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Discussion Starter #1
Does any one know what can cause steering play? Last time I got an alignment, he told me what it was that was causing play, but he has since closed down and I have no way to ask. Any help is appreciated!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
And by the the way all ball joints and tie rods are brand new
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I guess I will start with center link, then idler arm, then pitman arm. I'm thinking center link is the culprit though.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
They're 265/75 16s. And dang. Pitman arm is the priciest haha. I'm running low on funds after everything else I've put in to it. The guy that did my allignment said it was something that he was able to tweak when aligning it but he did all he could. But I still had an inch of play. I know it wasnt tie rods. And i dont think it was pitman arm. For some reason. I feel like it was centerlink. Pitman arm seems okay other then being covered in power steering fluid from gear box. But I guess it could be wore.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Ohhhhh. You're saying it's not the pitman arm. I got you now. I misread it. I think centerlink will be a good starting point
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yup. Definitely needs replacing. Do you think just a decent one from rockauto will be okay?
 

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2000 Xterra XE 4x4 V6
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I have very little experience with OEM replacement centerlinks and there quality, sorry. The preferred replacement for a truck being offroaded used to be the Grassroots 4x4 centerlink but I’m not sure they are still in business and it requires modifications to fit.
 

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I was reading this a week or so ago, and well I plan on doing this in the future. Along with center link replacement, this may be beneficial to you. take a look...

 

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Discussion Starter #13
I was thinking that. Would a whole new idler arm come with new bushings? I would assume if would. But I've seen it happen
 

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Brooklyn br0
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If it does it’s not as beefy as the bandit4x4 ones. Stock Idler Arm Bushings (Original Equipment Manufacture)

Let’s talk about the “Steering linkage” on our 1st Gen Xterra; the “center link” or “Relay Rod”, the “Pitman Arm”, the “Idler Arm” and two “Tie-rod Assemblies”. As we talk keep in mind that I am not a mechanic but have taken apart and put together many of these on many trucks including my own. All of these parts are “wear” parts and need to be replaced from time to time.

The harder you are on these parts (the more you wheel or run on tires larger than recommended by Nissan) the faster they wear.

Changing the “Center Link” (CL) is as easy/hard as changing your Tie-rod Assemblies; four nuts off of four ball joints. Pop them out the same as you would your tie rod ends. Loosen the nuts on the inner tie rod ends to the end of the threads and whack them with a hammer. When it releases, take the nut off and move the Tie-rod Assembly to the side. Then loosen the nuts connecting the CL to the pitman and idler arms to the end of the threads and whack them with a hammer. The CL should fall into you hand.

Put the new one in reverse, torque to spec and install new cotter pins.

From ST-27 of the FSM;



I had an SLR set up that is still running strong on a friends Fronty.

You can still get SLR stuff from Spencer I think I still have his email if you want.

From what I’ve been told the “Grassroots” center-link is very similar if not the same as the SLR center-link. I don’t know where to get any “Grassroots” parts anymore.

SLR is a re-built OEM center-link. The ball joints are taken out and the ends of the center-link are machined to accept two spherical bearings at each end; four bearings in all and a split ring on the top of each side to hold them in place. Sorry I have no picture of mine out of the truck.

The SLR steering kit includes a reinforced and drilled out Pitman Arm and a reinforced and drilled out Idler Arm.

As far as I know Grassroots does not supply the modified Pitman/Idler arms. I assume that is why they talk about drilling them out; you just drill your OEM ones. This really isn’t that difficult as long as you have a drill press and a jig to hold the piece in place while you drill. I’ve heard of guys drilling these out with a handheld drill but I wouldn’t.

This self-modified arm would not be reinforced as the SLR rebuilt ones. I have never heard of a non-modified one failing but again, I have the SLR ones.

SLR then uses shoulder bolts that run through the bearings to connect the center-link to the Arms.

The Calmini kit uses all new parts, not rebuilt OEM ones. Some folks love it some hate it. I think the main problem is the lack of support and customer service from Calmini rather that the kit itself. I know that the size bushing that is used in their idler arm has varied over the years causing problems when trying to rebuild them.



This brings us to the reason to buy an aftermarket center-link rather than replacing OEM with OEM. Yes, the aftermarket is a bit stronger but like I said, all of these parts are “wear” parts and need to be replaced at some time.

The reason to buy an aftermarket center-link is that it can be rebuilt when it begins to wear.

As you “beef up” parts of your steering the others become the weakest link in your “linkage”.

Total Chaos steering comes with a pitman and idler arm. You need to use Total Chaos Tie-rod Assemblies with their kit as their CL will not accept our OEM ones. This seems to me both a blessing and a curse. Their Tie-rod Assemblies use Heim Joints in place of the ball joint type ends on our OEM Tie-Rod-Ends. They are stronger but can only be replaced with another “Total Chaos Tie-rod Assembly”. Total Chaos also makes extended and reinforced lower control arms that can be used with coil-overs eliminating the OEM torsion bars! The complete Total Chaos set up is awesome and would be great but a bit expensive and not quite what works best for what I use my truck for. For that kind of money I just SAS’d my junk.

So, after all that what would I do? If ya plan to wheel that bitch I’d get in touch with Spencer through and buy his kit. Second choice would be a Calmini kit.

I can put ether in for you in a few hours and I think you could do it on your own. You’d need an alignment right after…

If I was to replace with an OEM and get an idler arm brace (I have a modified Total Chaos one that I think is the best).

I might have pictures of some of this stuff somewhere. Let me know if you want.

Did I help or make it worse? :?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Cleared it up a bit for me man. I dont do a whole lot of wheeling. So to save on money right now after all the other things I have done to her, I may just get a OEM one for now. I did just replace my idler arm with moog idler arm today. Didnt get rid of the play but did tighten it a bit. So I guess center link is next. After I do center link, I'll need allignment? I can pretty well set the toe myself. So as long as the camber doesnt change, I think I can handle it
 

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Brooklyn br0
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As RacerXXL says;
Put it up on stands and shake the tires you can usually see what is causing the issue.
Keep in mind that all the steering parts on our trucks; “center link”, “Idler Arm”, “Tie-rod Assemblies”, etc., are dependent on one another as they wear. In other words; when you run a new tie rod end with a worn center link the end will “wear” quicker than if you changed everything to new at the same time.

As far as an alignment after putting in a new center link; it shouldn’t change anything as you are replacing with the same nonadjustable part. If there is any slight difference, I believe it would only alter the toe…that you can set…

IMHO you should at least try and find an Idler Arm Brace that works with your set up as our stock set up is kinda weak.

Unfortunately bandit bushings will NOT work with your MOOG replacement. It only works with the “genuine Nissan” OEM part.
 

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Brooklyn br0
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Found some pics on my phone;

SLR Steering, center link, pitman arm and idler arm assembly;



Center link detail;



Pitman arm detail;

 

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Brooklyn br0
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Idler arm detail;



Idler arm pin detail;



Idler arm pin comparison with OEM;



Pitman arm in truck;



Idler arm assembly with modified Total Chaos brace in truck;



Kinda beefy, no? You can see why the tie-rod assembly would be the “weakest link” in this steering set up…
 

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2000 Xterra XE 4x4 V6
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The SLR parts are leaps and bounds ahead of the Grassroots parts, and all the others, in both execution and design. Specifically the main improvement, in my experience, was the fact that the idler and pitman arm were designed to attach to the centerlink in double shear rather than single. Unfortunately when I was building my truck SLR was nearly impossible to obtain and as a result I went with Grassroots and I’m finally in the process of modding mine to mount in double shear.
 
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