Pajero Pitman Arm Recall

Pajero Pitman ArmSince I’ve had the Pajero I’ve known that there was a manufacturer recall on Pajeros/Shoguns/Monteros for the replacement of the Pitman arm. Briefly, Mitsubishi realised at some point that this model had a defect with its Pitman arm that could lead to steering failure. Obviously they had to recall all vehicles involved to replace them. So a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d better look into this and find out what it’s all about and whether my Pajero need sorting out.

First of all I needed to find out what the hell a Pitman arm was! I knew it was something to do with the steering but a quick search on the web turned up these definitions:

“The Pitman arm is a linkage attached to the steering box (see recirculating ball) sector shaft, that converts the angular motion of the sector shaft into the linear motion needed to steer the wheels. The Pitman arm is supported by the sector shaft and supports the drag link with a ball joint. It transmits the motion it receives from the steering box into the drag link, causing it to move left or right to turn the wheels in the appropriate direction. The idler arm is attached between the opposite side of the centre link from the Pitman arm and the vehicle’s frame to hold the centre link at the proper height.” – Wikipedia/Pitman Arm

“A short lever arm splined to the steering gear cross shaft, the pitman arm transmits the steering force from the cross shaft to the steering linkage system. In this way rotary motion of the steering wheel is turned to lateral movement of the arm. The British term is drop arm.” – Dictionary of automotive terms

“Description: A pitman arm is used on vehicles with conventional suspension systems and parallelogram steering. This type of suspension and steering arrangement is used on virtually all rear-wheel-drive vehicles and many light trucks. The pitman arm consists of a splined arm that connects with the steering gear and a threaded bearing stud and seat. The lower part of the threaded bearing stud is covered with a protective dust boot that prevents dirt entry into the bearing and seat. The upper part of the bearing stud connects to the center link of the steering linkage.
Purpose: The steering gear shaft turns in direct relation to input from the driver. The pitman arm attaches to the steering gear shaft and acts as a lever, converting torque from the steering gear to mechanical force for movement of the steering linkage.
Maintenance Tips/Suggestions: The pitman arm should be lubricated at every oil change. The pitman arm, along with other suspension components, should be inspected annually along with a complete wheel alignment. The most common vehicle symptoms associated with a worn pitman arm include play in the steering wheel, wandering, tire edge wear, and loose or erratic steering. Idler arm inspection techniques and specifications vary; have your vehicle inspected by a qualified service professional.” – Car Care Guide/Pitman Arm

So that’s cleared that up then!

Next I needed to find out if my truck was affected by the Pitman arm recall and if so, had it already been recalled and replaced? Here’s where I found out about the official details of the recall:

Recall Date: 26 April 2002
Recall Number: R/2001/158
Vehicles Affected: 44304 Shoguns and up to 20000 Pajeros or Monteros manufactured between 01/01/1990 – 31/12/1999
Recall Description: Under severe and extreme conditions where the vehicle is used mainly off-road in a wet, muddy environment it is possible that the tapered section of the ball pin on the steering Pitman arm may break. This in the worst case could result in a loss of steering control.

As I have a 1995 Pajero mine is obviously affected. So following advice from the Pocuk forums I contacted Mitsubishi UK through the following web link: http://www.mitsubishi-cars.co.uk/enquiries/enquiries.asp and asked if my truck had had the work done already, quoting my chassis number. A couple of days later they got back to me to say that they’d contacted Mitsubishi in Japan and were awaiting a reply. About a week later they got back to me again to say that my Pajero had not had the work done yet and that I should book it into my nearest dealer where the work would be completed free of charge. Estimated time one hour.

End of story? Well no. I discussed this with someone who I knew that had had the work done on his Pajero and he asked if I felt as if it needed doing at this point. I explained I didn’t know and he said I would have excessive play in the steering which I haven’t. But surely I should just get it done now anyway? His point was to wait until I have problems with it and then have it replaced, thus prolonging the life of the one I have and putting off paying for another new one in the future.

So to be honest I’m not sure what to do right now. If the Mitsubishi dealer was on my doorstep I think I’d just get it done straight away, but it’s at least half an hour’s drive away. Then I’d have to stay with the car until done. Pretty soon I’ve lost a morning’s work. But I would prefer to get it done, so I reckon I’m going to time the work to coincide with my next trip to the garage to pick up servicing parts (filters etc). I’ll update this post when I do that.

Any thoughts on how urgent this job is can be left in the comments box below.

23 Comments on Pajero Pitman Arm Recall

  1. I’m not an expert but…Waiting until you can feel the problem pre-supposes that the eventual failure will be gradual rather than instantaneous, and will be in manageable conditions rather than catastrophic.

    The car is 12 years old and the recall was 5 years ago – how much more life do you want to wring out of it, and how much more risk are you willing to take to achieve that?

    If the replacement part is likely to last another 12 years…will you still expect to own the car then?

    Now I’m going to see if my 1999 LWB 3.5 needs fixing (in Azerbaijan).

    Cheers
    Phil

  2. Hi Phil
    Thanks for your very valid comment. I’m far from being an expert on this as well, but I believe if the arm fails it is going to be gradual. As such I don’t think I’m at risk of having an accident.
    Of course you’re quite right and I should really have it done immediately, especially as it will be done for free. My only ‘excuse’ is finding the time to do so which isn’t a very good excuse at all!
    Good luck with your 3.5 in Azerbaijan.
    Tim

  3. On an updated comment as to the issue on the Pitman arm, today I had a customer with a 1998 Shogun where the arm had snapped off WITHOUT any prior symtoms. I.e play in steering, ‘shimmering’ etc. The vehicle was serviced by me and MOT’ed by an independant garage 7 months ago and whilst it was a known issue there were no signs that this arm was due to fail. Thankfully the vehicle was moving in heavy/ slow traffic when it failed otherwise the consequenses could have been serious. Having now spoken to the owner if they had ever received a recall they were unsure. Having checked with MMC this vehicle was on the recall list and the work was never carried out. I personally own 2 shoguns and guess what is playing on my mind ?

