Front end alignment after replacing pitman arm

Just had the pitman arm and idler arm replaced on 1999 GMC Sierra. The steering wheel is now 90 degrees when driving straight. Mechanic said I need to take it somewhere and get a front end alignment. Is that typical when the pitman arm is replaced?

Is that typical when the pitman arm is replaced?

No, it is not…When your mechanic installed the new arm, he allowed the drag link or the steering shaft to move a little, moving the wheel off-center. An alignment is not the cure…

Thanks for the info. Appreciate you.

If somebody aligned the front end when the idler arm was worn out a bit, then the idler arm wore out some more, your situation could be normal but you still need an alignment. You usually need an alignment when an idler arm is changed. Bottom line: It will not cost you more to align it when it’s way off.

The mechanic said to bring it back. He said he may have put it in wrong. He then said he fixed it and it was only off a little bit and to have an alignment. After I drove off I noticed it hadn’t changed a bit. It is off by about 90 degrees. I just wonder if an alignment is going to fix it or should I take it somewhere else.

An alignment shop adjusts the steering mechanism so that the steering wheel is centered. This is very simple to do, and is part of the alignment process. In your case, I would have an alignment done just to be certain that everything is within specifications. The alignment is worth it for proper handling and to prevent unnecessary tire wear.

By the way, for any steering gear work, I always go to an independent alignment shop. Years ago, an independent alignment shop proprietor showed me his appointment book. He had appointments from dealers and tire shops who had alignment racks, but when these dealers and tire shops had problems, they sent the work to this independent specialist.

Thanks for the advice. I guess I’ll get an alignment.

I’m curious. Why did the pitman arm need replacement? I can see the idler, bushings, ball joints, and tie rod ends loosening with wear but pitman arms usually don’t wear? Was there some collision involved that might have bent parts?

Believe it or not it was some flunkies at Jiffy Lube who did my safety inspection. I thought it was safe taking it there since they don’t do any repairs themselves.

Replacing the pitman arm and idler arm do not necessitate re-alignment. The pitman arm is splined to facilitate replacing it correctly but it is possible to get it offset, witness your dilemma. It would be difficult to trust any work done by a shop that would let such an outrageous and obvious mistake leave. You might consider getting that corrected and the entire front end inspected by a more reputable shop.