When you look at the steering system of a vehicle, you will find several components working together. These components include but are not limited to the steering wheel, pitman arm, steering linkage, and drag link. As a guide on drag links, this article will explain how the other components interact with the drag link.
Topics that go in-depth concerning this component are not common on the internet because of another steering system's existence. The rack and pinion system bypasses the use of drag links and using the center link instead. As a result of this, drag links are not really in the limelight right now.
Drag link – the meaning
A drag link refers to the connection between the pitman arm and the steering arm. The wheels are piloted as a result of rotatory movement made on the steering wheel by the driver. All of the actions are transferred to the steering gearbox and from there to the pitman arm.
The pitman arm moves the motions to the steering arm through the drag link. These components do not connect to idler arms; people do mistake them for center links, which is wrong. In some vehicles' steering system, the drag link relates to the tie rod assembly instead of the steering arm.
Vehicles that make use of drag links are mostly trucks, vans, and heavier automobiles in general.
What are the best drag links?
The best drag links you will find out there are mentions in this section, they include the following.
- MOOG DS300042 Drag Link
- ACDelco 46B0038A Advantage Steering Drag Link Assembly
- MOOG DS300040 Drag Link
- MOOG DS300041 Drag Link
- Yeti XD Jeep Wrangler JL/JT Drag Links
- Contaminants are prevented from leaking into its bearing surface because of its exclusive cover plate.
- Little resistance to grease flow through bearing due to powdered metal gusher bearing design.
- Features cover plate design (patented), enabling tighter and firmer tolerances for greater and more durable components.
- 360-degree movement provided by a full metal stud. Action is smooth, balanced, rotational, and consistent. This variety of motions result in better responsive steering.
- Extended service life because of good grease-able design.
- Incorporated treatment ensures the prevention of rust and corrosion. This feature adds to product lifespan.
- Three different performance tests were administered to affirm the product's quality. These tests include fatigue testing, impact testing, and wear testing.
- CNC-machined shell gives product quality performance and longer service life.
- The product fits precisely into the required interface because of incorporated roll threads and case-hardened studs.
- The bearing surface remains protected from leaking contaminants due to the incorporated unique cover plate.
- Its cover plate design suits firmer tolerances and makes all components durable. This cover plate design is patented.
- Grease flow through the bearing is facilitated by the featured powdered metal gusher bearing design.
- The product has higher steering responsivity due to a 100% ball metal stud that supports 360o The various motions are consistent, rotational, balanced, and have smooth transitions.
While this model bears a strong resemblance to the MOOG DS300040, they are not the same product. Nevertheless, they share the same product attributes and were released not far apart.
- 360-degree movement supported by full ball metal stud.
- Design of powdered metal gusher bearing makes grease smoothly flow through the product's bearing.
- Responsive steering due to supported rotational, balanced, smooth, and consistent movement.
- It is ensured against contamination because of the unique cover plate.
- Components of the product have extended durability because of the cover plate design. This feature makes the product last longer as a whole.
Signs and symptoms of a faulty drag link
Knowing the importance of a drag link in any vehicle's steering system, a faulty or lousy one does not mean well for the car as a whole. The following are various ways to detect if the drag link of your car is bad or failing.
The vibration of the steering wheel
This is the first sign or symptom displayed by the vehicle when its drag link starts failing or getting faulty. Whenever you are out for a drive, you will feel the steering wheel vibrating while driving or navigating the car.
Play in the steering wheel remains one of the best ways to tell a faulty, bad, or failing drag link. As soon as you begin to notice this symptom in your car, please take it to your mechanic.
, as with other faults in various places in a car, take steps on repairing as soon as you can.
Abnormal or uneven wear of the tires
Another sign of a failing drag link is the uneven wearing of the vehicle tires. The reason is that a damaged drag link will put excess pressure on the tires, and this will lead to the tires wearing at a faster-than-normal rate.
It would be best to repair it as soon as possible because the high pressure and workload placed on the tires will shorten their service life. Also, bad tires have a likelihood of causing road accidents, beware.
Wandering steering wheel
The vehicle's steering wheel will drift right or left on its own with influence from the driver. This occurrence results from the failing drag link causing the car's steering to wander from its original position.
