How To: Complete Front End Steering Component Replacement. - Chevy and GMC Duramax Diesel Forum
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:22 PM   eBay Motors  #1 (permalink)
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How To: Complete Front End Steering Component Replacement.

PART 1

Alright first things first this is on my 2003 GMC 2500HD Sierra SLT 4x4 with a 6” Trailmaster lift. As far as I know this process should be the same and work for most all 2500 and 3500 series trucks to at least 2005 with factory stock steering, as far as wrench and socket sizes go they should be the same also because I still have all stock GM steering components. I did not include pictures of the pitman arm or the Idler arm and pivot as these are pretty self explanatory even for a first timer. So without further a-due, here we go.

Idler Arm Replacement: (on right or passenger side of vehicle) You will need a Pitman arm puller (about 15 bucks to buy one or rent it for free from your local parts place). First remove any front skid plate, remove nut from the stud in center link, use puller to remove arm stud from center link, remove the (2) bolts from the idler arm pivot, now remove idler arm and pivot together from vehicle. Replace with Moog K6723 Idler arm pivot and K6535 idler arm. Install arm to pivot then install to frame and tighten bolts to (73 ft lb), install rubber seal to ball stud and install stud in center link and tighten new nut to (46 ft lb).

Pitman Arm Replacement: (on left or driver side of vehicle) You will need a 1 5/16” box end wrench and puller noted from above. First remove 1 5/16” nut and washer from steering gear spline, remove nut from the stud in center link, use puller to remove arm stud from center link, then use puller to remove pitman arm from steering gear and remove from vehicle. (Tip: before placing puller on arm, slide the rubber boot on the steering gear spline up into the steering box as you do not want to damage this boot. Next Tip: remove original bolt from the puller and replace it with a 5/8x18x2 grade 8 bolt. Now screw the new bolt into the puller from the opposite side you took the original bolt out from, this should allow the puller to clear the frame cross member beneath the steering box. Next Tip: if the arm does not want to come off the steering gear spline, break out the dremel with cutting wheel and cut a slot in it, but not so deep as to cut into the steering gear spline, then take a chisel and hammer to break it the rest of the way through) Replace with Moog K6654 pitman arm. Install arm to steering gear then install rubber seal to ball stud and install stud in center link and tighten new nut to (46 ft lb), now reinstall steering nut and washer and tighten to (184 ft lb). (Tip: since you won’t get a torque wrench in above the frame cross member just tighten it to real “f”ing tight) Now slide rubber boot back down over steering gear spline, reinstall any front skid plate and done.

Now the real fun begins.
This process will take you through stripping the whole front wheel side to the bare control arms to replace tie rods, wheel hub and seal, upper and lower control arm ball joints. I did not replace the CV drive axels but six more bolts per side and that could have been done too. You will need to set aside a full day to do this or 3 to 4 hours a side on average. I have done several of these and can do a full side in about 2 hours start to finish. Just be patient take your time and don’t sweat it.

Pick a side to start on then raise and support the vehicle on heavy jack stands, remove tire and wheel. You should now see something like (Figure 1). Use an 18mm socket to relieve tension on the torsion bar, loosening bolt until almost flush with top of the bolt keeper in frame (Figure 2) making sure to count and record each full turn. (Tip: it is much easier to loosen any and all nuts and bolts now while everything is still hooked together)

Figure 1

Figure 2

Removing Brake Caliper and Rotor: Insert a large screwdriver through the brake caliper into one of the rotor vanes in order to prevent the rotor from turning. (Figure 3) First use a large C-clamp to press the caliper pistons back into the bores or just use a large screwdriver to pry open the brake pads wide enough to slide off the rotor. Now take a 36mm axel nut socket (Figure 3) and loosen the axel nut and washer. Loosen the (2) 18mm caliper bolts, loosen the (2) 21mm caliper bracket bolts, loosen the (4) 15mm wheel hub bolts (Figure 4). Now remove brake caliper and tie off to swaybar out of the way (Figure 5), remove caliper bracket, remove rotor, un-plug wheel speed sensor, (little blue plug on top of shock tower in Figure 6) and you should now see something similar to (Figure 7).

