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FYI: You can swap front swab bar (FSB) bushings without removing subframe or steering rack

1153 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  BDCCruze
Wanted to swap out front sway bar links + bushings to definitively get rid of low-speed front end clunk. The link replacement is well-documented, but I haven't come across any info for accessing or swapping bushings (unless you are dropping entire subframe).

I really didn't want to loosen subframe bolts, as they are TTY and technically should be replaced. Also didn't want to mess with disconnecting steering column. After much toiling (and a few wrenches to the face while working on my back), I can report that the FSB bushings can be removed/replaced independently of any other system (apart from removing front wheels), though it will be a pain.

The brackets are slotted front and rear, and tightened down with 13mm bolts. Note that the bracket is mounted with a slight rearward tilt.

The front bolts are easy enough to access and loosen given the clearance in front of them. I had the engine out, so I just worked from within the engine bay, but should also be accessible by accessing from underneath (via jack stands or lift) or possibly even through wheel well. Remove these bolts completely.

The rear bolts are the main issue.
Given the very tight clearance between them and the firewall above and subframe cross-member that they are mounted to below, it will require ideally a flat (non-inclined) 13mm closed-end ratchet wrench. Open-wrench is not strong enough to remove, and socket will not even fit over bolt head. One on side, I was lucky that the tightened orientation of the bolt was such that I had just enough rotational clearance with an inclined wrench (slanting down) to knock it loose and continue working it loose a few degrees at a time until I could knock the FSB/slotted bracket forward. However, I was not so lucky on the other side and could not fit the inclined wrench (slanting up or down) over the head; many knuckle scrapes and falling wrenches ensued while trying. I considered using a serpentine belt tool given it's low profile, but am almost positive there wouldn't be enough clearance. Ultimately I used the unofficial Lowe's tool rental program (i.e. buy, use inconspicuously, return :)) with a 13mm flat ratchet wrench, which worked amazingly, but didn't want to drop $20 for a one-time use. I just needed the ratchet wrench to loosen the bolt a few degrees, then could continue working it loose with my inclined wrench. There wasn't much rust, and rust penetrant didn't help.

Finally, removing the old bushings from the brackets/bar is also a pain. The bushing material appears to be a metal/rubber hybrid, but the bushings were seized to the bar (use some silicone spray to loosen) and adhered + clipped into the bracket via some slight tabs that were not recessible. I ultimately got this removed by hammering a flat head screwdriver between the bushing and bracket or bar and prying from the wheel well. I also was able to split the bushing in half at what was presumably the opening/seam. You can rotate around the bracket/bushing assembly on the bar for more access points.

Old bushings:
Automotive tire Road surface Asphalt Auto part Fashion accessory


New bushings (Moog K200843, ~1" ID, and mate up well to bracket):
Fluid Gas Font Automotive tire Electric blue

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2014 LT program car, Pull Me Over Red, 1.4T Auto
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14,181 Posts
Wanted to swap out front sway bar links + bushings to definitively get rid of low-speed front end clunk. The link replacement is well-documented, but I haven't come across any info for accessing or swapping bushings (unless you are dropping entire subframe).

I really didn't want to loosen subframe bolts, as they are TTY and technically should be replaced. Also didn't want to mess with disconnecting steering column. After much toiling (and a few wrenches to the face while working on my back), I can report that the FSB bushings can be removed/replaced independently of any other system (apart from removing front wheels), though it will be a pain.

The brackets are slotted front and rear, and tightened down with 13mm bolts. Note that the bracket is mounted with a slight rearward tilt.

The front bolts are easy enough to access and loosen given the clearance in front of them. I had the engine out, so I just worked from within the engine bay, but should also be accessible by accessing from underneath (via jack stands or lift) or possibly even through wheel well. Remove these bolts completely.

The rear bolts are the main issue.
Given the very tight clearance between them and the firewall above and subframe cross-member that they are mounted to below, it will require ideally a flat (non-inclined) 13mm closed-end ratchet wrench. Open-wrench is not strong enough to remove, and socket will not even fit over bolt head. One on side, I was lucky that the tightened orientation of the bolt was such that I had just enough rotational clearance with an inclined wrench (slanting down) to knock it loose and continue working it loose a few degrees at a time until I could knock the FSB/slotted bracket forward. However, I was not so lucky on the other side and could not fit the inclined wrench (slanting up or down) over the head; many knuckle scrapes and falling wrenches ensued while trying. I considered using a serpentine belt tool given it's low profile, but am almost positive there wouldn't be enough clearance. Ultimately I used the unofficial Lowe's tool rental program (i.e. buy, use inconspicuously, return :)) with a 13mm flat ratchet wrench, which worked amazingly, but didn't want to drop $20 for a one-time use. I just needed the ratchet wrench to loosen the bolt a few degrees, then could continue working it loose with my inclined wrench. There wasn't much rust, and rust penetrant didn't help.

Finally, removing the old bushings from the brackets/bar is also a pain. The bushing material appears to be a metal/rubber hybrid, but the bushings were seized to the bar (use some silicone spray to loosen) and adhered + clipped into the bracket via some slight tabs that were not recessible. I ultimately got this removed by hammering a flat head screwdriver between the bushing and bracket or bar and prying from the wheel well. I also was able to split the bushing in half at what was presumably the opening/seam. You can rotate around the bracket/bushing assembly on the bar for more access points.

Old bushings:
View attachment 299234

New bushings (Moog K200843, ~1" ID, and mate up well to bracket):
View attachment 299235
Thanks for the writeup.

Consider beefing this up a bit and maybe a bit of reformatting so I can add this to out tutorial library.

How-To: Write a Tutorial
 

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze, 1.8l 6-speed
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14 Posts
How is the Moog brand holding up? Was your issue fixed immediately after installation? I have a '11 and have some thuds over bumps. Everything has been replaced except the sway bar bushings so that's gotta be the noise.
 

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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The bushings are working fine as far as I can tell. No noise, and the bar had full range of motion after install, whereas before it was limited ROM due to the bar binding to old rubber bushings. In contrast, I installed a Whiteline rear sway bar, which now groans/squeaks (sounds like a common issue with Whiteline bushings/grease for their sway bars).

However, I do have some other, I believe unrelated noise. It's a clicking that occurs somewhere around the steering knuckles on more severe turns/weight transfers. If it's not loose eccentric camber bolts, I'm thinking it's the sway bar link ball joint shafts or the nut/spacer thereof that's hitting the outside of the ball joint socket. The links are Moog, and I zerk greased them after install, but I think I will just replace them again with OE plastic or pre-greased AC Delco.

You may also want to check your motor mounts (not easy to check without removing, but the gel packs on left and right mounts can leak), or control arm bushings (would likely require disconnecting knuckle from strut spring to test, though).
 
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