Your car’s steering and suspension system includes a variety of components working together to provide a comfortable ride and responsive handling. The sway bar links (also known as stabilizer links or end links) are an often forgotten part of that system.
Although the sway bar links are designed to last the life of the vehicle, they can eventually wear out or break, resulting in noticeable symptoms.
What is a Sway Bar Link?
To better understand the role of the sway bar links, it helps to first become acquainted with the sway bar itself. The sway bar is a suspension component that reduces body roll when the vehicle is cornering or traveling over rough surfaces, thereby improving handling and stability. Most vehicles have a sway bar (also known as a stabilizer bar or anti-roll bar) in the front. Some models also have a sway bar in the rear.
The sway bar links connect the sway bar (which is mounted to the frame) to another part of the suspension, called the control arm. There is one link at each end of the sway bar. Some sway bar links have ball joints and studs, while others are basically a long bolt with a sleeve and bushings.
Common Symptoms of Bad Sway Bar Links
Do you think you might be dealing with a bad sway bar link? If you notice one of the following symptoms, you might be right.
Abnormal Noises from the Undercarriage
Usually, the only symptom associated with a bad sway bar link is a clunking or popping noise while driving over bumps. The noise is typically the most noticeable when traveling at low speeds.
Decreased Handling Ability
Since the sway bar improves handling and stability, a broken sway bar link can reduce the vehicle’s handling performance. However, the decrease in handling ability is usually so minimal that it goes unnoticed by the driver.
It’s usually pretty easy to check a set of sway bar links. First, safely raise and support the vehicle. Then, visually inspect the sway bar links for damage, such as a torn bushing (bolt-style link) or broken ball and socket (ball joint-style link).
If the sway bar link looks okay, you’ll want to check it for excess movement by tugging on the sway bar or the link itself, as outlined in the video below.
Replacing a set of sway bar links is usually a job that a confident DIYer with the necessary tools and equipment can tackle on their own. However, if you’re unsure of your abilities, it’s best to leave the job to a professional.
Sway bar links are not considered a “wear item” and therefore, do not have a suggested replacement interval. The links should only require replacement if they’re worn-out or broken.
Exactly how much it costs to replace a set of sway bar links will depend on several factors, including what type of vehicle you have. If you have a professional replace the links, you can usually expect to pay somewhere between $150 and $300 to get the job done.
Of course, you can save a lot of money by replacing the links yourself (if you have the tools and the know-how) with parts from CarParts.com.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.