off I noticed it had a grease fitting. I did not realize it was a moveable part that wears out. It seems fine. However, there is definitely play in the idler arm itself (not the bracket). This job keeps getting more and more expensive because I am replacing things that I might as well just because I have it taken apart.
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Old 02-19-2009, 03:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lebo View Post
Thanks guys. Now, do I need to replace the bracket as well? ...when I took the bracket off I noticed it had a grease fitting. I did not realize it was a moveable part that wears out. ..
I was the same way. when I bought my idler they asked if I wanted the bracket/frame for it and I didn't think that'd be something that's normally replaced so I just got the arm. When I pulled it all apart I noticed the same thing. I didn't get a new one, just pumped the old one full of grease and it all seems fine. for me anyway.

You and I rule for being able to take those 3 idler arm and steering gear mount bolts out of the frame rail without dropping them. I was scared the whole time because if I dropped one I didn't know if my other car was in good enough shape to make it to the parts store and has a way expired tag, and no one could give me a ride, everyone at work. With some socket extensions a strong magnet pickup tool a prayer to black-jesus and some luck I did it!
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Old 02-19-2009, 10:46 PM   #10
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Ok. Thanks for the help. I got the tie rods and idler arm back on. I decided to go with Moog parts for the idler arm but used NAPA premium parts for the tie rods. Does anyone have a preference? I still need to get the pitman arm on and will probably go with the Moog part. I think I am going to have a pro do the work for me. National Tire and Battery said they would do the labor for $45 and the alignment for another $75 or so. Not sure if they know what they are getting themselves into but I assume they have done this before. Getting the loaner tools from Oriley's was huge. I would have given up if I did not have the right tools. If the puller I had was wider I might try and do the pitman myself but I have had enough fun. The only negative thing about doing this my self is the steering wheel sits cocked 30deg right just to go straight. I thought I put the new tie rods on like the old ones but I guess not. Hopefully the alignment will take care of that. I think a powersteering pump or exhaust gasket is next. Thanks again for the help.
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