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Thread: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ

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    Default Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Heard some discomforting noises on the trail run today, and discovered that the bump stop plunger was hitting the front springs under certain conditions. This can only happen if the front axle either moves (forward or backward) or rotates (pinion angle rotation). Jim noticed that my front upper control arm on the passenger side is buckling, and the driver side has twisted presumably due to the other arm buckling. So, I need a new front upper control arms in short order.

    Installation looks pretty simple, though I'd appreciate advice on whether I've selected appropriate parts, and welcome any assistance with installation.

    For control arms, it looks like these will get the job done -- https://www.quadratec.com/p/jks-manu...tj-cherokee-xj
    These appear to be much more stout than the stock upper control arms, which are some really cheesy ~1/8" steel in a U-shaped channel. These (https://www.quadratec.com/products/56015_005.htm) appear to the same construction as the currently installed (failed) upper control arms.

    I imagine I also need to get some replacement bushings for the axle-side mount with the JKS part above? I found this (https://www.quadratec.com/products/56015_103.htm) on Quadratec, and assume it is compatible with the JKS control arms, though I'm not certain.

    I lack an impact wrench, but I have a large breaker bar. I'm wondering how much pain I'm in for trying to remove the 15 year old bolts that hold these factory control arms in.

    Thinking about how to replace the control arms, I understand the process to be:

    1) Jack up the vehicle and put the frame on jack stands. Remove both front wheels.

    2) Remove bolts at both ends of front upper control arm on one side, and replace. Jack up front or rear of front diff as necessary to adjust pinion if axle shifts when I remove the old control arm. Since both control arms that I have are bent, how should I set the new control arms to get the length correct?

    3) Install new control arm and bolts. Repeat 1-3 for the other side

    4) Lower vehicle and torque control arm bolts per spec, which appears to be 60 ft-lbs

    5) Drink some beer.

    What did I miss? Should I do something to secure the axle before trying to remove the control arm? I assume the axle will be in the wrong position when I jack up the vehicle owing to the broken upper control arms currently installed.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Here's the damage to the current control arms:

    Passenger side - buckled / collapsed


    Driver side - twisted and now bent towards the passenger side. Note the pinch on the right side and the curve in the arm.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    I have lower adjustable control arms on the front and I've adjusted them without jacking or tire removal. Just do one at a time and the other side should hold the axle in place. Maybe remove the least bent one first and try to straighten it a little then match the length on the new ones, or just search around to get center to center length.

    My question is how did this happen? I know they're flimsy (I have the stock upper ones too) but I can't think of a scenario that would cause this type of bending.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    I don't really know how it happened. My best guess is that I damaged the passenger side one when I clipped a large rock I didn't see on the way out of Coney Flats / MSV earlier this year. There was a noticeable jolt when I contacted the rock, but I didn't see any damage at the time. Certainly since then, I've noticed some odd noises and I've been concerned about the front axle possibly not being centered, as I notice the wheel was no longer oriented correctly with the wheels facing forward. However, it is also possible this happened in Moab in October when I was stuck on the rock on Lockhart basin. While clearing the rock, and for the rest of the day, I noticed the sounds that I now know were the springs contacting the bump stop plunger.

    Either way, I'm fairly concerned about how these could both be so badly damaged, and what else might be damaged as a result or concurrently. My front lower control arms are after-market fully boxed steel, so I'm guessing they were so strong compared to the uppers that the uppers simply failed when the axle was driven upwards during some event like the two above.

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    Brian (November 9th, 2019)

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    These shouldn't be hard to replace at all. Per the installation instructions for the pair you chose, the factory length is given making it that much easier, at least for a starting point.
         

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Thanks Chris, I did see that. I wondered if stock length is appropriate with my lift. Going to try to measure the least damaged one in situ and see if they are close to stock length.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Without knowing how the uppers failed before, does it seem like a good idea to go with a beefier replacement like the jks? Wondering if whatever causes this happens again, if stronger control arms will just result in something worse breaking when the arms are not the weak point. Am I overthinking this?

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Why were the lower arms replaced? Has there been any welding done on the axle or frame nearby, maybe around a bracket like where the trackbar attaches? Those arms don't take a lot of stress compared to the lowers, I don't think you did that yourself with regular wheeling, but you may have exposed a previously weakend part(s). I'd guess your Jeep had an incident before you got it and they maybe should have replaced the uppers then. From the twisting on it I'd guess a front / side collision or a really hard hit offroad on an angle, or maybe it was allowed to hang from the upper arms while being manipulated to install the lift springs and they got twisted. All just guesses. I can't see a downside to beefier arms, although OEM replacements would probably be fine.

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    open_circuit (November 10th, 2019)

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Lower arms are part of the lift kit I believe. Not sure why they were replaced if not with the lift.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Stock or aftermarket - my thoughts...

    Stock: lower cost, one piece (vs. aftermarket adjustable that could have component failure), lower cost. If they were strong enough to not cause the MFGR costly warranty callbacks they should be reasonable to keep using.

