If you are planning to do a Driveway
Alignment after installing the spacers, it might be a good idea
to set up and check your alignment before you install the spacers.
This way you'll know what things are "supposed" to look like
when set up properly, since assuming your vehicle drives OK now, it is
likely reasonably well aligned.
You'll know if you are capable of performing the alignment yourself
Block the rear wheels and place the front end of the truck on jack
stands and remove the front wheels.
Remove the original ball joint hardware.
Knock the studs out of the ball joint with a small hammer.
This is done most easily if the joint is pressed against the arm
supported with a floor jack, as shown below.
Unbolt the upper shock hardware.
If you have greaseable ball joints, this is a good time to give them a
shot of lubrication.
Also, if needed, you can swap out an angled grease fitting for a
straight one to allow for later greasing.
Best to check the access to the grease fitting with your grease gun
prior to buttoning up the install in case you need to change the grease
Trimming around upper ball joint
Closeup of trimmed upper control arm.
If needed, trim the inner lip of the upper control arm (UCA) as
depicted in the above pictures.
An angle grinder with a cut-off wheel or a small reciprocating saw
works well for this task.
How much to trim?
Just enough to allow installation of the spacer, typically about
1/2". And be sure to leave rounded corners on any of the cuts done
to minimize any chances of stress risers in sharp corners, as shown
above. You would want to smooth the sharp corners in the above cuts.
Shorter, custom height, ball joint spacers may require less trimming,
or none at all.
Alternately, you may be able to bend the lip of the UCA with a
hand-held sledge hammer.
The metal bent or removed is simply excess metal left from forming the
shape of the UCA at the factory.
Ball Joint Spacer Installation
Put the spacer in place, NOTCH FACING DOWNWARD and, using a floor jack
to control arm height, align the ball joint and install the hardware.
The notch acts as a weep hole to let any water that gets in from above
drain out to prevent the ball joint from rusting out.
If needed, you can remove the upper ball joint from the steering
knuckle before installing it under the spacer to have a little more
working room if you find the installed ball joint won't go into place.
If you find the steering spindle will not push back in far enough to
line up the ball joint mounting bolts, you might have over extended the
CV axle, pulling the inner (plunge) joint out far enough to bind. No
worries, just rotate the axle shaft back and forth while pushing on the
spindle, it should slide back once things line up and the binding is
If installing a stacked set of spacers, put the smaller spacer on top
of the full height spacer since the smaller spacer will not have the
drainage notch machined in it.
Also, with the stacked spacers, the hardware is designed to be extra
long in order to get as much unthreaded bolt shank inside the stacked
spacers for the maximum strength. As such, there may be some unthreaded
bolt sticking out beyond the spacers and control arm.
If this happens, just install a extra washer or two to take up the
additional bolt length. The additional washers will not weaken the
connection, in fact more than one washer adds to the joint strength.
It usually works best to insert the allen head bolts from below since
it allows easier access to tighten the nuts.
We now supply a flanged class 10 nylock nut for easier installation
that's just as strong as the previous double nut setup.
Tighten fasteners in an X pattern to assure proper tightening torque of
about 25 ft.lb. or 35 N.m.
If you wish, you can spray the exposed head and threads of the bolts
with some paint, as the black oxide coated hardware may tend to rust
Extend the shock to see if it needs shimming.
Place the appropriate number of washers to ensure the shock does not
limit down travel.
Or if you plan to replace the old shock with a new, longer version, do
Tighten shock hardware.
Repeat for other side.
Re-install the wheels.
If the end of the upper control arm is too close to the tire at this
point, there are several options:
You can try and grind off part of the outer lip of the control arm
(area at the left edge of the red circle in the photo above)
You can add a 1/4" wheel spacer to move the wheel/tire away from
You can swap to a narrower tire, for example changing from a 33x12.50
to a 33x10.50 tire will move the inner edge of the tire away from the
control arm since it'll have less sidewall bulge on the same wheel.
You can swap to a wheel with less back side spacing, for example going
from a 4.75" to a 4.5" backspaced wheel will move the inner
edge of the wheel and tire 1/4" away from the control arm (stock
wheels are ~4.75" backspacing).
Put the vehicle back on the ground.
For low profile bump stops only:
Shim them approx. 1/2" with some washers or use stock bump stops.
Failure to do so could result in damage to CV joints, shocks, or other
Low profile bump stops are typically made of polyurethane and will be
colored red or some other color as shown below.
Stock bump stops are typically a black runner material by comparison.
Shimming for low profile bump stops
Even with stock bump stops, you may experience some CV axle binding.
To check, let the suspension hang at full droop.
Easy to do this when you finish installing the spacers, as the front
end should be up in the air.
Rotate each CV axle shaft by hand and check for any binding at the CV
joints and also check with the wheels turned to the steering stops in
Also, you may want to feel the CV axle rotation before installing the
spacers, just to familiarize yourself with what they feel like
If felt, several options to fix it are available:
Add some shims as shown above for the low profile bump stops.
Spray the torsion bar hardware with a penetrating lubricant.
Wipe all debris off of the threads.
Spray them again.
Jack up the front to unload the bars.
Adjust them with a 22mm wrench.
Lower the truck.
Bounce the front end and roll the truck back and forth at least 10
Repeat until the front is level and at desired height.
The measurement between the fender lip and edge of rim should be about
15 - 15.5".
