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What Is a Sway Bar? Everything You Need to Know About It

What Is a Sway Bar? Everything You Need to Know About It

When you drive your car around a corner at a relatively high rate of speed, the last thing that you want to happen is for two of your car’s tires to come up off the ground. This could potentially lead to your car rolling over on you. Fortunately, this won’t happen to most drivers thanks to the sway bar that is installed on the bottom of their vehicles. So, what is a sway bar and how exactly does it work? We’re going to learn all about it today and discover what you should do if you ever experience any issues with your car’s sway bar.

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What Is a Sway Bar?

Before we can begin talking about what a sway bar does and what makes it so important to your car, we need to answer one simple question: “What is a sway bar?” A sway bar, which is also sometimes referred to as a stabilizer bar, is a U-shaped steel bar strategically positioned underneath your car and attached to both of your car’s front wheels. It’s basic purpose is to stop your car from rolling over when you’re taking turns and making other sudden movements in it.


Sway bars have been around for a long time now. Although they weren’t included in the earliest cars ever invented, the first sway bar was created way back in 1919. A Canadian inventor by the name Stephen Coleman came up with it. Since then, sway bars have been placed into almost every car to hit the assembly line. They’re a very important aspect of a car’s suspension system and have likely prevented countless deaths and injuries while also working to keep cars themselves safe while out on the road.

What Does a Sway Bar Do?

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is a sway bar?”, we want to move on to explaining what a sway bar does. It might seem like a simple enough part, but it actually has a fairly complicated job when it comes right down to it. You’ll gain a better appreciation for it once you realize how a sway bar works to protect you and your vehicle.


As we mentioned a moment ago, the sway bar in your vehicle is connected to your front two wheels. When you go to make a turn in your car, your car’s body will roll as its weight moves from one side of the car to the other. When this happens, your car experiences what is known as either “body roll” or, maybe more appropriately, “sway.” It’s at that point that your sway bar springs into action and helps you keep better control of your car than you would be able to otherwise. It works to minimize the body roll or sway that takes place so that your car is able to stay level even as you’re turning it.


All of this happens in a matter of milliseconds, so there is a good chance that you won’t even realize it’s happening. But you will notice that your car won’t ever tip over when you’re taking a turn, even if you’re driving way faster than you should be. As long as you have a fully functioning sway bar in your car, it’ll make sure that your car’s weight is distributed evenly so that it doesn’t ever tip or roll over while you’re behind the wheel.

How Long Does a Sway Bar Last?

At this point, you should see just how important that it is to have a sway bar that works the way it’s supposed to in your car. With this in mind, you should make it a point to make sure that your sway bar is always in great condition. You don’t really want to get stuck driving around in a car with a bad sway bar in it.


The good news is that you shouldn't have to worry too much about having to replace a sway bar that often. But generally speaking, most people will have to replace their sway bar about once over the life of their car. The only time they might have to do it more often than that is if they tend to drive on the faster side and constantly take turns quicker than they should.


You probably won’t have to stress out too much about your car’s sway bar and the condition of it. But as your car begins to get up there in age, you should think about keeping a close eye out for any possible problems with your sway bar. You’ll want to have it inspected sooner rather than later if you have any issues at all with it.

What Are the Signs of a Bad Sway Bar?

More often than not, it’s not your sway bar itself that you’ll need to worry about when it comes to experiencing problems with it. Instead, it’s going to be the links that are used to hold your sway bar in place that might begin to go bad on you and need to be replaced. This can prevent your entire sway bar from working like it’s supposed to. So you should make sure you know what the signs of a bad sway bar are so that you can monitor your car for them.


Here are some of the signs that’ll let you know that something might be going wrong with your sway bar at any given moment:

  • Your car begins to feel like it could roll over when you’re driving it around a curve or taking a tight turn in it
  • You hear a strange knocking sound going from the front of your car anytime that you drive over bumps in it
  • You hear either squealing or squeaking sounds going from underneath your car when driving over bumps
  • Your car feels really loose when you’re maneuvering around in it

It’s easy to write off a random knocking or squeaking sound when you’re in your car. You might not think twice about it. But a bad sway bar could very well be to blame for these types of issues, and you will need to correct them ASAP.

