Nissan Frontier Forum banner

1 - 20 of 44 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I noticed lately we've been getting questions about camber bolts and UCAs, so I wrote this to hopefully help people get answers to their questions themselves instead of having a new thread made every other day on the subject. Ideally this thread will have all the answers to your questions.




I. Application Notes For This Guide
1. The following guide applies to:

- 2nd-Gen D40 Nissan Frontiers
- Model years 2005-2019
- Both 4x4 and 4X2, Any Body Style​

2. This does NOT apply to:

- Those with body lifts only.
- Those with drop bracket-type setups.
- Those with Titan swaps and/or aftermarket LCAs.
- 1st Gen pre-2005 Frontiers (Sorry, can't help you.)​


II. Component Definitions
1. “Camber Bolts*”
A camber bolt is an eccentric bolt that is used as an aid to correct your front suspension’s camber and caster angles. For our 2nd-gen Frontiers, this is done by replacing the “Lower Control Arm” (“LCA”) inner mounting bolts with eccentric camber bolts. The camber bolts allow the LCA to move outward and inward slightly to help correct wheel camber and wheel caster angle. Both adjustments are needed to keep your tires from rubbing fenders/fender liners when you lift your truck, upgrade tire size, change to wheels with a lower offset, or any combination of the above.

*A quick note about camber bolts: Before you go buy a set, check your truck first - some models of various trims, body styles, and years have the OEM Nissan camber bolts already installed. If your truck does not have them, keep reading. If your truck does have them, great - keep reading anyways and learn stuff.

2. “UCAs” (or “Upper Control Arms”)
A UCA is an upper suspension component that connects the top of the front spindle to the chassis. Swapping to aftermarket UCAs is also recommended for 2”-up lifts mainly to eliminate coil bucket contact. Coil bucket contact is when the UCA makes contact with the coil bucket area (the part of the chassis where your front shocks are attached), resulting in loud metal-to-metal clunking noises; most aftermarket UCAs are designed to clear the coil bucket and have more downward movement, enhancing suspension travel. The more premium UCAs feature threaded heim joints or adjustable spindle mounts that can be configured to also correct camber/caster values (like camber bolts do, but with more range) after you do a suspension lift.



Camber bolts and UCAs are related in that both items (when used separately or as a complete system) allow you to correct the alignment changes that occur up front when lifting your truck 2” and beyond. Camber bolts will give you a little bit of adjustment - for some this might be all you need. But if you find that after lifting you need more adjustment than what camber bolts can provide, that's where UCAs come into play.



III. Camber Bolt Costs and Available Choices
The cost of a camber bolt kit (which includes 4 LCA camber bolts, 4 or 8 LCA eccentric washers, and 4 nuts) will run anywhere from $35 to around $100. On the lower end of the scale, you can get cheap eBay sets that have bolts with part of the shanks "sliced off" to where the bolt cross-section is actually a D-shape, like this:



Even the slightly more expensive aftermarket-branded camber bolt kits use this style of bolt. The D-shape bolts are popular due to generally being sold at a lower price (35$ to $80 a set depending on brand) compared to the OEM Nissan camber bolts. Their only downside is that a lot of these kits do not have tight tolerances; some cheaper versions have washers that have play when installed on the D-shaped bolts (meaning you can still rotate them back and forth on the bolt a couple degrees). Since alignment is a matter of degrees to begin with, if not installed properly your alignment may be prone to change over time. Also, some members are having noise issues with some of these cheaper aftermarket types.

At the upper end of the scale you have genuine OEM Nissan camber bolts:



A set of OEM Nissan camber bolts will add up to around $80-120 depending on where you buy them. The difference (besides being OEM) is that the Nissan bolts use a slotted bolt, not a D-shaped bolt. The OEM Nissan camber washers in turn have a pointed key that fits more accurately into the slot on the bolt. The tolerances are tighter, and because the OEM Nissan bolt is slotted, not as much material is removed from the bolt (compared to the D-shaped type) so they will be slightly stronger as well. I always recommend members go with the OEM camber bolts as they are the better design.

