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Stabilizer Bar Link Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Stabilizer Bar Link Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

1.5 hours

Tab:

$50

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets 13mm, 16mm, 15 or 16mm wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW Z3 (1996-02)

Parts Required:

Stabilizer links, stabilizer bar bushings

Hot Tip:

Leave all fasteners loose until you have new parts installed

Performance Gain:

Replace faulty stabilizer links

Complementary Modification:

Install performance sway bar

As you drive your car, the heading of the front wheels is controlled by the steering mechanism of the car. When you change direction the steering mechanism changes the heading of the wheels. Inertia, acting on the body of the car, exerts a force on the body to continue in the straight-ahead direction. Because the body is resting on the suspension, the body of the car is forced towards the wheels that are outside on the turn. This causes the outside suspension to compress under the additional load and the inside suspension to lift as a result of the load being removed from the inside suspension during the turn. This action is known as "body roll". Drivers tend not to like excessive body roll since it does not provide a taut ride. The driver would say it feels like the vehicle is "floating"  around the turn. 

In an effort to reduce body roll, stabilizer bars (also known as sway bars) connect one side of the suspension to the other. This way when the outside suspension compresses in a turn the torque on the stabilizer bar transfers some of the force to the inside suspension causing it to compress slightly also. This reduces body roll. Typically, the thinner the stabilizer bar the less torque is applied to the inside suspension and you will feel slightly more body roll. A thicker stabilizer bar will allow more torque to be applied to the inner suspension creating less body roll. Stabilizer bars twist as the suspension moves up and down. They are held in place with rubber bushings and rotate inside the bushings. 

In the BMW Z3, stabilizer bar links connect the stabilizer bar to the struts (front) or to the suspension arms (rear). The connecting links wear out over time. When they begin to fail, you may have a knocking noise in the suspension when driving over bumps or when steering the vehicle. To inspect the front stabilizer links, jack the front of the vehicle and wiggle the wheel back and forth. While wiggling the wheel, listen for a noise from the link. If no noise is heard, place your hand around the ends of the link and monitor for looseness as you wiggle the wheel. The rear link has a rubber bushing that the stabilizer bar inserts into. These wear out and cause a clunking sound. If you have a noise in the rear, this is a good place to start looking. In this article I describe how to repair stabilizer bar link problems.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have, so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches. 

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If you're working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. 

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Raise and support front of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking up your vehicle.

Remove the wheels from the axle of the vehicle you are replacing the link on.

Front sway bar links:
Working at the stabilizer bar, loosen the 16mm end link nut (green arrow) while counter-holding the 16mm boss on the link (yellow arrow).
Figure 1

Front sway bar links: Working at the stabilizer bar, loosen the 16mm end link nut (green arrow) while counter-holding the 16mm boss on the link (yellow arrow).

Next, remove the lower bolt.
Figure 2

Front sway bar links: Next, remove the lower bolt. Remove the 13mm nut (green arrow) while counter-holding the 13mm bolt. (yellow arrow)

Next, remove stabilizer link from vehicle.
Figure 3

Front sway bar links: Next, remove stabilizer link from vehicle.

If needed, remove the 16mm sway bar bracket nut (green arrow).
Figure 4

Front sway bar links: If needed, remove the 16mm sway bar bracket nut (green arrow). This will allow you to replace the bracket. Reverse removal instructions for installation. Install new stabilizer link with new self-locking nuts.

Rear sway bar links:
Rear sway bar links.
Figure 5

Rear sway bar links: Working at the stabilizer bar, loosen the 13mm end link nut (green arrow) while counter-holding the 13mm bolt (yellow arrow).

Rear sway bar links.
Figure 6

Rear sway bar links. Next, remove stabilizer link from the sway bar by sliding it off in the direction of the yellow arrow.

Rear sway bar links.
Figure 7

Rear sway bar links. If needed, remove the 13mm sway bar bracket nut (green arrow). This will allow you to replace the bracket. Reverse removal instructions for installation. Install new stabilizer link with new self-locking nut.

Sway bar bushings:
Sway bar bushings.
Figure 8

Sway bar bushings. Working at the front sub frame, remove the two 13mm stabilizer bar bushing bracket nuts (green arrows). Left side shown, right is similar. Remove both sides.

Sway bar bushings.
Figure 9

Sway bar bushings. Pull the stabilizer bar down away from sub frame.

Sway bar bushings.
Figure 10

Sway bar bushings. Pull the stabilizer bushing bracket off.

Sway bar bushings.
Figure 11

Sway bar bushings. Then open up and peel the bushing off the stabilizer bar. Install new bushings, then reinstall stabilizer bar to vehicle

Sway bar bushings.
Figure 12

Sway bar bushings. The rear stabilizer bars are a bit different. Remove the 13mm nut, then open the bushing bracket and pull the sway bar down. Reverse removal instructions for installation. Install new bushing with new self-locking nuts.

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Page last updated: Mon 12/5/2016 02:07:31 AM