Sway bar link is a small component but plays a vital role in improving the handling of your vehicle. A well-functioning sway bar helps to reduce body roll and ensure a smooth ride. However, they can wear out with time and cause your suspensions to make rattling and clunking noises while going over bumps or taking a turn. If you notice these bad sway bar link symptoms, diagnose your sway bar links to ensure they are fine.
If you sway bars are faulty and worn out, they have to be replaced. Whether you’re a seasoned mechanic or a DIY enthusiast, installing new sway bar links is easy. Read on to earn how to replace your sway bar links professionally and in simple steps.
Step 1 : Lift The Vehicle
Lift the car by positioning the jack under the vehicle. Before proceeding, reviewing the proper jacking procedures and safety guidelines outlined in your vehicle’s manual is crucial. Place jack stands under the vehicle to keep it securely lifted. Before lifting the vehicle, use a lug wrench and loosen your wheel lug nuts, but do not remove them completely.
Step 2 : Remove The Lug Nuts And The Wheel
Once the vehicle is lifted, remove the lug nuts completely and detach the wheel. Make sure to keep the lug nuts and wheel safe, as you’ll need them when you reattach the wheel later in the installation process.
Step 3 : Locate The Bad Sway Link
Sway bar link is attached to the control arm and the sway bar of the vehicle. It is a small component with two ball joints on either side. If you hear clunking noises or feel excessive body roll when driving, this may indicate a faulty sway bar link. To confirm the issue, you can visually check the sway bar links. Look for any signs of wear, rust, or damage. If one of the links appears damaged or worn, the sway bar link is worn out and has to be replaced.
Step 4 : Remove The Sway Bar Link Nut
Detach the nut securing the sway bar link to the sway bar. To prevent the shaft from turning, use locking pliers such as vice grips to grip the shaft below the sway bar. Use a socket wrench on the bottom bolt and a wrench on the nut at the other side of the mounting point.
Step 5 : Remove The Sway Bar Link
The process of removing the sway bar link depends on the type of sway bar link. There are two types of sway bar link: Ball joint-type sway bar link and the Bolt-type sway bar link. The sway bar link replacement for both is described below.
- The Ball joint-type sway bar link uses a ball and socket joint to connect the sway bar to the suspension arm. The ball joint must be disconnected from the socket to remove this link, usually with a pry bar or ball joint separator tool.
- The Bolt-type sway bar link uses a bolt to connect the sway bar to the control arm. To remove this type of link, the bolt must be removed with a socket and ratchet or a wrench.
Following the proper procedures and safety precautions for both removal processes is important. Consult the vehicle’s service manual or an automotive professional for specific instructions.
Step 6 : Install The New Sway Bar Link
The installation process for both ball joint-type sway bar links and bolt-type sway bar links involves similar steps, but there are some differences.
- For ball joint-type sway bar links, disconnect the link from the sway bar and suspension and install the new link. This link is typically held in place with a ball joint and a threaded stud, which may need to be removed with a specialized tool like a ball joint press.
For bolt-type sway bar links, you’ll need to replace the old link with the new one. This type of link is typically held in place with nuts and bolts. Use a socket and wrench to remove the nuts and bolts. Remove the old sway bar link, and then attach the new link securely by tightening the nuts and bolts.
Step 7 : Tighten The Sway Bar Link Nuts
When tightening the nuts, use a socket wrench on the larger nut, and a regular wrench on the smaller nut. Ensure that the correct sizes are used to avoid stripping or damage. Use a socket wrench and locking pliers on the top, such as vice grips, to prevent the shaft from rotating. Tighten the bottom part so the two nuts are pressing against both sides of the mounting point, ensuring no free play.
Step 8 : Reinstall The Wheel
Install the wheels back onto the studs of the hub. Then, tighten the lug nuts until they are snug using a ratchet and socket. Once the lug nuts are tightened, remove the jack stands and safely lower the vehicle back onto the ground. Lastly, use a torque wrench to tighten the lug nuts to the manufacturer’s specified torque specifications.
Step 9 : Test Drive The Vehicle
After installation, inspect the sway bar links for proper alignment and tightening and test drive the vehicle to ensure proper function and stability. Although wheel alignment is not necessary after replacing sway bar links, if your vehicle pulls to one side or you have a crooked steering, you might have to perform a proper wheel alignment.
Why Does A Sway Bar Link Break?
Sway bar links can break for several reasons. One of the most common causes is wear and tear from normal usage. Over time, exposure to the elements and road debris, as well as constant movement, can cause the sway bar links to wear out and eventually break. Another reason for sway bar link failure is improper installation. If the links are not installed correctly, they may not function as intended, leading to excessive stress and eventual failure. In some cases, sway bar links can also break due to manufacturing defects or a failure of the suspension components they are connected to. To prevent sway bar link failure, it is important to inspect the links and the surrounding suspension components regularly and to replace any worn or damaged parts as necessary. If you are looking to replace your sway bar links and are confused with which one to choose, refer to our comprehensive sway bar link buying guide to choose the perfect one for your vehicle.