  4. Very interesting Simon – thanks for sharing.

    I wrote this article two years ago and I still haven’t got mine sorted. I spend a lot of time keeping my truck in good shape in other ways but I’ve simply put this out of my mind through laziness to be honest. I really must get it done. There, it’s now in my diary!

  5. John Grassom // January 18, 2010 at 10:01 pm // Reply

    Get it done – it’s free and it’s piece of mind. The one they fit is obviously better than the original and that’s lasted you 14 years! So you shouldn’t ever need to replace the new one. Got mine done a couple of weeks ago and didn’t notice any difference. (Although I had no problems before).

  6. You’re dead right John – peace of mind to get it done.

    • I hvae just been looking to check out the play in my steering after I saw were the play was I check out thi site and now to check if my 1998 Pajer have been do. Many thanks to you all

  7. Simon Carey // March 10, 2010 at 6:48 am // Reply

    Pitman Arm Recall still in place. Thanks to this post I have had a reply from MIT’ Japan and have booked in my Paj’ for the Recall Repair. Great Post thanks. Simon.

  8. Glad it helped Simon.

  9. I have just had a Pitman arm replaced under the recall, and it took one hour.

    Travelling home I noticed the steering wheel was roughly 20 degrees off true. So, if it is off on the steering wheel, surely the tracking must be out.

    The agent advises “No”. That is impossible since the marks on the Piman arm assure correct alignment.

    I do not want to whip the steering wheel and correct the problem that way because I have an airbag.

    Please can anyone advise the way to correct this as I am miles away from the agent.

    Thanks

    Regards – Pete

  10. Hi Pete

    Common advice from people in the know is to tell the dealer when you take it in for the Pitman arm doing, that they need to put the steering wheel back on straight. Then make sure you don’t leave the dealer’s until you’ve checked it.
    I’m sure your tracking will be fine, but that doesn’t solve your problem. Not sure about how to go about fixing this yourself so I’m afraid I can only suggest you take it back and insist on it fixing.

    • Just read your thread and my advice is the pitman arm does have a thicker splined to enable the correct position however the arm has normally 32 splines of which (1) is slightly broader and should be aligned with the shaft on fitting and is difficult if you are lying under the car so it’s best to mark each point to ensure the right fitting.
      I have seen arms fitted where the arm has been fitted in the wrong position after being forced on by the large securing nut. This only will cause the steering wheel to be out of alignment and in some cases damage the Steering box shaft splines and threads. A new steering box from the dealers are £3000 so be very carefull!!

    • Hi Jack

      Thanks for the advice – I’m sure it will help the many people who read this page.

  11. Hello Tim,

    I read you loud and clear – but the time taken to get to the agent and return is 3 hours – and then the wait. Thanks

    Regards – Pete

  12. Ian stanyard // November 8, 2010 at 10:48 pm // Reply

    Hi just bought a 1991 pajero i had no idea there was a recall on the pitman arm,my steering feels a bit loose and lookingback on old mot they advised the idler arm as slight free play detected at steering wheel so i am emailed MMC to find out if mine needs doing cheers guys.

  13. hi allhad my paj in to mitsi on the 25 02 2011 to have pitman arm done and front brake pipes all on the recall i was therefor 1 1/2 hours for them to tell me thay could not do the pitman arm because the bolts were seized so thay will have to order some when i asked about the brake pipes he said didant have time to look at them how long does it take to order some bolts

  14. have a 1995 SWB pajero. I love the car but sometimes it is hard to get spare parts in Namibia. How can i enquire about whether my car had pitman done by previous owner?

  15. I appear to have two pitman arms a large one on drivers side and smaller on nearside .
    Is this normal please?

  16. My 94 paj is due for replacement, I’ve been ignoring it for some time now but its finally come to an end, very random erratic shakes, lots of play on the wheel, it takes a beating off road and I’ve physicly seen the play in it now so Its getting replaced today and I’ll be throwing a new idler on at the same time, Apparently they do have a habit of dropping off without notice, I wouldn’t want to be on the open road when this happens.

  17. hi all i have a 1997 shogun i also filled out the form to request if mine had been done
    luckily mine had already been done
    definitely worth having it done asap look at it this way now you know its an issue do you trust it with all the family in the motor ??? – i know i wouldnt just in case

    john, the pitman arm in on the power steering box near the front wheel of the side the steering wheel is the one on the passenger side is the idler arm which to be honest i would also replace when the pitman arm is done as any slop in pitman will increase wear on the idler arm via the vibrations on the ball joint on it

    i am also a member of pocuk (pajero owner club uk) there is more information there an is free to join

    hope this helps you john

  18. hey John, the left (passenger side)is called an idler arm. just had both replaced in my 93 pajero at Simbacolt Nairobi, had a steering failure last Sunday some 20meters from the dealership hope all will be well now.

  19. My 96 pajero has just gone all over the road. After reading this it seems it could be the pitman arm.luckily I was only going 10 mph when turning.could’ve been major accident had I been going faster on a main Rd. I can’t believe I have never heard of this.this should be advertised again. As there is still a lot of these on the road still.

  20. In Denmark I received a letter from the Police informing me of the recall and the need to have the pitman arm replaced. I think this is how is should be handled everywhere. After all it is about safety.

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