Causes and Symptoms of Bad Sway Bar | Replacement Cost of a Sway Bar Link

A sway bar is a major part of the vehicle suspension system. It assists in decreasing the body roll of a car during a fast turn. An anti-roll bar or sway bar links the left and right wheels through short lever arms connected via a torsion spring. This article mainly explains the bad sway bar link symptoms, causes, and replacement costs.

What is a Sway Bar?

A sway bar or anti-roll bar is a part of the vehicle suspension system that links the opposite (right/left) sides of both rear or front suspension. It reduces the vehicle’s body tilt during a quick turn. It is a durable piece of tubular steel.

sway bar, symptoms of bad sway bar

The sway bar link is a connector that connects the outer end of the sway bar to the suspension system, which helps to hold the control arms of the wheels. The length of these bars is between 4 to 6 inches but may vary according to the type of vehicle. These links are connected at a 90° angle to the anti-roll bar. Maximum vehicles have small ball joints on either end of these links.

A rubber bushing uses to connect the anti-roll bar or sway bar with the body or midframe of the vehicle. The outer edge of this bar connects to the vehicle’s suspension component that holds the wheels (control arms or struts).

As the sway bar or anti roll bar goes bad, your vehicle starts to generate different symptoms such as rattling noise, car swerves, acceleration issues, visibly worn sway bar, and car steering issues.

Let’s deeply discuss the symptoms of the bad sway bar.

Bad Sway Bar Symptoms

As the sway bar or anti-roll bar link goes bad, it produces one of the below-given symptoms:

  1. Strange noises
  2. Trouble when taking turns
  3. Car swerves
  4. Visibly worn out
  5. Poor vehicle stability while accelerating

1) Clunking or rattling Noises

Bushing aging is one of the major causes of a bad sway bar link or stabilizer bar link. You may hear a clicking sound as the bushings start to degrade. The sway bar produces such noise when your vehicle steps over a bump.

But if the stabilizer linkage or bushing fails, you may hear many other noises. Try to notice the squeaking noise as you drive over bumps. In worse conditions, the noise can also be heard when driving on a flat road.

2) Car Swerves

A bad anti-roll bar reduces stability and traction. You will find handling problems even when you aren’t heading through a turn.

Sometimes it feels like the vehicle is going completely out of control. When you hold the steering wheel, you’ll observe a noticeable drop in the car’s directional control.

3) Trouble When Taking Turns

If your sway bar links are loose, the car tires will not be able to grip the road well. This poor handling makes normal cornering difficult.

In such a situation, your car requires more effort to get where you need it. This problem may also occur due to bad bushings.  

4) Visibly Worn Out

The beauty of anti-roll bars, bushings, and links is that they are all easy to check. One method to determine if there is an issue is to do a visual inspection.

If the stabilizer link is bad, it will look completely worn out. You may also find that the rubber nuts or bushings at the ends of these links lose their tight round shape or become stiff or break.

If your stabilizer link is loose and you can move it easily by hand, it means that it is worn out. In severe situations, these links may even come off the sway bar. Don’t drive your vehicle if any part is damaged; otherwise, you may lose control.  

5) Poor vehicle stability while accelerating

If your sway bar link is damaged, you may feel body roll when you accelerate your car. If you try to drive more than 40 km/h, the car will start to shake. The unstable acceleration is one of the common symptoms of a bad sway bar link.  

This happens to many drivers from time to time, but most don’t know why.

Read More: Types and Working of Sway Bar

Causes of Bad Sway bar Links

The sway bar link maintains the camber angle of the inner wheels to control motion. Following are the major causes of the sway bar links going bad:

  1. Insufficient lubrication
  2. Wear and tear of the links
  3. Water intrusion that leads to rust
  4. Age of the sway bar links

Sway Bar Location

The sway bar has a U-shaped design and is attached to the frame. In most cases, it is located at the front of the vehicle and is secured to the wheel suspension.

However, some vehicles contain only front anti-roll bars while others include front and rear anti-roll bars. If you’re not sure what your car has, check your repair manual.

Sway bar links are what connect the outer end of the sway bar to the suspension component.

Sway Bar Replacement Cost

The replacement cost of the anti-roll bar or sway bar varies according to the area where you live, the type of car, and the brand of the bar. The average sway bar replacement cost is from $115 to $190. In this cost, the labor cost is from $50 to $75, while the part costs from $65 to $115

The actual replacement cost of the sway bar link is between $110 and $180.

The stabilizer bushing replacement cost is between $110 and $180. In this cost, the labor cost is between $60 and $90, while the part costs are between $50 and $90

Labor Cost$50 to $75
Sway Bar Cost$65 to $115
Total Cost115 to $190

FAQ Section

What are sway bar links?

The sway bar link is the connection point between the suspension element and the sway bar. The sway bar is also called an anti-roll bar or stabilizer bar that connects suspension parts on each side of the vehicle to lessen body roll when cornering.

Can I drive with a damaged sway bar link?

Yes, you can drive with a damaged sway bar link, but it is not recommended because you may experience handling problems. Therefore, in case of damaged sway bar links, avoid driving on paved roads, making slow turns, and exiting highways and freeways that need path changes.

Can I drive without a sway bar?

Yes, it can be ridden without sway bars, but we don’t recommend it. Your anti-roll bar stabilizes the car and prevents rollover when cornering. Without an anti-roll bar, the car is more likely to roll over in a sharp turn. When driving without a stabilizer, drive slowly and carefully.

What is the function of the Sway Bar Link?

The main function of the sway bar link is to stop excessive roll of the vehicle body and stabilize the vehicle when turning. Most cars have two anti-roll bars:

  1. One anti-roll bar on the front suspension
  2. Another anti-roll bar on the rear suspension

Some special types of cars contain only one anti-roll bar in the front suspension. The sports car contains a thick sway bar for efficient stability when turning.

How many sway bar links are on a car?

A car typically contains four sway bar links and one sway bar link per wheel. The sway bar links keep your car flat in turns and prevent it from rolling over.

When should you replace your sway bar links?

If you see the end links loosen as you turn the bar, you should replace them. Bushings should also be replaced if they show symptoms of wear (brittleness or cracks) or if they show holes or deformation.

How does a front sway bar affect handling?

Generally, the sway bar reduces body roll and greatly expands handling. These bars typically attach one side of the suspension to the other via attachment points on the lower wishbone and frame (chassis) and pivot to bound roll in turns. The body oscillates due to the centrifugal force when the vehicle drives around a bend.

What does bad bushing sound like?

If the vehicle socket fails, the stabilizer bar may become unstable, and the vehicle may make noise while driving. These sounds are best described as squeaks, rattles, or rattles. Especially when driving on uneven roads, the noise increases as the journey progresses.

What is the replacement cost of sway bar links?

The actual replacement cost of the sway bar link is between $110 and $180. In this cost, the labor cost is between $60 and $120, while the links themselves cost between $50 and $70

How many sway bars are on a car?

Cars usually have two anti-roll bars. One rear anti-roll bar and one front anti-roll bar per axle. Some old cars only have a sway bar on the front axle.

What does a front sway bar do?

The sway bars or anti-roll bars are installed to prevent the vehicle from rolling over. A U-shaped reinforcement bar is attached to each front wheel of a vehicle. When the car turns, the car body rolls to one side, and the weight of the car moves to one end.

What happens if sway bar links fail?

If the sway bar link breaks, the steering wheel loosens because the car’s parts are not kept in place. This results in an unstable drive and, if you’re not careful, can even cause accidents.

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