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How To Replace An Idler Arm

On a recent inspection on the front end I noticed that my idler arm had some slop in it. I also had some wandering on the road… and this is a typical symptom of a bad idler arm. Along with:

This article is for a 1998 Ford F-150 2WD. However it applies to 1997-2003 and 2004 heritage trucks 2WD and 4WD as the process is similar.

I replaced this arm in about 30 minutes. Granted I am a professional, so expect no more than an hour.

It’s a relatively painless and simple process. If you can change a flat tire or change brake pads, you’ll be fine. An alignment check is recommended when finished with the idler arm replacement.

Tools Needed

Idler Arm Tools

Idler Arm Replacement

First, lift and support vehicle on passenger side using the jack & jack stands.

Next, remove the cotter key (pin) from idler arm lower nut, and remove lower nut. Place pickle fork between idler arm joint and tie rod, strike to seperate. It's the area to the right on this photo. If you need to see a "before" picture, scroll down and see what it looks like after installtion:

Removing old Ford idler arm

Remove the two bolts holding the arm to the frame (shown on the upper left area of the above photo), then remove arm. Be sure to put locktite or threadlocker on the bolts going in to frame when you put them back.

Blue threadlocker locktite

Install arm basically reversing the steps for removal. Torque bolts to frame accordingly (instructions with torque specs included) - install arm joint into tie rod...torque and install cotter key. Here is a photo of the new one, installed:

New Ford F150 idler arm installed

Don’t forget your grease fittings and greasing the new arm. Enjoy your new idler arm!

This article and associated photos were written and contributed by thefordmaniac, and is used with permission.

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This tech article was originally posted at It is primarily intended for Ford trucks but most likely also applies to other Ford models.