Generally, these are sold in individual pieces with individual part numbers, as listed below (official Nissan part name/part#). You will need 4 of each for a complete kit, and you should be able to order these through any Nissan dealership or any official Nissan parts distributor/reseller:


- "Front Suspension Eccentric Disc" (LCA washer), OEM Nissan part #54559-1Z600
- "Front Transverse Link Pin" (LCA camber bolt), OEM Nissan part #54580-7S000
- "Lower Control Arm Nut" (LCA locknut), OEM Nissan part #08918-6441A

However, I have seen another part number floating around online lately, "999AK-D40FT" which includes all of the above, 4 pieces each. It looks like a factory Nissan part number, so you might want to try asking for this part number first at your dealership to get all the parts you need in one shot.


IV. Upper Control Arm Costs and Available Choices
The cost of aftermarket upper control arms starts at around $400 up to around $750 for a pair (one left upper arm and one right upper arm). On the lower end of the scale you have the cheaper eBay type fixed-length UCAs that are typically clones of more expensive UCAs in design (specifically, they're always clones of the Total Chaos UCA). These are hit-or-miss; there are some forum members running these lower cost UCAs with no issues, there are some forum members that had to modify them with higher-quality uniballs and/or bushings, and there are some members who ended up returning them because of fitment or construction issues. Personally, I've never used the clones, this is one area of a vehicle that I do not like to skimp on. Your results may vary if you go this route, but I'm sure there's a lot of forum members who do use these UCAs that can give you their feedback on them.



At the other end we have the premium adjustable UCAs from various recognized aftermarket brands. I used the word "premium" because expect to pay a higher price for these options, but well worth the extra cost due to the features, construction, materials, and design involved... not to mention after-purchase tech support and warranties included with a brand name UCA purchase compared to some seller on eBay. The known brands include (in alphabetical order): Calmini, PRG Products, SPC Performance, and Total Chaos Fabrication. Each of these brands' UCA design varies in features and function. Pricing, features, and things to consider are listed below:


- Calmini (MSRP $599) features an outer OEM-style ball joint combined with inboard heim joints.
- PRG Products (MSRP $639) features a large diameter outer spherical uniball combined with inboard heim joints.
- SPC Performance (MSRP $747) features an outer OEM-style ball joint combined with inboard bushings.
- Total Chaos (MSRP $768) features a large diameter outer spherical uniball combined with inboard bushings.​



More Comparison Info
- UCAs with inboard bushings do not have any inboard camber/caster adjustments.
- UCAs with inboard bushings tend to give a quieter ride compared to non-bushing UCAs because the bushings absorb more road noise.
- UCAs with inboard heim joints will have the largest range of adjustment for camber and caster (and even track width) vs. other UCAs.
- UCAs with inboard heim joints do not absorb road noise and driving surface imperfections like bushings do; you will feel (and maybe hear) a lot more of the road.
- UCAs with inboard heim joints have to be removed from the vehicle whenever you want to make a camber/caster adjustment.
- UCAs with outer OEM-style ball joints have some tolerance to absorb road noise, but are not as strong as aftermarket spherical uniballs.
- UCAs with outer spherical uniballs are stronger and more precise, but (like heim joints) also transmit more of the road to the driver.
- Only Calmini and PRG Products UCAs use inboard heim joints.
- Only SPC Performance and Total Chaos Fabrication UCAs use inboard bushings.
- Only Calmini and PSPC Performance UCAs use outboard OEM-style ball joints.
- Only PRP Products and Total Chaos Fabrication UCAs use larger, outboard spherical uniballs.
- Only Calmini, PRG Products, and Total Chaos Fabrication UCAs have removable coil bucket bump stops.
- Only SPC Performance UCAs feature a rotating outer ball joint that allows you to adjust both camber and caster up to +/-2-degrees camber and 0-4-degrees caster.
- Only Total Chaos Fabrication UCAs have the largest outer knuckle attachment, a 1" spherical uniball.
- Only Total Chaos Fabrication UCAs have zerk fittings for greasing the inner bushings.
- Only Total Chaos Fabrication UCAs do not have any additional camber/caster adjustment.​

