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Busted Swaybar link

23 May 2008 08:55:47



Busted Swaybar link

About a week ago, I noticed that I was hearing a bit of a clunking noise when the front suspension was on rebound. At first, I figured it was the shocks, and since MT did have almost 90K on the clock, this was the opportunity I needed to get the spacer lift I had been thinking about. But I decided that I should double check just in case. I went out and did the bounce test on MT, and found the driver side front sway bar link was a little funky. It didn't seen like it was broken, just a bit worn. Again, I filed that under "when I lift it" in my brain. Then a few days later on the way home from work I was making a sweeping left turn, and the Monster took a SERIOUS lean to the right. The NASCAR guys would describe it as the right front tire rolling under. I stopped at the first gas station I came to and looked at the tires. They were as normal. So I did the bounce test again and found the previously-mentioned sway bar link to have separated. A TJ front sway bar link isn't like most I've seen. Instead of basically a threaded rod with rubber donuts, washers and nuts, I found a ball joint on top, a offset solid rod in the middle, and a shock-absorber type eye mount on the bottom, which is strange to say the least. After checking out disconnects (couldn't find any for a non-lifted Jeep) I went to Advance in Center Twp., purchased two since I figured that if one went bad, the other couldn't be far behind. On a Saturday morning, after I had gotten home from the night shift @ work, I started to replace them.

I had taken the opportunity to soak the fasteners in PB Blaster (My favorite penetrator) and they came off rather easily. The problem was of course, the tapered ball joint mount on the top. It had seized, and since there wasn't a whole bunch of hammer-swinging room in the fenders, I needed another option. It was then I remembered the "Heat and Beat" method my father had taught me. So I got my Bernz-O-Matic Mapp gas torch out and fired away, so to speak at the sway bar ends. The top mounts came out easily after that. Now is when things got stupid. While putting the new links in, the TRW supplied nut for the top mount would only thread down about a quarter inch (same on both sides) . So, I had to go back to Advance and get different nuts, (which I had to pay for, BTW) and got the links buttoned up. I also had to jack the Jeep up on the passenger side in order to get the top mount to go into it's designed place on the sway bar end.

What I learned from this

1. Take your original estimate for time and money and triple it. It'll then be closer to reality. Also count on feeling physically beat up afterward.

2. Advance Auto Parts is good for cleaning supplies, but almost invariably, hard parts are an issue on some level.

3. Pay more attention to any changes in how the Jeep drives. I would have rather done this in warmer weather!

4. Working on your vehicle on the street is dangerous. The knuckleheads in my neighborhood took great delight in driving past me as fast as possible while I was making this repair.