SuperPro Adjustable

Upper Control Arms 

LandCruiser 200

Step-by-Step installation

One of the side-effects of installing raised suspension on any 4WD with independent front suspension is that it can become difficult or even impossible to obtain correct wheel alignment. This leads to uneven tyre wear and can also contribute to poor handling.

After fitting the Tough Dog suspension, my 200's front end was on the limit of adjustment and although technically within spec, I have found the front tyres wear slightly faster on the outside edge, so the ability to reduce the camber would be nice.

The solution to the problem is to replace the front suspension's Upper Control Arms (UCAs) with ones designed for raised suspension, restoring the ability to obtain correct wheel alignment.

Selecting upper control arms

I've gone with SuperPro UCAs, distributed by Fulcrum Suspensions in Moorooka, Queensland. They're high quality steel arms fitted with polyurethane bushes and steel pivot sleeves.

The Superpro UCAs use long life factory-style sealed ball joints rather than the bearing joints used on some UCAs. While bearing joints can allow additional movement (and therefore travel) compared to balljoints, this is only relevant for vehicles with very high lifts. Ball joints offer more than enough travel for moderate lifts such as those provided by kits from mainstream manufacturers such as Tough Dog, OME, Lovells etc. The primary downside of bearing joints is that they have far shorter life than balljoints, and will generally require replacement every 40-50,000km. Certainly not an ideal solution for a daily drive or touring vehicle, hence my decision to go with UCAs fitted with quality ball joints.

The other key advantage of the SuperPro UCAs over some of the cheaper UCAs on the market is that the position of the balljoint is fully adjustable, allowing you to customise both camber and castor for perfect wheel alignment for everything from standard suspension through to ~75mm lifts.

You can get the SuperPro TRC465 arms from any Fulcrum suspension distributor, or buy online.

Superpro UCAs

IMPORTANT

The "Installation" section should not be taken as instructions. It is simply a documenting of the procedure I followed for my own installation. No warranty is provided as to the accuracy of the information, and/or whether it applies in your situation or to your vehicle. If you're not qualified and/or don't have the correct equipment, get the UCAs fitted professionally. Always follow the printed instructions supplied with the UCAs.

  • There are potentially lethal dangers involved during the installation from falling vehicles or components and/or component or equipment failures.
  • There are potentially lethal dangers resulting from failure due to improper installation.
  • There is the potential for expensive vehicle and/or suspension damage from improper installation.

If you undertake your own UCA installation, you do so entirely at your own risk.

Equipment required 

  • Assorted spanners and sockets
  • torque wrench (Min 60-203Nm range)
  • Thread locking fluid (eg Loctite 243 or 263)

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Installation

Click images to enlarge




Step 1: Remove the factory UCAs

  • Raise the vehicle and support it on chassis stands, then remove both front wheels. 
  • Remove the bolt holding the ABS wiring from each upper control arm.
  • Support the lower arm and spindle to prevent it dropping when the upper arms are removed.
  • Remove the cotter pin and nut securing the factory balljoint to the spindle, then remove the balljoint. Due to the design and angles of the balljoint, it may not be possible to use a ball joint removal tool. It can generally be removed by tapping the flat on the front of the spindle to release the taper.
  • Remove each factory UCA arm by removing the nut on the rear end of the main bolt, then sliding the bolt forward until the arm can be removed. Removing the batteries can make it easier to remove and reinstall these bolts, and on the driver's side, you can also remove part of the ducting to the turbo in order to pull the bolt forward more easily.

Tip: It's not a bad idea to take your vehicle to a wheel aligner before you replace the arms and get a readout of the current alignment status. By doing this you'll have a reference point

Step 2: Prepare and fit the new UCAs

  • Using the supplied grease, coat the inside of the polyurethane bushes and the supplied washers as shown.
  • Install the new arms, reusing the factory bolts, nuts and outer washers. Place the new supplied washers on the inside of the bushes. Don't refit the nuts until the vehicle is back on the ground.
  • Insert the new balljoints up through the arms, indexing the star plate for the desired castor setting. I chose to increase the castor slightly to 3º from the factory setting of 2º. For initial castor settings, locate the balljoint in the centre of the adjustment slot and tighten to 203Nm. I suggest applying Loctite 243or 263 during assembly, unless further adjustment is likely in which case it should be recommended to the wheel aligner.
  • Note: For the ease of making the video, I installed the balljoints prior to fitting the new arms. They can be installed either before or after fitting the arms without any problems.
  • Insert the balljoint stud into the spindle. Fit the supplied castle nut and torque to 61Nm, then tighten further until the supplied cotter pin can be installed, and install it.
  • Attach the ABS wires to the new UCAs using the supplied bolts.



