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Replacing Front Sway Bar and Bushings
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Front Sway Bar and Bushings

Steve Vernon

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$5 to $350

Talent:

**

Tools:

13mm socket, 13mm wrench

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz W124 (1986-95)

Parts Required:

New stabilizer or sway bar bushings

Hot Tip:

Clean and paint the bar

Performance Gain:

Better handling

Complementary Modification:

Install performance struts and springs

If you are starting to hear a knock sound when you go around a corner there is a good chance your sway or stabilizer bar bushings are starting to go bad. These bushing 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. Note: All hardware used on the suspension components is single use only. You must replace any hardware you remove with new. 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.

You will need to jack up the car and remove the front wheels to perform this job. Please see our article on safely jacking up and supporting your vehicle.

The front sway arm connects the two lower control arms together by a bracket on the chassis to help prevent body roll.
Figure 1

The front sway arm connects the two lower control arms together by a bracket on the chassis to help prevent body roll. This photo illustrates where the bar connects to the lower control arms (red arrows) and the chassis bracket (yellow arrows).

The lower control arm bracket is welded to the arm.
Figure 2

The lower control arm bracket is welded to the arm. There are two 13mm single use nuts on the studs. Use a 13mm socket and remove the nuts (red arrows). The studs will remain on the arms.

The sway bar bracket will be under a little tension from the weight of the suspension but is not under load and can be safely removed.
Figure 3

The sway bar bracket will be under a little tension from the weight of the suspension but is not under load and can be safely removed. Check the condition of the brackets for any damage. This bracket has had a fair amount of rubbing and is in need of a good cleaning and another coat of paint (red arrow).

The bushing to body bracket can be removed by using two 13mm sockets or a socket and wrench.
Figure 4

The bushing to body bracket can be removed by using two 13mm sockets or a socket and wrench. The 13mm stud on the back of the bracket (red arrows) needs to be supported by another wrench while you remove the nuts.

With the bushing bracket removed the sway bar will sit in the chassis bracket.
Figure 5

With the bushing bracket removed the sway bar will sit in the chassis bracket. Unless there has been damage to the bracket (yellow arrow) this can stay on the chassis. If you need to remove it is a 15mm bolt.

Remove the sway bar and inspect it for any cracks, damage or rust.
Figure 6

Remove the sway bar and inspect it for any cracks, damage or rust. This is a good time to give the bar a good cleaning and a couple coats of new paint.

Inspect the bushings.
Figure 7

Inspect the bushings. They should be clean, circular and not have any tears or rips in them (red arrow). The bushings should be a snug fit on the bar, but the bar should be able to rotate in them once installed.

The ends of the bars often wear down to the metal.
Figure 8

The ends of the bars often wear down to the metal. Clean the bar and give it a couple coats of new paint. Light surface rust can be cleaned off but any deep rust will result in the weakening of the bar and necessitate replacement. Installation is the reverse of removal.





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Comments and Suggestions:
kelley312c1 Comments: Where might I find the hardware that needs to be replaced? The article says that all hardware is single-use and must be replaced, but I don't see where I can find the hardware! I have a 1987 mercedes 300d. Thank you!
January 5, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I’m not the best with part numbers.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
sageWexford Comments: Just finished this job after about 4 hours, but the sway bar's ends do become loaded when you go to put the last bracket cap on the studs at the control arm end. Had to use a big plumbers pliers to get the bar and bracket to meet the bolts through the bracket holes. The Mercedes bolts and screws on the four mounting points are all self-tapping, so I am hopeful that the new bolts and nuts I bought from Pelican will not work loose over time. Put some gasket silicone on the exposed threads of the new bolts after tightening them just to make sure. A 13mm nylon insert nut would have been better, but did not realize how secure the Mercedes fasteners were or their design. Sprayed all of the nuts and bolts with penetrating oil an hour before game time. Replaced all of the brackets on my 1989 300E, did not paint the bar as there was no rust and it was in great shape. This is a very heavy duty stabilizer bar, so you may need help getting it back in place after sliding the new rubber bushings on. Only one busted finger on a stud on first attempt. Used a little silicone spray to get past the big thick bend in the bar for the larger, inner bushings. Inner bushings are not split so it is a muscle and lube job to get them in place. Replaced the vertical brackets also and the bolt was actually 17mm, and had been secured with Lok-Tight so took some muscle to loosen. Put blue goo on it to re-install also. Tires must be off since the outer points of the bar are under some tension when the brackets are loosened. Leave all of the bolts about half tightened to put that last end bracket on, gives you more play. But a heavy, finger busting sucker of a sway bar, more the size of a truck's bar, at one point must be at least 26mm or 28mm. Great Pelican website. Old bushings were toast after 26 years, who knew!
March 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for sharing your installation process and experience. These type of comments add so much to the Pelican tech community.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
sageWexford Comments: The replacement inner bushings are not slit for sliding on the bar. Can one get around the thick looking first curve on the bar by sliding the new bushing on the dismounted sway bar?? Use hot soapy water as lubricant?
March 11, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Soapy water is your best bet. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
sageWexford Comments: Whiteline performance stabilizer bars have instructions that say the vehicle should be a normal road height on its tires. Is it wise to tighten the inner bushing brackets, left and right, only when the vehicle is back on its tires? Synthetic marine grease is often recommended for lubing the bushing to bar inner race; you guys are totally against this? Thanks. Ready to get dirt and grime in my face.
March 3, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Mercedes-Benz recommends lubricating the bushings with naphthalene H.

Mercedes-Benz does not mention tightening the fasteners with the suspension loaded. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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