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How to: Replace Sway Bar bushings (frame only)

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by NHarris, December 12, 2010.

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    1. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      I know most probably know how to do this, but for the sake of those that are not as mechanically inclined as others, hopefully this will help.

      So I got tired of my squeaking front end. It was getting too noisy and sounding horrible. So I went down to NAPA auto parts to get some replacements. They cost $20.00 for the 2. I have yet to test em out, but I packed these full of grease everywhere I could. So here's the pics

      3/8" Drive, 15mm deep socket, 15mm shallow socket, a shorter extension; 1/2" drive ratchet, 15mm socket

      MAKE SURE to measure the swaybar diameter by either; using a micrometer or using the adjustable wrench (which I used). Just have to tighten the wrench to the sway bar diameter, then back it off very slightly (just enough to get it off). Then measure the distance between the two "prongs". If you have to convert from inches to millimeters, should be about 1" 4/18 if you have the 31mm swaybar.
      If you used another method to measure your sway bar; post up that method.

      I should've snapped a few more pics, but I didn't want to ruin my camera when my hands had grease all over em.
      All captions for the pics are ABOVE the pictures

      First, locate the swaybar bushing, find the 2 15mm bolts, one on the front, one on of back, this pic shows the one on the back.
      [​IMG]

      Start to loosen these bolts. You will find a 15mm deep socket will work at first, but then you will need to switch off to the shallow socket.
      [​IMG]

      When both are taken off, the bracket will still stick to the bushing. It will take some slight force to take it off. After that is taken off this is what you will see...
      [​IMG]

      Slide this to the left and then where it splits, lift on both sides of the split and remove it.
      [​IMG]

      Now compare the two bushings, make sure you have the same diameter hole. I had the 31mm sway bar. If you have too big of a diameter even by a few millimeters you'll get a clunking noise
      [​IMG]

      I greased everything under the sun on these parts. From the bracket to the bushing. I don't ever want to hear this thing squeak again! :D
      [​IMG]

      To reinstall, just take the new bushing, you'll have to get dirty here to get it back on, but put your hands inside of the bushing and lift (pushing towards the spilt) and then push in onto the sway bar in a similar loaction, then slide back to the location its supposed to be at.
      [​IMG]

      Then reinstall the bracket and as you can see I have grease all over the bushing. Repeat for the passenger side.
      [​IMG]

      Why I say use a 1/2" drive ratchet on this write-up, is the passenger side is very difficult to re-install. There is little room and not much leverage to tighten it up. Some advice: turn your wheels all the way to the left, and use the larger 1/2" ratchet to tighten it up.

      Torque THE BOLTS to 52 Ft-Lbs

      Questions, comments, are all welcomed. If I forgot to mention anything on this, let me know.
      I will report back on how well this works out and if my squeaky front end is gone. Lets hope it is.
       
      Last edited: December 14, 2010
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    3. sheltonfilms

      sheltonfilms Active Member

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      Great write up! The funny thing is my Ranger's bushings are starting to squeak now. Gonna do this sometime this week. I'm probably gonna try to get the energy suspension bushings with the grease fittings pre-installed.
       
    4. BigRondo

      BigRondo USMC 1371 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Great write up Nate! :thumbsup::thumbsup:

      How did you measure the sway bar? :dunno:
       
    5. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      Sorry all, I left one detail out; the torque spec for it...now added. :thumbsup:
       
    6. BigRondo

      BigRondo USMC 1371 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    7. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      haha, didn't see that.
      To measure it there are a few ways of going about it....
      A micrometer, I don't need to do much explaining with that.
      An adjustable wrench (which I used). Just have to tighten the wrench to the sway bar diameter, then back it off very slightly (just enough to get it off). Then measure the distance between the two "prongs". If you have to convert from inches to millimeters, should be about 1" 4/18 if you have the 31mm swaybar
       
    8. Cobra Jet

      Cobra Jet Member

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      When I do this, I plan on using Marine grade grease, as it will not deteriorate as easily as standard grease, especially since in our region we experience the 4-Seasons and usually winter (snow) and fall/spring/summer (rain) can wash away any grease, especially if the truck is used daily.

      I've used Marine grade grease on my Mustangs suspension bushings, etc. (as well as using it on other prior vehicles) w/ great success and it's never dissipated or deteriorated like standard grease can over time.

      Nice write up as well - this should be a new sticky thread, since it's another common Explorer "failure" that needs a fix...
       
    9. swshawaii

      swshawaii Well-Known Member

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    10. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      UPDATE: so far so good. No squeaky front end. Worth the 20 bucks.
      Posted via Mobile Device
       
    11. jakedrew

      jakedrew Active Member

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      thanks for the write up.
       
    12. BigRondo

      BigRondo USMC 1371 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Thanks Nate. The adjustable wrench is a great idea. :thumbsup::thumbsup:
       
    13. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      Yeah, I'll admit though, I did google how to measure sway bar diameter and that was one of the methods that came up
       
    14. BigRondo

      BigRondo USMC 1371 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Oh Nate, you just dropped 3 points in the ingenuity department. But you did google to find out how and I didn't think of that so I guess you only loose 2 points. :p:
       
    15. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      I didn't know what size the sway bar was...so I needed to find out :p:

      Google is the best and worst automotive handbook
       
    16. BigRondo

      BigRondo USMC 1371 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      You got that right!
       
