The design for 2wd GMC and Chevy 2500 trucks are very similar from 1999-2006. The pitman arm, idler arm, and idler bracket share the same part numbers from 1999-2006: the variation being Regular or HD, and 3 or 4 groove on the pitman arm. The inner and outer tie rods are the same design but have different part numbers for 1999-2000 and 2001-2006. The first step is to jack the front of the truck up (I like to lift from the frame) and place suitable jack stands on the frame to secure the truck- remember to make sure the truck is in park with the emergency brake on. Before taking the wheels off, I’d suggest checking all the front steering components including the ball joints for play to make sure you fix everything the 1st time.
Once the truck is secure, remove the center cap and wheel/tire along with removing the front splash shield.
Next, break the jamb nut loose on the inner tie rod, remove the tie rod end nut (I keep pressure on the bottom of the outer tie rod using a pry bar to keep the outer tie rod shaft from spinning in the knuckle if the nut hangs up), knock the stud out of the knuckle, and unthread the outer tie rod from the inner tie rod (as a rule of thumb, I count the turns it took to remove the tie rod and write it on the tie rod end for a reference when installing the new one).
Then, remove the inner tie rod (I have the tool for this, but I prefer using an 18″ pry bar to remove it and install it). Then remove the two nuts holding on the steering damper and remove the steering damper. Next, remove the nuts holding the pitman and idler arms to the steering center link. After that use either a pickle fork or a removal tool to break loose the steering center link from the pitman and idler arms (if the pickle fork and air hammer don’t quickly dislodge them, I’ll tap on the threaded stud with my mini sledge while the fork is wedged in – which usually does the trick). Once broke free, slide the steering center link out the side.
Now remove the two bolts/nuts holding the idler arm bracket to the frame. If you are only replacing the idler arm, then I would suggest using an idler arm removal tool at this point which will remove the idler arm from the idler arm bracket allowing you to leave the idler arm bracket bolted to the frame. In this case, both were being replaced so I simply removed them as an assembly and then bolted together the two new parts before installing the new assembly.
Next remove the pitman arm (I didn’t have an extra short pitman arm puller with me that would clear the frame, so I simply removed the three steering gear bolts allowing me to easily maneuver it to install the pitman arm puller I had). Next, remove the pitman arm nut to steering gear, install the pitman arm removal tool, and remove the pitman arm.
Install the new pitman arm onto the steering gear and tighten to spec, and re-attach the steering gear to the frame using the three mounting bolts (I give the pitman arm nut a final tightening with a large end wrench once the steering gear is held in place).
Then, install the inner tie rod to the steering center link making sure to use red thread locker on the threads of the inner tie rod before threading it into the steering center link. Once tightened, re-install the center link assembly allowing it to rest on the lower control arms before re-attaching it to the new pitman and idler arms; along with re-installing the steering damper.
I like to use anti-seize on the outer threads of the inner tie rod because it makes it easier for the guy performing the future alignment on your truck, and lessens the chance of your inner and outer tie rods ever “rust welding” together. Install the new outer tie rod onto the new inner tie rod the same number of turns you counted when you removed the old outer tie rod. Then, slide the outer tie rod shaft into the knuckle, tighten the outer tie rod nut, and then tightened the inner tie rod jamb nut.
I also use anti-seize on the wheel studs. Re-install the wheel and torque the lug nuts (I prefer 140 ft. lbs.), and re-install the center cap.
Before backing the truck out of the garage, start the truck, level the steering wheel, and then shut it off again. Next, measure the front and rear outer edges of the tires to verify they are the same measurement. If not, loosen the inner tie rod jamb nuts and make adjustments until the measurements are the same – front and back. This will ensure you don’t chew up your tires while driving your truck to the alignment shop for a 2 wheel alignment. CONGRATULATIONS you’re done!