The steering arm is the part of a vehicle's chassis that directs the input from the steering box to its components. It applies pressure from the steering box to the tie rods and results in the tires turning from left to right, or right to left. The steering arm is ahead of the axle center line on front steer models and behind the axle center line on rear versions.
Front and rear steer components are virtually identical except for the location related to the axle center line. In a racing application, many drivers find a distinct advantage in the type of steering set up that is built into the race car. Most drivers detect no difference in feeling of control or handling in a street driven vehicle application. The design of the steering components usually comes down to where there is the most room in a street vehicle's design.
The steering arm is typically attached to the driver's side wheel hub assembly on a left side drive production vehicle. Vehicles with a rack and pinion steering system do not utilize the device. This type of steering has the rack connected to each wheel assemble directly through the tie rod ends. On a right hand drive vehicle, the steering arm would be located on the right side of the front wheel hub assembly.
As the steering wheel is turned, the steering box turns a Pittman arm in a back and forth motion. The Pittman arm is connected to the front wheel hub assembly through a drag link. The drag link connects to the two wheel hub assemblies via the tie rods. In some types of front suspension, there is an idler arm that is also involved in the turning of the front wheels.
The steering arm is typically cast into the front spindle and is an important part of its design. In certain racing sanctioning bodies, the use of a factory stock front spindle is required. The fierce wheel-to-wheel contact of racing often bends the device and creates an ill-handling race car. Fortunately, some aftermarket supply companies have designed and created steering arm reinforcing plates that can be installed to the fragile stock pieces.
The steering components of any vehicle are among the most crucial pieces of the vehicle. The ability to turn and direct the vehicle is of the utmost importance. Strength in design as well as in materials used to create steering components allow vehicles to perform flawlessly in most cases and to last the lifetime of the vehicle.