IFS Upper Control Arms
July 19, 2022
It’s very common to need an aftermarket upper control arm when lifting your independent front suspension (IFS) truck/suv over 2”. These control arms will help fix the wheel alignment and can aid in fitting larger tires. Choosing the best control arm for your application can be tough since there are so many designs and options available. These control arms are offered with a variety of different joints, bushings, construction materials and designs. In this article, we will review the most common options on control arms to help you choose the best control arm for your lifted vehicle.
Upper Control Arm Frame Pivot Options
- GOOD: Inexpensive, very durable, does not require maintenance, absorbs impacts well vs metal on metal.
- BAD: Adds spring rate because it does not rotate freely. Joint is actually twisting when the control arm cycles up and down.
- Summary: Good durability, ok performance.
Two Piece Urethane Bushing
- GOOD: Affordable, greasable, easy to install/replace. Absorbs impacts vs metal on metal. Rotates freely unlike rubber OEM.
- BAD: Wears out quicker than rubber, can squeak if not maintained
- Things to know: Requires silicone based grease (Super Lube), petroleum based grease will eat the bushing and make it squeak worse after a while
- Summary: Very popular due to cost, greasable and usually quiet. Those strong selling points make these pretty easy to find across all the top brands.
- GOOD: Adjustable, improved handling due to stiffness, very strong,
- BAD: Wears out quicker than the other options, can squeak (if not sealed), not serviceable/greasable
- Summary: Adjustable, strength and firm response are the main advantages. Heim joints are usually cool/attractive & look like a race truck parts. For someone looking for extreme off-road use, this may be a good option.
Upper Control Arm Spindle Pivot Options
- Pros: Very strong, looks cool like race trucks, no maintenance
- Cons: High friction causes bad steering feel, wears out quickly due to motion in many directions, can squeak
- Pros: Most are completely sealed, extremely durable, doesn’t squeak, serviceable / greasable.
- Cons: Needs to be maintained with greasing, doesn’t look like a performance part but it definitely can be.
Upper Control Arm Material Choice
Cast Aluminum & Cast Steel
- GOOD: Cheap
- BAD: Aesthetics may not be appealing, cheap quality
- GOOD: Good looks, strong, very common to find, affordable
- BAD: N/A
- GOOD: Good looks, strong, looks more like race truck design
- BAD: More expensive $$
- GOOD: Great looks, strong, better with corrosion, usually w/ heim joints so they are adjustable
- BAD: Most expensive $$$
Upper Control Arm Design Style
Fixed Upper Control Arm
- GOOD: Affordable, simple to install
- BAD: No adjustability
- GOOD: Adjustable, can be good for alignment
- BAD: Higher price, have to remove from vehicle to make adjustments
On Car Adjustable
- GOOD: Adjustable without removing from vehicle, good for alignments
- BAD: Expensive, a lot of alignment shops don’t know how to align them
As you can see, there are quite a few options to consider when choosing an upper control arm for your vehicle. Luckily there are a slew of great companies out there making high quality upper control arms in just about every configuration discussed above. Its just a matter of picking which options work best for you, your budget and your vehicle. Considering the cost of your entire suspension, this may not be something you really want to cheap out on. Keep in mind, the UCA is allowing for proper steering alignment, extended travel shocks and fitting larger tires.
Warning: Every Upper Control Arm is different and will have slight variations in design, alignment specs and quality.
If you’re still not sure which UCA to go with, give us a call and we can help you pick out the best one for your vehicle.
619-722-8555 | Sales@accutuneoffroad.com