Step 3: Refit the wheels and lower the vehicle

  • Refit the front wheels to the vehicle and lower it to the ground.
  • Refit the nuts to the main bolts and tighten to 185Nm. I suggest applying Loctite 243 or 263




Step 4: Get a wheel alignment

  • Take your vehicle to a wheel aligner who specialises in 4WD wheel alignments. Advise them that you've fitted adjustable UCAs. Should they need to loosen the top adjustment nut to get correct wheel alignment, ensure that they tighten it to 203Nm, and recommend they use Loctite to ensure they do not loosen over time.
  • Wheel alignment settings are, to an extent, personal preference. Toyota specify around +2º of caster and slightly positive camber. I chose to have +3º of castor and slightly negative camber, on the recommendation of the wheel aligner on the basis that these settings will deliver superior stability and tyre wear over the factory settings.




Conclusion

The new UCAs have dramatically improved the handling of the 200, and the improvement in tyre wear is already obvious after travelling just a few thousand kilometres with the new UCAs.

My only regret is that I didn't fit the arms at the same time as I fitted the new suspension!

Update - Replacing balljoints

New SPC UCA balljoints
New and Old

I was recently contacted by Fulcrum, who let me know about a manufacturing defect in the SPC balljoints supplied with the arms, which could cause the joints to wear out prematurely. They advised that they were replacing the balljoints with an upgraded version free of charge to anyone who purchased the arms. If you have a set of the arms and haven't yet been contacted by Fulcrum, then you can give them a call and they'll send you out some replacements.

Although there was no sign of problems with the balljoints fitted to my arms, I thought it best to replace them and document the procedure for everyone else. The balljoints can be replaced in under an hour.

Preparation

  • Jack up the front of the vehicle and support it on chassis stands, leaving the wheels under the chassis for additional safety.
  • Using a white-out pen or white paint marker, mark each UCA around the outside of the large washer under the top balljoint nut. This is so you can get the alignment correct when you reassemble the arms.
  • Flex the new balljoints to ensure they were greased during manufacture, then (using a grease gun) apply some grease to the nipple on the top of the new balljoints. I suggest some extreme pressure grease such as Castrol LMM, which is better suited than standard chassis grease.

Remove the existing balljoints

  • Remove the cotter pin from the lower balljoint nut.
  • Loosen the lower nut.
  • Tap the flat on the spindle to release the balljoint from the taper. You can then remove the nut and drop the spindle off the bottom of the balljoint.
  • Remove the top nut from the balljoint.
  • Allow the balljoint to drop out of the arm, ensuring the caster adjustment plate remains located correctly on the balljoint, so you can maintain the setting on the new balljoint.

Prepare new

  • Place the caster adjustment plates on the new balljoints exactly as they are on the old balljoints.
  • Apply some Loctite 263 to the thread on the top of the balljoint.

Fit the new balljoints

  • Insert the new balljoints up into the UCAs, ensuring that the caster plates are located correctly.
  • Fit the top washer and nut, then do them finger-tight and align the washers to the marks you made before removing the old balljoints.
  • Using a torque wrench, tension the top nut to 203Nm.
  • Insert the bottom of the balljoint into the spindle, then tension the nut to 61Nm. Continue to tension until the holes in the nut align with the holes in the bottom of the balljoint.
  • Insert the new cotter pin, and bend the ends over.
  • Lower the vehicle from the stands, and refit the wheels.
  • The wheel alignment is probably very close to correct, but it's always a good idea to get a wheel alignment after making any changes to the suspension.

Comments / Q&A