A vital but hidden component in your vehicle’s suspension system is the stabilizer bar (also called sway bar). It lies underneath your car, fixed to both sides of the suspension system. This component is designed to prevent your vehicle from rolling when making turns. Still, since it is connected to your suspension system, it also functions as a lever arm to help reduce noise while driving and absorb the impact of road bumps so you can have a very comfortable drive. Experiencing an opposite effect can reflect symptoms of bad stabilizer bar bushings.
Your sway bar is fixed to your chassis and connected to other suspension systems with the use of bushings and brackets. When the stabilizer bar bushings are regularly serviced and maintained, they can effectively function for an extended period. But when they begin to deteriorate, you might start to experience warning signs from squeaky noises to severe handling and steering problems, which puts your vehicle at risk.
Below is information that will enlighten you on the signs of a lousy stabilizer bushing and how you can check and fix this fault quickly. We also stuffed this article with a lot of other relevant information you should know.
Symptoms Of Bad Stabilizer Bushings
Being aware of the signs of bad bar bushing and other faulty components in a vehicle system is essential to drivers. You get to not only reduce the cost of repairs but also protects your vehicle from crashing. Please take note of the following symptoms:
Squeaky noises from under your vehicle
When your sway bar bushing squeak from beneath your vehicle, it is one of the vital signs that depicts your bar stabilizer bushings that are beginning to wear out. However, noises can occur due to other faulty components, which can also be clunking or rattling. Not all defective components produce the same type of noise; it varies. However, most mechanics use squeaky noises to diagnose faulty sway bar bushings.
You will most likely hear sway bar noise when turning your steering wheels, driving over a rough road, or even when you enter a driveway. This noise happens when your bar bushings are not adequately lubricated, increasing friction between the meeting parts. It would help if you lubricated the bushings as soon as possible, especially when you notice this noise comes from your feet area while driving.
Rattling or clunking noise
Your bar bushings are fixed under your vehicle. When they begin to wear or become severely damaged, your stabilizer bar will be unstable and start to shake while you drive, producing a clunking or rattling noise. This noise gets louder when you make turns or each time you drive over a bump. You will notice the noise around your vehicle’s front area, especially when it comes to your driver’s floor area. Noises from your vehicle mean something in your vehicle’s system is not in place, so you need to immediately check it out.
It is best to drive home or tow your vehicle to the nearest mechanic shop when observing this type of noise. If you continue using a faulty bar stabilizer bushing, your entire bar stabilizer can drop, and this will incur a high expense on repairs. We always advise our customers to check for the cause of the noise and get it fixed.
Slow response in vehicle handling
If you frequently use your vehicle, you should be familiar with the vehicle’s handling and operation when driving on the road. One way to determine if you have a problem with your stabilizer bar bushings is when you start noticing your vehicle’s handling becomes slow or sluggish to respond, most especially when you steer your wheels while driving.
When you observe your vehicle becomes unstable when navigating the wheels into a corner, it’s a sign that your bushings are faulty, and they need to be changed as soon as possible. You need to know that when your vehicle’s stabilizer bar bushings begin to wear out, they deteriorate fast. So ignoring any of the symptoms can lead to several adverse effects, which is very dangerous. This is one of those faults you should pay keen attention to.
When you notice any difference in your vehicle’s handling, make sure you check for the cause. If you cannot detect the actual cause, get your car to the mechanic’s shop to perform a diagnosis on your vehicle.
Poor vehicle stability while accelerating
When your stabilizer bar bushings are damaged, you will start to notice vehicle body roll while accelerating. Your vehicle will start to wobble any time you attempt to drive over 25mph. A bad stabilizer bar bushing will cause your sway bar to shake, leading to instability of your vehicle.
Many drivers experience this once in a while, and most of them are not sure of the cause. Well! Now you know a probable cause.
Bad sway bar bushings cause vibrations when driving. Although this effect might not be noticed when driving at a low speed.
How Do I Check Stabilizer Bar Bushings?