Can You Drive Without a Working Sway Bar?

Fortunately for those who have a bad sway bar in their car, you don’t necessarily need to run right down to your auto repair shop to have it fixed immediately. You should be able to continue to drive around in a car that doesn’t have a working sway bar without experiencing any major issues. But that doesn’t mean that you should put off sway bar replacement altogether.


If you keep driving around in a car with a bad sway bar, you could put yourself and others at risk if you take a turn while your sway bar isn’t working. It could lead to you flipping your car over or losing control of it and crashing into someone else. It’s why you should be very careful whenever you find yourself driving without a working sway bar. You should also make it your mission to have your car looked at so that you can get the problem with your sway bar fixed.

What Steps Should You Take If You Have a Bad Sway Bar?

We just talked about how you might be able to get away with driving around in a car with a bad sway bar for a little while. But that shouldn’t be the long-term solution to your problem. You should take a series of steps to correct the issue that you’re dealing with so that a bad sway bar doesn’t cause additional issues down the line.


You should consider taking your car to an ASE-certified mechanic so that they can diagnose the exact problem that you’re dealing with. Ideally, you want to toss the keys to your car to someone who has a lot of experience working on car suspensions. If they find that you do, in fact, need to have repairs made to your sway bar, they will get to work right on it and fix it up for you.

Should You Attempt to Fix a Bad Sway Bar Yourself?

In an effort to save yourself some money, you might want to try and fix a sway bar on your own. If you were asking, “What is a sway bar?”, five minutes ago, this might not be a good idea. It might also not be a good idea if you find that the nuts holding your sway bar link in place are seized. It could turn into a project that is way more trouble than it’s worth.


Replacing sway bar links is something that you can do if you know your way around a car, though. It’s a fairly quick fix that doesn’t require the use of too many tools for those who want to take the DIY approach. Just make sure that you know exactly what you’re doing before you get started. Otherwise, you could end up making what is a minor problem in the grand scheme of things a much bigger issue.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Sway Bar?

One of the reasons why so many people prefer to take their car to a mechanic to have their sway bar fixed as opposed to doing it themselves is because it’s not that expensive to pay to have someone else do it. It’s very cost-effective when you compare it to some of the other suspension-related repair jobs that are out there.


In general, you should only have to pay somewhere between $100 and $150 to have the links for a sway bar replaced. The parts themselves are only about $70 to $90, and since the job is a pretty straightforward one, the labor should only cost you about $50 or so. It’s why you should usually think about taking your car in to have the sway bar looked at rather than doing it on your own.

Is the Sway Bar Repair Cost Worth It?

We’ve touched on how you don’t have to rush right out to have a sway bar repaired right away on several occasions now. That might lead you to believe that you can get away with not making repairs to it. Or you might think that repairing a sway bar isn’t worth it. But as we just suggested, it’s one of the cheapest repairs that you’re ever going to have to do on your car.


That alone should be enough to convince you to just bite the bullet and repair your sway bar. But just in case that’s not enough to get you to do it, you should also think about all the repairs you’ll have to pay for if you ever accidentally roll your car over while driving it with a bad sway bar. You’re going to pay the price if you ever happen to do this, and you’re also going to put yourself and any passengers that you might have in your car into harm’s way. You should steer clear of finding yourself in this situation by fixing a bad sway bar right away.

Can You Sell a Car With a Bad Sway Bar?

If you have a car that’s very old and starting to fall apart on you and your mechanic tells you that it needs a new sway bar, you might wonder more than just, “What is a sway bar?” You might also wonder, “Do I really want to keep paying money to fix this car up?” In most cases, the answer is going to be “No!” One repair is just going to lead to another repair and then another one after that.


Instead of continuing to pay for repairs to your sway bar and other parts in your car, you should consider selling it, bad sway bar and all. Cash Cars Buyer will pay you cash for your car, regardless of what might be going wrong with it at this time. We specialize in providing people with cash for their old cars that they don’t want anymore.


Interested in possibly selling your old car to us? Get in touch with us today to find out what your car could be worth in spite of its bad sway bar.