Any front suspension/steering experts? Pitman and Idler Arm

The front end shop won't align my 88 S10 Blazer 4WD as they say the front suspension is "worn out" :-) Such a technical term..... Big-O-Tires, if
anyone is familiar with the chain.
Their estimate was $1100 for the four ball joints, the pitman arm, and the idler arm. I am aware of their mentality, and how they will replace anything that looks at all funky. $550 for parts, $550 for labor, plus, of course, all the shocks are no good, but they will replace them for an extra $238! :-) Prices do not include alignment.
It does track a bit wierd, and I am not surprised to learn things are wearing out around 200K miles.
Anyway, replacing the ball joints is no big thing, but the repair manual I have says nothing about the pitman and idler arms, other than 'a home mechanic is not qualified and does not have the tools to replace them.' I am finding that hard to believe, and will be searching other books for more info.
Are those two parts something that can be replaced by a back yard mechanic? I am capable, up to the point where I would need some funky tool that the auto store might not loan to me. Obviously, I have never done them before, or if I did, it was on a 64 Chevy and I would not recall that long ago anyway. I am hoping/expecting to do these replacements myself, and then letting someone else do the alignment.
Any web sites, tech forums, experiences, or suggestions would be most appreciated.
Thanks for your time and the bandwidth.
Regards,
John
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
better check the upper A-frame bushings, too

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Not an expert by any means (did my 91 4x4) and by the time they finish with you, it will run about $2000 if they do everything that it probably needs
Buy a Haynes repair Manual for your ride. If you have a floor jack, stands, and the basic tools, sockets and wrenchs that stuff is fairly easy. (OOPS Is it a 4X4? Forgot about the nut on the half shaft) might need a big breaker bar and 32 34 or 36 mm socker for it. How are the boots on the half shafts?
Did my A-arm bushings and ball joints (had a machine shop remove the orig riveted B-joints and press in the bushings) as the new B-joints were bolted on Each ball joint about 50 bucks. Do the tie-rods too
You will need a heavy puller for the Pitman Arm, but you can buy an OTC tie-rod tool for knocking off the tie-rods/idler arm.....about 50 bucks....A pickle fork also works...Hardest thing for me to do was getting stablizer bar back on Thinking back, I had to mark and take off the long Torsion bars off to remove the lower A-arm
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The Idler arm on the S-Series can have up to 1/2" play:
Those are the new revised specs, and none of the shops that the mechanics work on commission will tell you that, also, the ball joints were revised to 5/16" on those. Because within a few thousand miles, they were at the state inspection limit of 1/4 inch. The Pitman arm?
The Pitman arm pivot should be in the center link, and up to 1/4" is allowable. Go to another shop, like a local independant shop. Who makes a living at a much lower hourly rate and depends on repeat customers, not sale gimmics and advertising.
Get an estimate there and get back to us.
Good luck!
Refinish King
PS
If you have to do it yourself, you're better off buying a store brand ball joint press for $60.00 and that can even do the upper control arm bushings if needed. Check the upper control arms for rot under the undercoating.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Refinish King" wrote

Where are you getting these "revised" specs from? It certainly can't be from the GM service manuals as they still specify 1/4 inch max play on the idler arm (and since the idler arm has two parts that can be worn out, there are different specs for those two parts) and zero play at the ball joint style pivot point.

Ball joint spec is max vertical play of 1/8 inch. I don't know where you get 5/16 of an inch from. Blazer ball joints do get some initial vertical movement quite quickly (which does fool a lot of shops), but it still takes a while for the play to get to 1/8 of an inch. And of course, the shop has to know how to properly check the play.