Extra Info Regarding UCA Installation
Depending on your truck year, some Frontiers have the OEM Nissan upper-rear control arm bolt installed facing forward. Because of this, to remove the stock UCA you have to either A. cut this upper-rear bolt, or B. disconnect the steering shaft coupler to gain access for removing the bolt. Most people would prefer not to mess with the steering coupler, so they cut the original upper-rear bolt to remove it. Fortunately, some of the premium UCA brands include a replacement UCA bolt with their UCAs - such as SPC and PRG. However, if you buy aftermarket UCAs that do not include an extra UCA bolt/nut and later find that you need it, expect to pay about $8 for a replacement UCA bolt and nut from the dealership. The Nissan OEM part numbers are:

Upper Control Arm Bolt, OEM Nissan part #080B4-4801A
Upper Control Arm Nut, OEM Nissan part #08918-6441A


V. Determining What You Need
When it comes to the subject of camber bolts and UCAs, the magic number to reference seems to be TWO - as in 2” of suspension lift. That said:

If You Are Doing a Suspension Lift BELOW 2 INCHES: You should be fine with just camber bolts if your truck already has them. If your truck doesn't, do yourself (and your tires) a favor and buy camber bolts when you install your lift. Even if you're not lifting that high, you're still altering the suspension of your truck and without camber bolts, you won't have the ability to correct your camber and caster. Keep in mind that the closer you get to the magic 2-inch mark, the higher the chances are that you'll need to adjust your caster/camber. But even if you're just doing a 1/2" lift, I still strongly recommend installing camber bolts so that your alignment can be done properly.

As far as UCAs go, for a mild lift below 2-inches you should be good to go without UCAs. All you need to do after installing a mild lift is a proper alignment - You can skip down to section VI. (**in progress**) for my thoughts/suggestions.

If You Are Doing a Suspension Lift AT LEAST 2 INCHES Or More: generally once you reach or pass 2” of front lift your stock suspension geometry will be altered drastically. It will not perform as intended, and your suspension handling and braking will be affected. It doesn't matter if you're doing a front lift using top hat spacers, coil spring spacers, lift springs, adjustable perch shocks, or full threaded coilovers - you will need to address this situation regardless.

Upon installing your 2" or more front lift to a stock Frontier, you may find some/all of the following new things will happen with your truck:

A. You'll most likely have positive camber in the front, where the top part of your wheel/tire is farther outward than the bottom part;
B. You might hear loud metal-to-metal clunking noises coming from the front suspension area, especially on rougher terrain (most likely CBC, or Coil Bucket Contact);
C. You might hear rubbing or scraping noises when turning, where your tires are making contact with the fender and/or fender liner;
D. If you just leave everything as is, you'll eventually get uneven tire wear​

Some people assume that all of these issues can be fixed by getting a standard alignment at the tire shop. This is true for toe angle, but you camber and caster is a different story. Once you lift your Frontier higher than what was intended, you alter geometry and suspension angles and your stock parts might not have enough room to adjust back to factory specifications. This is why camber bolts and UCAs are part of the deal when lifting a Frontier - you will still need to get an alignment after doing a suspension lift, but having camber bolts and/or UCAs can help get the alignment back to factory specifications.

Whether you need camber bolts, UCAs, or both depends on how bad your alignment (specifically camber angle) is after doing a suspension lift and how much money you have to spend. What you should actually get after installing a lift can be narrowed down to where you fit within these 3 scenarios:

A. I'm On a Budget: Use Camber Bolts Only
PROS: Cheap, because if the camber bolts didn't already come with your truck, they're easy to buy and lowest cost.
CONS: Limited adjustment range; after alignment you may still have positive camber (but less than before); decreased cornering traction; possible uneven tire wear.
NOTES: Your stock UCAs will most likely hit the coil bucket at full extension, and if you changed to larger tires or lower-offset wheels you'll definitely have to mod your fender liners/splash guards to keep from rubbing.

