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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing the Stabilizer Bar

Mike Holloway

Time:

30 minutes30 mins

Tab:

$161.00-$300

Talent:

*

Tools:

13mm Socket, 6 Inch Extension, floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz R107 (1972-80)

Parts Required:

Sway bar

Hot Tip:

Be safe whenever you work under your car

Performance Gain:

Better handing and smoother ride, eliminate clicking noise when changing directions or going over bumps

Complementary Modification:

Change over to polyurethane bushings for a tighter ride

If you are starting to hear a knock sound when you go around a corner there is a good chance your sway bar bushings are starting to go bad, or worse: your stabilizer bar (also known as your sway bar) is broken. The bushings get a lot of wear and tear and can see a lot of oil from the engine as the car ages. They do wear out and should be checked every 30,000 miles. If you are going to be replacing the bushings it is a good idea to completely drop the bar and clean and paint it while you are performing the work.

The stabilizer bars are also known as sway bars, anti-roll bars or some folks call them torsion bars. Many consider torsion bars to act like a spring on each wheel. They are used on some vehicles instead of a coil spring or a leaf spring. They set the vehicle ride height by spring loading each wheel. The torsion bars support the weight of the vehicle like the coil spring on a coil-over. Sway bars don't support the weight but instead are a connecting link between the two sides of the suspension on a vehicle. As the left side compresses the sway bar will try to compress the right side at the same time. You can have no anti roll bar or you can have one per axle (sports cars have one at the front, and one at the rear). They resist the left and right sides being at different heights so that as the vehicle corners, it does not tip. For example, if you are turning left, your right wheels want to compress, and your left wheels want to lift, which causes the car to roll. The sway bar or anti-roll bar greatly limits this action causing the car to not roll during cornering, improving handling, which you want in a sports car, or a truck or SUV. In a real off road vehicle, these vehicles typically don't have sway bars. Crawling over obstacles, the wheels will need to move to different ride heights without such interference. The sway bar connects the two struts of opposite sides of the wheels together creating firm steering. As you enter a turn the steering on the car moves the suspension into the turn. Inertia wants to propel the body of the car to continue along the straight path. This inertia coupled with centrifugal force throws the weight of the car towards the outside of the turn. This compresses the outside suspension with more weight on it and extends the suspension on the inside of the turn with less weight on it. This is known as body roll, and most drivers don't like it. The feeling for the driver is one of floating through a turn and not properly feeling the road. The role of the sway bar is to transfer the suspension compression on the outside to the suspension on the inside of the turn. Now a sway bar is made of metal and does flex so not all of the suspension compression is transferred to the inside wheels. The sway bar does have its limits. Generally, a small sway bar will allow for more body roll and a larger sway bar will allow for less body roll. When sway bar bushings go bad they let the sway bar move around too much to be effective. The bushing may also squeak as you drive over bumps. In this tech article we will go over the steps to replace your sway bar.

Remember that your car may have been serviced before and had parts 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.

Note: All hardware used on the suspension components is single use only. You must replace any hardware you remove with new hardware. The factory bushings are rubber, and you should not use any lubricant on them whatsoever. Lubricants, including Vaseline will cause the rubber to break down prematurely.

Before you do any work on your car it is important that you wear safety glasses and work gloves. If you have to jack up your car, make sure to use jack stands and chock your wheels as well as applying the parking brake. Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability. Always disconnect the battery before working on your car.

Lift and support the front axle of the vehicle.
Figure 1

Lift and support the front axle of the vehicle. Place a jack stand under the lower control arm. You have to remove the tires to perform this job, which makes access much easier since you may not have the use of an automotive lift. See our tech article on jacking and supporting your vehicle and removing the front tires. 

I placed a jack stand under the chassis as well.
Figure 2

I placed a jack stand under the chassis as well. The procedure to replace the front sway bar bushings is the same for both the left and right sides. These pictures are of the passenger side of the vehicle. It is recommended you replace both sides at the same time to keep your handling neutral. Placing a jack stand under the chassis provides additional safety.

Here is a photo of the sway bar.
Figure 3

Here is a photo of the sway bar.

The two 13mm bolts that hold the sway bar in place are located behind the bumper.
Figure 4

The two 13mm bolts that hold the sway bar in place are located behind the bumper. You do not have to remove the bumper or radiator.

Using a 13mm socket with a six-inch extension loosen and remove the two bolts holding the bushing in place.
Figure 5

Using a 13mm socket with a six-inch extension loosen and remove the two bolts holding the bushing in place.

After the bolts are removed, the holding clamp can be removed.
Figure 6

After the bolts are removed, the holding clamp can be removed.

The bushing can now be slid off and replaced.
Figure 7

The bushing can now be slid off and replaced.

Repeat the same for the other side.
Figure 8

Repeat the same for the other side. The stabilizer bar is now free. Installation of the new sway bar is the reverse of removal.

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Page last updated: Wed 12/7/2016 03:06:40 AM