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Sway Bar bushings


Explorer Addict
June 27, 2005
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Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 Sport 4wd- V6 Sohc
My front sway bar bushings are making the dreaded "Clunk" sound and need to be replaced.

I have a '98 Explorer with the 34mm front sway bar that is mounted to the bottom of the frame. I was able to get 3 of the bolts off that are holding the bar on, but the 4th bolt absolutely will not come off, I have tried every penetrating oil out there, my Impact hammer, Butane torch and all sorts of other tools and nothing seems to help.

I am at the point now where I am going to cut off the frozen bolt head and drill out the 10mm bolt and replace with another bolt that is capped on top of the frame with a nut.

Looking for any ideas or someone who has done this with advice as to the best way to go about this procedure.

Thanks :D

Note: I am thinking that Anti seize should be used on these 13mm bolts as they get frozen often and the sway bar bushings need to be replaced every 5yrs or so.

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Well, mine came out pretty easily, despite a lot of rust. But in a case like this, heat is the most successful solution. Butane is nowhere near hot enough. Propane isn't either. MAPP gas might do the job, and is pretty cheap if you don't have access to oxy-acetylene. (When it is hot, melt some candle wax in there ... it will wick in the threads and make it easier to get out.) Put a wrench on it and hammer on the wrench. The impact will help break it loose.

Yeah, all I have access to is Propane, I'm a shade tree mechanic. I will give the hammer & wax procedure a try, thanks for the great suggestions.

I am going to pick up some MAPP torch at the home depot tomorrow.

If the heat does not work what is the next step? I am thinking I need to drill out the old bolt.

Try switching your impact wrench to tighten, and give it
a couple pulls, then switch back to loosen. Do this after
warming it with the propane torch. Do this for about a
dozen times before giving up. Be persistant.

Also try tapping the bolt head with a hammer a few times
to loosen the rust. If you get it to loosen at all, then turn
it back and forth until it will turn out with a wrench.

If nothing works and a socket will still fit on the bolt head,
get a cheater pipe or something to multiply torque. The
worst that can happen is that the bolt will twist off, and
you were going to drill it out anyway....

The problem is that I rounded up the bolt head pretty good with my impact hammer, I even used one of those bolt out things that didn't work either.

I am going to give it the heat then if that don't work I will cut that off and drill it out.

From what I understand it is common for those bolts to get frozen in there, ford even sells a kit where you drill out the bolts and replace with a new set of bolts and nuts to hold them.

Ok here goes nothing :smoke:

If the head is rounded off too much, clamp some vice-grips on there really tight and pry or hammer on that. (If you had access to a welder, you could weld a nut on top to make another head.) Runnin' has some good tips above too.

I hate drilling out bolts, so I leave cutting off the head to the absolute last resort. But you have to know when to throw in the towel. If you can't get it to budge pretty soon, then just drill it out and get it over with. (I predict that will be harder than it sounds though.)

Good luck with it. Most of us know that rust battle well. I'm trying to remember exactly what that spot looks like, but I don't remember it looking very easy to get to the top side to do a nut/bolt solution. Consider tapping it larger and using the next size bolt.

Thanks RB142, that was some great advice and info.

Well I hit it with Mapp torch until red hot several times and no dice. To make things worse the bolt in front of it was frozen stuck also so that makes two.

These things are so frozen I think they are fused in the threads, the truck is 15yrs old with harsh New England winters.

Time for the last resort as I have to get rid of that sway bar clunking noise, Looks like I am going to have to drill this bad boy and his brother out.

I had heard that ford makes a replacement nut and bolt kit for just such a thing, the kit comes with special nuts, can't remember the name. It was like $34 from the ford dealer.

Anyway not excited about getting on my back and drilling this out!

If anyone has any info on the best way to do this or the kit above I would be very greatful :thumbsup:

When it comes to drilling out bolts, I don't think there is much to say to make it any better. It is what it is. The most important thing is to start the first hole as absolutely close to dead on center that you possibly can. Take your time with that initial small hole and get it as close to center as possible. From there, it is just work. Keep your bits sharp. Safety glasses.

You can try to save the threads and clean them up with a tap. If (when) that doesn't work, you can either go up to the next thread size and tap it with that, or put in a thread insert, or put in a bolt and nut. I am not familiar with the kit you mentioned. Looking at the mounts on my Ranger, it is not possible to get to the top side to put a nut on it ... so your must be different in that respect. If that kit is just nuts and bolts, you can do the same thing at your local parts store for less money. Maybe there is something else in the kit.

Excellent advice it sounds like you have done this a few times :D

I will take your advice and thanks very much brother, I have to cut into the bosed frame with a 1" hole saw to make the holes for the top nuts, I believe the frames on the X and ranger are identical. Otherwise you would have to re- thread if you didnt cut the frame for top nut access.

Definately a dirty job that I am not looking forward to, all that work for a set of $12 bushing, but that clunk noise is very annoying.

After you get all that work done, you should seriously consider adding some never-sieze to the new bolts so that you don't have to do this again. :) Interesting bit with the 1" hole saw part. I was wondering how that was supposed to work. Drilling those doesn't sound like any more fun than drilling out the bolts.

Back to the bolts. You might consider cutting the heads off first (otherwise they will come off when you have drilled big enough), just to get some of it out of the way. You only need to drill deep enough to be through the frame. When you have most of it drilled out, put a punch in there and you may be able to drive the rest out (up). That might save at least a little drilling. If it's too rusty, you just keep drilling. Might be worth grabbing some cobalt bits. Slow speed on the drill (fast just burns up bits). A bit of lube will help the bit last longer.

Good luck. (It won't take that long -- it'll just seem like it.)