Notwithstanding the six inches of snow and ice in my backyard, it’s almost track season again. My first test & tune autocross is less than two weeks away and on March 17th I head off to the main circuit at Summit Point for the first HPDE of the year. My current project is to improve the suspension of the MINI. My goals are to fine tune the front end grip by installing adjustable camber plates in the front; install some firmer springs that will lower the car just a little; and install adjustable lower control arms to keep the rear camber in check. I don’t think I’ll get to the plates and springs before my next track event, but here’s how to install the control arms. This information is posted for entertainment purposes only — no wagering. Attempt at your own risk.
In this post, I’m installing Hotchkis Sport adjustable camber arms on a 2004 Cooper S. They are quite a bit beefier than the stock arms and the design is quiet (unlike heim-joint arms). The 2002-2004 cars did not have any rear camber adjustment built into the rear wheel carrier. On the 2005-2006 models there was a limited amount of adjustability, but not enough to compensate for lowering springs. If you install performance lowering springs, it’s critical to use camber arms to correct camber or you will wear the inside edge of your tires and possibly rub the inside wheel well. The instructions below came from Hotchkis Performance, with my two cents thrown in as well.
- 18mm wrench
- 18mm socket
- one inch extension
- 1 1/8 inch wrench
Raise the rear end of your MINI and place it on Jackstands. Be sure to work on a level surface and only use the official jack points.
With the vehicle slightly off the ground, you can start on either side of the car. You do not need to remove the road wheel. Start by removing the lower link. Use the 18mm wrench to remove the outside bolt. [Spray it with WD-40 first. On my car one side was quite corroded.] As you start to remove the bolt, the wheel will want to come in as the hub is only supported from the upper control arm at this point. You may need to use a jack to push up on the end of the lower control arm to relieve the pressure to remove the bolt.
Use the 18mm wrench with 18mm socket to remove the inside bolt. Depending on the length of your socket, you may need to use the extension. There isn’t a lot of room to get your socket and driver in between the sub-frame and foot-well. I had to use my breaker bar since it had a lower profile than my driver. You may have to push back the aluminum insulation to free the inside bolt. Once the inside bolt is removed, the arm will drop free.
Remove the control arm and place it on a flat surface. Place one of the new control arms over it and line up the sleeves at one end. Adjust the new control arm so it is the same length as the stock arm. Use the 1 1/8 inch wrench to tighten the jamb nuts. Use the supplied grease pack to grease the exposed bushing surface on each arm before installation.
Install the H-sport arm with the longer section mounted to the inboard side and the short section at the outboard side. Slide the arm into the inboard mount first before the outboard side. Make sure the grease fittings are pointed down. If you car is off the ground, you will need to push out on the bottom of the tire from under the car to have enough room to push the bottom of the arm in place.
Secure all hardware and repeat the process for the opposite side. The Bentley manual lists the torque on the control arms as 74 ft. lbs.
Expected time is 1 hour. My time: more than that. [More like 2 hours for the first side and 30 minutes for the second side.]