What’s The Difference Between Pitman Arm Vs Idler Arm?

What is an idler arm and pitman? And what are the differences between a pitman arm vs idler arm?

An idler arm is one of the key components in the suspension system, which is a linkage between a vehicle’s steering and front wheels.

In particular, this pivoting support will assist the end of the center link steering system.

Meanwhile, a pitman arm assembly plays the lead role in the steering movement. This connector uses a moveable ball joint to convert the motion from the steering box to the center link.

Then, it will translate the rotational motion into the linear one.

The two will combine perfectly to enable a constant smooth car movement. Let’s stay tuned to learn the in-depth details regarding their differences.

Pitman Arm Vs Idler Arm: What’s The Difference?

Pitman Arm Vs Idler Arm

The idler arm is affixed between the car’s frame and the center link’s opposite side from the pitman arm. It supports swivel movement and withstands up – down movements.

Meanwhile, the pitman arm sits in the gearbox, turning the center link when you steer the car. Also, an idler arm is more prone to damage than its counterpart.

These two connectors are separate assemblies that operate with different functions. But they have one common purpose: enabling the steering wheels to connect with other components steadily.

By that, make sure the arms are always in good control. Otherwise, some fortunate car accidents may happen, leading to terrible damages.


The Pitman arm mechanism attached to the car’s frame lies on one side of the center link. And on the opposite part is the attachment of the idler arm to the passenger’s side with a Tinnerman’s nut.


Pitman arm purpose is to be a connector in the steering box sector shaft. It mainly transmits the steering shaft’s angular motion into linear movement needed.

Additionally, it uses a track rod to drag the link or middle connector, thereby adjusting the left or right turning of the wheels effectively.

What does an idler arm do? Typically, the idler arm purpose is to provide support for the pitman arm to control the steering on the right track.

This arm serves as a bridge connecting the steering to the center link utilizing a bracket.


The pitman arm’s domed shape allows you to alter the wheel movements flexibly. Also, the greasing trait offers a prolonged smooth operation.

Similarly, the idler arm also meets the OE standards for lubrication. You can freely control your hand motions from side to side on the steering wheel.

Decline Endplay

Both the idler arm and pitman arm have unique designs to perform the best under high pressure.

The pitman wings follow 3F rules: Fit, Form, and Function to ensure the hard condition. When the pitman arm sets off, other internal parts all get affected.

On the other hand, the quality of the idler arm also gets through a severe test of the laboratory system.

Intensity Endurance

The steering linkage arm lines of the idler and pitman arm have abilities to undergo an emergency without any damage.

The pitman arm assembly can operate for a long time being non-abrasive. Plus, the breakage or deformation happens once in a blue moon.

Likewise, the idler arm provides excellent performance, making your driving journey fascinating. It is even more amazing when bonding with the pitman arm.

This great toolkit results in the most operable steering system ever. Still, this part is more vulnerable than the pitman arm.

Withstand Close Tolerance

The rivets installed in the pitman arm go through a cold manufacturing mechanism. Hence, it could work well under tight tolerance without any malformation or serious damage.

Besides, the material used for the power steering idler arm meets the standard of OE quality. Therefore, it will stay rigid and durable for the whole using process.

Ensure Absolute Safety

Regarding transport means, safety is always on the top list of priorities. By that, we mean the fabrication stage must ensure the pitman arm idler arm meets all the strict requirements.

As a result, they will provide the best performance and security.

The pitman arm, of course, gets the strict safety inspection putting it into realistic usage as it acts as the most important connector to support the control mechanism.

Besides, the whole system of the idler arm operates very stable and supports the steering wheels fully. As just one little malfunction can affect other details, your car fails to kick off.


How Long Does A Pitman Arm Last?

As we mentioned earlier, the pitman arm is extremely persistent regardless of relentless pressure. Whenever you move the steering wheel, it suffers a certain force, no matter if the engine is on or not.

Nevertheless, appropriate preservation and monthly, annual checking will significantly lengthen its life span.

If everything goes on the right track, the pitman will go along with your vehicle until it gets out of use.

Can A Bad Idler Arm Cause Tire Wear?

No need to worry about this issue. Sometimes, once hitting bumps, the car sounds like it has a flat tire but doesn’t.

Apart from a little shake, there is no tire wear asking. Nevertheless, it is advisable to usually do the care routine for idler arm assembly to ensure stable working.

Is It Safe To Drive With A Bad Idler Arm?

Of course, it is not safe. Something damaging occurs when you notice any clunk sound coming out from the idler arm system.

The moveable ball joints have separated, leading to the out-of-control front tire.

The point is to repair or replace the bad idler arm right away. Please don’t ignore it until everything becomes too late, and probably it will cost a fortune to get a whole new idler arm reinstalled.

Or several trivial accidents may harm you and your surrounding drivers.

Is It Safe To Drive With A Bad Pitman Arm?

Similarly, getting a bad pitman arm fixed or altered immediately would be best. More importantly, you will lose control of the steering system, which is very dangerous.

Take your automobile to the reliable garage to find the exact problem. A professional mechanic will give the best resolution to your damaged pitman arm.

What Is A Pitman Arm Seal?

Generally speaking, you can depict a pitman arm seal as a steering shaft seal that connects that arm to the steering gearbox.

This important part prevents the overfill power steering fluid and enables them to run smoothly.

There is one thing you need to keep an eye on. The constant movement of the shaft will cause the seal to wear out.

So a monthly check is necessary to determine the severity of the pitman seal. From there, the on-time repair enables you to avoid any extensive tire wear.

Final Thought

Idler Arm

With a full comparison above between the pitman arm vs idler arm, the effort to distinguish these two assemblies has notably reduced.

Although different in many aspects, the pitman arm and idler arm still unite together to ensure the steering mechanism operates smoothly along with other components.

Regular linkage arm checking is an indispensable step in car use, whether in good or bad condition. You can create absolute safety while driving with your buddy.

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