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How to: Replace your sway bar / stabilizer bar bushings and end links

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by Joe Dirt, July 12, 2010.


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    1. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Explorer Addict

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      Have a gen 2? Have that annoying clunk in the front when you go over small potholes, manhole covers, and cracks? Replaced everything else and haven't done these yet? Your sway bar bushings are shot.

      Here we go...

      Jack up your vehicle, place jackstands under the vehicle, and grab your tools. Ratchets, extensions, sockets, maybe a breaker bar, hacksaw if you live up north, and some grease.

      First you will see these, your end links. Remove the bolt from the bottom on both sides. I used a socket on both sides. It is a pass-thru bolt, so you'll be holding it against itself only. I was replacing them, so I wasn't worried about bending it or anything.


      [​IMG]

      Just leave it loose.

      Now move over to your sway bar bushings... I think it is actually a 16mm bolt, but the 5/8 fit better for me.

      [​IMG]


      Remove both

      [​IMG]

      EDIT: I just replaced the bushings on my 2000, and they have horizontal mounts, as seen below. I had 13mm bolts in mine...
      The rest of the writeup is exactly the same.

      [​IMG]


      now back to our writeup...

      Remove both and let the bar hang. Then maneuver the end links from the mounts and twist the bar down and off the truck- like so:

      [​IMG]

      Now, if you're curious where those clunks and bangs are coming from, here is the space on a new, uncompressed MOOG bushing:

      [​IMG]

      Here is the space on the old stock bushing:

      [​IMG]

      That's a lot of open space...

      ...which allows the bar to bang around, resulting in this:

      [​IMG]

      That black / shiny notch is worn down metal from the bar banging around against the mount- and your offending noise while crossing railroad tracks and Michigan potholes. (Larger Michigan potholes will snap your end links...)

      Okay- to remove the endlinks if you're not from down south or lucky- if lucky, they will slide apart. If not lucky, i.e. ME, you get to cut them off- easiest way. The bolt corrodes, and will not slide through the housing, so cut it as close to the bottom as you like. Cut through the housing, it's just plastic.

      [​IMG]

      For reference, it only took me about 20 seconds on each side to cut through. After that, they fall apart and out of the bar. I cut the second one 3/4 through and just hit it with a hammer and it snapped off and out.

      Like this:

      [​IMG]

      Now onto the new sway bar bushings.

      I put some grease on both sides of the bushing. I also used some steel wool to clean out the inside of the mount. If your bushings are worn, you may have some residual bushing stuck to it. Chip it off with a screwdriver and steel wool it smooth for posterity. :D

      put the bushing around the bar, then put the mount over the bushing.

      [​IMG]

      Now go back under the car, lift up the sway bar up from the center, and use your other free hand to put one of the mounting bolts through the sway bar bushing mount and into the cross member. Start the bolt. Do the same with the other side.

      [​IMG]

      Once there, (make sure you have proper orientation of the bar...) tighten the bolts a few threads, but not tight so you can have slack to maneuver the end links in if needed.

      Grab your end new end links. Bam!

      [​IMG]

      Carefully take them apart, and set the parts in order of how they came off if you'll forget it in 15 seconds.

      Place the bolt and the top washer and then bushing through the top of the sway bar. Then the bottom upper bushing and washer, then the spacer housing... like this...

      [​IMG]

      ...then the top lower washer and bushing. Pass the bolt through the lower control arm and finish with the lower bottom bushing, washer, and the nut. There should be runner bushings contacting each side of the sway bar, and each side of the control arm. Hand tighten the nut. DO NOT TIGHTEN.

      ***Important- make sure the bolt passes down from the top to the bottom, and the nut on the bottom. Don't put it in upside down... That way if the nut comes loose, you won't have a bolt bouncing around under there and into something.

      Repeat for other side...

      Now move back to the sway bar bushings. Straighten them if needed, and tighten to somewhere between 65-90 lb. ft... Repeat for other side.

      [​IMG]

      After your sway bar bushing brackets are tight, and the end links are still loose, LOWER THE VEHICLE. The end links need to be tightened with pressure on the bar.

      Tighten them to between 10-13 lb. ft. they are not a tight fastener.

      You can see how much my bushings squished- but all bushings are different, so I used a torque wrench. Repeat for other side.

      [​IMG]

      We're done!

      [​IMG]


      Hope this helps! :thumbsup:
       
      Last edited: June 26, 2011
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    3. hlg99

      hlg99 Active Member

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      Did you get your socket off the top of the bolt? (2nd to last pic) I wish my truck was that clean!
       
    4. 97xlt4.0

      97xlt4.0 Soon to be exploring agai Elite Explorer

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      great write-up! I think I will be doing this task on my '97 this weekend...
       
    5. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Explorer Addict

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      lol! Yeah, I quick snapped the pic after I finished tightening it up. Otherwise, I get up, then don't feel like crawling under again. :D

      It's really not a bad job- start to finish for everything moving at a leisurely pace, probably about an hour, hour and a half tops unless you run into some issue.
       
    6. joe doe

      joe doe Active Member

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    7. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Explorer Addict

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      Not sure- I just picked up (2) sets of links from Advance. I wasn't going to get the center housing loose anyway, and I didn't want poly isolators- no forgiveness.
       
