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Please check your Pitman Arm!


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It's been months since I've posted here; too busy working, parked at one RV park in NH all summer and only driving the Volvo occasionally to keep things lubricated.

Finally we're on our way back west, headed to SD.


This evening at the end of day 2 of our drive, I decided to check the oil. It was down a bit so I topped it off, then continued my check around the engine and front suspension; everything I can see with the hood raised.

I had the drag link replaced right after I bought the truck, but I still like to grab hold of it and see that it is still tight at both ends, since it's a known weak link.


The link ends were fine, but I noticed the front end was definitely wagging back and forth, seemingly at least an eight of an inch. Upon further examination I found the Pitman Arm was moving with respect to the steering head shaft. Mine is the type (TAS) with the pinch bolt. So I got out the 30mm socket and 30mm wrench and sure enough, it was not very tight. Looked up the torque spec (295 +/- 45 ft-lbs) and torqued it up to 320 with my 4-foot-long 3/4-drive torque wrench.


I had thought during the day today that the steering just didn't feel quite right, but wasn't certain what I was feeling. I suspect that was what led me (almost subconsciously) to check the steering drag link.

I expect the steering will feel a lot tighter tomorrow!


I can only guess that, if left unattended, given how loose the Pitman Arm clamp was on the steering shaft, it would have beaten itself up badly over time. I feel very fortunate to have caught it in time.

After tightening the pinch bolt, there is now zero play and the arm and drag link feel perfectly tight.


So just a warning to others-- next time you have the hood up, grab the front end of the drag link and try to pull it side-to-side. It shouldn't move at all in that direction.

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Besides checking that sort of thing when you grease the truck, the everyday pretrip move I make is while sitting in the drivers seat,engine running, lean out the window and look at your front tire( easy for me on the cabover, you might have to lean out, or even open the door). Move the steering wheel back and forth a small amount slowly, until you see the front tire move. That sets a standard. If anything becomes loose you will see/feel it. By the way, the steering wheel should only move a couple of inches(maybe less) before the tire moves. This test moves everything under pressure, more pressure than you can by just grabbing a part of the steering links and shaking.

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