So, how much does it cost to replace your car’s sway bar? Have you recently had it replaced and wondering whether your mechanic ripped you off? We’ll explain the repair and replacement costs alongside guiding you on when you need to get a new sway bar.
Your vehicle’s suspension has several components, one of which is the sway bar. The sway bar or anti-roll bar joins both ends of the vehicle’s foundation, which helps prevent the car from rolling while cornering. Sway bars are available for the front and rear axle, although some smaller cars only use the front sway bar.
What Is a Sway Bar?
Rubber bushes connect the sway bar to the vehicle’s body, and they attach to the shock absorber or the handling arms via sway bar end links. Moreover, these are also linked with ball joints on both edges to allow movement. These components are more likely to wear out over a period. However, in rare circumstances, the sway bar itself will need replacement to return the vehicle’s handling to factory specifications. The sway bar, which works in tandem with the springs and shock absorbers, ensures steady and predictable handling in low and high-speed turns.
This part interacts with the car’s suspension to keep the vehicle from moving too much and prevents a rough ride when driving on bumpy roads. It also dampens every shock the car receives, allowing its many components to last longer. Over time, the sway bar can erode or deteriorate, at which point a replacement becomes necessary.
The bar is a tension metal spring, which can withstand extreme bending. When a big truck rounds a tight bend, the sway bar activates and prevents wheels from rising from the road. In most situations, a sway bar will prevent your car’s wheels from leaving the roadway on the tightest of corners.
Offroad vehicles often need to detach sway bars for better performance on rugged terrain. Modern SUVs can detach or reattach sway bars with the push of a button, and a motor carries out this action. A metal box containing an electric spline connects to the opposite edges of the sway bar, with the motor holding the spline up.
Is Sway Bar Replacement Important?
The sway link is the weakest component that is most likely to break down. The repair procedure typically entails removing the link instead of the entire bar. However, depending on the extent of damage to your car, additional parts may need to be replaced. Your car will exhibit identical symptoms from damage to any portion of the suspension mechanism. Your car’s ride will be less smooth and gradually degrade further. If left unchecked, a damaged sway bar can be hazardous.
Can You Drive a Car with A Broken Sway Bar?
The answer to this question depends on the severity of the damage to your sway bars. Moreover, it also depends on whether your car has a front or back sway bar.
For sway bars at the front, you’ll notice distinct changes in how the car handles when the bar gets old and wears out. Your suspension will have more play, especially at high speeds. This can be especially dangerous as you may lose control of the vehicle, causing a severe accident.
For sway bars at the rear, the problem is somewhat less serious. This problem impacts how your car rides, especially when changing lanes, turning corners, or in other scenarios where the car’s body sways.
It may become essential to avoid main roads altogether if your car’s sway bars are damaged. Avoid driving your car entirely unless you can get a replacement. If, for whatever reason, you must use your car in this state, be very careful and don’t take corners too quickly. Although a damaged sway bar does not render your vehicle undrivable, we recommend you get a replacement before hitting the road.
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What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Sway Bar?
Cruising down any road with a damaged sway bar exposes you to various hazards. After all, your sway bar is responsible for a smooth ride on the most uneven of surfaces.
With a damaged sway bar, your car might easily become unmanageable on a rough road. Although the rigid composition of steel or iron means sway bars themselves rarely break, their bushings and linkages can wear out over time. There are critical indicators to recognize a failing sway bar and its associated parts.
1. Unusual Sounds
Usually, damaged bushings are the most likely reason for sway bar failure. You’ll hear a clunking noise as you drive if your bushing is wearing out. Moreover, when going over a bump, this sound gets amplified.
However, if the sway bar links or bushings break entirely, you’ll hear a different set of sounds. When going over bumps, your suspension will squeak and, if left unchecked, screech. Over time, you may even be able to hear the screeching sound while driving on a flat road.
2. Instability While Cornering
Since the sway bar is critical to the car’s stability, you’ll notice stability issues when negotiating bends if you have a damaged sway bar link. At times, your car will struggle to gain traction. Moreover, a faulty sway bar link may cause the car to tilt more through one side than usual when cornering. Sudden shocks and potholes can also disrupt the car’s handling making your vehicle much harder to control.
While the sway bar and links aren’t the only components in the suspension capable of causing these issues, it’s still worth inspecting.
3. Trouble Taking Turns
The tires begin to lose grip as sway bar links start becoming loose. Poor handling makes taking typical turns harder.
It will become harder to turn the steering wheel as your sway bar damage worsens. However, this issue can be because of damaged links, degraded bushings, or a damaged sway bar itself.
4. Poor Handling
Even when traveling in a straight line, you will notice substantial differences in the handling if the links are in poor condition. Your car may feel unsteady, and even minor bumps and potholes can throw the handling off. Even good road conditions won’t help if the issue is bad enough. You will feel like the steering and wheels have begun losing their connection.
5. Worn Out Sway Bars
The good thing about damaged sway bars and associated parts is that you can quickly catch the damage. Moreover, a visual inspection is the easiest way to check for damages.
The links on the sway bar may entirely wear out. The rubber bushings at the ends of these links may also bend out of shape or stiffen and rip.
If you can move sway bar links easily with your hands, that means they’re loose enough to be damaged. If you continue to drive on loose links, you may even dislodge them. It’s best to change your car’s components when you observe damage rather than push them to their limit.