We will show you a simple process of checking your sway bar bushings. You need to be cautious with this process; we advise that you always put on your protective gear. Get your tools in hand also; your tools should always be at arm’s length for easy reach.
You have to gain access to your vehicle’s sway bar bushings to inspect it. They are fixed above the undercarriage, so you need to take this off to reach your bushings. To do this, you will have to raise your vehicle with either a car lift or jack. Ensure you take the appropriate measures in doing this. Correctly place the jack, and jack stands on a solid surface before use. For car lifts, make sure you place the lift’s adaptors at the recommended positions in your vehicle.
You need to know that both sides of your vehicle’s suspension system have to be equal to enable you properly check the bar bushings. Please do not have one side of your car lifted; this would overload your stabilizer bar, which is not good. Most people prefer using car lifts for this process. However, using a jack is another good option.
Once you have been able to get to your sway bar bushings, the rest process can be completed in a few minutes.
You need to start with one side. Grab your pry bar or screwdriver and use it to wedge on a sub-frame or solid frame near the bar bushings and apply effort on your tool. Watch the bar bushing around your sway bar for any movement; this is very important. You are supposed to observe its strain while applying pressure with your tool. The bushing is not meant to shake or move while doing this.
Examine the bar bushing for any damage; wear, or tear. If there is wear, you might see an oval-like crack on its surface, with an apparent space at the bottom or top position where your sway bar went through the bushing.
If you also notice any suspension noise or noticeable deflection under applied load, then you should change your bar bushings immediately. Inspecting your sway bar bushings will also tell you what causes a sway bar to go bad.
Now carry out this same inspection process on the other side of your vehicle. Go through this article to find out how to change lousy stabilizer bushings.
How To Fix Bad Stabilizer Bar Bushings?
Replacing a damaged stabilizer bar bushing is the only way to fix your vehicle’s bushings. Stabilizer bar bushings are meant to deteriorate after a while, although they are very durable. The difficulty level in replacing bar bushings mostly depends on the type of vehicle and where the bushings are located. However, here is the process on how to fix your faulty bar bushings:
- Park your vehicle on a level surface. Ensure you apply the brakes and release your vehicle’s hood latch. Check your wheels to prevent any form of movement; please do not use sharp objects. Opening your bonnet will help allow the entrance of light through your engine area to your working area, helping you quickly locate your bushings.
- Put on your safety gear. We take this step to be very important in carry-out repairs. A lot of drivers take this for granted. It would be best if you got essential safety wears like goggles, gloves, and coverall. This will help protect your skin from any form of damage that could occur while performing the repair. Ensure you also get your tools at close reach; you should consider getting a mechanics tools box to help organize your tools.
- You need to lift your vehicle; raise the left front quarter. Like we stated earlier, you can use either a car lift or a car jack. Please do this carefully. There are guides you need to take when using car jacks, likewise the lifts. You need to know how they operate before using them. Lift both the right and left front quarter parts of your vehicle.
- Find the location of your sway bar bushings. You can use your sway bar to get this location by trailing it to the point where it is fixed to your vehicle’s undercarriage by a bracket. The sway bar is usually installed behind your front tires and at the front of your rear tires.
You might need to remove the heat shield or the brackets to get to be able to remove your stabilizer bar brackets; this depends on the vehicle’s design. Carefully remove any obstruction to allow you to gain access to the bushing. The brackets are easy to take-off. They are usually fixed with one or two mounting bolts. In some cases, the bolts are set with a nut or a threaded hole in your vehicle’s undercarriage.
Gently unscrew the bolts with your wrench, socket, and ratchet. The sway bar brackets’ bolts have a hinge at the bottom or top that you can remove when you take-off a single bolt.
- When you have gotten the exact location of your bushing, move it along the stabilizer bar to a point where it can be easy to take-off from the bar. Force into the bushing opening using your pry bar or specific screwdrivers types to get it out of the stabilizer. Bar bushings usually are coated with rubber, so it is not easy taking them off.
