What are Sway Bar Links and Bushings?
The sway bar (stabilizer bar) is a long metal rod that essentially connects the driver and passenger side suspension and keeps both sides more level during a turn.
- Sway bar links (end links) connect the ends of the sway bar to the driver and passenger side suspension.
- Sway bar bushings are the fulcrum of the sway bar and attach it to the frame of the vehicle.
Driving with damaged or even missing sway bar bushings or links can be dangerous since the sway bar mitigates a lot of body roll, meaning your vehicle tilts less to the outside during a turn. So making sure the sway bar is securely connected is important for safety and vehicle performance when turning.
Symptoms of Bad Sway Bar Links and Bushings
The most obvious signs of bad sway bar links and bad sway bar bushings are –
- Noise (clunking, knocking, rattling)
- Metallic Sound going over bumps
- Excessive Body Roll
- Sluggish Turning
Sway bars act as a lever during a turn and transfer suspension travel from the outside to the inside wheel which keeps the vehicle more level, reducing body roll and maintaining traction for better handling. Since the bar twists to achieve this, the OE rubber bushings that hold the bar to the frame can become hollowed out or misshapen from the constant torqueing and the end links that connect the bar to the lower control arm or strut can also wear out at a fast pace.
Checking Sway Bar Links / Bushings
If these symptoms are happening then manually checking the sway bar links and bushings for damage is a good idea. This will confirm that the links or bushings are in fact the problem and the noise isn’t coming from some other part that might need attention.
- Jack up the vehicle and secure it with jack stands or blocks
*Place the stands in such a way that the suspension is supporting the weight of the vehicle
- Locate the sway bar
- Move the sway bar up and down
- Observe the end links and bushings
If you can see looseness in the end links when you move the bar then they should be replaced. If the bushings are showing signs of deterioration (cracking or brittleness) or they have a gap or are misshapen then they also need to be replaced.
Sway Bar Link / Bushings Replacement Cost
The actual cost of replacement sway bar links ranges from $20-$100 (replacement – premium) and sway bar bushings from $10-$30 with most of the total replacement cost being labor, which averages around $70-$100 per hour.
There is good news in that if someone is moderately, mechanically inclined replacing sway bar bushings and end links is a simple job that can be done in the home garage and the only cost is that of the parts and a little time.
Some brands of sway bar links are sold as a low cost replacement while others are designed for higher performance and the price will reflect this. For vehicles with custom suspension, or older, rarer models, you may need to take measurements and find a universal sway bar link that fits your requirements.
Another aspect of replacement cost for sway bar links and bushings can be frequency. If you own a vehicle for a while and commute long distances, drive on rough roads, or take your vehicle off-road then the end links and bushings will likely need replacing. You can use OE replacements which will have a similar lifespan to the originals or you could use polyurethane bushings which have exponentially higher longevity.
Benefits of Poly Sway Bar Links and Bushings
For straight style sway bar links, polyurethane grommets make the connection more solid and increase the sway bar’s ability to reduce body roll. Polyurethane sway bar bushings grip the sway bar better than the original rubber bushings and are much more durable.
Poly sway bar components provide no downside other than when they are installed without being greased properly they can squeak. One of the easiest and cost effective ways to reduce body roll is exchanging worn or damaged rubber sway bar bushings with polyurethane. When the sway bar is secured more tightly to the frame and connected more securely at the ends the bar actually functions like a larger diameter bar, giving higher performance in handling.
Replacing sway bar bushings and end links is an easy DIY job that can make a big difference in how your vehicle handles corners. If you are looking for an even more dramatic improvement in body roll reduction then polyurethane sway bar bushings are a very simple upgrade over the original rubber bushings. Here are some brands we recommend (and sell) if you need to replace your sway bar bushings.