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 Old 03-11-2013, 07:34 AM   #1
 
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Default How-To: Front Sway Bar Bushing replacement w/o dropping subframe

There are quite a few threads out there claiming this is possible, but none that are easily searchable that describe it very accurately/thoroughly, so I thought I'd steal a couple of Haltech's downpipe install pics for illustration purposes and describe what I found to be the least painful way to replace the front sway bar bushings without dropping the front subframe.

Required tools:
Ramps, jack + jack stands, or lift
Socket wrench w/ 14mm and 10mm sockets
Blue thread locker (not strictly required, but it might save you from having to tighten bolts again in three weeks)

Suggestions:
I kept both 3/8" and 1/2" wrenches handy for this. A 3/8" wrench fits in the accessible area better, but a 1/2" wrench will make it easier to reach the bolts on the front side of the bar (you'll be reaching over it to access them).
Use ramps or a four-post lift rather than jack stands. I've found it's easier to button up suspension components with everything loaded.

Steps:

1) Jack it up, ramp it up, lift it up, etc. Make sure you have the nose way up in the air. You'll need to be able to scoot past the rear (dogbone) mount area for ease of access. Chock the wheels if necessary.

2) Slide on back past the front subframe. The first thing you want to do is remove the chassis brace and skidplate that protects the fuel lines (all one piece). It's held on by four 14mm bolts and one 10mm bolt. Remove the 10mm bolt (red highlight) first so that the plate isn't hanging from it after you remove the 14s. No sense bending it up too badly.

Step 1.jpg

This weighs a couple pounds and will fall and hit you in the face once it's free if you don't keep your hand on it. So, y'know, do that. Or don't. It's your face.

3) Now that you have some room to work, get on your back so that you can look toward the front of the car. You should be looking at the back of the engine. If you peek up over the subframe, you should be able to eyeball the steering rack and at least part of the sway bar, depending on how big your head is. It's okay if you can't see it. You just need to reach it.

I found the best way to do this was to reach up through the exhaust hangers and then hook my arm toward the outside of the car to reach the two bolts holding each bracket. Use the clearance of the exhaust tunnel to crank the wrench. This is a lot easier than trying to fit the wrench in at a straight north-south angle.

Step2.jpg

From here, it's as simple (or not) as undoing the four bolts, yanking the brackets, and fitting the new ones. The crossmember is raised where the brackets are anchored, and between those bumps and the shaft collars on the bar itself, you should be able to feel around in there to re-attach the brackets with minimal frustration. If you have small hands, you can also reach your fingers in under the loop in the sway bar from the wheel well to feel around for the front bolt holes. That's easier than trying to angle them in from the back.

That's it. Don't forget to reinstall the chassis brace/skidplate. Crack a beer. You're done.
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 Old 03-11-2013, 07:39 AM   #2
 
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if you're just doing the bushings, you should be able to get to them from the wheel well.

1) take off wheels
2) disconnect end links
3) reach in and disconnect the bushings

caveat: the front bolt on the driver side bushing might require some extra work, extensions, u-joints, etc.

and when you put it back together, you have to just up the control arm put a load on the wheels. but, that's just another option.
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 Old 03-11-2013, 07:46 AM   #3
 
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Originally Posted by jack_hammer View Post
if you're just doing the bushings, you should be able to get to them from the wheel well.
I tried doing it from the wheel wells, but I couldn't get a wrench in at an angle to engage the bolts and have cranking room.
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 Old 03-12-2013, 02:24 PM   #4
 
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Gonna give this a shot tomorrow. Im tired of the clunking. Tried to go in through the wheel well when I replaced the end links but I couldn't find a way to crank the bolts, no room.
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 Old 04-26-2013, 10:41 PM   #5
 
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Did it today.......car has 70k miles and I drive it in the winter. I almost gave up with the bolts, took me 3 hours.

I think dropping the sub might be better with higher mileage cars.
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 Old 04-26-2013, 11:49 PM   #6
 
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Originally Posted by stockms3 View Post
Did it today.......car has 70k miles and I drive it in the winter. I almost gave up with the bolts, took me 3 hours.

I think dropping the sub might be better with higher mileage cars.
I did this on my Pu and it was easy as fuck. On the Gen one, it took 4 hours because we only disconnected the endlinks and everything was impossible to get to.

Sent via stockish Black Mica Pu
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 Old 05-03-2013, 02:23 PM   #7
 
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Thanks. I plan on doing this tomorrow, 5/4. Hopefully it will be as easy as you describe. I do own a gen won, FML.
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 Old 05-03-2013, 03:47 PM   #8
 
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Originally Posted by mach69 View Post
Thanks. I plan on doing this tomorrow, 5/4. Hopefully it will be as easy as you describe. I do a gen won, FML.
Good luck bro, let us know how it turns out.
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 Old 05-03-2013, 03:57 PM   #9
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Thief! lol
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 Old 05-03-2013, 11:25 PM   #10
 
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Originally Posted by Haltech View Post
Thief! lol
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 Old 05-04-2013, 03:05 PM   #11
 
