Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Front end noise. Sway bar links?


2000 Mazda Protege ES 1.8L

What’s a good way to find whats the cause of all the rattling and knocking in the front end of my car when going over uneven terrain? It seems that noise appears only if one of the wheels is lift up a little bit. I am attaching a picture describing the “motion” here:

Steering wheel doesn’t shake when driving at high speeds and is fairly stiff, but it does pull to the right a bit, maybe because I didn’t perform a front end alignment (I know this is not good) after I had most of the stuff in the suspension of the replaced; all 4 struts + boots + mounting blocks, ball joints, control arms…

Now the only partI didn’t replaced was the sway bar link in the passenger side and it’s being knocking for 3 years. The one in the driver side was replaced at the time the struts were replaced but I didn’t had enough money to pay for the other one.

Another mechanic told me when I was quoting that sway bar links aren’t really necessary as a safety feature, and a google search showed me that there are people that just take the sway bar off the car, so I left it there and just tried to live with the noise… now I am noticing the driver side is knocking as well, and I am wondering if it has to do with because I didn’t replace the one in the passenger side?

I just want to rule out the possibility of another component being the cause of the noise, because I am prioritizing safety over ride comfort in my attempts to save some money.


"Another mechanic told me when I was quoting that sway bar links aren’t really necessary as a safety feature, "

I emphatically disagree. The links connect the unibody to the sway bar in a way that allows the bar function effectively. Without it, cornering would be less controlled, steering would be less stable, and the vehicle would be sensitive to wind and passing trucks on the highway. Why he told you that is beyond me.

The best way to determine if the links are causing the noise is to SAFELY AND SECURELY elevate the vehicle, get underneath, and aggressively push and pull on the sway bars. If the links or the bushings are bad, you’ll hear them. Sway bar bushings are perhaps the most common cause of suspension noises.

Well, by now I am pretty sure those links are all bad. The car is indeed pretty sensitive to the wind, more than any car I have driven but I thought it was because of the car being small and maybe… light. The car has been like this for such a long time that I think I got used to the handling, because I don’t really feel the vehicle being unstable when cornering. It’s even better than the 2012 Camry to be honest. Time to go back drop the car in the shop again =D Thanks!

Leaving the sway bar disconnected will turn the clock back to the 1950’s re how the car handles:
not safe by today’s standards.
Often when a part like a strut or control arm is replaced the strain of taking the suspension apart will “do in” other parts that were near failure (links, etc.).
One has to take a holistic approach and plan to do more than fix the primary issue.
I’ve found this to apply to toilets too.

Mechanics do this kind of suspension diagnoses all the time, so you have excellent chance for good results taking it to the shop. They’ll put your car on the lift and push/pull/twist/pry on the various possibilities until they find it. Something in all that has more play than it should and is moving around, and with a good mechanic on the prowl, it won’t be able to hide for long.

Links could be bad. Sway bar bushings could also be bad. Or sway bar could be broke. Snapped off ends. They make noise. But that’s a GM misdsize thing.