The Weakest Point on Toyota’s Suspension

The Weakest Point on Toyota’s Suspension

Toyota trucks are great—we would know.

But every truck must have a weakness, right? For the Toyota Tacoma, 4Runner, and FJ Cruiser, that weakness is the cam tabs.

Located in the front suspension, cam tabs make sure that your wheels stay aligned while you drive. As the cam turns, it moves the control arm back and forth between the tabs, which ultimately adjusts your alignment.

The reason that this setup is weak is because as you drive down the road, your tires are putting force against the control arms, which essentially act as levers against the cam and tabs. If you hit a big enough hole or bump, it can put enough force on the tab that they’ll bend and become flat. This will cause your control arm to move in and out of place, forcing your truck out of alignment, resulting in a negative driving experience.

But there are several ways to solve this problem, and we’re going to explore four of those right now!

 

1. Welding the Cam Tabs

This is the easiest and cheapest way to save your cam tabs, and something we often do here at Overland Outfitters.

When we’re doing suspension lifts, we always take out the lower control arm because Toyotas are notorious for rust issues around the cam. Essentially, the sleeve on the cam fuses itself to the rust that lies in the inner control arm—if the rust is really bad, sometimes we have to cut it out of the vehicle completely. To avoid the rust, make sure you remove your LCA's and cam bolts, and grease them up. 

While the lower control arm is out, we’ll weld a bead behind the cam tabs—the lower control arm has to be out to ensure you don’t melt the bushing. The bead then acts as a gusset, so the tabs don’t bend out as they normally would.

While this is a great option for most, it’s not for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys jumping their truck or you want bigger tires fitted, I would suggest going with one of the options below.

2. Total Chaos Cam Tab Gussets

If you want something a little stronger than welding a bead behind the tabs, then the Total Chaos Cam Tab Gussets are going to be your best bet.

These essentially do the same thing as welding the tabs, but they’re a lot stronger, so you’re not going to run into many problems. These require cutting off the OEM cam tabs, and replacing them with a much stronger tab instead, which gets welded to the LCA mounts. 

3. Marlin Crawler Gusset Kit

For those looking beyond simply adding a gusset to the cam tabs, the Marlin Crawler Gusset Kit is the next strongest option.

While this still adds a strong gusset to the cam tab, it also adds strength to the entire lower control arm pivot. The pivot is naturally a weak point in the Toyota trucks, especially if you’re wheeling your truck hard because this can cause bends or tears in the lower control arm.

Installing the Marlin Crawler Gusset Kit is going to give you way more strength than any of the above options although it does take more labour to install due to the many moving parts.

4. JD Lower Control Arm Pivot Kit

If you’re the kind of person who likes to push your truck to its limits, then the JD Lower Control Arm Pivot Kit is going to be the kit for you.

This kit isn’t specifically designed to reinforce cam tabs—rather, it replaces the lower control arm pivots, including the cam tabs, with much stronger material. Instead of using a thin sheet metal for the pivot points, which is what the stock models include, a quarter inch of steel surrounds the control arm, allowing the control arm to move forwards—this permits you to clear bigger tires at the firewall.

Another benefit of this kit is that it has a built-in skid which has a higher clearance than any other skid on the market by about two inches.

Overall, the JD Lower Control Arm Pivot Kit is the best choice if you’re looking to reinforce your truck’s entire front suspensions setup.

 

Ultimately, to decide which setup is right for you, you need to define how you’re going to use your truck. For a majority of people, welding a bead behind the cam tabs will do just fine, but for those of you that want something sturdier, you’ll want to look into some of the other options mentioned.

Have you ever bent your cam tabs before? If so, what did you do to fit it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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