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GT500 Upper Control Arm & Mounting Bracket Installation Tips

Discussion in 'How-To' started by BamBam650, Feb 7, 2017.

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  1. BamBam650

    BamBam650 New Member

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    Let me first say right off the bat that this mod is not for the faint of heart. It’s a very labor intensive and frustrating mod primarily because of the difficulty with accessing the various bolts that you need to remove, especially if you are working on your garage floor with the car only raised 16” off the ground like I was.

    I started by using my low profile race jack to raise the car so that each of the wheels could be supported on high density foam blocks. This way you can keep the wheels loaded like they would be normally while you loosen and tighten everything up. I sort of stole the foam block idea from Race Ramps. The blocks measure 12”x16” and were cut from a 2” thick, 4’x8’ piece of Owens Corning Formular 250 rigid insulation board, which you can buy from Home Depot for about $35. The 250 stands for 25 psi. Make sure you get the 250 and not the 150, which is only 15 psi. The top board that is in contact with the tire will deform slightly due to the smaller contact area, but that’s the extent of it. This setup is very stable, however for safety reasons you should still use jack stands as a backup at each of the four corners. A stiff putty knife that is sharpened on the edge like a knife blade and a metal yard stick work great for cutting the foam board. The foam blocks are very light and easy to store.

    I’m going to address each of the fasteners in the order that they need to be removed and provide some tips that I learned along the way that will hopefully help make the job a little easier for future modders. I bought the adjustable Street Performance upper control arm and mounting bracket from J&M Performance, part numbers 23985 and 23986, respectively. I should mention that my car is a 2008 GT500 convertible so some of my comments may or may not apply to the coupe version, especially with regard to the rear K-bracing. Ford refers to this in their parts list as the “Rear Support Bracing”, but others may refer to it as K-bracing. I’m not sure if the coupe model also has this support bracing. If it doesn’t then you may need to support the gas tank with jacks and blocking if it needs to be lowered (read on). I should also mention that I performed this mod while the driveshaft was out because I was doing the Ford OEM carbon fiber driveshaft conversion at the same time, but I don’t think that makes any difference since the driveshaft doesn’t interfere with any of the bolts. I strongly recommend that you also change out the UCA mounting bracket at the same time. You do not want to be doing this job again and quite frankly I think it would be nearly impossible to install J&M’s UCA with the poly ball, cups, and washers into the existing mounting bracket while it is in place. I think I would have been suicidal after trying to get all these components lined up just right in order to reinstall the bolt. It is so much easier to attach the UCA to the bracket as an assembly while they are both out of the car - see attached photos. I was amazed at the difference between the stock parts and the new J&M parts in terms of strength and beefiness.

    Before we begin, I would like to share a few words about J&M’s products. In addition to the UCA and mount, I also bought the Street Extreme LCA’s, part #23942, and the LCA relocation brackets, part #23885. I am very impressed with J&M’s products. The quality for the price is top notch and their customer service is excellent. The fit and finish on the parts is outstanding. I highly recommend their products. BTW, J&M’s LCA relocation brackets are super strong and don’t need to be welded. They are longer than most of the others and take advantage of the third bolt at the top of the axle which on a stock vehicle is used to attach some sort of dampening weight. You have to remove the weights to install the relocation brackets, which are useless anyway. I recommend you remove the weights and throw them in the scrap bin even if you don’t intend to install the relocation brackets. Same for the stupid boat anchor they call a damper ring on the transmission flange, but I digress.

    Okay here we go. You are primarily going to be working from the passenger side of the car.

