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Sway Bar Link Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Sway Bar Link Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

1.5 hours

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets 16mm, 13mm and 16mm wrench

Applicable Models:

BMW Z4 Convertible (2003-06)
BMW Z4 Coupe (2006)

Parts Required:

sway bar links, sway bar bushings

Hot Tip:

Leave all fasteners loose until you have new parts installed

Performance Gain:

Replace faulty sway 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. Now inertia acting on the body of the car wants 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 on the suspension. The inside suspension would actually lift a small amount as a result of the load being removed from the inside suspension during the turn. This action is known as "body roll" and drivers tend not to like excessive body roll since it does not provide a taught ride. The driver would say it feels like they are "floating" around the turn.

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

In BMW Z4 models stabilizer links connects the stabilizer bar to the struts (front) or 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 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. If the clunk doesn't show up in the link, inspect the sway bar bushings. As on Z4 models, they can cause a similar noise when worn. In this article I describe how to repair sway bar link problems on both front and rear suspension of the BMW Z4M. Other Z4 models are similar.

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 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. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

Raise and support your 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 links on.

Front sway bar links: The front sway bar link (red arrow) connects the strut (blue arrow) to the sway bar (purple arrow).
Figure 1

Front sway bar links: The front sway bar link (red arrow) connects the strut (blue arrow) to the sway bar (purple arrow).

Front sway bar links: Working at the sway bar, remove the 16mm nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint end with vise grips or a 16mm wrench (blue arrow).
Figure 2

Front sway bar links: Working at the sway bar, remove the 16mm nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint end with vise grips or a 16mm wrench (blue arrow).

Front sway bar links: Next, remove the connection to the strut (purple arrow).
Figure 3

Front sway bar links: Next, remove the connection to the strut (purple arrow). Loosen the 16mm end link nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint with a 16mm wrench (blue arrow). Inset shows upper nut.

Front sway bar links: Next, remove the stabilizer link from the vehicle.
Figure 4

Front sway bar links: Next, remove the stabilizer link from the vehicle. Reverse the removal instructions for installation. Install the new stabilizer link with new self-locking nuts.

Rear sway bar links: The rear sway bar link (purple arrow) connects the rear swing arm (red arrow) to the sway bar (blue arrow).
Figure 5

Rear sway bar links: The rear sway bar link (purple arrow) connects the rear swing arm (red arrow) to the sway bar (blue arrow).

Rear sway bar links: Working at the end link behind the coil spring, loosen the 13mm end link nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint with a 13mm wrench (purple arrow).
Figure 6

Rear sway bar links: Working at the end link behind the coil spring, loosen the 13mm end link nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint with a 13mm wrench (purple arrow).

Rear sway bar links: This photo shows the end link nut with the wrenches in place.
Figure 7

Rear sway bar links: This photo shows the end link nut with the wrenches in place.

Rear sway bar links: Pull the link out of the sway bar then out of the rear swing arm to remove it, then lever the link (purple arrow) off the sway bar (red arrow).
Figure 8

Rear sway bar links: Pull the link out of the sway bar then out of the rear swing arm to remove it, then lever the link (purple arrow) off the sway bar (red arrow). Reverse the removal instructions for installation. Install the new stabilizer link with new self-locking nuts.

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 03:03:24 AM