Getting New Sway Bar Link Bushings: Quick but Solid Tips
These small, inexpensive components can mean the difference between a smooth, quiet ride, and a noisy, bumpy ride with serious handling problems. With the right information, getting new sway bar link bushings can be as quick and easy as reading this guide.
Your sway bar link bushings serve three basic functions:
- They shield your sway bars from excessive stress.
- They allow for better handling by providing a cushioned connection between your sway bars and the chassis.
- They significantly reduce noise and vibrations.
Here are two signs you need new sway bar link bushings:
- Clunking and rattling sounds while driving - The noise is caused by your sway bar moving around too much.
- Sloppy handling - This is when you feel a lot less stable when making turns.
Types of suspension bushing materials:
- Rubber - These are usually the bushings you start out with. They are cheap, but can deteriorate quickly when exposed to oils or extreme temperatures.
- Polyurethane - These are harder and much more durable than rubber bushings—they cost more too. They are a popular aftermarket upgrade. However, in time, these can still wear out, squeak, and compress.
- Thermoplastic rubber (TPR) - These are the toughest of them all. Although more expensive than polyurethane bushings, these are much harder, last longer, and are virtually squeak-free.
Take note that harder and tougher bushings are not necessarily better. The harder the bushing, the harsher the ride. It depends on your vehicle and your driving application. Large vehicles with lots heavy-duty driving need tougher bushings. Smaller cars used for normal, day-to-day driving, however, would probably be fine with rubber bushings.
Other points to consider:
- The size of the sway bars determines the size of the bushings. Make sure you know the specifications of your sway bars.
- We recommend applying grease or lubricating oil to your new sway bar link bushings just before installing them.
- Refer to your vehicle's owner manual for additional information (such as sway bar specifications, recommended bushings, and installation instructions).
Staying Steady: Replacing Your Vehicle's Sway Bar Link Bushings
Your vehicle's sway bars, also known, probably more accurately, as "anti-sway" bars, keep your vehicle from leaning too much when making tight turns or going over extremely bumpy terrain. They are thin, tubular, metal bars that are bolted to the suspension on each side of your vehicle, thus connecting your left and right wheels. Protecting these bars from receiving too much stress are your sway bar link bushings. These bushings can get worn out over time. When that happens, they need to be replaced right away. With the right tools and basic mechanical skills, you can save on mechanic's fees by replacing your sway bar link bushings yourself.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Here's what you'll need:
- Wheel chocks
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Wrench and socket set
- Torque wrench
- Replacement link bushings
- Vehicle owner manual
And here are the steps:
- Make sure your vehicle is parked on level ground. Place the wheel chocks behind the rear wheels of your vehicle.
- Use the floor jack to raise the front end of your vehicle. Set up the jack stands under the frame of each side, then lower your vehicle onto them.
- From under your vehicle, locate the front sway bar. You should find it near the lower suspension control arms. On either side of the front sway bar, you will find the sway bar end links.
- Use your wrench and socket set to remove the end link holding bolts from both the sway bar and the lower control arms. Remove the sway bar end links on both sides.
- If your sway bar end links are worn out and damaged, replace them with new ones. If not, simply slide the old bushings off the end links.
- Apply grease to your replacement bushings and slide them onto your swar bar end links.
- Reattach the sway bar end links. Use your torque wrench to tighten the bolts to the specifications provided by your vehicle owner manual. Over-tightening the bolts can compress the bushings and thus reduce their effectiveness.
- If your vehicle has a rear sway bar as well, then repeat the procedure on the rear end of your vehicle.
- Once you are finished, raise your vehicle, remove the jack stands, then lower your vehicle to the ground.
Refer to your vehicle owner manual for any specifications (such as component locations, torque requirements, etc.) that may require you to deviate from these general instructions.