    Rear UCA Bolt:
    This is the bolt that attaches the rear of the UCA to the top of the differential housing. The head of the bolt on the driver side is a flag bolt. It has a small tab connected to it that locks in place to a surrounding part to keep the head from turning. The nut that you need to remove is on the passenger side. It is very difficult to access. I used a 1/2" drive ratchet with a 3” extension, 1/2” drive swivel, and 21mm deep well socket to get the nut off. I also used a small pipe extension on the end of my racket for greater leverage. Even so, I had to remove the panhard bar and rotate the section of exhaust on the passenger side that runs up and over the axle out of the way just to be able to get a couple clicks on the ratchet to turn the nut. The main part in the way was the rear support bracing on the frame. You might want to consider removing this bracing on the passenger side altogether since you may have to loosen and lower it anyway as you will see later in this thread. This bolt gets torqued to 129 ft-lbs.

    Front UCA Bolt:
    This is the bolt that attaches the UCA to the mounting bracket. This bolt has a 18mm head on the driver side and a 21mm nut on the passenger side. The bolt is located up high at the end of the driveshaft tunnel, but the access is not too bad. It is not a flag bolt so you will need something to hold the head while you loosen the nut. There is not enough room to use a standard ratchet and socket on this bolt because of the way the body is shaped. You will need to use a box end wrench or one of those more expensive combination ratchet wrenches. I bought a cheap Husky 21mm wrench from Home Depot for $3.50 and cut the open end portion of it off so I could get my pipe extension to fit over the end. You will not be able get a torque wrench on the nut so you’ll just have to tighten it by feel. This bolt gets torqued to 129 ft-lbs.

    UCA Mounting Bracket Bolts (on under side): These are 18mm bolts that attach the bracket to the body. There are two them. They are fairly easy to get to. You just need a long extension to reach them. I used 6” and 10” long extensions connected together. These bolts get torqued to 85 ft-lbs.

    UCA Mounting Bracket Bolt (underneath rear seat):
    You have to remove the lower section of the rear seat in order to access this bolt, but this is very easy to do. There are two plastic tabs located at the bottom of the seat a few inches from the ends that you push in and the lower section can then be lifted right out – see attached photos. The bolt is 18mm and, according to some other threads I read, is torqued to about a 1,000 ft-lbs from the factory. I did not find that to be the case on my car. I was able to easily loosen the bolt with my 1/2” drive, 24” breaker bar. Once you remove this bolt the UCA bracket will now be free, well sort of. This bolt gets torqued to 129 ft-lbs.

    Removing the UCA Mounting Bracket:
    Now comes the fun part. If you have an older GT500 (I think prior to 2013) then the front portion of the UCA extends past the gas tank. There is a protruding internally threaded sleeve welded on the end of the bracket that receives the bolt that is located underneath the seat, which is wedged between the body and the gas tank and is inaccessible. The only way to remove the bracket is to lower the gas tank. Now before you go and freak out like I did, the process is really not that bad. I did it with almost a full tank of gas. The tank capacity is 16 gallons and fuel weighs 6.2 lbs per gallon, so we’re only talking about a 100 lbs at full capacity. There are two straps (one on each side) that support the gas tank. The straps are fastened to the body with a TP50 Torx Plus bolt. Why Ford decided to use this type of bolt is beyond me. They probably had a bunch of them lying around so some exec told the engineers they had to find a way to use them up. Make sure you use the proper Torx Plus socket, otherwise you risk stripping out the bolt head and will then be really screwed. I bought one made by OTC from Amazon for $10. With the proper socket, the bolts were easy to remove using a long extension. You can go ahead and completely remove these bolts alternating from one side to the other a little at a time. The gas tank will drop down about 3/4"and rest on the support bracing. At this point you will still not have enough room to pull out the mounting bracket, at least I didn’t. So I then had to lower the support bracing on both the driver and passenger sides another 1-1/4” or so in order to create enough of a gap to remove the mounting bracket. You don’t want to completely remove the bolts since the bracing needs to support the gas tank. Just unthread the bolts enough to obtain the clearance you need. I was then able to pull down on the bracket and slide it out. I read that Ford redesigned the gas tank on later models (2013 and up?) so that it cleared the mounting bracket. All of the lines running to the gas tank consist of flexible rubber hoses, so you don’t need to worry about tearing anything loose when you lower it. There is plenty of slack to work with.