    Aftermarket: higher cost, multi-piece adjustable, appear stronger. If you wish to be able to adjust - this is a big bonus - but - you need to keep the jam nut tight. If it loosens and the vehicle is driven, the threads get hammered and will eventually fail (cue Dante? at one of the china wall runs). You have the ability adjust caster (a nice plus, especially if other work is non-stock).

    Your concern of moving a weak link from an easily replaceable part to a different part is valid - but I view this part as too weak. Beefing up this component would not likely find you moving failure point to a more costly / difficult to repair item. I was in this debate with the front lock-out hubs - strong warn or weak brand - I'm back to warn as the weak brand hubs were just too weak.

    I'd go aftermarket and keep the jam nut tight.

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    open_circuit (November 10th, 2019)

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Dante's control arm failure (stripped threads) has been on my mind as I debate which part to buy. Delaying purchase while I wait for this debate to play out. I don't want to do the work twice, and want to buy the most appropriate part, not necessarily the cheapest part.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    IIRC you have the OME 2.5 kit, that does not come with control arms from what I see online. Do you have a vehicle history?

    edit- I just spent a minute googling " Jeep TJ Upper Control Arm Bent" and it's not just you. I think I just learned something and I'm going to take a look at mine...

    found this too https://axleaddict.com/trucks-vans/H...Each-Lift-Size

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    I ordered the JKS control arms. Curious to hear what you've found. I know the previous owner (director at my company), so I can get just about any question answered. I believe the vehicle was not wheeled or wrecked before I got it.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Jim previously posted:
    "Your concern of moving a weak link from an easily replaceable part to a different part is valid - but I view this part as too weak. Beefing up this component would not likely find you moving failure point to a more costly / difficult to repair item."

    I am kind of with Jim on this, but I am not that familiar with TJs control arms - I helped a friend install and OME lift, and we did a short arm lift with no changes to the control arms and it has held up well so far. But I would also venture he hasn't wheeled it as hard as Trent has done....if you can get a beefier control arm, I would go that route...I can't think of any negative other than added weight (and I guess some work with getting the length adjustment right). In terms of strengthening one part and moving the failure point down the line, I can't think of any obvious failure points that would be a concern. There are also quite a few different solutions to ensure the nut stays tight, from various locktite options to a single use, deformed lock nut like what is used on pinons (they often have a dimple on them).
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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    FINOCJ previously posted:
    "I am kind of with Jim on this, but I am not that familiar with TJs control arms - I helped a friend install and OME lift, and we did a short arm lift with no changes to the control arms and it has held up well so far. But I would also venture he hasn't wheeled it as hard as Trent has done....if you can get a beefier control arm, I would go that route...I can't think of any negative other than added weight (and I guess some work with getting the length adjustment right)"

    I suppose I was worried that next time the brackets might separate from the frame or axle instead of the arm breaking. I would hope that doesn't happen, but the brackets are also a little wimpy looking. Regardless, I've purchased the JKS control arms and will be installing them this upcoming weekend if everything arrives before Saturday.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Others can offer info on axle housing / frame control arm mounts breaking. I'm curious to hear the thoughts. In my view - failure of those items has not been a noted/routine/heard-of failure point of jeeps (for the use we give'm, the hold-my-beer-and-watch folks are a different crowd).

    Additionally, the jam nut should be an easy-to-view item (oil changes or getting gas) where you could apply an inspection marking onto the nut to arm surfaces to see if it has loosened for quick-and-easy piece of mind. Here are a couple sites selling the item (low cost):

    https://www.markingpendepot.com/dykem-cross-check.aspx

    https://www.aircraftspruce.com/catalog/cspages/crosschecktorqueseal.php

    edit: I read the reviews on the above item and there's a mixed bag as to the package drying up after the first use. Some folks comment on using F-900 Torque Seal so I went searching for that product - it's the product I used on the fasteners on my ultralight. It seems that company went out of business (the F900 product shows available on Amazon). I'd still buy one of the items listed above with the realization that the tube of stuff might be one-time-use (the tube of stuff might dry up years before you loosen and need to re-mark the jam nuts).

    https://crosschecknow.com/bath/

    https://www.amazon.com/F-900-Orange-...dp/B00JFKU8QW/

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    In my industry, we usually use some 2-part epoxy or RTV to stake fasteners. I imagine that would work well in this situation as well. It may not secure the jam nut, but it would definitely break if the nut moved.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    open_circuit previously posted:
    "It may not secure the jam nut"

    correct - inspection markings are only for inspection - not physical rotation control

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    Tearing the mounts from the frame or axle can/does happen but it's not too common.

    Just get some penetrating thread locker for the jam nuts.

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    Default Re: Front upper control arms on 2005 LJ



    The only other thing I can think of is that you do have a lift and sway bar disconnects, but your bumpstops are stock length.

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