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Tip: Upper Control Arm DIY

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Old 09-02-10, 03:08 PM   #1
SMCallahan
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Lightbulb Tip: Upper Control Arm DIY

Greetings! First non-classified post!
Thanks to all the advice I've read here I decided to tackle my first DIY car repair!
NOTE: See video in reply below for exactly how to do this. Thank you vwynn for the video!

I replaced the Front lower ball joints, outer tie rods, and the left side Upper Control Arm (UCA) - the right had been replaced by the dealer a few years back. I found lots of DIY help here on the ball joints and tie rods, but not so much on the UCA, so I figured I'd post a tip I learned along the way.

Due to a mistake in ordering the UCA, I had to do it from scratch days after replacing the ball joints and tie rods. The manual I read stated that you have to remove the caliper, rotor, strut column/spring, the Anti-lock sensor and harness, and the mounting bracket. I did not have to do any of this, in fact, removing the UCA was quite easy. Here's how I did it. (Sorry, no pics, but see the video in the reply below)

(1) Jack the front end, secure on stands, remove the tire(s).
(2) Jack the steering knuckle 3-4 inches using any point you see fit (I used the lower control arm connection/nut, but since there is only the weight of the parts and resistance from the strut/spring, its not that difficult. The reason you need to do this is to raise/compress the strut/spring so that you can remove the UCA mounting bolts, which are long and hit the strut if you don't, requiring you to remove the strut as described by the manual).
(3) Remove the UCA cotter pin and nut.
(4) Separate the UCA from the steering knuckle using a Pitman Arm Puller.
(5) Hold onto and secure the steering knuckle with something. I used some rope and tied it off to the strut/spring. Just so it doesnt fall, sway, or stress the jack point.
(6) Remove the UCA mounting bolts from the frame. (This is where you need to sneak by the strut/spring. You may need to use a small ratchet or even a wrench to get it off enough to pull it out by hand and then unscrew the final bit by hand as it slides by the spring.)

Replace in reverse order.
UCA mounting bolts tighten to 39 ft. lbs., but good luck getting a torque wrench in there.
UCA Connector nut tightens to 64 ft. lbs.

The TIP: When re-connecting the UCA mounting bolts to the frame, DO THE DOOR SIDE FIRST as that is the tougher hole to find, and almost impossible for you to see from the engine compartment. When I tried the nose side first, I found it next to impossible to get the door side in afterwards. Door side first, and it was a breeze. When doing the nose side bolt, its easiest if you have someone helping you with a worklight. Open the hood, remove any fuse box covers in the way of your vision to the mounting hole, and have them guide you in, if you are alone, leave the light on and shining through the hole to give you some guidance.

That's it! I didn't have to remove anything but the tire and the UCA.
I hope this helps someone!
Cheers!

Last edited by SMCallahan; 09-02-10 at 07:26 PM. Reason: added plug for video
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Old 09-02-10, 05:56 PM   #2
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Nice DIY.

heres a video explaining what you were doing.. This is for SPC... i am not affiliated with SPC btw.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS8CKu6B1n0
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Old 09-03-10, 06:19 PM   #3
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Excellent write up. Very informative...thanks SMCallahan. I appreciate you writing everything up!

and also thanks to vwynn for the visual.
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Old 09-03-10, 07:21 PM   #4
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That was an awesome video.

Thanks for posting it.

It will most definitely help us out.
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Old 02-17-11, 10:27 PM   #5
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So does anyone know if there is anyway I could find that video. It's no longer available on YouTube
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Old 02-17-11, 11:46 PM   #6
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Old 02-20-11, 12:10 PM   #7
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Thanks for posting the video! This will definitely help me.
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Old 02-25-11, 03:13 PM   #8
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Lol so I did these with my dad today. We quickly found out the difficulty of this DIY depends on your springs and shocks. Since I have Eibach Springs instead of the Stock Springs the coils are closer together. For this reason it was a lot harder to maneuver the mounting bolts out and in because they ran into the coils. We were forced to improvise. I will post pictures later to explain.
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Old 02-26-11, 02:30 PM   #9
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this is a great thread! Thanks for the video. I'm ordering the parts now ...
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Old 02-26-11, 04:33 PM   #10
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So here was the Problem:




As you can see I was unable to remove the bolt because the Spring Coil was in the way.

Here is the solution:



We had to try putting different objects between the coils and then jacking up the coil so the bolt would have the room to come out. This is the object that finally worked.

On another note I saw that I had KYB Excel-G Shocks. Are these the stock shocks?
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Old 02-27-11, 11:44 AM   #11
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On another note I saw that I had KYB Excel-G Shocks. Are these the stock shocks?[/QUOTE]

I believe that KYBs are the stock shocks, but unsure of the exact model. I'm replacing my original shocks next weekend and they look like the one's in your pic. I'm thinking about replacing them with KYB GR2s. Anyone have knowledge about this model?
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Old 02-27-11, 12:37 PM   #12
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I just wondering if the Excel-G's are stock because if they are then I need to get my shocks replaced.
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Old 03-27-13, 07:54 PM   #13
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This thread really came through for me today. Thanks to the OP and CL of course.
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Old 03-27-13, 10:43 PM   #14
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This write up is great if you have springs or coilovers. I got bags I gotta drop the whole strut just to take out those 2 bolts
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Old 01-28-15, 06:17 PM   #15
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I replaced the right front UCA on my '91 with stock spring suspension today. Some notes:

The torque values in the OP's post are very wrong for my car.
http://www.lexls.com/tutorials/suspe...fupperarm.html and
http://www.lexls.com/tutorials/suspension/fshock.html
have the correct values, as confirmed with my Service Manual.

I think the thing about removing the strut or not has a lot to do with how lucky you are on where the coils end up. I got the rear bushing bolt out and in no problem. The front bolt was tougher. I tried jacking the suspension, loosening the strut tower bolts, levering the coils, and still not enough. So I used a little spring compressor and that did it for me. But with a little more luck I would not have needed that.

I used a Raybestos 502-1200 Professional Grade Control Arm and Ball Joint Assembly bought from Amazon. It looked just like the Original one I removed, except the castle nut was different, and actually a little too short so I had to re-use the old one, which was no problem.

At 179k miles, the ball joint and front bushing on the one I removed were still fine, but the rear bushing was very loose.

Very easy job overall.
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