Upper control arms (UCAs) — you know what they are, but do you know what they do?
As a part of your front suspension, UCAs connect the front wheels to the frame of your truck. That means they play a huge role in the alignment of the wheels and how hard you can drive, especially if you’re the kind of person who likes to rip down backroads.
Typically, people only change their UCAs when they’re changing the suspension on their vehicle or adding lift. But there are other cases when it’s a good idea.
Let's take a look at the top three reasons you should upgrade your UCAs!
1. Correct Your Caster
The caster is the front/back angle of your wheel, and when your suspension droops or you lift your vehicle, you lose some of that caster. When you upgrade to an aftermarket UCA, it moves the upper ball joint out and towards the back of the vehicle. This increases the amount of caster you get while also adding back the camber that would have been lost, correcting for the higher ride height.
When you have more caster, it helps create more stability, especially when driving at higher speeds. The lower your caster, the more sensitive your steering is going to be, causing you to correct yourself more often when out on the road.
For off-roading, we typically aim for three to four degrees of caster, but it also depends on your vehicle, suspension set-up and other details.
When it comes to lifting your truck, I recommend switching out your UCAs when you’re at two inches of lift or more — this will give you the best performance. If you’re going for a lift of 2.5 inches or higher (which I don't recommend) you’ll definitely want to swap the UCAs for new ones.
2. Extra Travel
Getting extra travel depends on the suspension setup and what kind of shocks you have — simply changing the UCA isn’t going to do anything. Most aftermarket suspension kits allow for more down travel than stock UCAs can provide. This usually happens for one of two reasons.
The first reason this happens is because the ball joint doesn’t have enough movement in it, causing it to bind up as the suspension droops out, ultimately limiting the travel.
The second reason is because there isn’t enough room on the inside of the arm, so as the suspension droops out, the UCA will contact the coil and bind up on the coil of the shock, which again, limits your travel.
Essentially, if you change your shocks and they allow for extra travel, then you have to change your UCAs.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to wheel your truck really hard, then you’ll want to change your UCA to have a stronger ball joint and arm in general. Aftermarket UCAs are always stronger than stock.
If you’re in search of a new upper control arm, look no further! At Overland Outfitters, we carry three main brands of UCAs: SPC, JD Fabrication and Total Chaos. All of these brands are great, but the best one for your truck will depend on a variety of things — such as the make/model, how often you go off-roading, and the climate where you live.
Want to learn more about which UCAs are best for your truck? Take a look at the video above for more information, or you can find all of our UCAs and their descriptions here.
What UCAs are you running on your truck? What’s your experience been with them? Let me know in the comments!