1/4 inch? Try no play whatsover at the pivot, either up or down, or rocking motion. You will get some rocking motion as the pivot wears, and I'd be the first one to tell you that a bit is ok, but after a while that type of wear starts to translate into movement at the wheel.
Ian
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Moog front end service specifications:
Alexander Buick, Pontiac, Cadilac and GMC Truck, in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.
We were replacing these parts like crazy and someone called PENNDOT to complain. Then the State Inspection Quality Contol Officer told us to call the dealer and get the Moog book, that GM had a campaign on the S-series.
I'm just quoting what I was told to go by on State Inspection.
Sorry if it's misinformation for any other purpose.
With kind regards,
Refinish King
PS
I am incredilous on a ball joint having more than 1/4" of play being safe. I just went by what I was told to not lose my license!

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Step 1: Buy a box of latex gloves at CVS (or any drug store). Step 2: Buy parts... Decide how far you want to go. Ball-joints, Centerlink, idler-arm, tie-rod-ends, and sway-bar-links are a pretty common and pretty deascent upgrade to whatevery you had (and a reasonable 4 hour first-time-job). I've never selected A-arm bushings, but if you do the time to do them is when you have the ball joints off. Step 3: Jack-stand the vehicle and remove tires and get the ball-joints loose. the hardest part is probably the cotter pins. Buy a real chizzle and a 4lb hammer to wack-off the ball-joint rivets (done it several times, it's not hard). Torches work too- but be careful not to light-up the grease (I have torches but prefer a chizzel for this operation). Step 4. put the jack under the lower control arm and use a ball-joint-fork or a chizzle to pop loose the ball-joints from the spindal. You may choose to loosten them w/o the jack under it if you keep the nuts on the old ball joints until everything is loose. Step 5. Remove and replace all the parts
When you remove the tie-rod ends be very careful to count the turns when removing the old ones and count the same number installing the new ones. Make sure you know which tie-rod-end is which and match up the new ones to the old ones (my camaro had oppositely curved ones). The center-link is pretty obvious (just get the nuts loose before poping them loose from the joint-seats). Comments: Ball-joint bolts are tightend against the slip-force-fit into the spindle (similar with tie-rod-ends and centerlink). Thus you need to be smart about removing them - not a bigger lever - but instead use a hammer with a straight rench. The hammering/tapping will loosen the bolts, and I have seen them spin when just trying to force them. If that happens you'd need a torch to get them out. The 4 lb mini-sledge should work fine for pressing out/in the bushings - just use a proper-sized socket to align
ken wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
. . ============ Any front suspension/steering experts? Pitman and Idler Arm Group: alt.autos.4x4.chevy-trucks Date: Wed, Mar 3, 2004, 7:48pm (CST-1) From: user@arosnet
The front end shop won't align my 88 S10 Blazer 4WD as they say the front suspension is "worn out" :-) Such a technical term..... Big-O-Tires, if anyone is familiar with the chain. Their estimate was $1100 for the four ball joints, the pitman arm, and the idler arm. I am aware of their mentality, and how they will replace anything that looks at all funky. $550 for parts, $550 for labor, plus, of course, all the shocks are no good, but they will replace them for an extra $238! :-) Prices do not include alignment.
It does track a bit wierd, and I am not surprised to learn things are wearing out around 200K miles.
Anyway, replacing the ball joints is no big thing, but the repair manual I have says nothing about the pitman and idler arms, other than 'a home mechanic is not qualified and does not have the tools to replace them.' I am finding that hard to believe, and will be searching other books for more info.
Are those two parts something that can be replaced by a back yard mechanic? I am capable, up to the point where I would need some funky tool that the auto store might not loan to me. Obviously, I have never done them before, or if I did, it was on a 64 Chevy and I would not recall that long ago anyway. I am hoping/expecting to do these replacements myself, and then letting someone else do the alignment.
Any web sites, tech forums, experiences, or suggestions would be most appreciated.
Thanks for your time and the bandwidth. Regards, John ==============John, "IF" those were the ONLY parts that they said needed to be replaced.......
here's a cheap...workable alternative for you.
