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Accord Sway Bar Links

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Rachelle's Accord has recently been making an irritating popping noise while in motion. It happened when she hit bumps, accelerated, decelerated, turned, or basically anything that shifted the weight of the car around. My dad looked at it with me when we were in NJ this past week and he thought it was sway bar related. I changed the sway bar bushings hoping that was the problem because they were only a few dollars each and very easy to change. It didn't fix it.

While I was at the parts counter at the Honda dealer picking up the bushings (dealer only part), I chatted up one of the service guys who basically told me the problem was with the sway bar links, these little 6" pieces that connect the ends of the sway bar to the axles.

old noisy sway bar links

They look like a piece of cake to replace; I was grossly misinformed about that. Each end of the link is basically like a ball with a stud coming out so it can move in all directions. The problem is, since this ball can spin in the socket, it makes getting the rusted nut off very difficult. The actual Honda parts have holes in the end of the studs for a 5mm Allen wrench to keep the stud from turning as you turn the bolt.

allen wrench hole

swaybar link

I'm sure this system works well on shiny new parts, but it sucks on 5 year old rusty parts. Not only did I have to fight the rust, but the used elliptical offset locknuts, which are basically nuts that are squashed at one end so the threads aren't round but oval. This mean you have to fight to turn the nut every set of the way. It also means the nut isn't just going to loosen from vibration and fall off. The Allen keyhole stripped out after a few turns of the nut. Luckily the nut came off enough to get a hacksaw blade in behind it to cut it off.

cutting the stud

stripped allen

Oddly enough, the top of the links of each side stripped out and caused me serious grief while the bottom ones came off with no trouble at all. The driver's side I cut with a hacksaw blade because I got the top nut off a few turns. The passenger side stripped instantly, so I had to cut it off with a Dremel tool. It was a major pain in the ass trying to not cut the mounting bracket or the brake hose. Because of the orientation I ended up having all the sparks shoot at my face while cutting it off; I'm pretty sure I burned off a few eyebrows hairs. At least I didn't set my shirt on fire.

I think it's interesting that the Honda replacement links ($49 each) are much less beefy than the Moog aftermarket ones I got for half the price. The Moog ones are also grease-able, so maybe these will last longer than the originals.

old and new sway bar links

new sway bar link

This was the answer to the noise, we went for a drive after I was done and there was no noise at all. Sweet success! This was a major pain in the ass and took a long time. If I had a dealer or a shop do this job it would have cost a fortune in labor alone. It only cost me $50 in parts to do it myself.

Comments (2) Subscribe

Big Brother
#1 - Apr 23, 2009 at 8:01 PM
I think the sway bar links in my focus lasted like 3 years. Mine had little plastic balls for the joints if i remember correctly, so my guess is that i'll be doing them again in about 3 years... the car thunked really loud every time i turned right.
#2 - Apr 27, 2009 at 4:39 PM
Yeah, that sounds about right. I think they should last longer than that, but with the potholes to china around here I'm not really surprised.

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