How to Replace a Sway Bar Link

Sway bar links, otherwise known as stabilizer bar end links or anti-roll links, are part of the suspension system that help you keep your vehicle level during cornering, eliminating some of the body roll. They assist in keeping your tires firmly planted on the road, but they’re usually the weak spot in the suspension system.

It’s not uncommon to replace a sway bar link every few years, and it’s more prevalent when you’re driving on rough surfaces a lot. The parts won't break the bank at under $100 each for most models, and many are even under $30 each. But the labor can be more than double that amount, and if you can save that expense, why wouldn’t you?

To replace sway bar links, you don’t have to be a master mechanic, and each side will usually take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your skill level and the complexity of your vehicle. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what you need to do the job, the process, and tips to help it go well.

Tools and Parts Needed for the Job

A sway bar link is a short section of steel or reinforced aluminum that’s connected at either end to the control arm or the strut and the sway bar. Changing it doesn’t take much for equipment, but you’ll need a few things to ensure it’s going to go well. You’ll need:

  • A floor jack and jack stands
  • Lug nut wrench
  • Penetrating fluid
  • A wrench set
  • A ratchet and socket set
  • Vice grips or pliers
  • Gloves and eye protection
  • A new sway bar link
  • Torque wrench

If the sway bar link is broken, stripped, or seized, you might also need a cut-off wheel on a disc grinder or angle grinder.

With your tools and parts collected, you’re ready to get going. Here are the steps to change the link.

1. Raise the Vehicle

Park your vehicle on a smooth, level surface if possible. Then lift the wheel off the ground where you’re changing the sway bar link using the floor jack. It’s not considered safe to work on your vehicle with only the floor jack holding it since it could move or fall, so secure your vehicle on a jack stand.

2. Locate the Sway Bar Link

The sway bar link is pretty easy to identify if you already have the new part in hand. There are a few different styles, and yours might be fastened by a straight stud and nut or it could be a small ball joint. To see it clearly and make room to work, it’s best to remove the wheel. Use the lug nut wrench to pull it off.

3. Remove the Old Sway Bar Link

Removing the sway bar link is the toughest part of the process. And even so, you shouldn’t need too long to figure it out. Begin by spraying the fasteners at both ends of the link with penetrating fluid, then let it sit for at least five minutes to let it work.

The link or the ball and socket is likely to spin when you try to loosen it. Clamp a pair of vice grips onto the link securely, or on the ball and socket to stop it from spinning. On some vehicles, there might be a notch where a wrench fits instead. Then, use your ratchet and socket to begin loosening the nut on one end. Then, repeat the process on the other end.

If you can’t prevent the link or joint from spinning, no matter how much you try, you may need to cut the link free. Your cutting wheel can get in close to do it, but be sure you don’t contact any other parts like brake lines, calipers, or CV joints.

4. Install the New Sway Bar Link

With the old link off, you’re free to put the new link in. There will be two fasteners, just like the old one. Position the new link and start the nuts on the ends of the link, then tighten them down. Use a torque wrench to finish the job, ensuring they’re tightened to at least 14 lb. ft.

5. Test the Link

Next, ensure the link is tight. Start by firmly grasping the link and trying to move it vertically and laterally. There shouldn’t be any play or noises. If is, either the link isn’t tight or mounting holes are oblonged and there are additional parts you’ll need to replace.

Then, take a road test and listen for noises. A good installation will eliminate any clunking or rattling from the  sway bar link when you’re going over uneven surfaces.

Tips for a Successful Replacement

Getting the job done right isn’t very hard, but there are a few tips that can help the job go even better. 

  • Have a second person available to help you.
  • Compare the old and new links before removing the old ones, confirming you have the right ones. 
  • When you don’t have room to cut a link off, apply heat with a propane torch.
  • A seized nut can be cut crosswise and hammered open with a screwdriver sometimes.
  • Check that the sway bar bushings are in good shape, and replace them if they are cracked or worn. 

At your local AutoZone auto parts store, you’ll find all the parts and tools to replace your sway bar links, no matter the vehicle you drive. Not sure which parts to choose? An AutoZoner can give you a hand to find the perfect fit. If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.

FAQ/People Also Ask

What is a sway bar link and what does it do?

A sway bar link is a short metal rod that connects the sway bar to your vehicle’s suspension. The sway bar, also known as an anti-roll bar, helps reduce body roll when cornering.

What are the signs that I need to replace my sway bar link?

Common symptoms include creaking, rattling, or clunking when you’re going over bumps. Or if the link is broken, you could notice abnormal vehicle sway when you’re turning corners or driving in a crosswind.

Can I replace a sway bar link myself or should I take it to a mechanic?

A sway bar link is a common DIY project, and most car owners can do it if they have tools on hand. But if you’re unsure, play it safe and have a mechanic swap the part out.

What tools and parts do I need to replace a sway bar link?

To change a sway bar link, you’ll need equipment to lift your car and remove the wheel as well as wrenches, a socket and ratchet set, vice grips or locking pliers, a torque wrench, and potentially a cutting wheel.

Is it important to replace a sway bar link as soon as I notice an issue?

A loose link isn’t a severe problem and can be driven for a while if necessary. But if the link is broken, it can cause handling issues that could make it unsafe to drive your car.

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