When a problem comes along, you must pull it. Even if you are not strong, youuu must pull it, pull it good! Sorry, got caught up in a little 80’s remix there. When working on a car, you often come across specialty components that require specialty tools to remove and install them. One of the most common parts you may face are pulleys and gears. A lot of these are pressed on by the factory, and the only way to get them apart is with a specialty puller. There are quite a few pullers, some of which double as installers as well, and we have selected the most common to show you how they work.
The following tools and uses are not exclusive, pullers, particularly the universal type, are very useful for all kinds of projects. Once you know how to use them., you will find all manner of creative applications, even outside the car.
Tie rod tool – Removing old tie rods can be a bear, especially when the car is old and crusty. We usually try the hammer-tap method first, but this doesn’t usually work on really old cars. That is the the tie-rod removal tools comes out. Pickle forks tend to damage parts, so those are out. These tools are a one-piece cast or forged U-shaped tool that locks over the steering arm or drag link and the center stud is threaded in to press the joint out. They work very well and are affordable. You might want to flip the castle nut over and roll a few threads onto the joint to help keep the press stud centered, as they can walk off the joint and booger the threads.
3-jaw – The most universal of pullers, the 3-jaw puller has three articulating arms that have both internal and external hooks. You can use them to remove gears, pulleys, wheel hubs, all kinds of hard to remove parts. They come in several sizes and are inexpensive. Every garage should have three sizes of 3-jaw pullers in the drawer. Just like the tie rod tools, the center stud is threaded to do the hard work for you.
Balancer tool – Late model Chevy and Chrysler engines have unique crankshaft damper/pulleys, which need to be removed for certain jobs. Much like a 3-jaw puller, this specialty removal tool has three hooks to latch onto the special locations on the balancer. These are forged steel and not quite a s versatile as the regular 3-jaw, but when you need it, you need it.
2-jaw – Sometimes you can’t fit three jaws on the part, so you need a 2-jaw puller. These are less commonly used, but helpful to have when you need it. The operate in the same manner as a 3-jaw.
Steering wheel – Pulling the steering wheel is a complete pain, but with the right tool, it is not that bad. You might ask “when would I need to pull the steering wheel?” How about to replace a broken turn signal cam or correct the steering wheel position after replacing steering wheel components. A steering wheel puller typically has four slotted holes to match the common two and three hole spacing for steering wheels. The center stud has a free-spinning spindle on the end to keep it aligned. These kits also come with an assortment of bolts to match your wheel as well. Other uses for this tool includes gears, small hubs and any other odd-shaped part with threaded holes around the center.
Pulley – The pulley installer is another must-have for any DIY garage. Most commonly used for power steering pumps, this puller uses a notched hub and eccentric ring with the ever-present center stud to grab the notch at the pulley’s center (most press-fit power steering pulleys have this) and pull the sucker off. This tool is also an installer for press-fit pulleys, the center stud threads into the pulley’s shaft and the large outer bearing is threaded on, pressing the pulley into place.
Armed with this information you will be able to get those stubborn press-fit parts replaced and back to watching those old 80s music videos. Just pull it, pull it gooood!
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A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.