Introduction: Replacing the Sway Bar Linkage on a Jeep Wrangler
This how-to is for replacing the sway-bar linkage on a 2003 Jeep Wrangler TJ. If you do alot of off-roading the ball-joint connectors on your sway-bar links will eventually wear out and break. While this would help your traction on uneven terrain, it is a disaster waiting to happen if you drive your Jeep on the highways. I drove mine with broken linkage for about 200 miles before replacing them and it wasn't a good idea. At speeds greater than 40 mph I could feel the sway in the front as I was making turns or correcting. If you have broken links fix them ASAP.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Problem: Broken Sway Bar Linkage
Repair Time: 1 hour
Cost: $20 - $35 for a pair of OEM or after market links - (You can spend much more on links that have a quick disconnect option.
Tools: Ratchet set, Torx sockets, wrenches, pitman arm puller and ball-joint splitter
Prep: My Jeep is a stock height, but I do have larger 31.5" tires. I had plenty of clearance to do this work without putting the Jeep up on a jack or stands. Turn the wheel as far as you can to the left to do the passengers side link and all the way to the right to do the drivers side link.
Step 2: Locating the Sway Bar Links
The sway bar runs the length of the front bumper and drops own and turns 90 degrees to point to the rear of the vehicle. At about 8-10" back from the front bumper the sway bar terminates and there is a hole from top to bottom, this hole will take the top bolt of the link.
Step 3: Removing the Broken Links
Since this is a pretty east fix, I would recommend replacing both links, even if only one is broken.
First thing to remove is the bottom Torx bolt holding the link to the vehicle suspension. If you have a broken link this will give you more room to work when you remove the top tapered bolt. In my experience, this top bolt is the hardest to remove and will take ages if you do not have the right tools.
Once the bottom bolt is removed, remove the top nut from the tapered bolt. Here's the hard part, the tapered bolt is wedged into the sway bar pretty tightly. It will take some convincing to back out of there, this is where the Pittman arm puller comes in. Situate the puller where the screw down part is pushing down on the bolt and the bottom prongs are resting on the sway bar hole sides. Once you get in there it's pretty obvious how this should work. Stick your ratchet in the puller and start tightening, it should pop the bolt out in 3 or 4 cranks.
Repeat these steps on the other side.
Step 4: Choosing the Correct Side for the Link
You'll notice there is a slight off-set in the shaft of the link, this off-set needs to turn in when looking at the vehicle from the front. So when you are looking at the passengers side link, it will go up, then off-set to the right and then continue up and attach to the sway-bar. Then the drivers side link, it will go up, then off-set to the left and then continue up and attach to the sway-bar.
Step 5: Bolting on New Link
Once the old and/or broken link is out go ahead and attach the top portion of the new link to the sway bar. I recommend attaching the top fist since it's easier to attach the bottom. This is where the ball-joint splitter comes in, you're going to need to wedge it in between the ball joint and the bottom of the sway bar. If you don't do this, the top nut will just turn the ball joint freely and you'll never get it tightened. Tap the splitter a bit with a hammer to get a snug fit, once the bolt's taper catches, you can remove the splitter and finish tightening.
After the top nut is tightened, tighten the Torx bolt on the bottom of the link.
Repeat these steps on the other side.
Step 6: Wrap Up
After replacing my broken links I've noticed a considerable increase in handling, especially at speeds over 40 mph.
If you ever add a lift to you'r vehicle these links will need to be replaced with links with longer shafts.