Signs Your Sway Bar Links Have Gone Bad

Mia Bevacqua
September 13, 2018

The sway bar is responsible for keeping your car stable while you drive — those bumps and corners would feel a lot less comfortable without it. It joins the car’s body to the suspension and is held in place by sway bar links, or link pins.

While it’s rare for the sway bar itself to fail, the links can eventually wear out or go bad over time.

» LEARN MORE: Get an estimate for you sway bar link replacement

Signs of a worn or failed sway bar link

These are the most common signs of a failing sway bar link:

  • Popping or knocking noise: A popping or knocking noise from the area when you go over bumps is the most common sign of a faulty sway bar link. These sounds will typically come from the area near the front tires.
  • Reduced handling: A broken sway bar link means the sway bar is no longer attached to the vehicle. As a result, the car may exhibit more body roll and reduced handling. The changes can be subtle, however, so this may go unnoticed. 

How to fix the problem

Sway bar replacement is typically a straightforward job that a professional can tackle in under an hour. Both sides will need to be replaced at the same time.

The only time things get complicated is when the link mounting hardware is rusted or seized. Mostly, this happens in locations with extreme winter climates where salt is used on the roads.

While sway bar link replacement by a DIYer is possible, it’s not recommended. For the most part, this is because the vehicle must be raised off the ground and properly supported. Plus, there’s always the chance the link may be seized and require special tools, like an oxyacetylene torch, to remove.

Get it diagnosed by a professional

How sway bars and link pins work

Most vehicles have two sway bars (a front and rear), which are connected to the suspension by sway bar links, also known as link pins. Each sway bar has two links which attach to the bar at one end, and the vehicle’s suspension at the other. When a turn is taken, the links pull on the bar to resist body roll and promote stabilization.  

Sway bar links are simple components. They’re basically a metal bar with either ball joints or bushings at each end. Their design allows the suspension and sway bar to flex while remaining attached to one another.

It’s a good idea to have your sway bar links and other suspension components checked by a mechanic any time you have the brakes, tires or other front-end parts worked on.


Mia Bevacqua

About the Author

Mia Bevacqua is an automotive expert with ASE Master, L1, L2 and L3 Advanced Level Specialist certification. With 13-plus years of experience in the field, she applies her skills toward writing, consulting and automotive software engineering.

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