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Rear Sway Bar Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Rear Sway Bar Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

1.5 hours

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets 13mm, 16mm, 15 or 16mm wrench, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-11)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-11)

Parts Required:

Sway bar, sway bar bushings

Hot Tip:

Leave all fasteners loose until you have new parts installed

Performance Gain:

Replace faulty sway bar or bushings

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". As you can imagine, drivers tend not to like excessive body roll since it does not provide a taut 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 MINI R56 models stabilizer links connect the stabilizer bar to the struts (front) or suspension arms (rear). The connecting links and bushings 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 R56 models, they can cause a similar noise when worn. In this article I describe how to replace the sway bar and bushings on the rear suspension of the MINI R56.

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 your vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking your vehicle.

The rear sway bar (red arrow) connects the rear swing arm (green arrow) to the body.
Figure 1

The rear sway bar (red arrow) connects the rear swing arm (green arrow) to the body.

Working at the sway bar, loosen the 16mm end link nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint with a 16mm or 18mm wrench or vise grips.
Figure 2

Working at the sway bar, loosen the 16mm end link nut (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint with a 16mm or 18mm wrench or vise grips.

Remove the exhaust system.
Figure 3

Remove the exhaust system. See our tech article on exhaust system removing. Working at the muffler heat shield, remove the five 10mm fasteners (red arrows).

Next, remove the heat shield (red arrow) from the vehicle.
Figure 4

Next, remove the heat shield (red arrow) from the vehicle.

Next, remove the rear strut.
Figure 5

Next, remove the rear strut. Start by removing the lower 18mm bolt (red arrow). Then detach the cables from the strut (blue arrow). Remove the two upper 13mm strut fasteners (green arrows). Then remove the strut from the vehicle (yellow arrow). For detailed instruction, see our tech article on rear strut replacing.

Support the rear subframe using a jack (yellow arrow).
Figure 6

Support the rear subframe using a jack (yellow arrow). Then remove the four 16mm subframe fasteners (green arrows). Only three fasteners are visible in the photo; see the following photo.

This photo shows the rear subframe fasteners on the left side (green arrows).
Figure 7

This photo shows the rear subframe fasteners on the left side (green arrows). The right side is in the same location. Be sure that the subframe is supported (red arrow).

Lower the subframe about three inches (green arrows).
Figure 8

Lower the subframe about three inches (green arrows).

Remove the two sway bar bushing fasteners (green arrows).
Figure 9

Remove the two sway bar bushing fasteners (green arrows). The left side is shown. Repeat this step for the right side.

Remove the sway bar bushing bracket (red arrow).
Figure 10

Remove the sway bar bushing bracket (red arrow). Then remove and replace the sway bar bushing (green arrow). If you're just replacing the bushing, reverse the steps to reassemble the rear sway bar/suspension system.

To replace the sway bar, lift the sway bar up and remove it through the gap between the subframe and body (green arrow).
Figure 11

To replace the sway bar, lift the sway bar up and remove it through the gap between the subframe and body (green arrow). Reverse the steps to reassemble the rear sway bar/suspension system.


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