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Front end check


gmbwrenchn
06-21-2007, 06:08 PM
97 Blazer LT. 4.3 Ltr. 135k miles. I have replaced the ball joints. I want to take it in for a front end alignment. How can I check the front end for parts that are worn out. Should I just replace one of the items {idler arm, pitman,etc.} for preventative measure? Thanks.

blazes9395
06-21-2007, 09:09 PM
Lift the front of your truck place it on stands. Grab the front wheel and push it back and forth at the 9 and 3 o'clock position. Watch you idler are and look if its loose. Its the same check for your pitman arm. It easier if you have an assistant they can push and pull and you can watch and see if you have play. If there is a lot of play, then they need to be replaced.

gmbwrenchn
06-22-2007, 11:44 PM
Thanks for the advice. What about the inner and outer tie rods. Same thing? Or is that something for the alignment shop to check. Thanks.

ericn1300
06-23-2007, 07:30 PM
Lift the front of your truck place it on stands. Grab the front wheel and push it back and forth at the 9 and 3 o'clock position. Watch you idler are and look if its loose. Its the same check for your pitman arm. It easier if you have an assistant they can push and pull and you can watch and see if you have play. If there is a lot of play, then they need to be replaced.

DO NOT check the front suspension parts with the wheels off the ground or you'll get a false diagnosis



Proper procedure for checking an idler arm for looseness or wear.

The suspension should be normally loaded on the ground or on an alignment rack. When raised by a frame contact hoist, the vehicle's steering linkage is allowed to hang, and proper testing cannot be done.
Jerking the front wheel and tire assembly back and forth (causing an up- and down-movement in the idler arm) is not an acceptable method of checking, as there is no control on the amount of force being applied.
Check the idler arm ends for worn sockets or deteriorated bushings.
Grasp the center link firmly with your hand at the idler arm end.
Push up with approximately a 25-pound (110 N) load.
Pull down with the same load.
http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2006-5/1178639/IdlerArmCheck.jpg
The allowable movement of the idler arm and support assembly in one direction is 1/8 inch (3 mm), for a total acceptable movement of 1/4 inch (6 mm).
The load can be accurately measured by using a dial indicator or pull spring scale located as near the center link end of the idler arm as possible.
Keep in mind that the test forces should not exceed 25 pounds (110 N), as even a new idler arm might be forced to show movement due to steel flexing when excessive pressure is applied.
It is also necessary that a scale or ruler be rested against the frame and used to determine the amount of movement.
Observers tend to overestimate the actual movement when a scale is not used.
The idler arm should always be replaced if it fails this test.


Center Links - may also be called a Drag Link, Connecting Arm or Steering Arm Rod.

• When inspecting the center link, look closely to insure it has not been bent or damaged.
• Grasp the center link firmly and try moving it in all directions.
• Any movement, or sign of damage, is reason for replacement.
• Tapered openings seldom wear but should be checked for enlargement caused by a loose connection. If necessary, replace the center link.

Tie-rod end

• Tie-rod end and center link inspections are similar.
• Grasp the tie-rod end firmly.
• Push vertically with the stud, and inspect for movement at the joint with the steering knuckle.

Any movement over 1/8 inch (3 mm) or observation of damaged or missing parts, such as seals, is sufficient evidence that replacement is necessary.
An additional check of the tie-rods can be made by rotating each tie-rod end to feel for roughness or binding, which could indicate that the socket has probably rusted internally. A special puller is often required to separate a tie-rod end from the steering knuckle.

blazes9395
06-24-2007, 02:27 AM
Hmm, I've used the front end check I mentioned for many of many years and never had an issue. A loose idler arm will be loose up and down. In other words, if you push and pull on your tire, you'll see up and down movement on your idler. The idler is designed to control the up and down movement, it keeps the steering linkage true so both front tires are parallel to eachother at all times. As for using a dial indicator, yes I have seen it done, I don't know what to say, I have seen a couple of cars in my time and I usually can tell if the the idler is bad. Some movement is acceptable(in the description you mention 1/8 one way or 1/4 inch both ways), but a bad idler is pretty obvious when seen.

I am not saying your method is wrong, by no means, but in my opinion, its just another way of checking.

muddog321
06-24-2007, 07:46 AM
Shop is good but if a 4wd the idler is always shot by now and the pitman is solid metal so not needed to be changed. No one ever greases that front idle zerk cause its up under the skid on 4wd. 2wd has pitman joints and a center link that goes.

gmbwrenchn
06-24-2007, 03:59 PM
Wow thanks for those tips!

ericn1300
06-24-2007, 11:28 PM
No one ever greases that front idle zerk cause its up under the skid on 4wd.

ain't that the truth. my wife takes hers to the quickie lube. i drove it last month for the first time this year and it was so sloppy i couldn't believe it. here's a pic of the idler arm i replaced: http://www.geocities.com/ericn1300/idlerA.jpg

she said she never noticed it but it had almost an inch of slop in it. i never heard of one totaly failing before but this one was close to it.

DINO55
06-25-2007, 01:15 AM
You just gotta Love those Quickie Lube shops, That Idler arm was pretty Scary looking. It may be a lil over kill but I grease my (two years old) brand new TRW front end every 2,000 miles need it or not...

laxman21
06-25-2007, 12:52 PM
I didn't know my idler had a grease fitting for the first 50 k. It was replaced and I started to grease it all the time, almost 200k later, no problems.

11 fittings up front on the s-10 and full size trucks. Sheesh.


I was thinking of getting a hose company to make me a long fitting so I could grease it remotely.

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