A pitman arm is used on vehicles, and it links the steering box at the bottom of the steering wheel shaft, to the track rod, which is attached to the idler arm. As the steering wheel is turned, a worm gear at the bottom of the steering wheel shaft turns a set of teeth, which moves another gear, which activates the pitman arm. This process allows the steering linkage to move the wheels, which steers the vehicle.
Not all vehicles employ a pitman arm. There are new steering designs where a pitman arm has been excluded. A popular new method being used is the rack and pinion steering system, which allows for smooth steering, and handling. The pitman arm is still commonly used in heavy duty trucks and SUVs due to the vehicle's weight. Reliability, and reduced wheel wobble, for heavy duty trucks and SUV's is more important than comfort and efficiency.
When a pitman arm is worn out, one symptom the vehicle may have is, difficulty operating in a straight line. Another sign is, if the steering wheel chatters when the vehicle drives over large bumps in the road. Replacing the pitman arm is easily accomplished by a professional mechanic.
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