Symptoms indicating the sway bar links are damaged and need to be replaced include clunking or rattling noises, lack of stability when driving, noise when going over speedbumps, and poor handling when turning. This is a fairly inexpensive repair of less than $250.
Sway bar links are essential to stabilizing a vehicle.
Sway bar links can wear or break over time. If the area in which you primarily drive is rough, or you consider yourself a road warrior driver, the sway bar links may need to be replaced more frequently. Car accidents could also cause sway bar links to break. They’re weaker pieces and can break easily.
Additionally, if you live in an area that experiences harsh winters where salt is used on the roads, you could replace the sway bar links more frequently. This could also be true if you live in an area near an ocean. It might even happen from the salt on the wintery streets of cities like Chicago!
Luckily, sway bar links can be replaced fairly easily. There is some discomfort in driving with broken sway bar links that could lead to an accident if you aren’t careful. For this reason, if you’re on the fence, it makes more sense to just go ahead with the sway bar repair.
By knowing and researching the symptoms, you can determine if the sway bar links need to be replaced, how they became worn or broken, and estimate the cost of the repair. This repair is necessary to have a healthy suspension.
This article answers some common questions about sway bar links, the signs they need to be replaced, and possible replacement costs.
What Is the Sway Bar Link and What Does it Do?
The sway bar link is a vital part of your vehicle’s suspension. In essence, it keeps the car moving down the road in a sturdy way.
The stabilizer system contains several components including the sway bar, sway bar link, sway bar sockets, sway bar bushings, and bushing brackets.
Sway bars are long steel bars attached to the chassis connecting the left and right sides. This stabilizes the vehicle while allowing the suspension to move on its own.
Sway bar links connect the end of the sway bar to the suspension. The sway bar link levels the motion transfer amid the sway bar and control arm.
Sockets, bushings, and brackets are used to allow the rod to rotate but stay in the position where it is attached to the vehicle frame.
Why Does My Sway Bar Link Break?
It is rare for the sway bar to fail, but the sway bar links can break due to normal wear and tear over time. Be sure to check with your mechanic to see what’s wrong with the car – is it the sway bar, sway bar links, or something else?
Sway bar links are simple parts. Their design allows the suspension and sway bar to flex but remain attached to one another. Over time, these links could deteriorate or corrode, however. Corrosion in machinery is never a good sign; replacement will be necessary soon.
Additionally, you may have issues if you drive on rough terrain or drive harshly. Running over large objects, driving at high speeds, or car accidents can cause the sway bar links to break.
If you are somebody who likes to comment on other people’s style, then you can tell them that rushing over speed bumps and pot holes could destroy the sway bar links!
You should be without major issues related to sway bar links for the life of your vehicle. However, if symptoms are present, driving the vehicle can be unpleasant as handling changes.
In fact, the average car stays on the road for about twelve years. If the sway bar links are bad before that, it’s worth questioning why. Faulty assembly, salt, or aggressive driving may be to blame. Older cars often require new sway bar links, though.
What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Sway Bar Link?
A worn or failed sway bar link makes driving unpleasant. You could experience a popping or knocking noise and reduced handling.
This isn’t the kind of repair you should shrug your shoulders at, by the way. It’s tempting to turn up the radio and pretend those sounds are normal, but they’re not. A broken sway bar link needs to be checked out by a mechanic right away.
There are plenty of signs and warnings that the sway bar link needs attention.
When you drive over bumps, you may hear a popping or knocking noise near the suspension near the front tires.
A broken sway bar link means the sway bar is not attached to the vehicle. While the changes may be subtle, the vehicle may present reduced handling.
A healthy suspension is an important part of a well-functioning car. To be sure the sway bar link is worn or damaged, have your vehicle checked by a mechanic. If it feels like you’re bouncing too much and there’s some noise under the car, it’s time to check in with a neighborhood mechanic.
Can You Drive a Car with a Broken Sway Bar Link?
Driving with worn or broken sway bar links is dangerous.
If you can’t afford the repair or don’t have the time to visit the mechanic, you should avoid driving the car. Take the bus or hitch a ride with a friend. Don’t risk it, because you could have a serious accident.
Sway bar links help stabilize a vehicle when turning. If the sway bar links are worn or broken, your vehicle will not steer correctly. If you lose control of your vehicle, you could crash it.
