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Maximized - Cues And Ays - May 2010

Cues And Ays

Max Fish
May 1, 2010
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Dear Max,
This is a question for the guy who seems to have all the answers. I was wondering what issues might be caused by running ball joint spacers on a Tacoma to lower it instead of a set of the custom drop spindles you build. You must have a real reason if you take the time to modify them as heavily as you do.
Bill Hanson
Podunk, Indiana
Photo 2/2   |   maximized Cues And Ays May 2010 ball Joint Spacers
Well Bill, you're absolutely right! There's a reason that I take the time to modify spindles and don't condone the use of a ball joint spacer to get your Tacoma to lay on large wheels. And along with my reasoning for modifying the Tacoma spindles is also the reason that I build Titan drop spindles instead of pushing the popular use of Chevy spindles to keep camber within check on the Nissans. This is actually a great question, though it is just a little tough to explain.
By now I'm sure that you have heard me ramble on about instant centers, roll centers, and other theoretical points that seem to have little to no real effect on alignment or travel. And to make it even tougher to buy into my storytelling, you can actually have visually tolerable camber curves without concerning yourself with instant centers in any way. So I'm quite aware that it looks like I am trying to baffle everyone with BS rather than dazzling them with brilliance, but I can assure you that these theoretical points and their relationships with the vehicle that I have dubbed "dynamic geometry" are important to both drive and ride quality. I refer to them as dynamic because they only matter while you are driving. If a suspension system was never meant to be driven, but was only supposed to hold a vehicle off the ground and raise and lower it, none of what I write about would really matter. Not 'bag size, 'bag placement, shock use, camber or bump-steer, none of it. But since I personally plan on driving the hell out of everything I own without being afraid of how it may react over a bump or in a corner, these all matter greatly to me. Now, with that being said, on to the question-if you simply install a lower ball joint spacer on a Tacoma, it will significantly shorten the distance from the instant center to the A-arms, which directly affects the roll center and most importantly, its relationship to the vehicle's center of gravity. This seemingly minute change may help lower the truck effectively, but will also have an adverse affect on handling and the predictability of the vehicle in bumpy corners. While something quite different happens when using a Chevy spindle on a Titan. The shorter spindle moves the instant center to the opposite side of the suspension (which is very wrong and should always be avoided) which will lower the roll center enough to make the vehicle handle as if it were top heavy even though the truck is nearly on the ground. Although the roll-resistance of a sway bar or a two-link will make much of the ill-handling of a poorly designed A-arm system hard to notice, so most of you will not notice the real issues.
Once again, many of you are surely saying ,"it's a truck, not a racecar," but I'm quite positive that every one of you plan to drive your truck around corners, possibly even at highway speeds. To me, this unavoidable need to drive your truck around corners safely should lead you to believe that some concern should be taken when modifying your suspension and that thoughtless modifications of important components are best avoided or left to the pros.
Hey guys, remember to keep the questions coming so that I can avoid blabbering about some of my other interests that are enjoyed by no one.
- OF


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