A stabilizer bar is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a metal bar that helps to stabilize your car. It plays a significant role in handling, particularly around sharp turns. The bar’s job is pretty simple. It is designed to redistribute the weight of the vehicle to help prevent rollovers, and to enhance handling.
Your car’s stabilizer bar is in use every time you take to the street, but it’s put under immense stress when you go around a curve, particularly if you’re traveling fast, or if the curve is particularly sharp. Some of that is alleviated by stabilizer bar bushings. You’ll find these at the ends of the bar, and they’re used for a number of different things. They help attach the bar to the underside of your car, for one. They also help to provide a little flexibility, and they can reduce noise as well.
Sway bar bushings are pretty simple in terms of design and construction. They’re really not much more than rubber dampers, and therein lies their weakness. The underside of your car is exposed to high heat, freezing temperatures, road salt, water, rocks and a lot more. Over time, this will degrade the rubber bushings, causing them to shrink and crack. Eventually, they can’t do their job and you lose some of the benefits of your sway bar (stabilizer bar). You’ll also notice increased road noise.
Driving with damaged or degraded stabilizer bar bushings can be somewhat dangerous, as it can prevent your stabilizer bar from doing its job properly. You may lose some elements of control when cornering, and you’ll definitely notice additional noise. Here are a few signs to watch for can help you catch it before it becomes a real problem:
- Increased road noise from the front of the vehicle
- Squeaking or grinding from the front, particularly when going over a bump
- A feeling that the car is trying to roll when going around curves
- Clunking noise when going over bumps or around turns
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to have your stabilizer bar bushings inspected and replaced if they’re failing. Have a certified mechanic come diagnose and repair your stabilizer bar bushings if needed.