What are the Symptoms of Bad Sway Bar Links & How to Replace Sway Bar Links

Date Posted:6 July 2020 

What are the Symptoms of Bad Sway Bar Links & How to Replace Sway Bar Links main image What are the Symptoms of Bad Sway Bar Links & How to Replace Sway Bar Links image
One of the most crucial parts of your car’s suspension is the sway bar; without it, your car’s handling would be bad. This car part helps your car stabilise, especially when faced with unfavourable situations when driving...

With bad sway bar links your vehicle could go out of control in an instant without sway bars; that’s why it is essential to maintain its health. If you have noticed that your car’s handling seems a little bit off, this could be an indicator that your car’s sway bar has a problem. It could also be a problem with the sway bar link that holds the sway bar and suspension together if the issue ends up being your sway bar link, no need to worry because sway bar link replacement is usually on the lower side. 

Before you start considering having a sway bar link replacement and figuring out how much you’ll be spending for the replacement, you should learn more about sway bar, sway bar links and their role in your car. You should also learn about the signs that will let you know your sway bar and sway bar links are broken and get a better understanding if you don’t take your time to do sway bar link replacement. This guide will answer all your questions about sway bar and sway bar replacement, along with sway bar link and sway bar link replacement. 

What is a Sway Bar?

Before talking about sway bar replacement, it is crucial to understand the role of sway bars in your car’s suspension. Without it, your car would manoeuvre differently than it usually does.

A sway bar is a piece of metal that resists twisting force. It is linked to each side of the suspension on a front or rear axle, which is designed to help your car resist any body roll or sway, during turns or sudden emergency manoeuvres. The sway bar usually does nothing unless the body of the vehicle is leaning to one side. If both your vehicle’s wheels rise as they would when it hits a bump, the sway bar doesn’t have to twist and has no effect. This is also the case when both wheels fall at the same time. 

Every vehicle has at least one sway bar that bridges the gap between the left and right sides of the car’s front suspension. Some vehicles have one sway bar in the front for the front suspension and another one in the back for the rear suspension. Regardless of how many sways bars your vehicle has, it works to stabilise the car at all times and works when a driver is handling a corner or taking a turn. The sway bar itself is very durable and shouldn’t wear down and break. It is also rare that you might need a sway bar replacement and it's often the sway links that need to be replaced. 

What are the Symptoms of a Bad Sway Bar Link?

A sway bar has rubber bushings on its ends where the bar links to the other suspension parts of your vehicles. The biggest problem of a sway bar is the deterioration of its bushings.

The sway bar link bushings are made of rubber, and this material can be easily compromised once it comes under stress. Most of the time, replacing the bushings can solve the problem, but it is better to know when to change them rather than wondering when they will fail. Here are some of the signs if a bad sway bar: 

Squeaking or clattering sound from the suspension

The sway bar link bushings are usually the root cause of a sway bar failure. When bushings deteriorate, they start to make clattering sounds which can be heard when driving over a speed bump. In extreme cases, the rattling noise can be heard even when driving on straight stretches of road. If you are experiencing this, you should visit a mechanic for a checkup. 

Handling problems

If you have loose sway bar links, your vehicle’s tires lose their grip and will affect your ride handling. One of the first signs will be felt in the steering wheel because you will be having a hard time turning your car effectively. Again, the root cause is your bushings, which can wear out when exposed to extreme stress. Rust and dirt can also cause the handling to deteriorate. 

Vehicle swerves a lot

One of the signs that your vehicle’s sway bar is failing is reduced stability and traction in your wheels. You will feel that your car is entirely out of your control, and it is falling apart in front of you. This will be felt in the steering wheel and the handling while you drive. That’s the best thing about suspension parts. You can inspect them without ever physically seeing them. 

Is it Safe to Drive with a Sway Bar Problem? 

Yes, it is safe to drive even if your car’s sway bar has a problem. Just be sure to be cautious when driving if you suspect that your sway bar is broken. You will notice that your vehicle will lean and sway more when turning or changing lanes. You will also feel that your car is looser, mainly when driving at higher speeds. 

A problem with your car’s sway bar may cause you to lose control of your vehicle, resulting in an accident if you cannot overcome the loss of control that occurs with a problematic sway bar. If you have no choice but to drive with a broken sway bar, make sure to drive slower than usual. If you can, stick to driving to surface streets and stay off highways and interstates, where changing lanes may be necessary. Make sure to keep your speed down and don’t take turns abruptly, and you should be safe driving until you can have it replaced as soon as you can. 

When to Consider Sway Bar Replacement

Sway bars are solid and durable and usually don't need any replacement. Still, if you experience these problems, you should consider sway bar replacement: 

  • Excessive corrosion, cracking, or rust: Sway bars are manufactured using high-strength steel with special coatings to resist corrosion. Although, sway bars are known to crack, especially on its ends or at the welded joints. Any visible cracks or excessive corrosion is a sign of sway bar replacement. 
  • Crash damage: Sway bars are located near the ground on your car’s suspension system. Different external forces such as road debris and driving over parking stops can damage your vehicle’s sway bar or the sway bar links to its suspension. 

Things to keep in mind when considering a sway bar replacement

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are replacing your sway bars: 

  • Don’t reuse rubber components in your sway bar replacement. 
  • The original sway bar on your car usually offers the best fit and function. Still, there are performance aftermarket sway bar links for certain vehicles. 
  • When you're having a sway bar replacement, make sure to inspect the entire vehicle’s suspension as well. 
  • The sway bar does not have anything to do with your vehicle’s alignment. Still, it is always a good idea to check and confirm your car’s alignment after performing any significant repairs on your vehicle’s suspension. 

