Sway Bar Bushing
Sway bar bushings are designed to attach a sway bar to a vehicle’s body or frame. They do a couple of essential jobs at the same time, securing a sway bar to the vehicle, while isolating it from the vehicle’s body to reduce noise and prevent vibrations.
Your sway bar bushings help the sway bar, also known as an anti-roll bar, to prevent the vehicle from rolling to one side when it is going around a turn. While the sway bar is attached to the vehicle’s body with bushings, its ends are connected to control arms or struts (depends on your vehicle’s suspension). This ties the wheels together and makes the vehicle more stable and predictable when cornering.
While some older vehicles do not have sway bars, most new vehicles come equipped with one or two sway bars. If your vehicle does have a sway bar, it is connected to it with the help of sway bar bushings, which are metal sleeves surrounded by rubber. They are very durable, and usually last a long life. However, just like any other part in a vehicle they are prone to wear and tear, so they should be replaced from time to time.
Before your sway bar bushings break down, they can cause a number of problems, including the following:
Bad handling and body rolling
Under normal conditions, your sway bar bushings hold the sway bar in place, preventing it from sliding back and forth. If the bushings fail, they can allow for some free play of your sway bar, which makes the vehicle less stable when cornering.
Knocking noise coming from under the car
If your sway bar bushings can no longer hold the sway bar in place, the latter will move around, causing a knocking noise, especially when going around a turn. This is usually the first and most common symptom of failing sway bar bushings.
Other abnormal noises
In addition to knocking, you can experience other abnormal noises, for instance, a squeaking noise. It usually appears when the rubber part of a bushing wears out, allowing for metal-to-metal contact between the sway bar and the vehicle’s body.
Sway bar bushings replacement
Sway bar bushings are maintenance-free parts, so they must be replaced if they fail. Unless you are a mechanic, this job should be left to a professional who has all necessary equipment to do the trick. He or she should inspect the entire suspension system for signs of wear and damage before replacing the bushings. If the bushings failed out due to contact with fluid, the mechanic should also check the vehicle for leaks and fix them.
Since sway bar links usually last the lifetime of bushings, they should be replaced along with sway bar bushings. The good news is that replacing sway bar bushings or sway bar links doesn’t affect the vehicle’s alignment settings, so a four-wheel alignment is not required.