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Audi Front Sway Bar Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Audi Front Sway Bar Replacement

Peter Bodensteiner

Time:

1 hr

Tab:

$300

Talent:

***

Tools:

16 mm and 13 mm wrenches and sockets/ratchets

Applicable Models:

 
Audi A4 (1997-01)
Audi TT (2000-04)
VW Beetle (1999-02)
VW Golf (2000-02)
VW Jetta (2000-02)
VW Passat (1996-00)

Parts Required:

New sway bar with bushings and bushing brackets; replacements for self-locking nuts.

Hot Tip:

Remove the splash pan under the front of the car first.

Performance Gain:

An upgraded front sway bar

Complementary Modification:

Oil change, transmission fluid change, brake work

Sway bars are components that you typically only remove in order to upgrade to more performance-oriented parts. After all, a sway bar is just a simple metal bar that, by connecting to the suspension on both sides of one end of the car, helps keep the bar from rolling as much in turns. In other words, it is a torsion bar that provides resistance by twisting, and as such it's not really a component that wears out or needs regular maintenance.

A sway bar is designed so that if both wheels on one end of the car move up or down together, the bar simply pivots in its bushings and doesn't impart any force upon the suspension. If one side of the suspension compresses while the other extends, however, such as during a turn, the bar resists this motion. This works against the tendency of the car to roll, or sway, to the outside of the corner.

Changing the size (i.e. stiffness) of a sway bar can change the feel of a car dramatically, and they can be used to tune a car's handling to suit a particular performance application. The particulars of tuning a car with sway bar changes and adjustments are beyond the scope of this project. Suffice to say that upgrading sway bars is an extremely popular modification for almost any sporty road car given their low price, ease of installation, and the resulting improvement in driving enjoyment.

If you have already swapped out the rear sway bar, or if you are reading this project first and planning to read the rear bar project next, you'll note that these two jobs are quite similar. The front bar is a lot beefier than the rear bar, but it's actually simpler to remove.

Swapping out the front sway bar requires lifting the front of the car off the ground and removing the plastic belly pan underneath the engine. Spray the fasteners with a penetrating lubricant before you start, perhaps even the night before to give the penetrant time to work. You can remove the front wheels if you wish, but you should be able to access the necessary fasteners without doing it--you'll just have to get underneath the car a bit more. I went ahead and removed the wheels, which you will notice in the accompanying photographs.

PLEASE NOTE: This procedure will NOT work for a 2001 Audi TT base. The subframe needs to be lowered in order to remove/replace the sway bar. This is not easy to do without a lift.

This photo will familiarize you with the configuration of the front sway bar.
Figure 1

This photo will familiarize you with the configuration of the front sway bar. Holes at the very ends of the bars are used to secure the bar to links that attach to the front suspension arms. Two bushing brackets, with two fasteners each, secure the body of the bar to the car's chassis.

Here you can see how the sway bar connects to the lower control arm via a U-shaped metal link.
Figure 2

Here you can see how the sway bar connects to the lower control arm via a U-shaped metal link. This photo shows the passenger side of the car. Note that the shock absorber mounts just outboard of the sway bar link.

Here is a different view, on the driver's side and facing toward the front of the car.
Figure 3

Here is a different view, on the driver's side and facing toward the front of the car. You'll need two 16 mm wrenches to loosen the bottom fastener on the link (the one that connects directly to the sway bar. 16 mm is a bit of an odd size, and many tool sets skip over it, providing only 15 mm and 17 mm wrenches. I was lucky enough to have two sockets that worked, but it is worth checking your tool collection before you start.

Be sure to remove the bolt at each end of the bar all the way before moving on to the bushing bracket bolts.
Figure 4

Be sure to remove the bolt at each end of the bar all the way before moving on to the bushing bracket bolts.

Here you get an idea of the length of this bolt There are a lot of threads on there, so be patient as you work it all the way out.
Figure 5

Here you get an idea of the length of this bolt There are a lot of threads on there, so be patient as you work it all the way out.

The mounting brackets for the bushings are fairly beefy up front.
Figure 6

The mounting brackets for the bushings are fairly beefy up front. The fasteners are 17 mm self-locking nuts that should be replaced and not reused.

The fastener does not need to be counter-held on the other end, as these nuts thread onto studs that are fixed in place.
Figure 7

The fastener does not need to be counter-held on the other end, as these nuts thread onto studs that are fixed in place. You will need a deep socket, though, or at least a combination wrench to get the nut started.

ThisPicture should reveal some of the orientation of the various parts.
Figure 8

This picture should reveal some of the orientation of the various parts. The bar has been removed from studs at the bushing mounting points, which are visible in the upper left and in the background just above the bar. The end of the bar is in the foreground to the right, just below the lower control arm. It's easy to see how the bar, when mounted, runs across the car just in front of the front subframe and behind the engine oil pan.

This detail photo shows the unique shape of the factory sway bar mounting bushings and brackets.
Figure 9

This detail photo shows the unique shape of the factory sway bar mounting bushings and brackets. The bushing is installed with the gap oriented on top, with the bracket running underneath the bar to provide support from below. If you are swapping to a different bar, make sure that it is equipped with new bushings and bushing brackets, as these stock pieces will not fit the new application. Also apply any lubricant that comes with the new bar, particularly if non-rubber bushings are employed. This will cut down on squeaking that can occur when the bar moves as you drive. Installing your new sway bar (or reinstalling the old one) is a simple matter of retracing your steps, although it's best to save the final tightening of your fasteners until you have the car on the ground (or, better from an access standpoint, with the wheels supported by ramps or with the suspension jacked up to simulate the car's resting ride height). This will prevent the bar from preloading the suspension. Start with the bushing brackets (remember to lubricate those bushings if necessary) and tighten their bolts to 18 ft-lbs. Then connect the end links, tightening those fasteners to 30 ft-lbs in the first stage, plus an additional 90 degrees of rotation.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Sam Comments: This procedure will not work for a 2001 Audi TT base. The subframe needs to be lowered in order to remove/replace the sway bar - not too easy without a lift.
November 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional info. We appreciate it. I will have the article updated.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
ca native Comments: This procedure will not work for a 2000 vw golf. Please change it.
May 27, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the input on this one. We appreciate the help, we will update the vehicle info.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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