Step-By-Step Install Guide & Initial Review – Total Chaos Uniball Upper Control Arms for 3rd Gen Tacoma
Most of us know, or at the least, have heard the name Total Chaos Fabrication. The Total Chaos Uniball Upper Control Arms are no exception to the quality TC is known for. Upon opening the TC packaging, you’re greeted with some of the highest quality UCAs you’ll find on the market.
The Total Chaos UCAs feature 100% stainless steel uniballs with a military-grade PTFE liner, which makes them less noisy than a lot of other uniball-style upper control arms on the market.
They also feature high-quality polyurethane bushings that offer many benefits over a factory-style bushing, as well as zerk fittings that thread into the UCA for easy grease maintenance.
These UCAs are a massive upgrade over OEM and are better suited for certain applications where a ball joint may not work, especially for a moderate to heavy off-roader like myself living in Southern California.
Find It Online
- Total Chaos Fabrication 3rd Gen Tacoma Uniball Upper Control Arms: Check Price
Upgrading Your Upper Control Arms
There are many reasons for upgrading your OEM upper control arms or upgrading to the Total Chaos uniball UCAs. One of the main reasons is being able to further adjust your alignment specs when running a bigger lift or running bigger tires. Caster is one of the biggest concerns.
They also offer more articulation than the factory UCA. For me, I was running another aftermarket balljoint-style UCA and the Total Chaos UCA offered a huge upgrade for me, as the uniball design is much stronger than the ball joint style. I have personally blown ball joints from driving hard in the Southern California deserts and wanted to avoid that happening again.
If you are looking for one of the strongest upper control arms on the market, look at Total Chaos. You can spend the day hammering the Total Chaos uniballs, whether racing hard/fast or flexing low/slow and still have the confidence to drive home at the end of the day.
There is a reason why Baja 1000 Builds, Trophy Trucks, and KOH builds run TC. They are probably the best upper control arm on the market – and I don’t say that lightly because best is relative but TC really might be the strongest, most dependable race upper control arm that exists. If you want the best product money can buy; go with TC.
I won’t go into extreme detail on the installation process for these UCAs as there is an in-depth video Total Chaos has on their YouTube channel that shows how to install these arms. The link to that video can be found at the bottom of this article.
However, I will cover all the basics to help make your installation a breeze. You may notice that the beginning of the install is on a different truck than mine. I was in a rush to mount these before a weekend trip, so we took shots of the disassembly after the actual install process.
Tools and Materials
- 7/8” Wrench
- 19mm Wrench
- 17mm Wrench
- 14mm Wrench
- 9/16” Wrench
- 10mm Wrench
- 3/8” Wrench
- 21mm Socket
- 12/16” Socket
- 9/16” Socket
- 14mm Socket
- 10mm Socket
- 3/8″ and 1/2” Ratchet and Torque Wrench
- Ball Peen and Dead Blow Hammer
- Pry Bar or Channel Locks (to pull the fender well)
- Bungie Cable to hold the spindle
- Grease Gun with grease of choice (Super Lube recommended)
Step 1. Install Bushing & Zerk
Press the red bushings into the UCA by hand. You do not need to grease the bushings when pushing them into the UCA by hand. You will grease the inner portion of the bushing after they are hand pressed into the UCA when installing the inner sleeves.
Total Chaos provides a little bit of Super Lube, but I recommend buying more, as this is the best lube for these UCAs. Once you’ve pressed the bushings in by hand, you will grease the inner portion of the bushings. Take the inner sleeves provided in the packaging, a dead blow hammer, and start to hammer the inner sleeves into the bushing.
Once you have gotten the bushings and inner sleeves in, you can thread the zerk fittings into the threads of the upper control arm, using a 3/8″ wrench. Do not try and tighten the zerk fittings to the bottom of the thread, only tighten until it feels snug. Make sure the tips of the zerk fittings are facing out towards the uniball.
Step 2. Remove Wheel/Tire & Place Jack Stands
Park your Tacoma on a flat, even surface. Engage the emergency brake and make sure to chock the rear wheels to ensure you’re able to work safely on your truck.
Place jack stands at reinforced points on the frame. Personally, when I’m working on my front suspension, I leave my floor jack underneath my front skid plate to help the jack stands in supporting the truck’s weight.
Step 3. Disconnect Front Sway Bar
I personally do not run a sway bar, but here are the steps to remove it.
With your Tacoma jacked up and your front wheel off, remove the 17mm bolt connecting the sway bar to the spindle with a 17mm wrench.
If, for some reason, your sway bar end link ball joint begins to spin, a 6mm Allen wrench should be used to hold the bolt in place while removing the nut. Once the nut is off, it can be reinstalled onto the bolt in the other direction to provide a flat surface to strike the bolt and remove it from the spindle. You will do the same on the opposite side of the vehicle.
Step 4. Disconnect UCA From Spindle
Once the sway bar is out of the way, remove the spring clip from the castle nut on the upper control arm, I used the dykes here to pull the clip out.
You can then remove the 19mm castle nut with your 19mm wrench. Once the castle nut is removed, you can strike the spindle with your sledgehammer on the flat striking surface to dislodge the ball joint bolt from the spindle.
