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GM Tech (Cam)
GM Tech (Cam), Chevy Technician
Category: Chevy
Satisfied Customers: 29534
Experience:  GM Grand Master Technician 2007. 14 years experience.
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How do I remove the Pitman arm from a 99 Chevy Suburban K1500

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How do I remove the Pitman arm from a 99 Chevy Suburban K1500? The Pitman arm is above a frame crossmember, so there is no room for a puller. I assume I have to take the steering gear off.
Greetings, my name is Mark.

You are right. You will need to remove the gear to gain access. I don't know if you are familiar with a "pickle fork". Sometimes these can be worked in there to help in the removal.

I have included GM instruction for removal of the arm and gear.
Hope this helps you on your way.

Take care,

Pitman arm removal

  1. Raise the vehicle.
  2. Suitably support the vehicle with jack stands. Refer to Lifting and Jacking the Vehicle in General Information.
  3. Remove the relay rod nut from the Pitman arm ball stud.
  4. Do NOT reuse the nut.

    Notice: Do not hammer on the pitman arm, pitman arm shaft or puller. Damage to the pitman arm or steering gear may result.

    Object Number: 245385  Size: SH

  5. Use a puller in order to remove the relay rod (10) from the Pitman arm ball stud.
  6. Remove the power steering gear.
  7. Mark the Pitman arm (1) and the Pitman shaft in order to ensure the proper alignment at assembly.

  8. Use the puller in order to remove the Pitman arm from the steering gear Pitman shaft.
  9. Inspect the ball stud threads for damage.
  10. Inspect the ball stud seals for excessive wear.
  11. Clean the threads on the ball stud.

Steering Gear Replacement

  1. Place a drain pan below the steering gear.
  2. Remove the hoses from the steering gear.
  3. 2.1. Raise the hose up in order to prevent oil drainage.
    2.2. Cap or tape the ends of the hose and the gear fittings in order to prevent the entrance of dirt.
  4. Remove the intermediate shaft. Refer to Intermediate Steering Shaft Replacement .
  5. Remove the pitman arm.

  6. Object Number: 245000  Size: SH

  7. Remove the steering gear frame bolts and the steering gear.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Three things:

1) the instructions say I need to remove the Pitman arm in order to remove the steering gear. They also say you need to remove the steering gear in order to remove the Pitman arm. How do I resolve that?

2) the instructions say I need to remove the intermediate steering shaft, referring to some other instructions. What are those instructions? There is some type of plastic shroud over the shaft going into the steering box which I assume is the intermediate steering shaft.

3) you suggest using a pickle fork, but the instructions say to not using any pounding around the steering gearbox or Pitman arm.
Okay now, are you saying you can't get the pitman arm off the steering gear? That should be looking at you. Your puller should fit there.

To me, the instructions would be interpreted as remove the pitman arm from the steering gear, remove the steering gear, and then remove the pitman arm from the steering linkage.

You may have to improvise here. It is not in concrete the way you HAVE to do it. What about removing the whole steering linkage? Tie-rod ends, idler arm and pitman arm. Drop the linkage down and replace the arm. You're going to have to get your truck aligned no matter how you do, so what does it matter?

And of course not, you would not beat on the pickle fork on the gear end. You could use the pickle fork to separate the arm from the linkage.

And YES, that is just a plastic shield when if you look at it, you will see it wraps around the linkage and just snaps together. The inter. shaft is splined on the gear with a pinch bolt. Remove the shield, remove the pinch bolt, and slide the shaft up. Mark it on that splined shaft as to install it like you removed it.

If you were at shop, this repair pays less than an hour. You need to do what it takes to replace it.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I had to take out the steering gear to get the Pitman arm off. I had a terrible time getting the steering gear and steering shaft back together--but finally. Now I have a remaining problem: the steering wheel is upside down and the airbag light is on. I suspect the airbag light is on because I allowed the steering column to rotate while the steering gear was disconnected. How do I fix this?

The other problem about the steering wheel being upside down: I don't understand how this could happen. The steering column can only attach to the steering gear one way. The Pitman arm can only be attached in one of four ways. I can't figure out how to correct this. Any ideas?
I am going to open your question up and opt out.

Another expert can probably help you better than I can.


Greetings and Welcome to Just answer.

First off, if you were only replacing the Pittman arm, then you did not need to remove the gear. All you needed to do was separate the Pittman arm from the relay rod, take the 3 bolts and move the steering gear. Because you were advised to take the gear out and not hold or secure the steering wheel, the intermediate shaft is out 1/2 turn and the steering wheel was rotated to the point the clock spring in the steering column has failed. You need to replace the clock spring and rotate the shaft 1/2 turn to correct this.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
How do I rotate the steering shaft 1/2 turn when there is only one place where the shaft going into the steering gear has a flat spot to accommodate the pinch-bolt (i.e. it can't be rotated 180 degrees, only 360 degrees)? Are you saying I need to remove the steering wheel from the steering shaft? If so, how is this done?

Also, what do I need to do to replace the clock spring?

The gear should have 2 flat spots, maybe you separated the shaft up a bit higher? Near the fire wall?

It is nearly impossible to put the Pittman arm on wrong.

The clock spring you need to take the steering wheel off, remove the clock spring is right there. The steering needs to centered before installing a new one.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
No I separated the shaft right down by the steering gear. It only has one flat spot. The rest of the way around the shaft is splined.

Then if there is no way the steering wheel is out, then the pitman arm is not perfect and is the cause of it being out.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
But the Pitman arm can only be installed in one of four different positions. I agree with your earlier position that it would be impossible to install the pitman arm wrong and be able to connect it to the relay arm. I'm wondering if the steering gear was assembled incorrectly by the rebuilder. If that is the case, can I take off the steering wheel and reinstall it 180 degrees rotated?

No the steering wheel is master splined. THis steering gear, was it straight before you pulled it out?


What brand of pitman arm did you buy?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I'm not at home right now to see the brand, but I bought the Pitman arm and steering gear from NAPA. NAPA had two versions of the Pitman arm. I bought the cheaper one. I compared it with the more expensive one, and they appeared to me to be identical.

I'm not sure what you mean by straight. The wheels were pointed straight if that is what you mean.

(Since I am taking up so much of your time, I'll upgrade this when I accept your answer. I really appreciate your patient help as this problem is really stumping me.)

Ok, I was not understanding that you had replaced the steering gear as well. In that case, the I would suspect the unit was assembled wrong.


GM Tech (Cam), Chevy Technician
Category: Chevy
Satisfied Customers: 29534
Experience: GM Grand Master Technician 2007. 14 years experience.
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