How To Replace a Broken Sway Bar Link

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Diagnosing a Broken Sway Bar Mount

broken suspension
You may not be trying to break any records, but you still need tight suspension. Getty

A broken sway bar link doesn’t sound like so big a deal when you say it, but if you’ve recently found yourself behind the wheel of a car with such a problem you know that it goes beyond not being fun. Any issue with your car or truck’s suspension can quickly turn into a major safety problem. It’s not a good idea to use the “I’ll wait until something really breaks” approach when it involves suspension or steering. Symptoms of a broken sway bar link include wandering steering, porpoising, and when it gets really bad, a clunking sound. The good news is replacing a worn or broken sway bar mount is not as terrifying a job as you may think. If you have access to some simple mechanic’s tools you’re very capable of getting this one done. 

Safety First
Before you begin any car repair that involves working with one or more of the wheels off, you need to perform a mental safety check. Accidents underneath a fallen vehicle can be unforgiving, especially if the Incredible Hulk isn’t hanging around to lift the vehicle off of you when it falls. 

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Locate and Examine the Broken Mount

sway bar drop link
The sway bar mount is pictured in the yellow oval. John Lake, 2015

Support the vehicle safely on a jack stand and remove the wheel on the offending side. If you’re replacing both sway bar links, you can support the entire front of the vehicle on jack stands, which will make the job go faster as you will be able to work on both sides at once. I’m not sure why it goes faster that way, but it always seems to.

With the vehicle in the air and the wheel off, you have access to the sway bar link. In many cases, the mount will actually be broken, as it was on this vehicle. The studs that hold the link to its threaded mount sheared off, leaving the sway bar to bounce all over freely. 

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Removing the Lower Sway Bar Mount Bolt

sway bar hex wrench
Hold the bolt in place with the hex wrench while you remove the nut. John Lake, 2015

To remove the lower bolt on the sway bar mount, you need a properly sized hex wrench (Allen wrench) and an open end wrench. The hex wrench will be used to lock the bolt in place while you remove the nut from the back of the bolt. It’s a little tricky getting your hands on everything you need to hold onto, but it’s there. 

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Removing the Upper Sway Bar Mounting Bolts

broken sway bar link
The upper portion of this mount was completely broken. John Lake, 2015

Remove the upper bolt. Like the lower bolt that you just removed, the upper bolt is held in place by a nut and a hex wrench driven bolt. Use the hex wrench to hold the bolt in place while you use your open end wrench to remove the bolt. Before I actually take a part like this out, I try to note (or even better, take a digital picture) the position of the part. You always think you’ll remember until you are standing there with a goofy look on your face because you didn’t.  

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Install the New Sway Bar Link and Hardware

new locknut
Use a new lock nut on your sway bar mount when reinstalling. John Lake, 2015

With the old sway bar link removed and any parts you’ll be reusing cleaned up, you’re ready to install the new part. As the old automotive saying goes, installation is the reverse of removal. Lock nuts should never be reused so we got some new ones. Tighten everything up nice and snug, put your wheel back on, and be prepared for a much smoother and more predictable ride on your next trip!