Replace Sway Bar Links

Because sway bar link bushings wear out slowly, most of us never realize how bad they are. In some cases, they're missing entirely! Fortunately, sway bar link kits are inexpensive to buy and relatively simple to replace.

sway bar link replacement

What Does A Sway Bar Do?

You've probably noticed that when you steer your car into a turn, the body of the car wants to roll the other way. For example, when making a right turn, the car body rolls to the left.

To prevent this from happening, automotive manufacturers install sway bars (also called stabilizer bars or anti-roll bars), that connect the left and right sides of the front suspension. They are sometimes also installed on the rear suspension. The function of a sway bar is to reduce body roll.

what does a sway bar do

When driving straight down a road, the sway bar just rotates up and down in the center bushings.

Aside from wearing out with time, sway bar link bushings can be damaged if they get soaked by engine oil or another fluid leak. If this has happened, the leak should be repaired before replacing. If not, the new bushings will quickly fail.

Getting Prepared

If you're working from the ground, position a floor jack at the proper factory lift points, then place jack stands as close to the jack as possible. About a foot off the ground should be enough room to work.

replace old sway bar bushings

Removing Old Sway Bar Links

Working on old cars means dealing with stuck nuts and bolts. The first time I replaced stabilizer links was many years ago, before the advent of Youtube and the Internet. Not knowing any better, I tried to remove the old links with a ratchet and a wrench. This proved to be a waste of time.

An older, wiser mechanic explained to me how most all pros remove sway bar links - with an air-powered cut-off wheel. Also effective is an electric angle grinder with a cutting disc. A hacksaw will also work, but removal will take much longer.

cut-off wheel for automotive work

While cutting, slowly slice the sway bar bolt with the cut-off wheel, letting the tool do the work. Do not force it to cut faster, as that will overheat the tool and the metal.

best way to remove sway bar links

If the bushing is already gone, a vice-grip locked on the link keeps it from spinning while you're cutting it off.

sway bar link replacement

There are many different styles of stabilizer end links, but they all do the same thing.

sway bar end link replacement

The kit will include new bushings, washers, links, and nuts.

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When ordering replacement parts, specify sway bar link kit, not the sway bar bushings (they hold the sway bar to the frame).

Polyurethane bushings are an upgrade over the original rubber bushings.

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Top Nut Won't Thread On

Sometimes you can't compress the link bushings quite enough to thread the top nut on. If this happens, take a 2x4 block of wood and wedge it between the ground and the bottom of the link.

sway bar link replacement

This should give you that little bit more of thread you need to install the top rubber, washers, and nut.

sway bar link replacement

Once threaded on, the links can be tightened with a hand ratchet and wrench.

sway bar link replacement

Don't Over-Tighten

Manufacturers recommend tightening the assembly until the bushing starts to bulge, then loosen 1/4 turn.

sway bar link replacement

Don't over-tighten.

Tools Needed

tools needed to replace stabilizer links

Ratchet and socket, a wrench or two, work pad, maybe a block of wood.

Notes and Cautions When Replacing Sway Bar Links

Always replace in pairs.

Protect your hands from sharp edges - wear gloves.

Wear a face shield or safety glasses with side-protectors.

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The vehicle in this article was a 2008 Ford Sport-Trac.

replace old sway bar bushings

Read: Ford Explorer Sport Trac Review

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