Since 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.