This would be the case for 1.5" lift, stock height is 13.5" -
NOTE: Adjusting the torsion bars up or down is not
the same as adjusting the camber angle, that is done as part of a front
end alignment, as described below:
The Toyota IFS front suspension is fully adjustable, for both caster
and camber angles (via the lower control arm eccentric adjustment
bolts) as well as toe-in, via the tie rod end adjustment.
It has been observed that some driveway alignment adjusting is
beneficial and easy to do.
Following these simple steps will make life easier for the alignment
tech who, to be honest, might not be prepared for a vehicle that is any
other than bone stock and only slightly out of alignment.
And you may find there are two basic types of alignment shops, one with
the nice shiny computerized machine and the other place where the
mechanic actually has grease under his fingernails and all over his
The former shop might just throw their hands up in the air and tell you
it is impossible to align your truck due to the lift, as they have no
place to punch in the numbers on their shiny computer.
The latter shop will typically be able to get a perfect alignment,
assuming your front end is not otherwise damaged. They will work with
the factory alignment specs and the lift and adjust things to make it
So if you are having a shop do your alignment, and the first one you go
to tells you "No way", simply check the phone book for
another shop and go there.
The reason is that this shop just is out for an easy buck and wants to
do the quick tie rod end adjustment for toe in and send you on your
way. The proper way to adjust the alignment, as shown below), is to set
the caster and camber with the eccentric bolts in the control arms,
then set the too in with the tie rod ends. This does take some time to
do right, partly because you are changing multiple measurements with
one adjustment. And this time costs the shop money and takes some
skill, both of which the shop may be short on.
And if a shop tells you that they could not align your truck, ask them
to point to what they tried to adjust. If they point to the tie rods or
the torsion bar adjusters (and not to the LCA eccentric bolts), that is
a good clue that you might want to find another shop because this shop
has no clue what they are doing!!! We know we would not want them
working on our truck!
First make sure the ride height is set to where you want it.
Loosen the adjustment cams on the lower a-arms making a note of each
Move the lower arms outward until two things happen.
(It will likely be necessary to lift the front end while adjusting and
roll the truck forward and backward after each adjustment.) One, the
tires appear vertical.
Two, all cams are adjusted to mirror those on the opposing arm and in a
position *closely* relative to where they started. (It is more
important that the tires be vertical than the hardware be exactly
relative to it's originating position)
For example, if the driver's side front cam is pointing straight up and
the driver's side rear cam is pointing outward, the passenger side
front cam should be straight up and rear outward.
If, before adjustment, say the rears were angles outward 30 degrees
more than the front, after adjustment the rears should still be outward
about 30 degrees. Again this is not as critical as trying to get the
Adjust the toe by loosening the adjusters and rotating.
It is a good idea to lock the steering wheel in a straight position.
What you adjust to one side, do to the other. Typically about
.5-.25" of toe is fine.
If you have trouble measuring, simply attempt to get them straight or
angling in slightly.
You'd be surprised how close one can get these measurements with just
However, perfection is not necessary, this will simply get you in the
ball part and help to avoid the "blank stare" when an
alignment tech sees his numbers are out and doesn't know which nut to
turn which way. (you'd be surprised how often this happens with 4X4s)
You should recheck the height after this.
If you find you adjust the height severely, which is unlikely, and the
tires are clearly off (by the eye), repeat these steps.
A visit to an alignment shop is definitely recommended!
You may need to shop around for a good alignment shop as some may tell
you they can't align the truck because it is "modified".
Don't be "wowed" by the shop with the fanciest computerized
equipment, either. You may find the technicians at such shops may throw
up their hands if the computer says the alignment is too far out.
Look for a local "mom and pop" shop when they will actually
understand how to align the front end and are willing to work with the
available adjustments and make it work. There should be adequate
adjustment range in the front suspension adjusting cams to handle the
ball joint spacers and changed ride height, assuming the front end is
Re-check hardware torque in 2 weeks.
If you are running the extra tall stacked spacers and are satisfied
with the height, you can use a metal epoxy adhesive to joint the two
spacers together if you want to ensure that there is no slippage
between the two spacers. Simply remove the spacers, lightly sand the
mating surfaces (we purposely leave one face of the smaller spacer
slightly rough for better bonding) and thoroughly clean and degrease
the mating surfaces and then apply a thin film of adhesive, install and
tighten down the bolts to clamp the spacers together. After the
adhesive cures, you should be good to go.
If you find problems with your CV joints binding due to the steeper
angles or find the CV joint boots rubbing and wearing out faster, you
might consider adding a front
differential drop kit.
While not really related to ball joint spacers (or a front differential
drop kit), many owners find that replacing front CV axle half shafts is
a difficult process. Mainly this is due to the tight location in which
the axles are installed. Often, you can loosen the lower ball joint
clamp and swing the lower control arm out of the way (disconnect the
front sway bar if installed) and then swing the spindle/hub up out of
the way for more clearance when removing or installing the CV axle.
Here is a write-up on a simple modification that can help in future
replacement that involves replacing the differential output flange
studs with bolts:
For the upper control arm (UCA) brace, you want to bolt it on top of
the UCA with the 4 - 8mm ball joint bolts. Then in the remaining holes
(4 in total), mark and drill holes through the UCA to accommodate the
supplied 6mm bolts and then bolt the brace on top of the UCA. You can
see the 4 bolt holes, 2 per side, in photo C above. Be sure to get all
8 bolts installed before tightening down any of them. Tighten down the
ball joint bolts per factory specification and then tighten the 4 - 6mm
bolts to approx. 10-15 ft.lb. And note that the braces can be installed
with stock ball joints (without the spacers) as well.