Upper Control Arms
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 caster setting. I chose to increase the caster slightly to 3º from the factory setting of 2º. For initial caster 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 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 caster 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.
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
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.
- 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.
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.
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