Go down to "the corner store" and ...... buy yerself a 24 pack of Budwieser.... (this ain't gonna work with no other beer.... so get Budwieser...)
now....on the way back to the house, stop by yer buddies house......hit the horn.... hold up the 24 pack of Budwieser....and wave him in the truck.
next....go home, park the truck, open up one of them Budweisers, take a big arse slug...
man.....ain't you glad you got Budwieser, and not that Milwalkees Best they had in the discount door.??.....
any whooo.....
you and yer buddy drink a couple of them Budwiesers.....let's say bout 3 of em apiece....
now.....tell yer buddy to crawl under the front of yer truck....lay on his back, bout where his heads centered under the steering linkage.
now....you start yank'n and jerk'n the steering wheel back and forth ....really hard and fast....
JOHN...!!!!.....DON'T CRANK THE TRUCK!!! yer buddies under there....remember???
any whooo...... if he's still got his head .....yell out there and tell him to look for the part coming off the steering gear box.....tell him to find something similar on the other side of the truck that's bolted to the frame.......ask him if it's flopping up and down a lot...
now...... stop yank'n on the steering wheel....
tell yer buddy to get back in the truck.... give him another one of them Budwiesers... you slug one down too......
they're gett'n hot......cuz you didn't buy no ice to put em on!!
now.... after bout 2 more beers......tell yer buddy to get back under the truck, jest like before.... and this time ....promise not to start it up!!!
it's okay if you jest wanna scare him a little and bump the starter....but don't actually let it crank up.......don't want him losing a fanger.
now..... this time....very easily...start wiggling the steering wheel.....jest enough to where you can feel any play in it....
then ....yell under there to yer buddy and ask him if that first part he looked at on the steering gear box......has any side play at the joint, where it connects up to the steering linkage....
next.....get yer buddy from underneath that truck.....cuz you done drank a lot of Buddy's Wieser now, and you don't wanna go forgett'n he's under there and running him over.... after all.....he is yer buddy.
once yer buddies out
now....... go inside....put them other 12 Budweisers in the Freezer.......cuz they hot now for sure... make you and yer buddy a sandwich...find a good game on the TV.....and knock back the rest of them beers.
then tomorrow......
go buy you a MOOG pitman arm....and a MOOG idler arm.... (cuz the Big O no Tires wuz coe-wrecked... dey wuz bad)
buy yerself a pitman arm puller at NAPA... cuz the AutoZonedOut store don't sell no MOOG parts, and there ain't no use running all over town to get what you need, when the NAPA dude has it right there.
now..... get the Napa dude to tell you how to operate that pitman arm puller ....don't worry....he knows how...and if he try's to sell you a socket.. you may wanna consider it.
now hand him that $127.32.....get yer receipt... and go get yer buddy to help you put the parts on yer truck.
you may wanna get another 24 pack of that Buddy'sWeiser .....
once you got those two parts on.......
go down to the nearest FAMILY OWNED local tire store....and get them to align that thing for you.....and don't worry.....maybe they won't be too mad at you fer buying the tires down at the BIG O Tire's.......
BEFORE THEY TOLD YOU YER STEERING AND SUSPENSION WAS FUBAR !!!!
maybe you oughta buy a set of rims from the Local Family Shop....jest to keep em from looking at you funny.....and gett'n even with you by sett'n yer camber way out...
after all.......you still got $1,000 left over that you didn't give the Big O no Tire store.
the ball joints?
save yer money...unless yer hear'n some knock'n noises going on under there after chang'n out the 2 steering parts.
every GM on the road has bad ball joints.... but GM's ride better with bad ball joints...
MarshMonster ~takes a sip of his shroom juice~ ==============
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
But what if they like Corona or Coors or Fosters.....Wood da instructions be different?
Do they still brew Blitz beer up thar en da Pacific Northwest?...some god awful stuff..
Kinda tasted like what they served in those topless bars just off any Army Training base in the States... Not that I've ever been in one, ya hear, read that in a book..Ken
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

have worry too much about the camber or caster just get it close so you can get to the alinment shop.. PS.. Make sure your steering wheel and tires are straight before you put it back together Done my 85 Blazer,, The A-arm bushings are a pain if you don't have a press but you can hammer then out..
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.