How to Replace Sway Bar Bushings

 

Sway bar bushings are one of those things you don’t often think to replace.  A bad sway bar bushing can cause clunks and rattles that will leave many a great mechanic stumped and you turning your radio up to avoid hearing that noise over and over again.  This video gives you a quick overview of how to replace these bushings on a 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe.  Just about any front or all-wheel drive vehicle will have a very similar procedure to install new bushings as sway bars are usually mounted just behind the front axle.

Before we give you a few more quick tips, let’s talk about what a sway bar is:

What is a sway bar?

The sway bar on your vehicle reduces sway, hence the name.  Its goal is to keep your car level in a corner.  In a hard corner, the inside of your car comes up while the outside dives.  This flexes the left and right suspension in opposite ways so if you’re taking a left turn the left shock is extended while the right shock is compressed.  The sway bar attaches the left and right shock and tries to keep them level.  The sway bar creates a lever arm so the bar literally twists if the suspension doesn’t move together.  This means in you hit a bump the shocks can move freely since they’re moving together but in corners, it pulls the high side down and the dipping side up.  Usually, the thicker your sway bar or the longer the lever arm the flatter your vehicle will stay in a corner.  The only time you really don’t want a sway bar doing its job is if you’re a serious off-roader and want all 4 wheels to have maximum flex independent of each other.

Why does a sway bar need bushings?

If you watch the video above you can see the long lever attached to the shock absorber.  as that shock compresses or extends it drags the end of the sway bar up and down.  If both from wheels are moving up and down together there isn’t any torque twisting the sway bar but it will rotate in the bushings.  The bushings allow for quiet rotation when your tires move together, like going over a speed bump, while solidly mounting the sway bar to the frame for cornering when there is torque on the sway bar.

Why do old bushings make noise?

As the rubber your sway bar bushings are made out of ages it gets brittle, shrinks, and cracks.  Just find an old set of tires that have been sitting outside and you’ll understand what we mean.  When the bushing shrinks or cracks it lets the sway bar bounce around which leads to the clunk and sometimes creaking.  If you want sway bar bushings that will last a really long time, consider using polyurethane bushings.

Sway Bar Bushing Replacement Tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid to lower the subframe a bit, just be careful of hoses, wires, and engine mounts.
  2. You may have to remove the sway bar end links to get the sway bar to move enough to replace the bushings
  3. grease the bushings properly with wheel bearing grease or another heavy-duty grease to keep them quiet.
  4. Make sure you tighten the bushing bolts completely.  It should compress the bushing slightly giving you a nice quiet ride.