On a motor vehicle that has a conventional parallelogram steering linkage, the steering idler is a vital component, providing pivotal support. It achieves this by supporting the end of the centre link of the steering gear on the passenger side of the vehicle. The steering idler, which is alternatively referred to as the idler arm, is bolted to the frame or sub-frame of the vehicle. It is commonly attached between the opposite side of the centre link from the Pitman arm to the vehicle’s frame. From there, it holds the centre link at the appropriate height.
If the steering idler is not performing its function properly, the vehicle is likely to wander around the road. It is also likely that excessive play will be felt in the steering wheel. There are alternative possible causes for these issues, including the operation of connected assemblies such as the tie rods and the Pitman arm, although steering idlers are generally more susceptible to wear and tear than Pitman arms because of the pivoting function that is built into them.
A steering idler is relatively easy to fit and is not particularly expensive yet it is a critical component in the efficient operation of the steering linkage of a motor vehicle.