Control Arms
removal and replacement

The following text and photos illustrate work performed on a 1998 Toyota Tacoma 4WD, but should also be representative of 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 Tacoma model years.

This write-up documents my experience with removing and replacing the upper and lower control arms (UCA, LCA), upper ball joints, and lower ball joints on my Tacoma, which had approximately 12 years and 150,000 miles of use when the work was completed. The upper control arm bushings showed signs of age (cracking rubber) but were still adequate, though not as good as new. The lower control arm bushings were a different story, and were totally worn out with a lot of slop and play, allowing the pivot joint to move inboard and out, as well as slightly side to side. A shimmy in the front end could sometimes be felt when braking.

I ordered my parts from Toyota of Dallas, known on the web as TRDParts4U. Apparently Toyota OEM replacement bushings are not available for the UCAs, so new arm assemblies were ordered. Although OEM replacements for the LCA bushings were available, after researching the subject, I decided it would be easier just to replace the lower arm assemblies as well. I had replaced both my lower and upper ball joints about four years prior, and decided to reuse the lowers and only replace the uppers this time around.

If you decide to do this work yourself, be forewarned that it's not for the faint of heart. Working on it diligently but sporadically, my project took several days to complete, including taking the truck in for an alignment service.

The first step assumes that you have properly immobilized and supported the vehicle and have the front wheel removed. Next, remove the front strut or coilover assembly and sway bar linkage. Clean the work area.

Remove the cotter pin and castle nut from the tie rod end (TRE) stud where it fastens to the steering knuckle. Set aside for reassembly later (a new cotter pin should be used). Do not remove the stud from the knuckle yet.

Loosen the four bolts that fasten the lower ball joint assembly to the bottom of the steering knuckle. Do not remove them yet.
Now use a pitman arm puller to press the tie rod end out of the steering knuckle.

On to Part II