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Old 03-01-2021, 03:23 PM   #1
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Broken Sway Bar Attachment Rod; Newbie Needs Help

Hello all. New SMB owner/member here: '05 4x4 RB 6.0 w/180K. Third owner and I've been as happy as a kid in a candy store since I acquired it over the Xmas weekend. 28 nights spent in it so far. So yes, I am USING it.

I've been intending to make an introduction in the Welcome Mat thread... and will still do so soon, but something more urgent came up for which I'd like to tap the vast reservoir of knowledge available here.

During yesterday's off-road excursion, heard a snap followed by an occasional knocking over uneven bumps. A quick glance inside the wheel well revealed this...

Was able to make it home just fine, taking it easy of course.

Questions:
1. What is the best source for a replacement? Is it a super specific item or something any decent 4x4 shop should be able to either replace or repair? I am by no means a mechanic, but am not totally inept either and would gladly install a new rod myself if the consensus is that it's an easy job.
2. What was the likely cause? I understand this to be a "quick-disconnect" rod, but have not been disconnecting for any of my excursions thus far... it was not something the prior owner went over with me. Should I be disconnecting the sway bar for most/all off-road driving? I've been doing what I would call mild to moderate stuff, but more and more challenging (for me) as I become comfortable with the rigs capability. I understand it's not as super-easy of a process as the "quick" part of the name would indicate.
3. I live in the Palm Springs area; any recommendations for shops near me?

This forum has been an indispensable source for me both prior to the purchase and since, so thanks for all the shared info that's gotten me to this point and thanks in advance for all future info and for whatever responses this post may get.

Also included a shot from a camp spot a few weeks ago... just because

-Jeff
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Broken Connecting Rod.jpg   Van.jpg  
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Old 03-01-2021, 07:26 PM   #2
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The cause is the bushings wallowed out. I finally addressed mine last summer and the bushing spindles were so corroded they were welded to the spindle. Grade 8 bolts are hard to drill out.

I sourced new and improved sway bar links from the Sportsmobile Store. That option seems defunct but the same folks are now presumably running SMB West. You might be able to call and source a set. I believe they were made by Hellwig and you might be able to source them there. kevin@hellwigproducts.com
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Old 03-02-2021, 12:58 AM   #3
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I have an ‘04 e350 4x4 6.0 that I’ve had for a couple years. Discovered the sway bar pin was sheared and sway bar was rattling soon after I got it. Talked to Peter at SBW and it’s a part they created. It was a hassle to ship etc so I decided to completely remove the sway bar and see what happens. I’ve since put 20k miles on including driving cross country. No sway bar. Drives like a dream. Better than when the sway bar was on it. I’ve seen other posts about the sway bar and some swear you need it and others swear you don’t. Probably depends on the rig. But mine definitely doesn’t need it so I still have it kicking around somewhere in the backyard.
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:36 AM   #4
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Here's a comparison of the older style quick disconnect link and the new one.
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sway bar links_1.jpg   sway bar links_2.jpg  
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Old 03-02-2021, 10:14 AM   #5
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Thanks for the responses Joe. I'll make some calls to see if I can source a couple new links. I'm assuming it should be fairly straight forward to pop new ones on, although that updated design looks to be a fair amount longer eye to eye, so I'm wondering if that might pose a challenge for me; not sure as I have not really messed around with trying to pull the old ones off to see how that all works down there yet. I suppose I can always give it a go and take it to a pro should I get in over my head.

Appreciate the help and whatever other thoughts or comments anyone else out there might have.
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Old 03-02-2021, 10:21 AM   #6
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Interesting Urbanfood.... I must say I did not notice much difference in road feel with the one broken side disconnected. And I'm still hoping to hear from others out there about how often they're actually using the disconnects for off-roading vs just leaving them connected as I ignorantly was. I'm suspecting there might have been an improvement in the ride over some of the rougher, washboarded roads I've been on, but maybe not? Please forgive my lack of suspension/4x knowledge; just a newb here hoping to learn while I get out there as much as I can.

I may just try removing the sway bar entirely as you did to see how it rides for now ...which of course means I can still get away for yet another foray into the boonies this coming weekend if I don't get the new link sorted out first
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Old 03-02-2021, 10:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbick71 View Post
Thanks for the responses Joe. I'll make some calls to see if I can source a couple new links. I'm assuming it should be fairly straight forward to pop new ones on, although that updated design looks to be a fair amount longer eye to eye, so I'm wondering if that might pose a challenge for me; not sure as I have not really messed around with trying to pull the old ones off to see how that all works down there yet. I suppose I can always give it a go and take it to a pro should I get in over my head.

Appreciate the help and whatever other thoughts or comments anyone else out there might have.

There are no issues with the slightly longer length. The bar itself is in bushings so it can move. The big challenge comes if the inner sleeve is corroded and in a sense welded to the sway bar spindle. That is hard to get off. You'll need heat and maybe a grinder.
Not that in the pic the sleeve looks like it's actually part of the spindle but it's actually the inner part of the polyurethane bushing.

The idea is to remove them when off-road to allow more articulation of the solid axle. The reality is they are not easy to take on and off unless the van is sitting perfectly flat. The new links are easier to remove but they are also new so you might expect that. And as mentioned above many just take them off. Personally I prefer to have them on for hurtling down the highway at 75mph and not having any steering wallow in case of a corrective move.
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Old 03-02-2021, 10:58 AM   #8
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At JoeH that’s what was surprising to me when I took mine off. Driving the highway at 70 is where she’s happiest and solid as a rock, no sway whatsoever ever and NO sway bar. Drove several 10 hour days on freeways in the Midwest with big trucks flying by at 70 with the cruise control on. No swaying at all.
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Old 03-02-2021, 11:00 AM   #9
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And to follow up that pin that joeH shows in the last picture is what sheared off my sway bar.
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Old 03-02-2021, 03:26 PM   #10
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Thanks much again to Urban and Joe for taking the time to respond. I've now also spent a bit more time reviewing past threads on the topic and feel much better informed than I was (AKA not worrying that I have as bad of a situation as I first thought). I'm planning to just remove the sway bar entirely while I sort out the new links and see how it drives, especially looking forward to seeing if there's any noticeable difference on some of the off-road routes I've been doing.
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