B. I Can Buy Some Stuff: Camber Bolts + Budget (eBay) Fixed-Length UCAs
PROS: Not as expensive as premium UCAs; eliminates coil bucket contact; simple bolt-in set-and-forget installation; bushings retain some ride comfort; less $$ than adjustable UCAs
CONS: Camber and caster adjustment limited to camber bolt range; unknown UCA materials and reliability; no UCA camber/caster adjustment
NOTES: At minimum, with fixed-length UCAs you will eliminate Coil Bucket Contact, allowing you have your full range of suspension movement without metal banging other metal. However, fixed-length UCAs do not have any provisions for camber or caster adjustment and the final position of your front wheels will be determined by the UCAs length and how high your lift is.

C. Let's Go All In: Camber Bolts + Premium Adjustable UCAs
PROS: UCAs Stronger than OEM; eliminates coil bucket contact; allows you to adjust camber and caster back to factory specifications
CONS: Most expensive method; ride quality may suffer (heim/uniball style), require periodic maintenance, full front-end alignment required after install
NOTES: Premium adjustable UCAs are the most expensive option, but also the best option with reason - not only are they built stronger with premium materials and designed to easily clear the coil buckets, but they also have provisions for camber and caster adjustment. The adjustments are done either by a multi-position outer ball joint mount OR by adjustable threaded heim joints on the inboard side. These adjustments allow you to correct your alignment and some let you dial in added clearance for tires by altering caster angle.

After installing your 2" or higher suspension lift, you're not done yet... you still need a proper alignment (see the next section below)

VI. Now About That Alignment
***working on adding this section after seeing a lot of alignment threads lately***

VII. Conclusion
Hopefully this guide clears up all of your questions regarding camber bolts, UCAs, and if you need them. If there's something I missed or if you have a question not addressed above, feel free to post it in this thread. And don't forget to visit my truck.

I'll leave you to it with this final photo I made for fun:

::grin::
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
618 Posts
Awesome explanation of what all to look for when doing a lift. I know I had questions and most of them answered already but this really explains it well. Thank you!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Awesome explanation of what all to look for when doing a lift. I know I had questions and most of them answered already but this really explains it well. Thank you!
Good to hear
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
714 Posts
Wow. Looks just like what we had to do to a buddy's 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger when we rebuilt the front end. From the factory they literally use offset cam bolts to set the UCA alignment. We just eyeballed it enough to get him home, set all the caster that we could and then tried to get the camber such that the wheels were straight-up vertical. Figured an alignment shop could handle the rest.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,197 Posts
I think that the "cam bolts" are call such for their eccentric camming action and not necessarily because they adjust camber. They also adjust caster...

Nice job with the "end all".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
714 Posts
I think that the "cam bolts" are call such for their eccentric camming action and not necessarily because they adjust camber. They also adjust caster...

Nice job with the "end all".
Yep. Position of the front cam bolt versus the rear cam bolt causes adjustments to both simultaneously. It can be pretty annoying to get it right, which was why we went for caster first, which I believe was setting the rear all of the way in and the front all of the way out, then adjusting whichever one (or both) to get camber zeroed.

