How to Tighten a Sway Bar

by Justin Cupler

The sway bar link is a component that attaches the sway bar to the lower control arm -- the lowermost suspension arm. The lower control arm keeps the sway bar straight, while rubber bushings allow flex for ride comfort. If you are looking for optimum performance, however, you can tighten your sway bar using aftermarket sway bar link bushings. Installing stiffer sway bar link bushings will reduce body roll, allowing your vehicle to handle more precisely, but will also lead to a less-comfortable ride.

Loosen your vehicle's front wheel lug nuts, but leave them attached to the wheels. Lift the vehicle front end with a floor jack, place jack stands under a secure part of the vehicle and lower vehicle onto the jack stands. Remove the lug nuts and the wheels.

Locate the sway bar, a thin, metal bar crossing from one side of the vehicle to the other. Trace the sway bar to a sway bar link at one end, a metal component connecting the sway bar to the lower control arm. There will be one sway bar link on each end of the sway bar.

Cut a vertical slit through the four rubber bushings on the sway bar link, using a utility knife.

Place a combination wrench on the bolt head on the top of the sway bar link. Hold the bolt still while loosening the nut at the bottom of the link, using a ratchet and socket. Do not remove the nut; you only need to loosen it.

Pull all four bushings from the sway bar link. Additional cutting with the utility knife may be needed to fully remove them.

Place aftermarket sway bar link bushings on the sway bar link in the exact position the old ones were in. Aftermarket bushings have slits already cut in them, allowing you to slide them on.

Tighten the sway bar link nut using a combination wrench to hold the bolt head and a torque wrench and socket to tighten the nut. Use caution when tightening the link: it only requires light torque, typically 10 to 20 foot-pounds.

Repeat procedure for the sway bar link on the other side of your vehicle.

Replace the front wheels on your vehicle and hand-tighten the wheel lug nuts. Raise the vehicle off of the jack stands using a floor jack, pull the stands from under the vehicle and lower the car to the ground.

Tighten the lug nuts in a crossing pattern using a torque wrench and a socket. Follow the manufacturer's recommended torque, listed in the owner's manual.

Items you will need

About the Author

Justin Cupler is a professional writer who has been published on several websites including CarsDirect and Autos.com. Cupler has worked in the professional automotive repair field as a technician and a manager since 2000. He has a certificate in broadcast journalism from the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Cupler is currently studying mechanical engineering at Saint Petersburg College.

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