I took my '97 Chevy Astro (~125,000 miles on it) to get a new tire yesterday at a Merchant’s Tire and Auto Care Center in Maryland. I had a feeling that the mechanic was going to come back with a long list of issues with my car since I had noticed the steering was off lately, and he did. I thought that an allignment was all I may need, however the mechanic said (very seriously) I needed several repairs including: front and rear shocks, idler arms, new front break pads (which I was expecting), and a new sway bar and sway bar end links. This of course racked up roughly ~$2000 in labor and parts, including the new tire and allignment I requested. The mechanic took me over to my car with a flashlight and showed me everything on the list and what was wrong with it. I was worried about saftey issues with the car so I had everything done except the sway bar and links which were not in stock and he ordered them. The sway bar cost $278.16 parts, 2 links $89.67 each, and $216 labor for both. I don’t understand too much the imediate importance of getting this repaired or if I am getting screwed on the price… I would be grateful for any advice or help!! I am very nervous about spending so much money on such an old vehicle, but I can’t immediately afford a new one right now and need it at least for this winter/spring season.
The sway bar controls body roll like you would experience when taking a corner. Without one, the vehicle can be unstable in turns, especially during emergency maneuvers. However, Usually only the end links need to be replaced when they fail. The bar itself is not normally subjected to wear although some designs might be susceptible. Those also seem to be quite pricey from my perspective.