The anti-roll bar may break while performing its function of stabilizing the vehicle on various terrains. Worn-out shock absorbers, broken stabilizer bar bushes, poor driving, and damages caused by accidents are likely causes of a damaged sway bar.
How Long Does It Take To Replace a Sway Bar?
To figure out how much it cost to replace a sway bar, you must be familiar with the process itself. First, the car is elevated on a lift or jack stand to access the suspension. The wheels are disassembled to gain access to the car’s suspension. The sway bar end links are then separated and inspected for wear. The mechanic then disconnects the sway bar attachments and removes the sway bar from the car.
After installing a new sway bar, the mechanic will lower your car and reattach the wheels. In the final step, a driving test will assure proper installation.
Different Types of Sway Bars for Different Types of Vehicles
Racing vehicles may contain larger sway bars, making the car feel stiffer, which is natural. Similarly, many 4×4 vehicles have weaker or detachable sway bars to increase suspension travel off-road. Standard cars, however, generally have the same type of sway bars.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Sway Bar?
The type of the vehicle and the sway bar it uses will determine the exact cost of installing a new one. Generally, you can expect to spend anything between $300 and $800.
The sway bar itself isn’t that pricey, with a new bar costing an average of $50. This price varies depending on the quality of the bar you choose.
However, this figure will skyrocket once you factor in the labor costs. Labor charges alone can set you back anywhere between $20 to $300. So, if you want a professional mechanic to have a look at your car, you’ll be looking at a figure north of $300. But if you have some know-how about cars and the necessary tools, you can get the job done in as low as $50.
On the other hand, replacing sway bar links will typically cost you $100 for parts and $25 for labor, on average. Based on the car brand and availability of spares, an auto repair shop may complete the job within an hour.
However, damage to the sway bar link or even its mountings can deteriorate other sections of the suspension system, resulting in added expenses down the road. You may even end up having to pay extra for maintenance in the future as your parts will degrade quicker.
According to the general rule of thumb, the expense of replacing sway bars varies based on the automobile model and whether you require front or back replacement bars. Good quality front bars usually cost between $150 and $200, while rear bars will cost $100 to $200.
If you’re planning on replacing the sway bars yourself, it’s best to have some lubes, an impact wrench, and a socket set to get started.
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Is Sway Bar Replacement Worth It?
You can make a variety of adjustments to make your car handle better. The next step after replacing wheels is altering the car’s suspension. Shock absorbers are the first and foremost parts of the suspension, replacing which can drastically improve ride quality. Nevertheless, this can be costly and very dangerous if done incorrectly. Changing sway bars, fortunately, is a simpler approach to improve handling.
The sway bar helps manage the car’s weight and restricts body roll while enhancing control around bends and corners. They help keep the automobile grounded while keeping a decent contact area between the tires and the ground. They achieve this by ensuring all four tires have even contact despite moving on an irregular surface.
On the other hand, a malfunctioning sway bar needs immediate replacement to restore your vehicle’s handling to factory specifications. Moreover, it will also make your car safer to drive.
Fixing this problem will afford better control over your vehicle. Since this problem can worsen over time and harm the rest of your suspension if left unattended, addressing it as soon as possible saves you time and resources in the long run.
Sway bar repair is especially crucial in rainy weather or on slick surfaces, as even minor changes in the road surface may cause an accident.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you move your sway bar manually?
You should be able to freely rotate and manipulate the bar from side to side using just your hands. You can do this by holding it at the point where the arms will slide down by themselves if the terminal links aren’t linked.
What sound might a broken sway bar make?
If you’re driving on the highway and hear a clunking, rattling, or a metallic scraping noise, the sound could be coming from the stabilizer bar connections. The sway bar will make these sounds when the links wear down, especially on a bumpy road.
How long could you drive with a sway bar that isn’t working?
On discovering that your sway bar is loose or has any play, you should replace it immediately. The sway bar alone practically doesn’t crack; instead, bearings and links wear out quicker, often as quickly as 60,000 miles.
Is it possible for a broken sway bar link to cause tire wear?
No, your tires will not wear because of damaged sway bar end links.
Is it possible to weld a sway bar?
Sway bars are transverse torsion springs, not mild steel rods. Although you can get such a weld to stay, the heat will cause the metal to shed its spring-like qualities.
Will a damaged sway bar affect my car’s wheel alignment?
No, a damaged sway bar will not affect your car’s wheel alignment.
What is the purpose of a sway bar?
Sway bars, or anti-roll bars, form a crucial part of your car’s suspension. They exist to prevent the vehicle’s structure from “rolling” in a quick turn. To put it another way, it helps improve your car’s stability around a bend.
What role does a sway bar during regular driving?
Alongside minimizing body roll while turning corners, sway bars impact overall handling and help you manage over or understeering. Sway bars increase the vehicle’s performance by bettering the vehicle’s weight distribution over all four wheels.
To summarize, sway bars form a vital part of your suspension and are responsible for the comfortable ride your car gives. It should cost between $150 to $800 to get a new sway bar depending on the car brand and quality of the new bar you buy. Not to mention the additional labor cost of getting your work done by a professional. Additionally, in certain circumstances, you might not even need to replace your complete sway bar as the problem may be localized in bushing or sway bar links. However, we recommend visiting a mechanic when facing issues with your suspension to avoid botchy repair work and ensure your safety.