    8. joe doe

      joe doe Active Member

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      well i bought some moog bushings not long ago (less than 5 months i,d say)and they are toast .couple of em deteriorated,one jumped right over the stop washer ,ect,ect.....they look horrible.my bad luck i guess.

      now wheres that receipt??lol
       
    9. J_C

      J_C Well-Known Member

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      Measure the OD (outer diameter) of your link bolt, you want the bushing kit(s) with the same bushing ID as the bolt OD.

      Be sure to get all the rust off the bolt, when I replaced mine it was due to the bolt itself breaking from rust-through, you might inspect those bolts to see if it's time to replace them too and get a more accurate measurement, then order the whole kit to avoid doing the job again sooner. Besides that I took a grinder to the other bolt, it just wasn't coming off thanks to extreme rust on it too so it was a good thing I bought two "kits" while at AZ, for some reason my local AZ didn't sell them in a kit of two for the left and right side like on the website, I had to buy two of the same kit to do both sides.

      I put the rubber bushings that come with the AZ link kit on mine, but if I had to do it over again I'd go with polyurethane as subjectively I don't find poly bushings too harsh on a truck... when it has high(er) profile tires compared to cars providing a bit more give.
       
    10. 2000StreetRod

      2000StreetRod Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Thanks!

      Thank you for posting a very nice writeup with plenty of photos! I have endured the front end clunk when easing out of my driveway ever since purchasing my Sport. You have motivated me to correct the problem.
       
    11. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Explorer Addict

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      No problem... It's funny how after doing a few repairs, anytime I seem to fix something, my camera is always with me now. lol!

      Seriously though, for a major part on the Ex, both the Sway bar bushings and the end links are incredibly simple to do. :thumbsup:
       
    12. ThePhoenix

      ThePhoenix Guest

      great write up

      I too, feel like documenting everything...from buildiing a TV stand to making an omlet
       
    13. usnthem

      usnthem New Member

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      Great post!
      Just did the exact same job on my 2002 XLT. For me, it was a 5 hour job. The Moog bushings hardly gave any give. And find NEW sway bar bushing bolts was a pain. I had to go to two different auto stores.
      But it's all done and all is quite under the vehicle.
       
    14. vroomzoomboom

      vroomzoomboom Elite Canuck STOCK SUCKS! Elite Explorer

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      nice write up joe. i just did a set in evil before i went to PA. it sounded like the front end was going to fall out from underneath the truck. figured it was the front shocks, while i was replacing them, i just happened to look at the sway bar bushings and saw daylight between the bushing and bar!
      on a different note, i wounder if there is a difference between 5L and 4L suspensions, or years. shamrocks bushings are on the (or what looks like) the motor cross member, where evils is on the frame. also for anyone that wants to do this, you might need the diameter of the sway bar, there is 3 different sizes.
       
    15. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Explorer Addict

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      Interesting point, becasue we had discussions in another thread where the sway bar mount was horizintal to the ground- is that how yours were?
       
    16. vroomzoomboom

      vroomzoomboom Elite Canuck STOCK SUCKS! Elite Explorer

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      yup, this is what it looks like


      [​IMG]
       
      Last edited: July 19, 2010
    17. my pos mounty

      my pos mounty Well-Known Member

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      My 99 Mounty (5.0) is set up like "Evil" - not "Shamrock"
       
    18. Joe Dirt

      Joe Dirt Explorer Addict

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      Ok, it sounds like it was a year thing... I was thinking after you said that Evil was like that with a 4.0L that it may have been an engine thing...
       
    19. GRNMACHINE

      GRNMACHINE Elite Explorer

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      Another Great Write Up Joe D!!

      Re: swaybar locations, that is wild. I never noticed they were different on other Ex's before. I have the first 2nd gen (95) Sport with only avail engine at the time: 4.0 OHV. My swaybar setup is exactly like Shamrock's.

      On a side note, wonder if the Explorer Express swaybar upgrade is worthwhile.
       
    20. vroomzoomboom

      vroomzoomboom Elite Canuck STOCK SUCKS! Elite Explorer

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      must be a year thing. i have a 96 xl with a 4L OHV that is in my back yard that i am selling, and the sway bar is like shamrocks.
       
    21. Dan Whitaker

      Dan Whitaker One fast putty tat Elite Explorer

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      I've heard/read it makes quite a difference. I beleive that 1995-1997 used a tubular sway bar and 1998 & up used a solid sway bar.

      However for what Explorer Express wants for one I'll pass.
       
    22. Michigan

      Michigan New Member

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      Thanks very much for the posting with pictures detailing the process. I just replaced a broken link and it was an easy job thanks to the info in your posting.
       
    23. GRNMACHINE

      GRNMACHINE Elite Explorer

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      Gonna have to agree with you there Dan! Too pricey for me as well.
       
    24. Mud Puppy

      Mud Puppy New Member

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      Does anyone know if the solid sway bar from a 98-00 Ex will fit in place of the tubular one on a 95-97 model?
       
    25. Vallan

      Vallan New Member

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      Great write up!! Just finished mine. Someone had posted about having one side not having enough threads on the bolt to start the bottom nut. I had the same problem on my passenger side (driver side has the lean from drivers weight, fuel tank weight, etc.) I'd read others suggest jacking up control arm, etc. Easiest way to close the gap between control arm and top of sway bar is to drive up on a couple stacked 2 x 4's on the wheel you need the room on and you've got all you need to start the nut. Just drive back off wood blocks before final tightening.
       
    26. wmorrisw

      wmorrisw New Member

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      rear sway bar

      Do you have a thread on how to change the rear sway bar bushings on a 1998 explorer?
       

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