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

Removing Wheel Hub: Remove axel nut and washer, remove the (4) hub bolts and pull hub from axel, (Tip: if the hub does not easily pull from the axel, a few light taps with a hammer should loosen it, if not use a large three arm puller to remove it) remove dust shield and you should now see something similar to (Figure 8).

Figure 8
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2003 GMC Sierra SLT Ext Cab SB
2500HD 4x4 w/6" Trailmaster lift & 35" BFG AT's
AFE air intake, 4" SS exhaust
Diablo Sport Predator Programed
Internally lubed by Amsoil w/ Duel Bypass filtration
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:24 PM   eBay Motors  #2 (permalink)
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How To: Complete Front End Steering Component Replacement.

PART 2

Upper and Lower Ball Joint Replacement: First place a jack under the lower control arm and raise slightly as there will still be a little pressure from the torsion bar. Now loosen the upper and lower control arm ball joint nuts, loosen and remove the tierod nut from stud through the steering knuckle. Using the same puller from before you can now remove the tierod from the steering knuckle. Using the same puller loosen the upper control arm ball joint from the steering knuckle then repeat for the lower control arm ball joint. (Tip: if the ball joint does not pop loose with the puller a few sharp raps with a hammer to the side of the steering knuckle where the ball joint stud goes through should do the trick) Remove steering knuckle from upper control arm then lower control arm and you should now see something similar to (Figure 9). Using a ball joint press (you can rent one for free from the local parts place) remove the upper then lower control arm ball joints (Figures 10, 11, 12) The uppers will press out from bottom to the top and the lowers press out from top to the bottom. (Tip: if you do not remove the CV axle you will need to tie it up and out of the way when doing the lower ball joint (Figure 12). Take extreme care not to damage the rubber boots) Using Moog ball joints K6696 for the upper and K6693 for the lower, first replace the lower then upper ball joints by pressing them back into the control arms (Figures 13, 14, 15). (Tip: The upper ball joints should press out fairly easy; the lowers however are usually much harder, just put as much pressure as possible on them with the ball joint press then a few good hard hammer hits to the side of the control arm will pop it loose. Next Tip: on the upper ball joint make sure to turn the new one in the proper direction as noted by the arrow or hole in the flange)

Figure 9

Figure 10

Figure 11

Figure 12

Figure 13

Figure 14

Figure 15

Tierod Replacement: Using a 36mm wrench or a 12” adjustable wrench works fine too, remove the tierod assembly (that’s inner and outer together). Thoroughly clean the treads in the center link end and install Moog ES3488 inner and ES3609 outer tierod assembly putting red loctite on the threads to the center link and torque to (74 ft lb) (Figure 16). (Tip: measure old tierod assembly from flat end of inner tierod were it meets the center link to the outer end ball stud and make sure new assembly is the same, then tighten inner and outer together before installation back into the center link)

Figure 16
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2003 GMC Sierra SLT Ext Cab SB
2500HD 4x4 w/6" Trailmaster lift & 35" BFG AT's
AFE air intake, 4" SS exhaust
Diablo Sport Predator Programed
Internally lubed by Amsoil w/ Duel Bypass filtration

Last edited by GW DieselDude; 01-11-2011 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:25 PM   eBay Motors  #3 (permalink)
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How To: Complete Front End Steering Component Replacement.

PART 3

Reassembly: Ok, now reattach lower and upper control arm ball joints to the steering knuckle, then attach tierod end to the knuckle and torque retaining nut to (48 ft lb). Torque the lower ball joint retaining nut to (74 ft lb) then the upper ball joint retaining nut to (37ft lb). You should now see something like (Figure 17). Now here is some cheap advice, it may not look like it needs it, but at this point you will want to replace the rubber “O” ring seal in the steering knuckle bore were the axel shaft goes through, they are about $6.00 each from the dealer (GM part #15017464 or AC Delco #290-300) so just change it. Now is also a good time to look at the rubber bumper under the cross member above the lower control arm if it needs replaced (GM part #15835666) costs about $35.00 from the dealer. After installing the new rubber “O” ring seal in the steering knuckle bore take your finger and smear a light layer of grease over the inside surface of the bore hole.

