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Old 08-01-2011, 11:03 PM   #1
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GM idler arms

I've heard that GM has problems with idler arms and my experience certainly verifies it. My 89 went thru 3 in 186K and my current 2001 K2500HD is getting it's 3rd at 102K.

They're only ~30 bucks at NAPA but for heavens sake they shouldn't be a maintenance item!

I mentioned to the guys at SuperSteer that they were missing out on a huge opportunity to build an arm that lasts (pittman arms too!) but they weren't interested.

Who else has this problem?

Truck is stock, no lift, no serious off-roading, and not a lot of towing either.

I also noticed that the brake heat destroys the top ball joint boots in no time.
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Old 08-01-2011, 11:21 PM   #2
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How are the Upper and Lower ball joints? Have they ever been changed?
My ball joins needed to be replace before I traded for a Frieghtliner chassis.
I also have a 2001, 3/4ton Sub. They are a little loose,but not to where they need replacing,YET!!! It has 94K on it now.

Dick.
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Old 08-02-2011, 12:09 AM   #3
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despite the lack of seals and exposure to grit, the ball joints seem to be OK. Kind of hard to tell though because even on the jack the torsion bars load the joints. I understand you put a lever between the upright and a-arm to try and get some motion out of them as a test.
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:39 AM   #4
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I have 101,000 on my 02 Duramax. The front end is still like new. I think many people are not aware of the grease fitting on the Idler arm. May be that is the reason for the wear.
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Old 08-03-2011, 08:15 PM   #5
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Worse than just the idler arm. Just got back from the shop - idler, pittman, steering box, drag link, all beat to hell. The upper ball joints are not too bad but the boots are gone (brake heat gets to 'em) - so they'll get done too.

The 8.1 puts a LOT of weight on the front end, especially with the transfer case, but I can't imagine it to be heavier than the duramax - but maybe so.
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Old 08-03-2011, 08:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanDiemen23 View Post
Worse than just the idler arm. Just got back from the shop - idler, pittman, steering box, drag link, all beat to hell. The upper ball joints are not too bad but the boots are gone (brake heat gets to 'em) - so they'll get done too.

The 8.1 puts a LOT of weight on the front end, especially with the transfer case, but I can't imagine it to be heavier than the duramax - but maybe so.
The weight of the engine should have little or no bearing on the wear of those components. None of them is a load bearing component. Ball joints, yes, but you say those are OK.

Have you considered a second opinion, to make sure you don't have someone who is more parts changer than mechanic?

JP
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:27 AM   #7
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They aren't loadbearing parts - until you try to move a wheel with a lot of weight on it.

I've gone to these guys for several years now, and this is the first time they've come bck to me with a list longer than what I went in with, and I've heard no complaints around the community (25,000 people with just one major employer).

I get the old parts back though, so I'll be able to evaluate them myself.
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Old 08-04-2011, 12:59 PM   #8
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I got 137000 on my GM 3500 diesel dually. upper ball joints at 120000, pittman and idler at 100000. Changed the pittman and idler myself. Rather simple. Used a cutter to get pittman arm off.
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Old 08-12-2011, 09:35 PM   #9
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final cost - $1750 - including a new upper control arm (right side upper ball joint gone).

I have a friend with more than 300K on his 8.1L dually, and no such problems. Seems part of the issue is to not let the idler go too long, or the rest of it will follow.

Kind of funny - you get used to driving something with sloppy steering and when you get it fixed it's like a new vehicle - actually goes where it's pointed now.
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