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How Do I Know When a Stabilizer Link Is Worn?

by William Zane

The suspensions on cars and trucks use many different components, from shocks and springs, to stabilizers and control arms. There are also multiple bushings, bolts and connectors. When the car is new and everything is in great shape, the result is a smooth, stable, comfortable ride. However, over time parts and components can begin to wear out, which means that the ride may not be as great as it was. Components that can wear out include the stabilizer links.

Stabilizer Bar Description

The stabilizer bar, more commonly known as an anti-roll bar or sway bar, is a tubular-shaped length of metal that goes from one side of a vehicle's suspension to the other. The purpose of a stabilizer is to act as a lever arm and reduce a vehicle's body roll around corners. As the vehicle is driven around a corner, the bar forces the side of the vehicle on the inside of the corner toward the ground, reducing body roll and increasing the stability of the vehicle.

Stabilizer Link Description

The stabilizer bar is held on to the vehicle with two main components. There are usually two brackets toward the middle of the bar that hold the bar to the chassis underneath the car. At either end, the bar is attached to the suspension with short end links that come off of the bar at 90-degree angles. The links are fastened to the bar with a bushing one side and are bolted to the suspension on the other end.

Worn Link Symptoms

Stabilizer links consist of a series of bushings, washers and bolts that hold them to the links to the suspension. Over time, the bushings can become worn out and sometimes the link can become damaged. A worn stabilizer link can make the suspension feel less precise and looser than it once did, particularly around corners. Worn sway bar links may also make rattling and clanking noises when the car is driven around corners. Another way to determine if your link is worn is to inspect it. Jack up the car with a floor jack and lower it onto jack stands or drive it up onto ramps so that you can see underneath it. Inspect the sway bar and the link, as well as the link bushings where the link bolts to the suspension. If the link is missing the bushing or if the bushing is cracked and dried, it should be replaced.

Replacing Worn Links

If the stabilizer link is worn, it is generally relatively easy to replace. While the vehicle is safely supported on jack stands or on ramps, unbolt the link where it bolts to the suspension. Unbolt it from the stabilizer bar at the other end. Some links may simply slide off and on the bar. Install a new link in the opposite order that the old one was removed. Reinstall and tighten the bolts. Lower the vehicle off of the jack stands or the ramps.

About the Author

William Zane has been a freelance writer and photographer for over six years and specializes primarily in automotive-related subject matter among many other topics. He has attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, where he studied automotive design, and the University of New Mexico, where he studied journalism.

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