Figure 17

Installing Wheel Hub: Place the (4) hub bolts back into the steering knuckle and Install the dust shield, install the new wheel hub (Timken SP580310 Figure 18) over the axel onto the steering knuckle taking great care to rout the speed sensor wire behind the dust shield so that it is not pinched or restricted in any way what so ever. Tighten the (4) hub bolts pulling new hub to knuckle then torque to (133 ft lb) install axel nut and washer. You should now see something similar to (Figure 19).

Figure 18

Figure 19

Installing Brake Caliper and Rotor: Install brake rotor disc, install caliper bracket and torque to (221 ft lb), install brake caliper and torque to (80 ft lb), Insert a large screwdriver through the brake caliper into one of the rotor vanes in order to prevent the rotor from turning and tighten axel nut to (177 ft lb). You should now see something similar to (Figure 20). Tighten the torsion bar bolt back in the same number of turns that you loosened it, install wheel and tire, remove jack stands, lower vehicle and if both sides are now done head straight to the alignment shop.

Figure 20

Side Note: While doing all this on my own truck I installed a Cognito 8-lug pitman and idler arm support kit, which I highly recommend that you do so too. I also installed Rough Country HD tierod sleeves as well, which if you do this they will have to be drilled out to 5/8” to fit on the Moog tierods as they are a bit larger than stock and the sleeves will not fit over them.

Well that’s pretty much it in a nut shell, so happy motorin’ and as always “Keep the rubber down and the shiny side up”.
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2003 GMC Sierra SLT Ext Cab SB
2500HD 4x4 w/6" Trailmaster lift & 35" BFG AT's
AFE air intake, 4" SS exhaust
Diablo Sport Predator Programed
Internally lubed by Amsoil w/ Duel Bypass filtration

Last edited by GW DieselDude; 01-11-2011 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:45 PM   eBay Motors  #4 (permalink)
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Hell of a write up!! This will solve any and every question, thank you for posting!!
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:26 PM   eBay Motors  #5 (permalink)
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How much was the total cost for the front end job? How long did it take you?
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:36 PM   eBay Motors  #6 (permalink)
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Great Write Up! I am gonna check my Stearing Components on my '03 to see if they are good, one weekend I will end up doing this.
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:37 PM   eBay Motors  #7 (permalink)
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This is great, thanks!
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Old 02-08-2011, 12:40 PM   eBay Motors  #8 (permalink)
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perfect, been waiting for this exact thing. this is next on my list is comeplete front end!
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:24 AM   eBay Motors  #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtj View Post
How much was the total cost for the front end job? How long did it take you?
All the main steering components where purchased from Discount Auto Parts Online -Chevy Parts, Ford Parts, Volvo Parts, Volkswagen Parts - AutoPartsExpress.com.com New Auto Parts for just under $600, tierod sleeves from Suspension Lift Kits, Body Lifts, Leveling Kit, 4x4, Jeep, Chevy, Dodge, Ford, Off-road Truck for about $50. The bearing hubs I got from US Auto Parts Network, Inc. - USAutoParts.com for about $280/ea. This does not include any tool cost as I have all the regular tools needed, just rented the specialty tools for free (you will get a refund when the tools are returned) from my local parts place. As for time to complete, I stated in the article that I can do a complete side in about 2 hours, but plan on about 4 if you haven’t done this before. Just take your time, follow the steps and pay attention to the tips as they will help speed the process up. Good Luck
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2003 GMC Sierra SLT Ext Cab SB
2500HD 4x4 w/6" Trailmaster lift & 35" BFG AT's
AFE air intake, 4" SS exhaust
Diablo Sport Predator Programed
Internally lubed by Amsoil w/ Duel Bypass filtration
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:59 AM   eBay Motors  #10 (permalink)
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Great write up! Thanks..

Just did an oil change yesterday and while lubing all the grease fittings, i saw that 4 were shot... Grease just coming out of the side. So going to have to tackle this soon...

Found a nice kit on ebay for 160 that give ya stock replacements..

Thanks
--Craig
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