What is an idler arm?
The idler arm assembly provides pivoting support for the steering linkage. It is comprised of a rod that pivots on a bracket bolted to the frame of the vehicle on one end and supports a ball socket on the other end. Generally, an idler arm is attached between the opposite side of the center link from the pitman arm and the vehicle's frame to hold the center link at the proper height so it can accurately relay the pitman arm's movement. Idler arms are generally more vulnerable to wear than pitman arms because of the pivot function built into them.
How long do idler arms last and what causes them to go bad?
Idler arms are durable and with the proper maintenance and care could last for the lifetime of your vehicle. However, depending on individual driving habits, road conditions, lack of lubrication, maintenance and other factors, the idler arms can wear more quickly. They can also become damaged in an accident or left loose after service which can contribute to the need for replacement idler arms.
What are the warning signs of a bad idler arm?
If you notice your steering wheel feels loose or has extra play before the tires respond, this may be a sign of an issue with your idler arm or pitman arm. If these arms fail completely, you will lose all steering in your vehicle. These types of issues should be dealt with immediately as the steering components are a major safety consideration.
Drifting while on the road
A bad or failing idler arm or pitman arm can cause your vehicle to not respond appropriately when you turn the steering wheel. As a result, your vehicle may pull to one side of the road or the steering seems difficult to control. This creates a dangerous condition which can be further compounded by bad weather or busy roadways.
How much are idler arms?
Replacing idler arms varies depending on the vehicle and amount of labor required. Some vehicles may need to replace the idler arm and pitman arm together. Replacement parts may not be too expensive, but oftentimes the steering components take a fair amount of time to assemble and test. Typically, an alignment is also required when adjusting or replacing idler arms.
If you have questions about your vehicle's idler arm or would like an estimate to repair or replace these parts, please contact us.