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Step-by-Step Install of SPC Upper Control Arms on a Toyota Tacoma

I recently installed SPC Performance upper control arms (25460) on my 2000 Tacoma, and it went great. In addition to the story of the install, I figured a detailed set of instructions for anyone wanting to tackle this themselves would be nice to put together, since it's hard to find that written down in one concise place with a list of everything you need to do the job.

So let's get started.

Gathering the parts and tools

Replacing the upper control arms (UCAs) is a relatively straight forward process, and nearly all the parts you'll need are included from SPC when you buy their Toyota Tacoma-specific set of UCAs. The only other "part" necessary is some NLGI #2, 3-5% Moly grease, for which SPC provides a list of approved greases: (Note: you only need one of these.)

From a tool perspective, you'll need only a few special tools necessary to press the upper ball joint out of the UCA and spindle.

And of course, you'll need a basic set of tools:

Doing the Job

With all the parts and tools gathered, it's time to get to work. Perhaps obviously, the job is mostly a bunch of removal of parts, and then a bunch of installation of similar new parts. This list of steps is just that - a list of steps (which makes it a great resource to print off and reference when you're doing the job). If you're curious about what a step looks like, I suggest checking out the story of my install.

Releasing brake lines from UCA and spindle

  1. Jack up the front of the vehicle so that jack stands can be placed under the frame near the cab mounts in order to support the truck.
  2. Remove the lug nuts securing the wheel and tire, and set the tire aside.
  3. Remove two, 10mm bolts and one 12mm bolt securing the brackets that hold the ABS speed sensor and brake lines to the spindle and upper control arm.
  4. Remove one, 10mm bolt that secures the ABS speed sensor. Put the sensor in a plastic bag to protect the head, and cover the hole in the hub with some tape.

Removing the brake caliper and rotor

  1. Remove the two, 17mm bolts that secure the brake caliper to the hub. Ensure that upon removal of the second bolt, you are holding the caliper so it doesn't drop.
  2. Secure the brake caliper to the spring or frame so that there is no tension on the brake line.
  3. Remove the brake rotor from the hub and set it aside.

Disconnecting the CV axle and lower ball joint

  1. Using a flat screwdriver and hammer, carefully pry the hub cover away from the hub to reveal the CV axle nut.
  2. Remove the cotter pin and capture washer securing the CV axle nut.
  3. Remove the 35mm axle nut. Note: this is significantly easier to do with an impact wrench, and may need to be done prior to removing the rotor and caliper (with a helper pressing on the brakes) if no impact wrench is available.
  4. From below, remove the four, 14mm bolts that secure the lower ball joint to the spindle.
  5. For now, leave the CV axle inserted into the spindle.

Driver side - Clearancing and then removing the UCA bolt

  1. Disconnect the positive and negative battery leads using a 10mm wrench.
  2. Remove the 12mm bolt securing the front of the battery hold down to the body.
  3. If necessary, loosen the 12mm nut securing the rear of the battery hold down, and then lift out the hold down.
  4. Remove the battery.
  5. Remove the 10mm bolt securing the battery wiring harness in front of the UCA bolt.
  6. Remove two, 10mm bolts securing the ABS sensor in front of the UCA bolt.
  7. From the wheel well, use a 19mm box wrench to remove the UCA nut and washer. Note: you will not reuse the washer when installing SPC UCAs, but if you were it's important to orient correctly on reinstallation, with the nut sitting inside the recess of the washer.
  8. From the top of the engine bay, slowly work the long UCA bolt forward to remove it. Note: Keep the washer pushed towards the shock tower in order to remove this bolt.

Passenger side - Clearancing and then removing the UCA bolt

  1. Remove the three, 12mm bolts that secure the air intake box.
  2. Unclip the wiring harness that secures the MAF sensor to the intake tube, then unplug the MAF sensor.
  3. Loosen the band clamp securing the intake tube to the intake box using a 10mm socket.
  4. Disconnect the intake tube from the intake box.
  5. Disconnect the small vacuum tube from the intake box by loosening the clamp and carefully sliding it off the stud.
  6. Remove the intake box.
  7. Remove two, 10mm bolts securing the ABS sensor in front of the UCA bolt.
  8. Remove two, 10mm bolts securing a hard brake line to the inner wheel well so it can be held out of the way as the UCA bolt is removed. Note: one of these bolts is near the ABS sensor, the other is near the top of the shock tower.
  9. From the wheel well, use a 19mm box wrench to remove the UCA nut and washer. Note: you will not reuse the washer when installing SPC UCAs, but if you were it's important to orient correctly on reinstallation, with the nut sitting inside the recess of the washer.
  10. From the top of the engine bay, slowly work the long UCA bolt forward to remove it. Note: Keep the washer pushed towards the shock tower in order to remove this bolt.

Removing the UCA and spindle

  1. Use a rubber mallet to tap the CV out of the hub.
  2. Remove the UCA and spindle from the wheel well.

Removing the OEM upper ball joint

  1. Remove the cotter pin from the top of the upper ball joint.
  2. Using a 19mm socket, remove the castle nut from the upper ball joint.
  3. Use the OTC tie rod puller 7503 (from the OTC 6295 Front End Service Kit) to push the upper ball joint stud out of the UCA.
  4. Remove the rubber boot from the upper ball joint and clean off as much grease as you can.
  5. Using a flat screwdriver and pliers, pry the snap ring holding the top side of the upper ball joint in the spindle. Note: I found this to be easier than snap ring pliers, and you don't need worry about destroying the snap ring, you aren't reusing it.
  6. Using the C-clamp in the OTC 7249 Ball Joint Service Kit and the OTC 38354 Receiving cup for Toyota, press the upper ball joint down out of the spindle. Note: if you end up pressing the stud out of the upper ball joint, simply press the remaining pieces of the ball joint through the spindle separately.

