JBA Offroad Heavy Duty UCAs Installation Overview + Review: The Most Heavy-Duty UCA for the 5th Gen 4Runner
For the install and step-by-step guide on the Standard UCAS.
The Purpose of Aftermarket UCAs
Suspension is crucial for any vehicle – it helps your tires stay planted and your car maintains control and composure. Upper control arms, or UCAs for short, are an important part of the suspension components as they keep your wheels aligned properly and give you the right angles for good handling.
When lifting a 4Runner, the geometry of the suspension changes. The factory UCAs can limit articulation and it has a very important role in caster. Upgraded UCAs can help in giving a smoother ride.
This variety of JBA OffRoad UCAs is the HD-type which means they are reinforced for the most extreme of conditions.
I have a 2014 4Runner SR5 Premium with some aftermarket wheels, tires and most recently, a 2.75″ 4Runner lift kit from Eibach. When I went to get the vehicle aligned after my lift install, the shop was able to get my camber and toe-in spec, but the caster was way off. This is when I learned that I would need aftermarket upper control arms with built-in high caster (3-4 degrees) that would result in proper alignment.
So, I reached out to Marlin at JBA OffRoad and he provided me with the most heavy-duty option available. Now, I do have to admit, this is probably overkill for my application since I don’t do a ton of off-roading at this point in time, but this was a newer product that would be great to showcase for all of you, serious trail guys. A write-up on the standard UCAs is also available on this site, but I will be covering my experience with the Heavy Duty version with EZ Lube bushings.
JBA OffRoad is based out of Pennsylvania and specializes in aftermarket upper control arms for a variety of vehicles. I had seen so many good things about this company, I was excited to install their products on my 4Runner. Unique to the JBA brand is their patent-pending EZ Lube bushings as well as the JBA Ball Joints, which are grease-able. This really sold me for performance and maintenance.
The welds are clean the and red powder-coating finish really stands out.
The box comes well-packaged, with the UCAs cushioned in formed foam. It includes a packet with the instructions and hardware, a certificate/warranty card, and a letter with a DVD sharing the owner’s faith.
JBA Offroad UCAs Step-By-Step Install On 5th Gen 4Runner
The install is pretty straight forward. Begin by removing the wheels and following with the removal of the rubber flaps and bolts that are covering the UCAs. It is important to remove all of this in order to properly install your UCAs.
Step 1. Remove Splash Guards & Bolts For UCAs
Once the wheels are removed, I removed the little rubber flaps in the wheel well. This gives access to the main bolt that holds the UCA in. Then, I removed the cotter pin and castle nut that holds in the stock UCA to the steering knuckle. I also removed the 10mm bolt holding on the ABS cable on the UCA.
With a little creativity, the main bolt and nut can be loosened.
Step 2. Grease EZ Lube Bushings & Prep Washers
Once that bolt is out, we can grease the EZ Lube bushings and get the included washers ready.
Step 3. Place Washers In Properly & Reuse Bolt To Tighten
There is a specific pattern that the washers go in, so take note of that. The bolt is reused and slides back in to hold the UCA in place.
Step 4. Reattach ABS Cable
Once bolted in, the ABS cable can be reattached.
Step 5. Use Provided Spacer For Ball Join Placement
When putting the ball joint back into the steering knuckle, be sure to use the provided spacer/washer and torque to specs as per the included instructions.
Lastly, Grease Ball Joint & Bushings
Now that everything is back together, the last step is to grease the ball joint and bushings using the 3 designated points. I chose to use Mobil 1 synthetic grease.
This ensures a smooth and quiet operation. These should be checked just about every oil change.
After I installed these, I got the wheels/tires aligned at my local tire shop. After a few tries (due to their error), they were able to get the caster in spec with my 2.75-inch lift and these UCAs.
The 4Runner tracks straight on highways and I’ve noticed improved steering feel.
These work great and I’d recommend them to anyone looking for beefy UCAs!