Can a sway bar link make noise?
This blog will answer the following questions: can a sway bar link make noise? How to tell if a sway bar link is bad? What is the function of a sway bar? How to replace a sway bar link?
Can a sway bar link make noise?
Yes, a sway bar link can make noise when it is damaged or loose. A sway bar in a good condition will never make any noise but as the mileage of the vehicle increases; the bush at the end of the mounting point can get damaged. A rattling noise will start to come at low speeds, especially on uneven road surfaces.
The rattling noise can be heard inside the passenger cabin. It can come from both or either one of the sides as there are two sway bar links on the front axle. The sway bar link or link rod connects the steering knuckle or suspension strut to the sway bar. The sway bar is also known as an anti-roll bar.
As the sway bar links keep all the wheels planted on the road when the vehicle is cornering. It is responsible for providing stiffness to the body. The sway bar has its own bushes at the mounting point in the vehicle subframe for additional resistance to the body roll.
The noise from the sway bar link is present even if the vehicle is traveling in a straight line. The sway bar links transfer the lateral forces to the sway bar. Therefore, if sway bar bushes are weak, they twist and move too much and also come in contact with the lower control arm. Due to the excessive movement in the sway bar, its links get damaged.
There are universal joints on both the ends of sway bar links. Joints have boots to keep them lubricated and offer protection from dirt and corrosion. If the boot is cut, dirt and water can enter the joint and damage it.
The boot cannot be replaced separately and if a sway bar link is damaged or loose, it must be replaced. Many manufacturers recommend replacing the sway bar link together if the mileage of the vehicle is high.
If the wheels and tires on a vehicle are wider, it can also damage the sway bar link. Installing wider tires without appropriate spacers can cause the tires to come in contact with the sway bar link on the top or bottom side.
The sway bar links on the front wheels or axle are longer compared to the rear axle. They need to transmit longitudinal as well as lateral forces to the front sway bar. Therefore, the front sway bar link can start to make noise compared to the rear sway bar link.
How to tell if a sway bar link is bad?
It is possible to tell if a sway bar is bad by performing an underbody vehicle inspection in the following way:
- Lift the vehicle on a hoist, there is no need to remove the wheels for the visual inspection.
- Locate the front left and right sway bar links and check the rubber boot on the bottom side. If there are cuts or grease leaking from the boot, the sway bar link is bad.
- Hold the sway bar near the link and move it in the vertical direction. There should be no noise from the link when the sway bar is moving. A tire lever can also be used to move the sway bar.
- Usually, the noise comes due to a damaged sway bar link on the lower side but it is good practice to check the upper mounting point of the sway bar link.
- Turn the steering wheel to one side and inspect the rubber boot on the top mounting point of the sway bar link.
- Hold the wheel rightly and move it in the vertical direction, there should not be excessive movement in the sway bar link.
- The sway bar link on the rear axle can be difficult to inspect due to the drive shafts but their length is very small compared to the front sway bar links.
- Perform the visual inspection of all the rubber boots and move the sway bar link I had to check if it is loose.
What is the function of a sway bar?
The function of the sway bar is to control the body roll of the vehicle when it is cornering. It distributes the weight of the vehicle evenly on both sides. it is connected to the wheels on the opposite sides of the vehicle, the length is similar to the width of the vehicle.
The diameter on the other hand depends on the body type, small cars have smaller sway bars but SUV sway bars have larger diameters. The swat bar uses link rods to maintain the vehicle level through turns. It minimizes the body roll and also keeps the wheels in contact with the road by increasing the compression on the inner wheels.
Without a Sway bar, the inner wheels will lose contact with the road surface when the vehicle is cornering. Therefore, the sway bar and the sway bar link are crucial components in the suspension system of the vehicle.
The sway bar can also be upgraded to improve the handling of the vehicle. In some luxury SUVs, there are active sway bars that use hydraulic oil in a chamber located on the sway bar. The stiffness of the vehicle can be varied depending on the hydraulic pressure and the driving conditions.
How to replace a sway bar link?
The procedure to replace a sway bar link is as follows:
- Lift the vehicle on a hoist and remove the wheel to gain access to the sway bar link.
- Unscrew the nut on the top side of the link rod, the screw must be held in the opposite direction to loosen the nut completely.
- Similarly, loosen the nut at the other end of the sway bar link and remove it carefully. The sway bar can also be temporarily held in position by an assistant or a hydraulic jack.
- Install the new sway bar link, and check the top side and the bottom side as the design can be different based on the vehicle.
- The sway bar will need to be held in position while tightening the nut on the bottom side.
- Tighten all the nuts as per the specified torque and install the wheels.
The self-locking nuts should be replaced with the new sway bar link. If the material of the sway bar link is modified from metal to plastic then ensure that there is a similar sway bar link on the opposite side.
This blog explained when a sway bar link can make abnormal noise and how to tell if the link is bad. The sway bar link must be replaced if it is damaged as continuing to drive the vehicle can result in oversteering or it can even topple over in the corners.