Prevent Your FJ Cruiser From Bending a Spindle With a Total Chaos Fabrication Weld-In Gusset

Bent Spindle, Be Gone!

Evan PerkinsPhotographer, Writer

When it comes to simplicity and strength, nothing beats the stoutness and subtlety of a solid axle. But when the on-road compliance that modern America cries for took over, a fully independent suspension became the obvious answer. And thus a generation of IFS off-roaders was born.

While manufacturers have bolstered these fancy, freer-moving components significantly since their inception, there are still some inevitable and inherent weaknesses. In the case of our 2012 FJ Cruiser, it was the spindles that were the first to cry out in protest of our off-road adventures. A modern, tall design, the spindles are very thin and prone to bending (across all model years). A rapid pace over rough roads or even a significant boulder bounce can cause the top of the spindle, which supports the upper ball joint, to bend inward. This alters the spindle inclination and throws off caster and camber. The results of a bent spindle will register immediately on an alignment report and, in severe situations, visually.

Fortunately, the cure to this weak spindle problem is a simple set of spindle gussets from Total Chaos Fabrication. We tweaked our driver-side spindle enough that going down the road put the steering at more than a few degrees of list. The spindle could have been bent back, but instead, a replacement core was sourced cheaply on Craigslist. Follow along as we remove the spindle from the chassis, beef it up, and reinstall it for more wheeling to come.

The gusset, because it wraps around the back of the ball joint, makes it difficult to reinstall the safety pin in the top castle nut. Our solution was to drill a hole through the existing ball joint safety pin hole and directly through the gusset behind it. We then tightened the ball joint and passed the safety pin through both the castle nut and gusset and bent it from the backside.

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