Sway bar or struts

My 2002 camry has been driving poorly the last few months with extreme swaying on freeways on turns and high winds. When I took it to Toyota a while back they said they needed to replace the rear sway bar bushings. Sounded right but at the time to avoid all the costs with other repairs, brakes etc, I put it off. Now I took it to the local mech and he says he cannot see anything wrong even after driving andwhere toyota found a rear seal leak he did not pick up on this. I will take it back to toyota but would like some feedback or input on this

Strut wear is detected best by driving. If it is ‘swaying on freeways on turns and high winds’ that sounds like worn struts, not surprising in a 9-year-old car. No need to have Toyota replace them, a good shop (which doesn’t necessarily sound like your local mechanic) can do it easily.

How many miles do you have on the odometer?
I ask because after 9 years and–perhaps–well over 100k miles, it would not be unusual to have to replace both struts and sway bar bushings.

Since there seems to be such a disparity between the dealership’s opinion and that of this mechanic, I would suggest getting another mechanic to weigh in on the situation.

Yep, camry has 150000 miles on it and I figured I need new struts…I was quoted with $1000 dollars from belle tire just for struts and shocks but still need to quote from this guy. I will try and get a second opinion but since my car was on the lift now I thought I could go ahead and make a quick decision. If I tell him to do the rear bushing replacement for now and then do the struts would that work

Unless the bushings are really bad, the struts are what is probably causing this.

how do you tell if the busings are bad and what is involved in getting the camry a tighter suspension? Does that include new springs or can this be done with the struts? Also would it be ok to do the rear struts only for now?

Thanks so much for your responses thus far

Bad bushings will show up as thunking or creaking going over bumps or as dried, cracked bushing with pieces falling off…via-a-via a visual inspection. Shot bushing can allow play in he articulating joints and adversely affect stability, causing wandering on the highway.

Bad struts and shocks show up as erratic tire wear, wandering and swaying especially on the highway, and occasionally with a visual leak or a “bounce test”. The “bounce test” by itself is not conclusive unless the shocks are really shot or they’re frozen.

A tighter suspensin in your case means getting the struts/shocks and bushing all brough back up to snuff and a four wheel alignment.

Tighter-than-new would involve new “upgraded” suspension components and/or new “upgrade” sway bars. There’s fancy stuff like “adjustable coil-overs” that cane be installed to replace the springs and shocks and “upgraded sway bars” to replace the originals. It can get costly. A set of coil-overs will run you upwards of a grand and the sway bars will run you about $250-$300…plus installation. Changing the front sway bar on that vehicle requires supporting the engine and removing the engine cradle, and they’ll charge you for all that work.

Yes, you can just do the rear shocks for now. I just did mine. Bushings are cheap, the sway bar bushings about $25 each, each bar takes two, and I’d suggest having them done when you have the shocks done.