If the front sway bar links are damaged, there will be a difference in how your steering wheel works. Driving at high speeds could mean losing control of the vehicle, which could lead to an accident.
If the rear sway bar links are damaged it is a more controllable situation than the front. You will face a problem when changing lanes or turning the vehicle. By keeping a harder grip on the wheel and turning slowly, you should be able to avoid this problem.
Take advantage of a warning sign – it’s the free warning that mechanic attention is necessary.
In summary, you could drive your car with broken sway bar links, but only by driving at slower speeds and turning carefully. If your commute involves the expressway, you should avoid driving the vehicle.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Sway Bar Links?
Sway bar links are an essential part of a vehicle’s suspension. It’s a cost that can’t be ignored.
It can be nerve-wracking when you learn that there is a problem with your vehicle’s suspension. Fortunately, if the problem is related to the sway bar links, this is a relatively inexpensive repair, ranging from $140 to $230.
The most expensive portion of this cost is labor as parts range anywhere from $60 to $160.
This is a fairly simple job for a professional, so it should be finished within under an hour. The only foreseeable complications are when the sway bar link hardware is rusted. This could happen in areas with extreme winter climates where salt is used on the roads.
Sway bar links prevent the driver from losing control of the vehicle. The cost of repairs outweighs the risk of rolling your vehicle. However, if you cannot afford the repair, you could just send the car to the junkyard.
A Note on DIY Sway Bar Link Repair Jobs
If you are a mechanic or car professional with the appropriate tools and workspace, you could replace the sway bar links yourself.
In order to make these repairs, the vehicle must be lifted off the ground and supported. Plus, there is a chance the sway bar link hardware is rusted and requires special tools. If you’re not a pro, this could pose a roadblock on the DIY track.
If you lack the tools and workspace or don’t feel confident, this repair is best left to a professional.
You can save money by getting estimates from several area mechanics. Make sure to ask about parts, labor, and time.
If the estimates come back with expensive quotes, you could recycle your car at the junkyard and get paid cash.
Is Fixing a Vehicle with a Broken Sway Bar Link Worth It?
Without sway bar links, the vehicle’s suspension is compromised. You could lose control while driving and cause an accident. Your safety and the safety of others are far more important than the cost of this repair.
The parts requiring replacement are not expensive. Even labor is not expensive in standard sway bar link replacement. The most expensive costs come from rusted sway bar link components. The mechanic will spend more time working on the vehicle, therefore, the labor costs could increase.
Even if labor costs are more than originally anticipated, they will more than likely be less compared to the cost of a car accident. You could end up replacing more parts or all of the vehicle and your car insurance deductible could increase.
If you use your vehicle daily for your commute, to pick up the kids, or drive to visit friends, this repair is necessary. This repair could be postponed if you don’t use the vehicle daily. This would allow you time to save to afford the repair.
If the vehicle is old and requires other repairs, the repair may not be worth it. The money used to repair the sway bar links would be better used as a down payment on a newer vehicle that doesn’t require as many repairs.
You could also sell the car to a mechanic, making sure to disclose what issues the vehicle currently has.
There’s always the junkyard, an option that’s likely to leave you richer than when you started.
After assessing the vehicle for its valuable parts and removing them, the rest of the car will be recycled. Wishing you had money towards a down payment? Junkyards offer payment in cash that you could apply to your new vehicle.
Sway Bar Links: The Ultimate Stabilizer
There is a reason sway bar links are referred to as anti-roll bars: they provide support and protect drivers when they make aggressive turns.
Imagine turning your vehicle without this type of support. You could cause damage to your vehicle, yourself, or others.
Understanding the symptoms of worn or broken sway bar links help us know our options and make more informed decisions. This repair is affordable, worth our time, and most importantly, worth our safety.
If caught early, this repair is affordable. Anytime your car receives maintenance, especially when the brakes or wheels are being checked, ask your mechanic to check the sway bar links.
If you cannot afford to repair the sway bar links, it’s best not to drive the car. If you live in an area with readily available public transportation, you could easily not use the car. Alternatively, you could ask a family member, friend, or coworker to help you get to and from where you need to be.
If one or more of the sway bar links breaks suddenly and you cannot drive your vehicle, try to calmly move to the side of the road. Call for a tow service and consider whether or not this repair is affordable for you. If not, you can just as easily send the car to the junkyard.
Don’t be swayed into believing this repair doesn’t matter.