What to Know Before You Buy Sway Bar Brackets
Better steering, improved cornering, and increased roll-resistance-all these benefits make the sway bar a highly sought-after performance upgrade. Most stock sway bars were designed to be supported by your ordinary sway bar brackets for the life of the car. But if you're upgrading to thicker, stiffer, high-performance sway bars, you would also have to upgrade to topnotch sway bar brackets. You definitely wouldn't want your sway bar to hang limply on one end or drop off altogether because your brackets just couldn't handle the pressure.
The sway bar bracket quality-check
With the number of choices available for replacement sway bar brackets, it won't be too difficult to look for cheap, high-quality substitutes. Here are a few things to note when you're looking for new sway bar brackets.
- Strength and durability
Since you're searching for new brackets because your old ones weren't strong enough to support your upgraded sway bar, strength of the brackets should be your number one priority. Material can dictate how strong the brackets can be so steer clear of brackets that are the same thin, pliable metal that your stock ones are made of.
Many aftermarket products use materials such as high-quality plastic, aircraft-grade aluminum, or stainless steel that can support the load that your sway bar sends your brackets. Plastic brackets are usually the cheapest although they can get brittle over time. Steel and aluminum are good choices but you have to pick ones that are resistant to corrosion-powder-coated or painted brackets can take care of this problem.
- Location and fit
A sway bar bracket is not a one-size-fits-all part. Is the bracket for the front or the rear? Will it be used for the passenger side or the driver side? How thick is the sway bar that your brackets will be holding down? Remember that a too loose or too tight bracket can give you just as much problems as your old ones. While some manufacturers label their brackets as one that gives a "universal fit", it is best to make sure that you buy brackets for the right location and with the proper fit.
What else to consider
It is advisable to buy brackets that come with all the needed bits and bobs for easier installation. Also, if you're upgrading from stock brackets, it's a good idea to replace all brackets in one go instead of replacing them one at a time only when they give out.
Heavy-duty sway bar brackets are a relatively inexpensive upgrade to make but they can provide a great deal of improvement for your ride. If you want to see a marked improvement with your cornering, steering, and overall handling, don't settle for a cheap replacement.
Changing Your Broken Sway Bar Brackets
If you find your Mini Cooper suffering from steering problems or if you hear rattling noises from beneath your car, you might want to check in on your sway bar brackets. While sway bar brackets are small, barely noticeable car parts, they have the big task of holding your sway bars in place. Weak or broken sway bar brackets make your sway bars inefficient resulting in messed up steering and increased roll tendency. While it requires some skill and the proper tools, you can try replacing you rear sway bar brackets yourself by following a few steps.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Things you'll need:
- Jack and jack stands
- Wheel chocks
- Socket set
- Open-end wrench set
- Pry bar
- Replacement sway bar brackets
Always wear safety glasses when working beneath your car to protect your eyes from debris.
Step 1: Park your Mini Cooper in a level area, jack up the rear and rest it securely on your jack stands.
Step 2: Chock your front wheels to keep the car from rolling.
Step 3: Remove the rear wheels for full access to your suspension system.
Step 4: While holding the drop link with your wrench, remove the nut that connects the drop link to the sway bar.
Step 5: Unbolt the old sway bar bracket and securely fasten the new one in its place.
Step 6: Reattach the drop link and rear wheels.
Step 7: Remove the front wheel chocks and lower your car.
Step 8: Test drive your Cooper in a safe, controlled area to check any installation mistakes. Be sure to check for good handling, cornering, and steering response from your newly-reinforced sway bars by making a few sharp turns.
If you have upgraded to high-performance sway bars, it's advisable to upgrade to heavy-duty sway bar brackets at the same time since stock sway bar brackets were not designed to support thicker, stiffer sway bars.