A damaged sway bar link is a serious accidental hazard and should be immediately attended to. It is extremely dangerous for the safety of the passengers, as the driver is unable to take complete control over the movement of the car.
A sway bar link is a small component that connects the front wheels to the suspension of the car engine via the sway bar. The sway bar, anti-roll bar, and the stabilizer bar are one and the same thing. They provide the car with balance and stability while it is being turned or cornered. It works to reduce the total load transfer to the outer body of the car while taking sharp turns. This helps the wheels of the car to stay on the road rather than leaving it under the action of centrifugal force, and it also and prevents the car from "rolling over" during the turn.
The sway bar is set such that it does not hamper the independence of the wheels. At the two ends of the link, bushings are sometimes present to reduce the friction and ease the control of motion transfer.
- When a car with a defective sway bar link is run through a distance, a distinct odd, clunky sound of the metal can be heard whenever even a slight bump or dip is hit. Sometimes, a faint "metal knock" may be heard when the vehicle undergoes a jerk. This may be a sign of a broken sway bar link.
- When the bushing is missing or damaged, there will be a rattling sound made by the open end of the sway bar when the car moves. All these noises are indicative of the sway bar being open at either of the ends.
- Apart from what can be heard, the driver experiences poor handling of the car while driving. When cornering or turning along the bends and corners of the road, it would seem to the driver that the car is leaning away from the turn too much. The outer side of the car experiences an outward pull, taking the inside part along with it. This would feel like losing control over the car's motion and direction during that time. This problematic handling is only suggestive of a freely rotating sway bar or a damaged sway bar link.
- The driver can notice that the car oversteers every time he tries to control the steer. It tends to spin around instead of moving in the direction as commanded. This again tells us that the sway bar might be malfunctioning due to damage in the link or its bushings.
During the manual check, the car is first raised using a car jack. The wheel is then dismantled from its position. The sway bar and the links are observable then. A check is made to locate any missing or damaged component among them.
- If no damage is visually observable, try rotating the sway bar link to and fro with your hands, and if it moves too easily, it requires to be fitted properly.
- If any part such as the bushing or any of the connecting bolts is found broken or missing, then it is necessary to be repaired or replaced in the nick of time.
- If any of the above-mentioned problems are not found, there may be a need to investigate the entire suspension system further.
If you do not have much experience with car repair in the past, it is highly recommended that you take your car to a professional mechanic who can allot proper help and guidance. This is because the seemingly small issue with the sway bar links and its bushings can lead to the development of other hazards if overlooked.