Top 4 Symptoms of a Bad Sway Bar
The sway bar is vital for every vehicle, especially when driving on uneven or bumpy surfaces. It helps maintain the vehicle's stability when the road gets bumpy.
Without a sway bar or an anti-roll bar, a car would almost immediately become uncontrollable. These components are made from iron or steel and don't usually break. However, they can deteriorate over time, and these links and bushings can break eventually.
If you notice the sway bar failing, you must replace it immediately. Doing so will allow you to keep safer on the road.
Let’s discuss the common symptoms of a bad sway bar and other important facts about sway bars.
Table of Contents
- What Do Sway Bar Links Do in a Car?
- Symptoms of Bad Sway Bar
- Where Is the Sway Bar Located in a Car?
- Sway Bar Replacement Cost
- How Long Do Sway Bar Links Last?
- Can You Drive a Vehicle With a Broken Sway Bar Link?
- How Do I Check Stabilizer Bar Bushings?
- Best Car Deals by Category
What Do Sway Bar Links Do in a Car?
The sway bar is a component that helps prevent a vehicle from rolling over, which can occur when a car goes around a turn, and the front wheels roll to one side.
The sway bar manages the suspension to keep the vehicle level and controlled. This condition is referred to as body roll or sway.
The car's weight is placed on the outer wheels when the body roll occurs outside the turn. On the inner wheels, the rising motion causes the suspension to extend.
As a result, the outer wheels' suspension gets compressed, causing the suspension to extend. The body roll feels like how your body does when you move to one side. The car will feel the same if it moves to one side.
However, the sway bar can keep the vehicle in control by preventing it from getting out of control. The inner wheels are pushed down to compress the suspension, which keeps the tires in contact with the road.
Without the sway bar distributing the weight evenly across all four tires, some vehicles would lose control over the road.
Symptoms of Bad Sway Bar
Drivers need to be aware of the various symptoms of the bad sway bar and other faulty components in their vehicle systems.
Doing so will allow them to keep their cars safer on the road and reduce the cost of repairs. These are the symptoms of a bad sway bar:
1. Squeaky Noises From Under Your Vehicle
The sound of your car's sway bar is one of the most important signs that it's starting to wear out. Most mechanics use these noises to diagnose defective sway bar components.
However, other faulty components can also cause these noises. These can be caused by various factors, such as clunking or rattling.
Most drivers will likely hear a sway bar when driving or turning their steering wheels.
This is usually caused by the lack of lubrication between the meeting parts of the bar. It can also be caused by friction between the meeting parts.
2. Rattling or Clunking Noise
The stabilizer bar is fixed under your vehicle, and when these components wear out or get severely damaged, they can cause a rolling or clunking noise.
This can be caused by either the instability of the bar or driving over bumps. The noise can be louder when you make turns or when you're driving over a bumpy surface.
If you hear this type of noise, it's important to pay immediate attention to it.
If you're experiencing this type of noise, it's important that you immediately contact a mechanic shop to have the stabilizer bar replaced.
Doing so will allow you to avoid costly repairs if the entire bar component drops.
3. Slow Response in Vehicle Handling
One of the most important factors you should consider when it comes to your vehicle's operation, and handling is the condition of its stabilizer bar.
If you notice that your car's handling starts to slow down or go sluggish while you're driving, this could be caused by a faulty component.
If you notice that your car's handling starts to feel different while driving, this could be caused by a bad sway bar. It's important to replace the faulty component as soon as possible.
The condition of the stabilizer bar can deteriorate rapidly once it starts wearing out, and ignoring these symptoms can result in various adverse effects.
If you also notice that your vehicle's handling differs from what it was before, ensure you thoroughly inspect the issue.
If you can't tell the cause of the problem, you should take your car to a mechanic.
4. Poor Vehicle Stability While Accelerating
If your car's body starts to roll while accelerating, it could result from a bad sway bar. A bad stabilizer bar can also cause the vehicle to shake.
Some drivers who experience this type of issue do not know its exact reason. However, understanding these symptoms can save the car from further damage and save money.
If your car's sway bar is not working properly, it could lead to losing control when driving.
Although this issue might not be noticeable at low speeds, it can still affect your vehicle's handling.
Where Is the Sway Bar Located in a Car?
The sway bar is a U-shaped component located at the front of the car. It's usually attached to the frame and is bolt-on securely to the suspension.
Some cars have both rear and front sway bar links. If you're unsure which car has these components, read the service manual for more information.
Sway Bar Replacement Cost
Replacing just the links of a sway bar will not be as costly as replacing the entire assembly. Each sway bar has its pair of links.
High-quality American-made links will set you back around $80 to $100 for parts and about $100 for labor, depending on the vehicle and model.
The cost may increase if you use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) components.
The cost of replacing the bushings of a sway bar will depend on the vehicle and model. For instance, it will cost around $40 for parts and about $75 for labor.
Although it's usually not practical to replace your suspension components, it's still possible to do so with the right tools and mechanical knowledge. The sway bar is essential to handling and controlling your vehicle.
How Long Do Sway Bar Links Last?
Your new car manufacturer's links will likely last a long time. The useful life of these components is typically around 150,000 miles.
However, if not the original equipment manufacturer, replacement parts will typically not last as long. Also, links made overseas are more prone to fading.
If a private repair shop fixes your car's Sway Bar links, make sure that the links are made in the U.S. These will cost you a few dollars more than the imported ones, but they will last much longer.
Can You Drive a Vehicle With a Broken Sway Bar Link?
If your car's sway bar links are damaged, it's not safe to drive. Doing so could cause other problems, such as damage to the tires and suspension system.
A faulty sway bar link can also make it hard to control the vehicle. In some cases, it can even cause it to roll over. If you have a car that has a faulty sway bar link, it must be taken to a mechanic.
Before driving, make sure that you take the necessary steps to fix the issue. Doing so could help prevent further problems.
How Do I Check Stabilizer Bar Bushings?
It's important to be cautious while doing this process, as you should always put on protective gear. Also, ensure that your tools are at arm's length so they can easily reach your parts.
Before you start this process, you must have access to the sway bar bushings of your vehicle. These are located above the vehicle's rear end, so they must be removed to reach them.
You will need to raise the vehicle with a jack or a car lift. Make sure the jack is placed on a solid surface before using it. Make sure the lift's adapter is placed in the correct position for car lifts.
One of the most important factors you need to consider when checking the sway bar's alignment is the vehicle's suspension system level.
You can use a jack or a car lift to reach the vehicle's rear end. If you have one side of the car lifted, this could overload the stabilizer bar, which is not ideal.
To start this process, grab a screwdriver or a pry bar and wedge it on a solid frame or sub-frame near the bar's inner casings.
You should watch the bar's inner casings for any movement while you apply pressure to the part. It's important to note that this shouldn't cause any movement while you're doing this.
The surface of the bar's outer casings should be examined for signs of wear, tear, or damage. If there's a crack, it could indicate that the sway bar went through the part.
If the vehicle's suspension noise or deformation is noticeable under load, you must replace the sway bar's rubber or steel bar bushings.
Follow this process on the other side of the vehicle to inspect the stabilizer bar's other components.
You can also replace the rubber or steel bar bushings of the poorly performing stabilizer bar.