There are a number of things that can go wrong with your vehicle as it gets older, and one frequently overlooked problem is the condition of your sway bar links. Sway bars or anti-roll bars as they’re also called, keep your car from rolling over in sharp turns.
The links attach the bar to the suspension, and if they become damaged or corroded, it can affect the performance of your vehicle. Here’s a closer look at what causes sway bar links to go bad.
One of the most common reasons for sway bar link failure is simply age and wear and tear. Over time, the bushings that connect the links to the suspension can wear down, causing them to become loose.
This can lead to rattling noises as you drive, and eventually, the links can break completely.
What is a Sway Bar Link?
Sway bar links are part of your vehicle’s suspension system. The sway bar, also called the anti-roll bar, is a metal rod that runs across the width of your vehicle. It’s connected to the suspension on both sides by way of these links. The sway bar’s purpose is to stabilize your car when cornering or making sharp turns.
As you turn a corner, the weight of the car shifts to one side. This can cause the vehicle to tip over if not for the sway bar. The bar itself remains level, and as it does, it applies pressure to the suspension on both sides. This keeps the car from tilting too far and helps it stay grounded.
Sway bar links are what connect the sway bar to the suspension system. They’re usually made of metal and have a bushing on each end. The bushings are what allow the link to pivot as you turn.
What Causes Sway Bar Links to Go Bad?
One of the most common reasons for sway bar link failure is simply age and wear and tear. Over time, the bushings that connect the links to the suspension can wear down, causing them to become loose. This can lead to rattling noises as you drive, and eventually, the links can break completely.
Another common issue is corrosion. If your car frequently drives through puddles or encounters bad weather, the metal links can start to rust. This weakens them and makes them more likely to snap.
In some cases, the problem isn’t with the sway bar links themselves but with the mounting points on the suspension. If these become damaged or deteriorate, it can put undue stress on the links and cause them to fail.
4 Bad Sway Bar Links Symptoms
The following are some symptoms that can indicate your sway bar links are going bad:
1. Suspension Sounds
One of the first signs that your links might be going bad is increased noise coming from the suspension. If the bushings are worn, they can start to make creaking or popping sounds as you turn. In some cases, you might even hear rattling.
2. Handling Troubles
Upon making sharp turns, you might notice that your vehicle feels loose or unstable. This is because the sway bar isn’t able to properly keep the car stabilized. As a result, it might even feel like it’s going to tip over.
3. Swerving Problems
Even when driving straight, you might find that your car starts to swerve to one side. This is often caused by a broken sway bar link on one side of the vehicle.
4. Visible Worn Out
Lastly, upon inspection, you might be able to see that the links or bushings are visibly worn out. The metal might be corroded, and the bushings might be cracked or missing altogether.
Is it bad to drive with bad sway bar links?
As mentioned, bad sway bar links can cause your car to handle poorly. This can make driving dangerous, especially on windy days or in bad weather conditions. It’s best to have the problem fixed as soon as possible.
How much does it cost to replace sway bar links?
This can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, but on average, it should cost between $100 and $200 to replace both links.
Also Read: How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Sway Bar?
How often should sway bar links be replaced?
Depending on how often you drive and the conditions of the roads, you might need to replace your sway bar links every 50,000 miles or so. However, it’s a good idea to inspect them regularly and replace them sooner if necessary.
Can a broken sway bar link cause tire wear?
Yes, in some cases, a broken sway bar link can cause uneven tire wear. This is because the link isn’t able to keep the suspension stabilized, which can lead to the tires wearing down on one side more than the other.
In summary, sway bar links are an important part of your vehicle’s suspension system. They help keep the car stable and prevent it from tipping over. However, they can go bad over time due to age, wear and tear, or corrosion.
If you suspect that your sway bar links are going bad, be sure to have them inspected by a mechanic as soon as possible. This will help prevent any further damage to your suspension system and keep you safe on the road.
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