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Do I really need a sway bar

I have a 97 Ford Mustang GT. The rear sway bar broke. I was looking at getting a used sway bar but no local junk yards have any in stock for the GT model. Then I thought of just removing the sway bar until I come across a used one. What happens if I drive around without a sway bar. I’m basicaly commuting to work and back home? Don’t plan to do any racing or crazy driving.

I don’t have the technical expertise required to tell you about that (and have never driven w/out one), but you can probably find a boneyard replacement here:

Years ago, both front and rear sway bars were optional extras. On my Dodge Dart GT I had to pay extra to get one, on my Caprice only the front one was standard; I paid $130 plus installation for the HD police package one, even though the car already had HD suspension.

You can safely leave the rear sway bar off until you find a new one. Just don’t drive the car to the limit on a twisty road, since it will behave differently.

JC Whitney and other auto specialty houses must surely carry this item. Plan to pay $150 or so plus shipping.

I can’t add to the advice you’ve been given but since it’s highly unusual for a sway bar to break, exactly where did it break?

If an end link broke that’s a simple matter of replacing the link kits; and inexpensive.

It wasn’t the link but the actual bar that broke. I also found this quite strange since its quite a thick piece of steel and I don’t recall going over something recently that would cause that kind of damage. I can only suspect that it started as a crack and finaly gave in. Its a pretty clean cut across the bar maybe about eight inches from where it bolts into place on the passenger’s side of the rear wheel.

Wow ! - What WERE you doing ??? :slight_smile:

~ the term “catastrophic material failure” springs to mind…

Considering that this one broke the way it did, I would want a new one if it was my car, not a used one.

We are talking about a Mustang GT, a car with a reputation for having all the power, but none of the handling of a high performance car. I think you need the sway bar. You never know when emergency maneuvers will be necessary because some kid runs out in front of your car or some driver fails to stop at a red light. This bar allows you to make emergency maneuvers without rolling the car over. If it is ever needed, you won’t see it coming.

Thanks for clarifying the part about the sway bar. Since the odds of a metallurgical fault are near zero, I’d have to think a bar breaking would be due to metal fatigue caused by an accident, someone jacking the car up with a jack pad on the bar, heavy use of an accelerator foot, etc.

In all of my years, I’ve never seen or heard of a broken sway bar. The only damaged sway bars I’ve seen were bent ones due to accidents.
Just a theory, but what if the vehicle suffered a rear end accident in the past and someone used a torch to straighten a tweaked sway bar out? The material used in sway bars does not take well to heat from a torch.

What happens when you drive without one ?
The handling is different, and until you notice the difference is not to your liking, you really dont ‘need’ one right away.

However, you could wreck the car.

Say whuh ?
Yes. You have become accustomed, over years of driving this car, to the handling properties it had with the sway bar. You may not even know all it’s doing for you nor under what driving situations it serves it’s true function.

You will become rudely surprized one day, without fore-warning, when driving in one of those situations and the car doesn’t go where you tell it to.
This instantaneous surprize lack of response is horribly dangerous. You’ll have miliseconds to react and, depending on circumstances, could easily wreck it.

The solution ?
If you intend on leaving it off for a long while, Go out and practice some ‘sway bar moves’( cornering, lane changes, both accelerating and braking ) with it to acclimate your sub-concious to the new properties of NO sway bar. ( a new Ford one is only $ 138.00 )

It might very well be a metallurgical fault. 20 years ago, a microscopic flaw destroyed an airliner and took 110 lives (UA 232).

I find it hard to believe that a Mustang with a relatively low center of gravity will tip over. However, it will cause the car to understeer more. You’re less likely to spin out on the road, but you’re more likely to run straight into what you’re trying to avoid in an emergency

As others have said, the sway bar serves to improve handling, and the car can be driven without it, but I highly recommend getting a new one as soon as you can.

Sway bars do break from time to time. I have never had to do one on a Mustang, but a few years ago, I had a rash of them come into the shop, all front ones on Buick Regals and Pontiac Grand Prix’s. The local GM dealerships couldn’t keep them on the shelf for us! I must have done 5 or 6 of them in two months!

This type of thing sometimes occurred in the 40s and 50s when leaf springs would break. But with today’s quality controls it is simply unheard of. Ford should have a word with their suppliers.

In the bad old days no car had a sway bar, neither front or rear when all were rear drive as is your Mustang. I don’t recall owning a car with even a front sway bar until the 1970s when we bought a German car. I doubt that you will have a problem adapting to it. Cars used to lean a lot around corners and curves if you drove too fast and a sway bar will help to control that. A little too much leaning is harmless but would appear odd now and is felt by the driver and passengers. I would not expect any frightening surprises w/o a rear sway bar as long as your shocks are in decent condition.

PS, Anti-Sway bar would be more correct.

No you don’t need an anti-sway bar. You don’t need all 4 (or 5) of your lug nuts either. Or seat belts for that matter, or 4 way flashers, or a spare tire, etc. But, if it were me, I wouldn’t think I could outsmart the car designers and “get by” with driving around without it. It was installed to assist in handling, and I wouldn’t gamble with anything like that. What if you were to get in a wreck, and it was ugly, maybe deaths, massive injuries, etc. and the defense lawyer found out you were on this forum, and told us you removed your anti-sway bar and left it off, I’m pretty sure that the term “neglegent” would come up in his arguments. Just saying…

Loss of the rear sway bar will increase the tendency to oversteer in severe turns. For instance, when exiting an off ramp at high speed it will be difficult to keep the car from fish-tailing. Sway bars allow more aggressive handling while giving a comfortable ride. You might look at the Model T suspension. It used transverse leaf springs which allowed the car to tip wildly to the outside.

I think it’s good when talking about something that affects handling to consider what the effect will be in a sudden emergency maneuver. Like if a child darts out in front of you. Or you’re driving that dark curvy road in Maine and you suddenly realize a moose is in the road.

Not having a sway bar will adversely affect your ability to make sudden course changes, sudden evasive maneuvers. You might drive your entire life without a sway bar, but if that child does dart out in front of you or the moose suddenly appears, the difference could be life or death.

I’d recommend replacing it. Your life or someone else’s could depend on it.

Don’t think “can I manage without it”, think “what will happen in an emergency”.

As he usually does, mountainbike has made a very good point.

Thanks. For a few hundred bucks it just isn’t worth the risk. I’ve wasted more money than that on an infantile whim.

Jegs, JC Whitney, and just about any Mustang performance supplier should have one in stock

Have you priced a new one? I would be surprised if it costs less than $50 or more than $100 for a new one from Ford. Call at least a couple of shops and check on line. I got a 15% difference in a part price from F and LM shops that are literally across the highway from one another this week. Of course you probably will want to add new end links and bushings.

You can seriously compromise safety without an anti-sway bar. They are the last thing that the engineers add to the suspension to balance the handling. Leaving it off would be penny-wise and pound foolish.