2003 Mazda 6 - Sway Bar Link loose. Safety issue?


#1

The mechanic showed me the part and had me grasp it and push on it. There was some play in it even with only my hands. It thunks a lot going over bumps, and it handles sloppily.

I had a trip planned to Phoenix, 100 miles and a lot of mountain curves.

I know I am revealing my ignorance here, but I understand that the only dumb question is the one not asked. The question I have is: "Should I make the trip tomorrow, or should I regret to them that I cannot make it safely? (My impression is I should NOT make the trip.)

Many thanks from me, Mr. Clueless!


#2

Maybe a rental car would be a better option until the repair is done. If the link breaks it’s possible for it to gouge a tire sidewall, cause a blowout, and lead to an accident.

It’s also possible that the sway bar link could be bad due to weak front struts which allow the link to take more of a beating from the road surface. The car is 12 years old so weak struts are certainly a possibility.


#3

It’s not a safety issue.

If the sway bar link breaks it’ll just hang there. Depending on where it breaks tho can cause the broken link to come in contact with the lower control arm when going over bumps. this can cause a knocking/banging noise.

I just replaced the broken sway bar links in a vehicle today. And from the rust found on the links where they had been broken, they had been broken for a while.

Tester


#4

Thanks. I had the struts replaced last December, and Boy-oh-Boy, the car handled SO much better! Incredible difference. I imagine this loose sway bar link is from the beating it took when the struts were bad.

Any other opinions out there? The more information, the better. Thanks, guys.


#5

Yep!

After replacing the sway bar links and taking the vehicle for a test drive, I found the front shocks on the vehicle were shot. That’s what took out the links.

Tester


#6

I’ve seen some serious sidewall rubbing of the tires by broken links and sidewall scrubbing would make me a bit nervous. There’s also the issue of mountain roads and nose-dive if a link gives up suddenly.

I didn’t post the entire thing but the cut and paste below provides a few comments about a Recall on Fords for link problems.

1997 Ford Explorer
Summary:
VEHICLE DESCRIPTION: SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES. UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS, A FRONT SWAY BAR LINK CAN FRACTURE.
Consequences:
VEHICLE HANDLING COULD BE AFFECTED, INCREASING THE RISK OF A CRASH.


#7

Sway bar links wear out, even if the struts and shocks are in excellent condition


#8

I’m of the philosophy that if you know you have a problem part that could affect the rolling stock in any way, it’s safer not to take a trip with it. It just ain’t worth the risk.

I also support the comments about possibly weak dampers (struts/shocks… I like the English term better). It’s important to recognize too that weak dampers can cause premature wear on other components too, such as ball joints, tie rod ends, and various bushings. Have the shop check everything out well.

And I commend the mechanic for actually showing you the problem. He’s the type of mechanic I like.


#9

If the front bar goes and the rear bar stays stiff, the rear tires are doing more work in a turn and are likely to break loose sooner, that would lead to some abrupt oversteer.