The sway bars are a crucial part of a car’s suspension because without them your car’s handling would be bad.
When you are faced with unfavorable situations while driving, the sway bars help your car stabilize. Without them, your car could go out of control in an instant, which is why maintaining the health of sway bars is essential.
Sway bars are rods made of iron or steel, so they cannot snap easily, but keep in mind that the front suspension of an engine comes under immense stress, so it is not unusual for a sway bar to wear out.
When a sway bar does wear out, it can either have a small effect on your daily drive or it can completely obliterate your car’s stability. Therefore, it is best to know the signs of a failing sway bar before things get too serious.
Signs of a Bad Sway Bar
The sway bar has rubber bushings on its two ends where the bar links to other suspension parts. The biggest issue with a sway bar is its deteriorating bushings.
These bushings are made of rubber, a material that is easily compromised once it comes under stress. Most of the time, simply replacing the bushings can solve your suspension woes. However, it is better to know when to change them rather than wondering when they will fail.
1. Clatter or Squeaking Sound from the Suspension
As mentioned before, the bushings are the root cause of sway bar failure. When bushings deteriorate, they start to make a rattling noise which can be heard if you drive over a speed bump. In extreme cases, the clatter can even be heard on straight stretches of road. When this happens, you should immediately visit the mechanic for a checkup.
2. Handling Problems
When the sway bar links are loose, the tires lose their grip and your ride handling is affected. The first signs will be felt in the steering wheel because you won’t be able to turn your car effectively. Again, the guilty party is the bushings, which can wear out under extreme stress. Furthermore, rust or dirt can also cause the handling to deteriorate.
3. Car Swerves A Lot
A failing sway bar will reduce stability and traction in your wheels. Not only will you feel that your car is completely out of control but you will also feel it is falling apart in front of you. This feeling manifests itself in the steering wheel and the handling while you drive. That’s the best part about suspension parts: they can be inspected without you ever looking at them visually.
Repairing & Cleaning the Sway Bar
The sway bar should be cleaned every few months to ensure there is no deposit of rust or corrosion from dirt and debris. Take your car regularly for service, where it will be cleaned thoroughly. However, if you have the right tools and mindset it is always a good idea to remove the sway bars and clean them separately.
Things you will need:
- A spanner and a pair of pliers
- Warm water
- Clean cloth
Remove the Sway Bar
The sway bar is found right behind the wheel, so first, you would have to take off the wheel in order to see better. Then proceed to undo the struts from under the hood. The sway bar will then come off easily if you separate it from the other components using a hammer.
Inspect & Clean the Sway Bar
Check to make sure the sway bar and the bushings are intact and the rods have not snapped off. Next, put the sway bar in a bucket of warm water. Let it sit there for some time and then use a cloth to clean off the dirt from it. Finally, put some grease in the joints, reinstall the bushings and you are good to go.
Reinstalling the Sway Bar
Once you have applied ample grease to all the joints, put the sway bar back where it belongs. Reattach the struts, springs and follow up by tightening them in place. Put on the tire and wash your hands.
Testing the Sway Bar
Sway bars are easy to test, as all you have to do is take your car for a test drive. Drive to an empty parking lot where there are no other cars around. Place your hands firmly on the steering and press the throttle.
Attempt a few hard turns and feel for any weaknesses through your steering wheel. If you have done a good job with the cleaning and reassembly, chances are that you won’t feel any loss in handling.
The next phase involves testing the car on bumps. This is necessary to check if you connected the sway bars effectively or not. If they dislodge from the suspension system after a few bumps, you can be sure you did a terrible job.
Sway Bar Replacement Cost
If you did a terrible job of reassembling the suspension components, it is time to visit the mechanic. Certified mechanics have vast experience in their field, so you can expect good results from them. Furthermore, you can use this chance to properly see how the suspension is disassembled and reassembled, so the next time you can save money and do a perfect job yourself.
When you go for a suspension check-up, the mechanic will first look at the state of your sway bar bushings. If the bushings are worn out, there is a large chance your sway bars are loose and causing trouble for you. We have already gone through the process of repairing the sway bar, however, if you are unfortunate and break the sway bar, you will need a new one.
New ones can cost you $100-$300 depending on your car. If only the bushings are being replaced the cost will be $70-$100. The labor cost is pretty cheap when it comes to suspension work. So, expect nothing more than $100.
Hello I’m Magnus, the owner and the writer of this website. I have been working with cars since I was 16 and I’m specialized with in-depth Automotive diagnostics. Also been driving drifting for the last 6 years. I’m here to give you answers to all your automotive questions and I hope that you enjoy our content.