- Fix your new bushing on the stabilizer bar, in the same manner, you took-off the old bushing. Because the bushing is new, it will even be more stubborn to fix. Place the new bushing into the appropriate place and tighten it with your tools. The good thing is front and rear sway bar bushings replacement cost is affordable, especially when you are carrying out the replacement yourself.
- Place back any component you had to take-off and clear the under area of the vehicle. You can now lower your car, close your bonnet, and remove the object used in choking your wheel. Test run your vehicle and observe for any of the bad bar bushing symptoms listed above.
Sway Bar Bushing Diagnosis And Replacement YouTube
Q: Is it safe to drive with bad sway bar bushings?
It is not advisable to drive with a flawed or broken sway bar. Still, if you must, you have to be cautious and steady in driving because you can quickly lose control of a car with lousy sway bar bushings, resulting in an accident if you are not prepared enough.
The situation is a little less controversial if you have a broken rear sway bar. In the case of faulty bar end links, then you can still drive your vehicle. The only problem is you will experience excess body roll when trying to make a turn at a speed of over 35mph; this will make your vehicle unstable. You should follow the guidelines highlighted above to fix your sway bar bushings, or you can take your vehicle to the mechanic’s shop.
Q: What does bad bushing sound like?
When a vehicle’s bushing goes faulty, the stabilizer bar becomes unstable, and this will cause your car to make sounds while driving; these sounds are best described as squeaking, rattling, or clunking. The noise gets louder as the driving progresses, especially when going on a rough road.
When changing lanes and taking corners, the clunking sounds are more prominent, sounding like a noisy door hinge. You feel the front portion of your car trembling. Driving with worn bushings along the metal or rocky road can lead to shocks and noises and also during sharp turns.
Q: How long do sway bushings last?
There is no set time for bushings to wear out. They can wear out at a different rate in cars. The stress, environment, or amount of load your vehicle is subjected to daily determines how long do sway bushings last. Typically, you will know when to change your bushings in your car, when the symptoms of a bad bushing start surfacing, making it challenging to drive your vehicle.
The lifespan of different bushings varies. The rubber bushing is designed to last as long as the rubber hoses. However, the bushings are to last for about 14 years, but the environment and management will contribute to this factor.
Q: Is it dangerous to drive with a bad bushing?
It is dangerous to drive a truck or car with a torn or broken bushing because bushings are significant components in your vehicle system; these bushings are designed to handle dangerous steering.
A faulty control arm bushing will affect your vehicle’s wheel alignment, making your tires wear out quickly and making your steering dangerous by causing it to shift when going over bumps or turning. It is dangerous to drive with a bad bushing, so driving should be halt until you replace your bushings.
The bad bushing can cause loss of steering control and allow haphazard movement in vehicles, which may cause the driver to lose control. This fault also makes the car’s front end slip out of alignment and cause the tire to wear out prematurely.
Q: How much do bushings cost to replace?
Replacement of bushings costs between $90-$105 and labor cost is between $65 and $95. Parts priced are between $35-$55. The cost of a new bushing ranges between $10-$120; labor costs are more expensive. This implies that sway bar bushings replacement cost for your lower control arm can cost up to $100-$400 per bushing.
Q: Do I need to grease my sway bar bushings?
Lubricating new bushings might not be necessary. However, if need be, you can grease bushings at intervals. But the not ordinary type of grease is used for this purpose. Silicone grease is the best option to use for your bar bushings; they do not harm your bushings.
The grease should be applied to the outer flanges and bores of the bushings. Do not use a lubricant on the outer surface of your bushings.
Q: Why do my bushings squeak?
You hear this sound when the rubbers in your vehicle are too dry. The hanger of your car turns in the pivot cup and makes this noise. It could also be a result of damaged bar bushings. Urethane bushings also make this squeaky noise unless they are lubricated. You can try to stop this squeaky sound by applying spray-on lithium grease, but if this noise is from a rubber bushing, then spray with Silicone grease.
Every car owner needs to take time to understand their vehicle. It will help let you know when symptoms of bad stabilizer bar bushings and other dangerous faults. This will enable you to observe preventive measures on-time before further damage is done to your car.