Removal complete, time for installation!

Installing the SPC steering knuckle insert and pivot sleeves

  1. Press (or tap using rubber mallet) included steering knuckle insert into the spindle with the flange on the bottom. Note: depending on condition of spindle, the new insert may not fit tightly. This is OK, it will expand when the ball joint stud is tightened.
  2. Install snap ring on top side of steering knuckle insert. Be sure that the snap ring is seated in the groove.
  3. Using the grease supplied with the SPC UCAs,  liberally coat inside of SpecRide control arm bushings, making sure all small voids are filled with grease. Press pivot sleeve into each bushing until it is flush with outside of bushings. This will push some grease out, which is normal.  Use this grease to lightly coat outer ends of bushings. Wipe grease off inner ends of both bushings, as nothing will contact them.

Installing the SPC upper control arm

  1. Install SPC control arm into vehicle. Place one large flat washer on outside of each bushing as long retaining bolt is slid into place. After bolt is fully seated and final washer is installed, install nut and torque to 85 ft-lbs. NOTE: Unlike OEM rubber bushings, SPC SpecRide bushings pivot freely and may be torqued without placing any weight on suspension.
  2. Install star plate over hex on ball joint per chart below to achieve desired caster change relative to stock arm. Note: For most trucks with 2-3” of lift, setting “D” should return caster to factory specifications, but it may be necessary to use different positions on each side to achieve desired cross-caster setting.
  3. Insert ball joint up through bottom of arm, indexing star plate in machined slot, and then install top washer and 32mm nut. Position in middle of slot and tighten nut for initial alignment readings.

Preliminary install of the spindle and CV axle

  1. Position spindle and insert CV axle into wheel hub.
  2. Install four, 14mm bolts through the lower ball joint. Tighten only finger tight at this point. Note: you may need to use a floor jack to slightly raise the lower control arm in order to attach the lower ball joint.
  3. Install the 35mm axle nut on the end of the CV axle, tightening snugly. do not torque.

Installing brake components

  1. Place the brake rotor in place on the wheel hub.
  2. Position the brake caliper and install two, 17mm bolts. Torque to 90 ft-lbs.
  3. Install two, 10mm bolts and one 12mm bolt securing the brackets that hold the ABS speed sensor and brake lines to the spindle and upper control arm.
  4. Remove the ABS speed sensor from the bag, and remove the tape covering it's hole on the hub assembly. Install one, 10mm bolt that secures the ABS speed sensor.

Completing install of the spindle and CV axle

  1. Using a 35mm socket, torque the axle nut to 175 ft-lbs.
  2. Using a 14mm socket, torque the four lower ball joint bolts to 59 ft-lbs. Note: optionally remove one bolt at a time to apply some blue loctite during this process.

Connecting the spindle to the SPC UCA

  1. Install ball joint stud into knuckle adapter, install supplied 22mm castle nut and torque to 45 ft-lbs. Tighten nut further only until supplied cotter pin can be installed.
  2. Grease ball joint with NLGi #2, Grade LB with 3%-5% Molybdenum Disulfide grease. Note: 5 to 10 pumps of grease is sufficient at each lubrication.
  3. Re-install tire and wheel assembly.
  4. Lower vehicle and take alignment readings. Note: It will be necessary to raise vehicle to make these adjustments.
    1. Adjust camber by loosening top nut and sliding ball joint in control arm slot.
    2. Adjust caster by loosening top nut and re-positioning star plate to rotate ball joint relative to arm.
  5. When final caster/camber settings are achieved, torque 32mm top ball joint nut to 150 ft-lbs.

Driver side - Restoring the engine bay

  1. Install two, 10mm bolts to secure the ABS sensor in front of the UCA bolt.
  2. Install the 10mm bolt securing the battery wiring harness in front of the UCA bolt.
  3. Place the battery on the battery tray.
  4. Reinstall the 12mm bolt and nut that secure the battery hold down.
  5. Reconnect the positive and negative battery leads using a 10mm wrench.

Passenger side - Restoring the engine bay

  1. Install two, 10mm bolts securing a hard brake line to the inner wheel well.
  2. Install two, 10mm bolts to secure the ABS sensor in front of the UCA bolt.
  3. Place the intake box into the engine bay.
  4. Slide the intake tube over the hole on the intake box. Secure the band clamp using a 10mm socket.
  5. Connect the small vacuum tube to the intake box nipple.
  6. Reconnect the wiring harness that secures the MAF sensor to the intake tube, then plug in the MAF sensor.
  7. Install three, 12mm bolts that secure the air intake box.

You are done! Congratulations. Go get an alignment right away.

2 Comments

  1. Rich V
    Rich V April 2, 2019

    Curious what weight spring you had on the old set up and also on the new set up? 600#?

    • turbodb
      turbodb April 2, 2019

      Hey Rich, Both the Toytecs and ADSs were running 650lb Eibach springs. I'd reduced preload on the Toytecs when I installed them, and will be doing the same with the ADS, since I'm not a huge fan of a bunch of lift.

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