Sway Bar Bushing Buyer's Guide
- Sway bar bushings serve as connection points between the sway bar and the vehicle frame. They let the sway bar flex and rotate within the rod’s position and also make sure that the bar floats or stays in the same place.
- Bad sway bar bushing symptoms include squeaking noises from under the car, sluggish handling on the road, and knocking or rattling noises beneath the car.
- If the vehicle starts showing any of these warning behaviors, take it to a reliable auto repair shop and get a trained professional to examine its suspension system.
- When it’s time to shop for a new bushing, keep in mind the diameter of the sway bar, the materials that comprise the bushing, and the limited color palette.
- Available in one piece, in sets of 2 or 4, or as part of a sway bar bushing kit, the bushings have price tags that range from $1.30 to $177.11 on CarParts.com.
What is a sway bar bushing?
Sway bar bushings serve as connection points between the sway bar and the vehicle frame. They form an important part of the sway bar-style suspension that keep a vehicle stable and under control as it makes sharp turns in either direction.
In automotive suspension, the sway bar enables the suspension on one side to compensate for the load on the opposite side as the vehicle goes around a corner. By spreading the weight load evenly through the car, the bar reduces the risk of tipping over. They help the driver keep control of the vehicle during the maneuver.
Bushings give the sway bar the freedom to flex and rotate within the rod’s position between the tires to redistribute the load on the vehicle. They also make sure that the bar floats, or stays in the same place relative to the rest of the car.
A typical bushing uses a soft but strong material like rubber. The center part receives the business end of the sway bar, while the outside portion has a plated bracket that attaches the bushing to the chassis.
Bad sway bar bushing symptoms
Bushings can last for years if they receive the right care. However, a bushing will eventually wear out. As the part ages and accumulates more damage, it cannot provide proper support for the sway bar attached to it. The warning signs of a bad or failing sway bar bushing include:
Squeaking noises from under the car
Like any other joint, sway bar bushings need regular lubrication. The lubricating oil reduces the friction between the metal surfaces of the bushing and the sway bar in physical contact with each other. It also forms a protective layer that keeps rust away.
When the sway bar bushing doesn’t receive enough lubrication, it will grind against the sway bar. Drivers will hear the ear-piercing squeal of metal scraping on metal whenever they drive the vehicle over rough terrain, take sharp turns to either direction, or pull into a driveway.
Corrosion of the sway bar and its bushings can also cause squeaking. When moisture comes into direct contact with the metal, it forms rust. Rusty surfaces generate more friction, heat, and noise when they rub together.
The vehicle handles sluggishly on the road
Is the car responding slowly during quick turns? Or does it feel more unstable while turning a corner? Reduced vehicle handling is an early warning sign of sway bar bushings going bad.
Worn sway bar bushings cannot hold the sway bar in position. The loose bar will slide free whenever the vehicle moves, especially while taking a turn. As a result, the car becomes unstable and harder to control, increasing the risk of an accident during a normally safe drive.
Once a sway bar bushing starts down the road of degradation, it wears out astonishingly fast, not helped by how the unsecured sway bar abrades the bushing while moving back and forth.
Knocking or rattling noises beneath the car
Heavy wear and tear on sway bar bushings can cause them to tear or break apart. Bushings with severe damage cannot hold the sway bar steady, so the unstable rod will rattle around whenever someone drives the vehicle.
As the bar bounces within its broken sway bar bushing, it makes knocking or rattling noises from underneath the car. The sounds usually come from the vehicle’s front, where the driver plants his feet on the floor board.
Turning the car in either direction causes the knocking noise to grow worse. So does driving on bad roads and other uneven terrain.
How to deal with sway bar bushing problems
If the vehicle shows any of these warning behaviors, take it to a reliable auto repair shop and get a trained professional to examine its suspension system. The job usually needs specialized tools designed to move and handle the sway bar and bushings in the right way.
Occasionally, it proves possible to fix squeaky sway bar bushings by spraying a fresh coat of lubricant on the connection and the bar. This can work if the driver notices the squealing early on before the bushing and sway bar damage each other too seriously.
In most cases, the broken bushing will need a replacement. Since the job of changing out the part is simple, the mechanic should also check the end links of the sway bar that insert into the bushing for similar signs of wear and tear.
Furthermore, the auto repairman should test for leaks in the sway bar and its bushings. Replacing the bushings without finding and fixing the leak will quickly lead to the loss of the new parts.
Selecting a new sway bar bushing for your vehicle
When it’s time to shop for a new bushing, there are some useful things to keep in mind:
The size of the sway bar will determine the maximum dimensions of the replacement bushing. Measure the diameter of the bar and the size of the brackets that will attach the connector to the chassis. Make sure they will fit together without risk of looseness or excessive tightness.
Rubber remains one of the most common materials used in the manufacturing of bushings. Other popular choices include polyurethane and urethane. These materials can withstand harsh temperatures while also minimizing friction between the bushing and the sway bar.
Their prices depend on the material that comprises them. Rubber costs less than the two plastics on CarParts.com, but polyurethane and urethane have better stats.
Bushings come in two colors, black and red.
Cost of a sway bar bushing replacement
CarParts.com offers both direct fit and universal fit bushings for all locations on the suspension system. Available in one piece, in sets of 2 or 4, or as part of a sway bar bushing kit, the bushings bear price tags that range from $1.30 to $177.11.
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