The more positive caster, within reason, the better the steering recenters itself coming out of a turn. Negative caster is pretty rare in the design of front suspensions, mostly it's a byproduct of someone raising up the back end of a vehicle, it's hard to get negative caster when ride-height is stock even if one adjusts it into the negative direction. Cars are simply built with positive caster in mind.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,359 Posts
“Dirt King” and “BTF Fabrication” make quality upper and lower control arms. Geared more to extreme off roading and racing.
PRG uniballs are .875”. BTF Fab 1.5” for example.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
“Dirt King” and “BTF Fabrication” make quality upper and lower control arms. Geared more to extreme off roading and racing.
PRG uniballs are .875”. BTF Fab 1.5” for example.
Looks like both of those are more on the Titan swap side of things...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Edit: just Fixed a photo that for some reason was showing weird on my screen
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
41 Posts
This is a great post thank you. I was googling around yesterday for something like this and couldn't find anything. Then I just stumbled on this by chance.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
This is a great post thank you. I was googling around yesterday for something like this and couldn't find anything. Then I just stumbled on this by chance.
Glad to hear
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
After seeing a lot of similar threads pop up lately, I'm working on adding a section regarding alignment/advice - which I'll add to the first post once I finish typing it out
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Thanks for the excellent information. I put Billstein 5100's on my truck last weekend and used the 2" ride height perch on the front struts. I now have a knocking sound coming from the front suspension when I go over any kind of bump in the road. I live on a pretty bumpy road and it is constant as I drive down it. I do still have the stock UCA's but looking at them at rest, I still have about 2" of clearance. The length of the strut with the Bilstein's was the same as stock, so I don't think that is the issue, although i may be wrong. Any other ideas as to what could be causing the issue? I may be thinking through this the wrong way, but I would think a small bump in the road would cause the UCA to go up rather than down to cause contact.... any thoughts from anyone with experience here? Thanks in advance.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for the excellent information. I put Billstein 5100's on my truck last weekend and used the 2" ride height perch on the front struts. I now have a knocking sound coming from the front suspension when I go over any kind of bump in the road. I live on a pretty bumpy road and it is constant as I drive down it. I do still have the stock UCA's but looking at them at rest, I still have about 2" of clearance. The length of the strut with the Bilstein's was the same as stock, so I don't think that is the issue, although i may be wrong. Any other ideas as to what could be causing the issue? I may be thinking through this the wrong way, but I would think a small bump in the road would cause the UCA to go up rather than down to cause contact.... any thoughts from anyone with experience here? Thanks in advance.
The suspension will go up when you hit a bump... then go back down afterward. If you have the Bilsteins set at 2" lift that's a lot of pre-load, meaning the spring is already pushing down on the LCA, so whenever you hit a bump the suspension will want to extend as fast as possible.

The first thing you should check is if you're getting CBC (coil bucket contact). You'll have to jack up the front end until BOTH front wheels are off the ground and see if the UCAs are resting on the coil buckets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Thank you Raine! I will try your suggestion and see if there's contact. Raining pretty hard today, so may be tomorrow. I appreciate your fast reply and suggestion.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Thank you Raine! I will try your suggestion and see if there's contact. Raining pretty hard today, so may be tomorrow. I appreciate your fast reply and suggestion.
yeah bud
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
618 Posts
Hey raine.. I have a question on the UCA’s and LCA’s. If we are getting camber bolts for the lower LCA’s, could we possibly use one of the lower control arm bolts for the upper if it had to be cut and did not receive one with new arm? I have not had either out so I’m not sure if their the same or not.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,626 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Hey raine.. I have a question on the UCA’s and LCA’s. If we are getting camber bolts for the lower LCA’s, could we possibly use one of the lower control arm bolts for the upper if it had to be cut and did not receive one with new arm? I have not had either out so I’m not sure if their the same or not.
Negative, they're totally different bolt sizes (and part #s)

A new OEM UCA bolt is only like $7 so I'd recommend just buying a new UCA bolt (if your aftermarket UCAs didn't come with specific hardware) and do the job right ::smile::
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
618 Posts
Ok thanks raine, I was just checking in case when I do order them and do not come with it I’ll know. Plus others that may have been wondering will know also if reading this article.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
163 Posts
raine, thanks for the detailed write up. I went with the 2 inch spacer and SPC UCA on my 2wd desert runner. Used Nissan Camber Bolts as well. I got the alignment at a local shop. It didn't work but they had a warranty so...I had to take to their more rural shop where more lifted trucks live in the hope that guy would know how. He claimed he had done these kind of allignments for 20 years on lifted trucks.

They got it all straight and driving phenomenal. The only issue is my steering wheel is slightly cocked to the right when going straight and my passenger side front wheel sticks out about .25 inches further than the driver side.

The tech said that it is because my body might not be sitting straight on the frame or the truck was just built that way. I pointed out the sliding ball joint on the UCA and said that the passenger side was clearly out further. He said that doesn't make a difference. It sounded off to me. He also said he wants to revisit the steering wheel issue after a 1,000 miles.

Is he full of it? Sorry for long post and if I am in the wrong spot posting. Kinda new to these parts. I searched a lot but didn't find the exact same issue.

Mods please move or delete if needed.

Sent from my ONEPLUS A6013 using Tapatalk
 
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
About this Discussion
43 Replies
10 Participants
raine
Nissan Frontier Forum
Welcome to our Nissan Frontier Forum! A premier community to share your mods and builds. Chat with like-minded Frontier owners.
Full Forum Listing
Top