Blog Car Care Advice 5 Bad Sway Bar Links Symptoms (+Causes and How to Fix)
Car Care Advice

5 Bad Sway Bar Links Symptoms (+Causes and How to Fix)

Looking for a mechanic near you for maintenance or repair? AutoNation Mobile Service brings the shop to you. Get a free instant quote today.
Get a Quote

When it comes to vehicle performance and road safety, few components are more important than the suspension system. Among its many parts, the sway bar links are pivotal in ensuring a smooth, stable, and safe ride. 

Although they tend to last, they can wear out under certain conditions, so it’s essentially to identify the bad sway bar links symptoms if they appear. 

Read on to discover the common signs to look out for, causes, cost to fix, and more! 

This Article Contains: 

Let’s get started.

5 Distinct Bad Sway Bar Link Symptoms

Bad sway bar links can present several symptoms. Here are a few of the most common: 

1. Strange Noises From the Suspension

This is one of the first signs you might notice. If you hear popping or knocking noises from the front suspension area when turning or going over bumps, it may indicate that your sway bar links are faulty. A worn ball joint within the links is generally the most common cause of this noise. 

2. Changes in Handling

Sway bar links help ensure your tires remain in contact with the road. If the sway bar links fail, your vehicle may feel less responsive or more challenging to control when steering or braking.

Note: It’s unlikely, but you may also notice increased vibration in the steering wheel 

3. Uneven Tire Wear 

Faulty sway bar links can result in an uneven weight distribution within the vehicle, causing one side to bear a greater load. This imbalance can result in elevated tire friction and a reduced tire contact area.

Note: For cost-effective tire care tips, consult with a trained mechanic

4. Excessive Body Roll 

When the links are faulty, your vehicle’s suspension system becomes less effective at counteracting body roll. As a result, you may notice more tilting or leaning when turning, which can affect your control over the vehicle. 

5. Visual Damage

If you suspect a damaged sway bar link, do a visual inspection. Look for any damage, such as bent or broken links, bad sway bar bushings, or loose connections. This would be a clear indication that the parts need replacing.

Now that we know what to look for, let’s see what might lead to a worn sway bar link. 

What Causes Sway Bar Links to Go Bad?

Some typical causes for a bad sway bar include: 

1. Wear and Tear 

The sway bar bushing and the links sit outside the vehicle, exposing them to heat, water, and road debris. These components are under constant stress and movement. With time, the links can rust, corrode, or take damage. 

2. Impact Damage 

Driving over rough surfaces, hitting the curb, or going over a speed bump too fast puts additional stress on the stabilizer bar links. A strong enough collision could cause the ball in the anti sway bar link to separate from the socket or snap the link itself. It’s also possible for the rubber bushing or studs in banana-style links to break with impact.

3. Defective Parts

Anti sway bar links are made of metal, such as steel, aluminum, or both. However, the quality can vary, with poorer-quality links wearing out faster. Although uncommon, defects may also arise in the sway bar end link during manufacturing. You can reduce this risk by using original equipment from the manufacturer. 

4. Overloading the Vehicle

If you exceed the vehicle’s weight limit or frequently carry heavy loads, you can put additional stress on the vehicle’s suspension system. Over time, this can cause the sway bar links to wear out prematurely.

Note: If you frequently load your car up, it’s crucial to inspect the sway bar and sway bar links more regularly for signs of warping or damage.

5. Lack of Lubrication

The ball joints and rubber bushing within the sway bar links ensure they can move as needed. Each ball joint is lubricated in special grease to maintain good working order. Without this lubrication, these bearings can become noisy, experience increased wear, and fail prematurely.

Fortunately, replacing the sway bar links isn’t a major job. Let’s see how a mechanic would handle it.

How to Change Sway Bar Links (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You should always hire a trained mechanic who would use specialized tools to replace a worn sway bar link. Here’s the process a professional would follow: 

Parts needed: 

  1. Elevate the vehicle: The mechanic will use a floor jack to raise the wheel and secure the car with a jack stand. 
  1. Remove the tire: They’ll then remove the tire to access the stabilizer bar links. 
  1. Locate the swing bar links: They’re usually found at the front of the car, bolted to the suspension. However, there may also be stabilizer bar bushings at the back.  
  1. Remove the lug nuts securing the links: Two lug nuts should hold the sway bar link in place. They’ll use an Allen wrench to remove these and detach the links from the bar.
  1. Remove the old sway bar link: The mechanic will then remove the damaged sway bar link, noting that the link or ball and socket will likely move as they loosen it. 
  1. Install the new sway bar link: They’ll correctly position the new end link and secure the lugs. 
  1. Test the link: The mechanic will try to move the end link laterally and vertically to check for any excess play or noise. 

Next, let’s look at what to expect regarding the sway bar link replacement cost.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Sway Bar Links?

The average sway bar link replacement cost is around $200. However, the price could vary if the stabilizer bar bushings, control arm, or another suspension component also needs replacement. 

Still have a few unanswered anti roll bar link questions? 
Let’s go through them. 

3 Bad Sway Bar Link FAQs

Here are the answers to some frequently asked sway bar link questions: 

1. What Are Sway Bar Links? 

A sway bar link, otherwise known as a stabilizer bar link or anti-roll bar link, is a vital component in your vehicle’s suspension. Sway bar links attach the sway bar to the control arm and the sway bar bushing attaches the bar to the vehicle’s body.  

Each sway bar end link plays a crucial role in controlling body roll. As you turn your car, the body tends to roll towards the outside of the turn. The stabilizer link reduces that roll by transferring the weight to the inside of the wheel, keeping your vehicle level. 

2. Can I Drive with Bad Sway Bar Links? 

Driving with a worn or broken sway bar link is never a good idea, as it’s crucial to maintaining control when turning and maneuvering. Ignoring a bad sway bar link may also increase the stress on your vehicle’s suspension system. 

A stabilizer link is a relatively easy component to fix. If your vehicle needs sway bar link replacement, booking an appointment with a qualified mechanic as soon as possible is best. If you keep driving with a bad stabilizer bar link, it could lead to more serious issues and expensive repairs. 

3. How Long Do Sway Bar Links Last? 

Sway bar links are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle. However, driving conditions (like driving swiftly over a speed bump), simple wear and tear, and overloading the car can impact the lifespan of the sway bar links. 

If you notice any broken sway bar link symptoms, you should schedule a sway bar link replacement soon, as your vehicle’s suspension may suffer.  

Wrapping Up

Sway bar links are a crucial suspension component, improving your vehicle’s suspension and handling. If you notice excessive body roll, strange noises, or uneven tire wear, there’s a good chance your links need replacing. 

Fortunately, AutoNation Mobile Service’s mobile mechanics are at your service seven days a week. Our expert technicians will handle the damaged sway bar links and replace any bad sway bar bushings. Plus, we offer a 12-month | 12,000-mile warranty on all repairs. 

Contact us today to have your car running smoothly in no time!