Drifting of the car's steering will cause the driver always to adjust or correct the steering to retain continued control of the vehicle. This symptom can make the car unsafe to drive, and it should be taken seriously.
Now, what do you do as soon as you notice that your vehicle's drag link is faulty? You either take the car to your mechanic for replacement of the faulty component or you get ready to replace it yourself.
How to replace the drag link of a car
After purchasing the ideal replacement, you will need the following tools to perform a successful drag link change.
- Socket set
- Jack stands
- Pitman arm puller
- Needle-nose plier
- Replacement kingpins (might not be necessary)
The first step – remove the tire
The first step is to remove the tire closest to the drag link to replace the faulty drag link. To do this, loosen all the lug nuts on the tire and then raise the car by making use of the jack, remove the tire.
It is important to note that you should remove all of the lug nuts before lifting the vehicle using the jack because it is significantly challenging to loosen the lug nuts while the car remains lifted.
Also, secure the vehicle with the jack stands once it is raised. Ensure that you add extra support under the car. These supports can come in the form of wooden blocks or even spare tires.
The second step – Find the drag link
Once you are done removing the tire, it should be easy to locate the drag link connecting the steering arm and pitman arm.
The third step – detach the drag link from the steering arm
You first remove the drag link starting with the end attached to the vehicle's steering arm. To do this, first of all, remove the kingpin from the bolt. After doing that, proceed to remove the bolt itself. If the drag link's end is attached to the steering arm does not come off after removing the bolt, gently tap the drag link using the mallet.
While this part of the removal process remains the most challenging part of accumulated rust and grime, you can make it easy by using sprayed on chemicals.
The fourth step – detach the drag link from the pitman arm
The first step to doing this is removing the cotter pin from the retaining bolt. After this, go on to remove the bolt. Now making use of the pitman arm puller, disconnect the drag link's end attached to the pitman arm.
In case you do not know how to make use of the pitman arm puller, you use it by fixing the puller to the pitman arm, attach the second end of the puller to the socket wrench. After securing successfully, rotate the puller to put more pressure on it to remove the pitman arm.
Using a pitman arm puller is recommended if you are replacing the drag link on your own for the first time. Also, make use of it if you do not have a spare pitman arm. You don't want to damage the one you have.
A pitman arm puller works so that the force used to remove the arm gets evenly distributed, ensuring that no component gets damaged.
To read more on pitman arms, check out the in-depth article written solely on the topic. Click here.
The fifth step – get ready to fix in the replacement
First, check that the pitman arm and steering arm are free of damage. Then check that the replacement you have gotten is the correct one for the one you removed.
Check and ensure that its joints are clean and good to go for reattachment.
The sixth step – install the replacement
Start with the end that goes to the pitman arm. Fix the drag link to the pitman arm and return the retaining bolt and cotter pin. If the pin is damaged, do well to change it.
Next, move to the side going to the steering arm, fix it in, and return the holding pin, the restraining screw, and the cotter pin.
The seventh step – Test the replaced drag link
Once you are done reinstalling the steering assembly, make sure you test the drag link's function. You do this by turning the vehicle's steering wheel and checking to make sure it moves appropriately.
Eight step – return the removed wheel
First, lift the wheel onto the vehicle, and all of the lug nuts, then use your hand to tighten them.
Next, use the jack to lift the vehicle higher to remove the jack stands and all the extra supports. The lower it and screw in the lug nuts according to the manufacturer's instructions.
The last step – take the car for a test drive
Drive the vehicle around at low speed to check if everything is back to normal. Ensuring you test drive the car as moving the tires and steering wheel when the vehicle is immobile will strain the steering components.
In case you do not want to change the drag link yourself, feel free to take it to your mechanic to do it for you.
This section covers the entire article's main points in case there isn't enough time to go through the whole article.
- The drag link serves as the linkage between the pitman arm and the steering arm of the vehicle. It is a part of a vehicle's steering system.
- It transfers the motions of the pitman arm to the wheels through the steering arm.
- Drag links do not connect to idler arms.
- You can detect a faulty drag link through a vibrating steering wheel, wandering steering wheel, or abnormal/uneven tire wear.
- To change a faulty drag link yourself, check and follow the steps provided in how to replace the drag link of a car