Automotive DIY: Pitman Shaft Seal Replacement
The Pitman shaft seal prevents oil leakage in and around your Pitman shaft. It also helps regulate the motions of the Pitman arm and other connected parts. Over time, frequent exposure to large amounts of friction, pressure, and heat will damage your Pitman shaft seal. Dust can also accumulate on its exterior, rendering it less effective in preventing leaks. It's crucial that you replace a worn-out Pitman shaft seal immediately because it can wreak havoc on your steering system and put more pressure on the Pitman arm. Here is a do-it-yourself guide to replacing a Pitman shaft seal:
Difficulty level: Moderate
Things you'll need:
- Pitman arm puller
- Jack stands
- Shop rags
- Power steering fluid
- Internal snap-ring pliers
- Drain pan
- Steering gear Pitman shaft oil seals and washers
- Socket wrench or box wrench
Step 1: Turn the engine of your car off and put the transmission in neutral. After this, engage the emergency brake or the parking brake.
Step 2: Jack up the front of your car and prop it up with jack stands below the frame on both sides of your car.
Step 3: Mark the place of the Pitman arm relative to the shaft case using a chalk. You need to do this because there may be a possibility that your Pitman arm can be reinstalled in various positions.
Step 4: Remove the Pitman arm by unscrewing its retaining nut, which could be either a lock washer or a cotter pin. Then, fit the Pitman arm puller around the shaft end of the Pitman arm. Use either a box wrench or a socket wrench to tighten the Pitman arm puller's jack screw against the Pitman shaft's edge.
Step 5: Using a solvent and a shop rag, clean the areas surrounding the Pitman shaft and the C-shaped retaining ring that puts the metal washers and seals in place. Then, place a drain pan and a newspaper under the Pitman shaft area.
Step 6: Take out the retaining ring by using internal snap-ring pliers. Then, start your engine, fully rotate the steering wheel to the left, and hold the steering wheel in this position for a few seconds. Repeat rotating the steering wheel fully to the left and holding it down for a few times. Doing this will eject the washers and Pitman shaft seals out of the gear housing.
Step 7: After the washers and Pitman shaft seals have been forced out, turn off your engine. Pull out the washers and Pitman shaft seals, and replace them with new ones. Be sure to lubricate the new washers and Pitman shaft seals before you put them in the gear housing. Also, replace the retaining clip.
Step 8: Pour power steering fluid into the steering reservoir, filling it up to the right level. Then, start your engine and turn your steering wheel from side to side. Inspect if there is any power steering fluid leakage. If there are no leaks, your new Pitman shaft seals are all set.
*Note: If you see power steering fluid leakage, inspect the Pitman shaft seals again because you might have damaged them upon installation. Another possible reason for power steering fluid leak is rust or pitting on the metal surface of the Pitman shaft seals. If this is the case, you might need to have the metal surface of the Pitman shaft seals undergo machining.