Once you do this, you are able to push the UCA up and secure your spindle with a bungee, as it will be freely hanging.
Step 5. Remove Upper Control Arm
Next is to get rid of your old UCA and remove it from the vehicle.
Remove the 19mm nut and washer on the lower end of the control arm through-bolt. Once the bolt is free to move, you may find there is a clearance issue, the bolt cannot be removed.
This is where your pry bar or channel locks will come into play. Some may choose to cut the metal that is interfering with the through-bolt, but the best option is to bend it. There is an ABS wiring loom behind the metal that is interfering with the through-bolt, so please make sure to move that or be mindful of it when you are bending the metal.
Pro tip: This is the second time I have removed my UCAs, so I didn’t have to bend the metal that interferes with the through-bolt, I took the end of the through-bolt and shaved one of the edges to avoid having that issue if I were to ever remove my UCAs again.
Step 6. Install Total Chaos UCA
Now it’s time to install the new UCA. Take the new UCA, the through-bolt, and one washer supplied from TC and swing it into the wheel well. Once you’ve swung the control arm in, you will place another washer between the coil bucket and the UCA, then begin to feed the through-bolt to the other side.
Once you’ve fed the bolt through, make sure you take a third washer (supplied) and put it in between the UCA bushing and the coil bucket, feed the bolt through all the way, and add the fourth washer with the nut. Don’t tighten the through-bolt all the way, as we will need to grease the bushings later.
Step 7. Install Uniball
Next is the uniball installation. Take your dykes and cut the zip that is holding the misalignments, then insert the bolt through the misalignments. Once the bolt is through, you will insert the tapered adapter onto the bolt.
While holding the tapered adapter in place, you will insert the bolt into your spindle. Install the 9/16″ SAE washer and 9/16″ c-lock nut onto the bottom of the bolt. It is recommended you coat this c-lock nut with a little bit of anti-seize.
Use a 13/16″ socket on top of the bolt and a 7/8″ end wrench on the bottom c-lock nut, you will tighten the uniball assembly and torque to 100 ft/lbs. You can now remove the bungee cord that was holding the spindle.
Step 8. Attach ABS Line
Now we will want to secure the ABS line that was being held via a bracket on the OEM UCA.
Total Chaos supplies a zip tie that slips in a slot built onto the UCA. That is all that is needed to secure the ABS line.
Step 9. Grease UCA Bushings
Once your upper control arm is installed on the truck, you will need to grease the bushings. Since we kept the UCA through-bolt loose, you will need to use a grease gun to grease bushings via the zerk fittings you threaded in. If you tighten the through-bolt before you grease the UCA bushings, you risk damaging the bushings completely, so make sure they are loose prior to pumping in grease.
The best practice is to hand tighten the through-bolt until it’s snug and then back it off just a little bit, then pump. Once you have pumped the grease, tighten the bolt to 85 ft/lbs.
Note: Make sure you re-install your sway bar prior to placing your wheel back on.
It is always recommended you get your vehicle properly aligned after installing a product like the Total Chaos upper control arms, as they affect the factory caster, camber, and toe. It is also recommended to re-torque everything no later than 500 miles of driving.
- Factory Through-Bolt: 85 ft/lbs
- Uniball Bolt: 100 ft/lbs
By no surprise, the feeling with these new Total Chaos upper control arms is fantastic. There was a huge difference in suspension stability with these uniballs vs my old ball joints.
I haven’t gotten to do heavy rock crawling with these UCAs, but just being able to go fast on rocky dirt roads, through mud, and mild snow, I feel 100% confident in these control arms.
I will say that you must make sure you lubricate your uniballs to avoid squeaking (TC recommends Tri-Flow Dry Lube or CRC Dry PTFE Lubricating Spray) and make sure you keep them clean as best as possible.
The general rule of thumb is if it squeaks when the suspension is moving up and down it’s the bushings. If there is squeaking/creaking when you steer back and forth it’s the uniballs.
Most of the time the noise people hear first is from the bushings although it can certainly vary. The whole setup won’t ever be 100% quiet, although is any part of a fully built off-road truck? Freshly greased bushings will still make occasional noise as well. Welcome to the wonderful world of polyurethane. As we mentioned earlier, the lube TC prefers for the bushings is SuperLube. Amazon is usually the easiest place to pick up a tube.
If you want to take care of your TC UCAs, the bushings should be given some love about every 3-5k miles but can potentially be more often depending on how much dirt your Tacoma sees.
Uniballs can be more often – I give mine a wipe and a few drops of dry lube after my weekly wash. Super easy.
If you take care of your truck everything will stay in good shape and alternatively if you neglect your truck’s parts that take you from A to B, you can expect the latter.
For someone like me who lives in Southern California, I don’t usually have an issue with rusting or squeaking but something to keep in mind with these is that they are always exposed to the elements, so proper maintenance is a must to keep them in good shape. If you live in the rust belt of the United States or in an area where rust is an issue, the uniball-style UCA may not be best suited for you.
Aside from the added benefits and performance of the Total Chaos uniball UCAs are, I just cannot get over how beautiful and how high quality this product is.
I cannot wait to continue to put these UCAs to use and hopefully snag a pair of the Total Chaos LCAs in the future.