What is a Sway Bar Link?

After being familiar with sway bars and understanding why it is a vital part of your car, getting to know your sway bar links will help you know your vehicle even more. Even though sway bars don't get much credit as sway bars for keeping your car together and safe, your car’s sway bar wouldn’t be able to do its job without a sway bar link. These are the parts that are used to connect the sway bar to the suspension, keeping your car stabilised when driving. 

Front sway bar links & rear sway bar links usually have two small ball joints on each of their two ends and some are sway bars with sway bar bushings only. One of these ball joints is connected to the sway bar, and the other one is to your car’s suspension. As long as the sway bar link can maintain these connections, there shouldn’t be any issues. Keep in mind that over the years, these ball joints can begin to wear out, and if they do, you’ll be needing a sway bar replacement so you will be at peace when driving again. 

Why Would You Need a Sway Bar Replacement?

The first reason why your sway bar link may go wrong is the wear down of the ball joints. But it isn’t the only thing that will cause the need for sway bar replacement. Many other things can cause the sway bar link to go bad. For example, if you put too much stress on your sway link kit, it can cause metal fatigue and make them brittle. 

Another reason why you would need a sway bar replacement is due to rust and corrosion, which usually depends on what conditions your vehicle is exposed to. In some instances, sway bar links that are pushed too far can snap right in half. These are just some of the common problems car owners faced when it comes to sway bar links. 

How Long Does a Sway Bar Link Last?

Like sway bars, sway bar links are usually made out of metal. This is the reason why they are durable and strong like sway bars, however, since sway bars rotate each time your vehicle takes a turn, it tends to put tremendous stress on the sway bar link. Over time, you will have no choice but to replace the sway bar links of your car. 

Sway bar replacement isn’t something that should be done very often. You might only need to replace it once the whole time you own a car although there are still chances that you will be experiencing problems with your sway bar links at some point. The longevity of your sway bar link depends on the outer forces your car usually faces when you're driving.

Sway Bar Link Replacement

Before doing a sway bar replacement, you will need to buy a sway bar link kit from trusted car parts online store like Machter Auto Parts. Once you have purchased the sway bar link compatible with your vehicle, here the safety measures you should follow: 

  • Be careful and thorough during steering and suspension repairs.
  • Make sure to wear safety goggles and gloves.
  • Only use approved jack stands and ensure that the steering components have enough support from their spring pressure.
  • If you need to loosen a stubborn nut using heat, the safest method recommended is using an electrically inductive heating kit.
  • If you end up using a torch, be sure to have a fire extinguisher handy and avoid catching the sway bar link bushings on fire as it is made with rubber. 

Here are the tools you will need:

  • Impact wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Allen wrench (6-point standard but can vary)
  • 8 mm wrench
  • Pliers (battery for narrow-jaw channel locks)
  • Penetrant oil

Things to keep in mind before you start: 

  • Double-check your product and be sure that it says penetrant oil and not silicone, lube, or water dispersant.
  • Be sure to measure the ride height before starting the service.
  • It is recommended to remove the wheel for better access.
  • Make sure that the old sway bar link and the new one matches, before installing it. 

How to Replace a Sway Bar Link

Remove the sway bar links
The first step you need to do is to disconnect the sway bar link from the sway bar and the control arm. Some cars have specialised tools to hold the stud that connects the sway bar link to the suspension system. To loosen and remove the nut, use an 8mm wrench for the stud that’s secured with a locked ratchet. Do this on both the top and bottom of the link and once the nuts are removed, you can now remove the sway bar link. Make sure to compare it to the new sway bar link to see if it’s the correct dimensions. 

Installation of the new sway bar link
You will need to use the Allen wrench to hold the stud on the end of the sway bar link while adding the new lock nut when installing the new sway bar link. You should not reuse lock nuts. Install the new lock nut by using the wrench and make sure to wrench it the whole way. To get the nuts in the correct position, you will need to compress the suspension. Put the nut on using your hand and once the nut reaches the lock nut, wrench it tight according to the vehicle’s manufacturer torque values, changing wrenches as needed to fit the new sway bar link nut.

Examine your new sway bar link
Once the new sway bar link is installed, put back the tire and lower the vehicle to the ground. Be sure to torque the wheel on the ground before going for a test drive. One of the crucial things you need to remember when doing anything with suspension is to measure the ride height before and after the installation. If there’s a drastic change in measurement, then it might be an indicator that something went wrong with the installation and should be inspected before the test drive. Thankfully, there’s no need for an alignment after installing the new sway bar link. Your vehicle is ready for a drive immediately.

Machter Auto Parts

When deciding whether you want to replace your sway bar link on your own or by a professional, it is best to get the best sway bar link kit from a very reputable source. Here at Machter Auto, we offer a range of sway bar link kit that would perfectly fit your vehicle. As one of the very best replacement car parts online providers in Australia, you can be guaranteed that all Machter Autoparts is the best in the market.
 
Check out the Machter Auto Parts website online to shop for the best car parts online at the lowest price. You can also get in touch with one of our friendly experts to help you find the best car parts for your vehicle or if you need to buy wholesale car parts. Call our team here at Machter car parts at (02) 7801 4933 or visit our website today.