How Long Does a Pitman Arm Shaft Seal Last?

Your car’s Pitman arm is a crucial component of the steering system. It connects the gearbox to the steering linkage, and effectively translates the rotational movement of the steering wheel to lateral movement for the tires, which allows you to turn left and right.

While most of the Pitman arm is mechanical, it does connect to a hydraulic system, and the Pitman arm shaft seal is used to prevent power steering fluid from leaking (out of the gearbox). Like all other seals on your car, the Pitman arm shaft seal is subject to wear and tear. Because power steering fluid is highly corrosive, this seal may fail more quickly than others on the car. The seal also prevents dirt, dust and debris from entering the gearbox (there’s a dust cover that sits over the seal that aids in this).

There’s really no set lifespan for this seal. It should last for a long time, but it will likely not last the life of the vehicle. Even if you never drive the car, the seal is still in contact with power steering fluid, which will eventually cause it to fail (and the outside of the seal is subject to drying and cracking, with failure being a possibility when it becomes too brittle).

If the Pitman arm shaft seal fails, power steering fluid will leak out of the gearbox, and it’s possible that dirt and debris could contaminate the gearbox and cause serious damage. It’s important that the seal be inspected during normal maintenance to catch this issue before it becomes a critical problem.

Because there is no definitive lifespan or changing point for this seal, it’s important that you know a few signs and symptoms to watch for that could indicate the seal is about to fail. These include:

  • Low power steering fluid (which could indicate a leak anywhere in the system, including the Pitman arm shaft seal)
  • Power steering fluid on the driveway or parking lot surface near one of the two front wheels
  • Looseness in the steering due to significantly accelerated steering joint wear from power steering fluid leaks

If you notice a power steering fluid leak, or any of the other symptoms mentioned, it’s important to have the Pitman arm shaft seal replaced. A certified mechanic can diagnose and replace your car's pitman arm shaft seal.


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Jose

17 years of experience
433 reviews
Jose
17 years of experience
Dodge Grand Caravan V6-3.8L - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Portland, Oregon
Jose was right on time! We discussed what the car was doing when it broke down and he really listened! He fixed my van and let me know what the other noise I was hearing is from. I will definitely be booking him to come back and repair any other problems I have with my car! Jose is an A+ mechanic!
Subaru Forester - Battery Light is on - Beaverton, Oregon
Jose arrived early, had all the tools he needed, was polite and good humored. He figured out the problem in minutes (probably something I should have noticed) and we were able to go pick up the one part that was needed to fix it right then. He did not mind answering all my questions about everything and pointed out items that I should have the previous mechanic shop confirm they did correct (possible over torquing on the alternator nut which sheered off). I would definitely have Jose work on my car again.

John

27 years of experience
1019 reviews
John
27 years of experience
BMW 328i xDrive L6-3.0L - Transfer Case Fluid Replacement - Houston, Texas
Got job done sooner than expected.
Mercedes-Benz GLS450 - 50 Point Inspection - Seabrook, Texas
JOHN WAS QUICK, WITTY AND VERY PROFESSIONAL OVER ALL.

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Ford F-150 V8-4.6L - Pitman Arm Shaft Seal Replacement - Denver, Colorado
Great first time experience with yourmechanic.com I'll definitely call Robert for future repairs.

Bruno

29 years of experience
25 reviews
Bruno
29 years of experience
Ford F-150 V8-5.0L - Pitman Arm Shaft Seal - Pompano Beach, Florida
Bruno arrived on time giving me a call ahead of time to let me know he was on his way. He got right to the problem and quickly repaired the issue with the truck (pitman arm seal). Professional and accurate!!

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Related articles

How Does Car Steering Work?
A steering wheel is linked to the front wheels of a vehicle, and varies according to the type of steering the car has.
How to Replace a Steering Rack Bushing
You'll know when steering rack bushings are faulty when steering feels loose or bumpy, or if you hear a noise like something is falling off the car.
How to Replace a Pitman Arm Shaft Seal
The pitman arm attaches to the steering box via a shaft. To prevent leaks and driveability issues, the pitman arm shaft seal is used on this shaft.

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