    17. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      I still find my repair manual the best $20.00 spent...helped me find the torque specs for this.

      I hope this will get stickied for future reference...'Cause I didn't know anything about doing this until I finished.. :D

      EDIT: and still no squeaky front end :) I think a lot of it had to do with how dry the last bushings were.
       
      Last edited: December 14, 2010
    18. jmacattack

      jmacattack New Member

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      How do you know if it is the sway bar bushings that are squeeking?

      Can you describe the type of noise you're hearing? I have some squeeking, and not sure if it is this or possibly the ball joints.
       
    19. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      If you hear squeaking going over bumps and dips spray some WD 40 in the bushings. If the squeaking stops and comes back a while later then its the bushings.
       
    20. jmacattack

      jmacattack New Member

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      Okay, this doesn't sound like the issue I'm having. I'm having squealing when making a hard right turn at low speeds, such as when turning into a parking space. Hopefully replacing the ball joints will solve it.

      Thanks for the quick response.
       
    21. NHarris

      NHarris Well-Known Member

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      I think the squeaky bushings are coming back!!! :( Is there anything I can do to stop it from squeaking
       
    22. miker104

      miker104 Active Member

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      Tried this last weekend. First bolt came out protesting every turn (blue thread lock on it). Second bolt came out 3/8" and then I could not move it in or out. If I used the 24" power bar the bolt would "jump" like the captive nut was rotating!

      Left it on jack stands for a few days. Tried a propane torch to heat the bolt and then screwed the bolt back in. A bit more heat and it eventually came out.

      Installed the new greasable bushing on the one side. Wife needs vehicle this week so will tackle the other side later.

      I did find out that my grease gun won't fit on the fitting as installed as the clearance between the fitting and lower control arm is too close. Guess I'll have to buy a flexible adapter/hose to get the grease gun on there.

      Will do the other side later in the year when it warms up and don't need to have two vehicles available.

      Thanks for the tips.

      I used this kit from Advance Auto:

      http://shop.advanceautoparts.com/we...y-Suspension_16360000-P_N3435C_P|GRP60035____
       
    23. eric22

      eric22 New Member

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      I just did this today as well as the sway bar stabilizer but I didnt grease it ): noise is still there wish I would have joined this site before doing repairs lol
       
    24. Sean215

      Sean215 New Member

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      Another great writeup I've found on this site. Thanks for taking the time to post it as it saved me alot of time and money.

      I used a different method for figuring out my swaybar diameter. It's not an exact measurement but it is close enough to distinguish between 30, 31 or 32 mm swaybar.

      First, I measured the circumference (C) with a piece of string and marked the string w/ a Sharpie. I measured the distance between the two Sharpie marks on the string in inches and converted it to mm using a conversion chart I found here, http://mdmetric.com/tech/cvtcht.htm. Then using the old formula for a circumference of a circle, C=2 pi r, solve for 2r since the diameter is twice the radius. So basically, whatever the distance you measure w/ the string is just divided by pi or 3.14 and that will give you your swaybar diameter.
       
    25. miker104

      miker104 Active Member

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      So it finally stopped raining (probably won't rain again till October!) and I tackled the other side this weekend.

      If I had to do it again and without access to a lift, here is how I would do it:

      Loosen front lug nuts (both sides) before jacking vehicle.
      Parking brake on, chock rear wheels, Jack front and put on stands (make sure tires are off ground) and jack stands not on control arms (use front crossmember)
      Remove front wheels (much better clearance without a lift)
      Use propane torch to heat bolts. You can access one of the bolts from a hole in the frame on the outboard side.
      Use 15mm socket/ratchet to remove bolts. Do one side at a time!
      Remove bracket/bushing and clean swaybar.
      Grease inside of bushing and install on swaybar. Install bracket and bolts. May need to move swaybar with prybar to get the bolts to install. Torque bolts to 52 ftlbs.
      Install wheels, remove from jacks, tighten lug nuts.

      I got the greasable ones from Advance Auto, will grease when doing oil changes.

      Squeak free!!!
       
    26. SyberTiger

      SyberTiger Active Member

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      I'm long overdue to change mine out. I'm getting tired of squirting WD40 on them every oil change to hush them up. They only stay quiet for about 2000 miles...well ahead of the next oil change. I'm looking at the bushings that have the grease zerk. That way I'll just shoot them up with Lithium grease every oil change. I take it that the Energy Suspension Polyurethane Sway Bar Bushings; for 1-1/4" Diameter Bar were used because your sway bar is 31mm. I was looking at the Energy Suspension website that showed them to be 31.5mm. I assume that extra 0.5mm still makes these workable for a 31mm sway bar? BTW, does it make more sense to torque the bolts when you have the weight of the vehicle on the sway bar?

      [​IMG]
       

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