    Installation of the New UCA & Mounting Bracket:
    One snag I hit when installing the new UCA was that the bolt holes in the rear yoke on the UCA and the bushing sleeve on the differential were misaligned by about 3/4". The adjustable UCA comes preset to the factory length from J&M and I verified this against the stock assembly, which means the axle must have shifted out of position at some point. I had to have someone gently rock the car back and forth to move the axle and differential forward and then quickly slam the bolt in when the holes came into alignment. If you’re going to try this, be very careful and make sure you have jacks stands or something underneath the rear axle just in case you push too hard and the car would happen to roll off of the wheel blocks, although I think that would be very unlikely. I only had to rock it a little bit to get the holes to line up, so the wheels barely had to move. Once that was done, I then tighten all of the bolts to the proper torque values using my Snapon 3/8” and 1/2” drive digital torque wrenches (except for the front UCA bolt which I couldn’t get a torque wrench on). I used blue Locktite on all the bolt threads when I reinstalled them. I also went ahead and completely removed the rear support brace on the passenger side (since it was already loose) to make it easier to tighten the rear UCA bolt. I used a jack and some wood blocking to support the gas tank while the bracing was out. I have included the shop instructions for R&R’ing the rear support bracing. I used the uppermost hole (the one closest to the body when installed) to attach the UCA to the mounting bracket because that is the hole that puts it closest to the stock position. One thing to be aware of with this particular UCA from J&M is that the poly ball that fits in the tube on the end of UCA is an interference fit. The way to get the poly ball in the tube is to insert the supplied metal sleeve thru the ball and find a socket that just fits over the sleeve. Then put the tube, ball, and socket in a vise and press the ball into the tube. The socket presses against the ball and the sleeve helps keep the socket in place. If the ball starts to drift out of alignment just stop and reposition the ball using the metal sleeve. I also wet sanded the inside of the tube with fine grit sandpaper to make it really smooth before inserting the ball, but that was probably overkill. Once the poly ball is aligned and centered in the tube, remove the sleeve, install the soft poly cups on each side, and then lastly reinsert the metal sleeve again. This will minimize the trapped air that wants to push the cups out making it harder to fit the assembly in the mounting bracket. J&M also supplies a large washer that fits between the cup and the mounting bracket on each side making for a pretty tight fit. You do not need the supplied anti-clunk washers if you are using the J&M mounting bracket. Those are only for the stock bracket if you decide to reuse it. Make sure you grease everything really well. J&M supplies a small tube of grease, but the stuff is really sticky and hard to work with. I used Mobil 1 red synthetic grease instead. You can also use Maxima waterproof grease. You just need to make sure the grease is lithium based and not petroleum based as petroleum based grease will eat away at the polyurethane parts over time. I’ve included some photos of the completed job. Now it’s time to finish up the CF driveshaft installation and then take it out for a test drive.

    The Test Drive
    The new J&M UCA definitely increased the interior NVH. Not a lot, but it’s more noticeable now. That is the tradeoff. However, the car does feel more solid and more firmly planted. I thought it might also help improve traction, but I didn’t notice much of a difference with that. I would think that as the new parts wear in a little the NVH will diminish slightly. So was the cost and all the labor worth it? Probably. At least I can rest assured knowing that my rear end can now handle just about any amount of horsepower I can throw at it. I’m running about 650hp at the wheels. I saw a video where some guy mounted a camera underneath the rear of his Mustang so you could see how much movement there was with the stock UCA. It was quite scary watching how much the UCA and axle bounced around. It was after seeing that video that I decided to replace the UCA.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
    latinheat1018 likes this.
  2. BamBam650

    BamBam650 New Member

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    jdt1970 and mikes35 like this.
  3. mikes35

    mikes35 Active Member Established Member

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    Good info, I will be doing this hopefully this weekend.. Thanks for posting.
     
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