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Originally Posted by himurax13 View Post
Good luck bro, let us know how it turns out.
Well, its done. After two hours of pissing and moaning. I handicapped myself by working out my shoulders and biceps earlier in the day. The ramps i built helped.
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 Old 05-04-2013, 09:50 PM   #12
 
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Originally Posted by mach69 View Post
Well, its done. After two hours of pissing and moaning. I handicapped myself by working out my shoulders and biceps earlier in the day. The ramps i built helped.
Damn, I bet. My neck was actually a little sore the day after I did mine.
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 Old 08-22-2013, 01:02 PM   #13
 
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Did mine today, took about an hour including lifting the car. Your directions were perfect. The hard part is getting leverage to loosen the bolts. In all, in various ways I used a tall 14 mm, a regular 14 mm and a short extension, in 3/8"s. I used a 14 mm in 1/2" for the brace bolts. I was surprised how loose the sway bar is once the bolts were off. Greased up the new ones and put them in place. That persistent knock is gone.
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 Old 11-10-2013, 10:36 AM   #14
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Just did it. Took me about 2 hrs. Had a ratchet with a flex head, which really helped.
One of the bolts were stubborn. WD-40 fixed it.
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 Old 11-27-2013, 01:50 PM   #15
 
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Thanks for posting this DeadWayt. Much appreciated. You're a good and decent man.
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 Old 12-10-2013, 07:00 AM   #16
 
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doing this thursday night on my Gen 1. Replaced PMM with a CP-e hoping that was the clunking. nope. lol
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 Old 05-20-2014, 11:06 AM   #17
 
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Finished up doing this on my Gen1 this morning. Thanks for posting the details on this, DeadWayt. I used a 24" breaker bar (1/2") to back off three of the four front bolts, but the front driver bolt was a serious pain because my breaker wouldn't fit in there. Soaked it in WD-40 and left it overnight. Came right out with a big ratchet the next morning. I replaced the front and rear for good measure.....and my CLUNKING IS GONE! Thank you Jesus.

btw, I envy the guys who got this done in under an hour. My rears only took me about 30 min, but the fronts....
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 Old 05-20-2014, 11:52 AM   #18
 
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I find it easier to drop the subframe, more room to work with on genjuan. I wasn't worried because I already needed an alighnment. Dropping subframe, swapping bushings and putting all back together only took about hour and half tops.
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 Old 05-30-2014, 12:17 PM   #19
 
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I'm an asshole and didn't post here when I did mine a few months ago. This was a great help and my little girl hands were able to get in and out without a problem! Thanks!
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 Old 06-25-2014, 08:18 PM   #20
 
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Don't know if I did something wrong or what... I did drop the sub frame (Gen 1) and after about 6 hours, finally got the old off and the new on. Theclunk, STILL THERE! My buddy that did it with me, thought it had to be something else. I kinda hoped so too because doing this was an extra shitty job.
So I just took off the end links and zip tied the sway bar. No clunk. Oh and now I do for sure need an alignment.

Probably the wrong place to ask since this is a enthusiasts site, but

what's the repercussions of leaving the bar like that?

It'll cost $350 to have mazda replace the $30 bushings... had it quoted at a couple local shops and the price was the same.
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 Old 06-26-2014, 04:20 PM   #21
 
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Originally Posted by ohioan View Post
Don't know if I did something wrong or what... I did drop the sub frame (Gen 1) and after about 6 hours, finally got the old off and the new on. Theclunk, STILL THERE! My buddy that did it with me, thought it had to be something else. I kinda hoped so too because doing this was an extra shitty job.
So I just took off the end links and zip tied the sway bar. No clunk. Oh and now I do for sure need an alignment.

Probably the wrong place to ask since this is a enthusiasts site, but

what's the repercussions of leaving the bar like that?

It'll cost $350 to have mazda replace the $30 bushings... had it quoted at a couple local shops and the price was the same.
Did you get everything tight to spec after you swapped the in the new bushings? Sounds like you didn't otherwise you wouldn't have the clunk again afterwards. The bushings being worn and the bushings being loose would likely cause a similar effect. No?

$350....that's nuts.

Having no sway bar connected = lots of SWAY and fully independent suspension.
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 Old 06-26-2014, 10:03 PM   #22
 
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Originally Posted by Lex2007 View Post
Did you get everything tight to spec after you swapped the in the new bushings? Sounds like you didn't otherwise you wouldn't have the clunk again afterwards. The bushings being worn and the bushings being loose would likely cause a similar effect. No?

$350....that's nuts.

Having no sway bar connected = lots of SWAY and fully independent suspension.
To spec, doubt it. I don't understand what I didn't unhook in order to get as much room as everyone is saying they have room under there. I was barely able to get a 3/8 rachet with a small cheater bar in there, let alone a clunky ass torque wrench...
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 Old 06-26-2014, 10:43 PM   #23
 
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I didnt bother using a torque wrench, best tool i use was http://i.imgur.com/vlk3H0B.jpg. Made it a fuck ton easier and I wouldnt have been able to do it any other way.
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 Old 06-27-2014, 06:22 AM   #24
 
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Two additional observations. Those new bushings need to be liberally greased before installing. Second, if you use aftermarket bushings, the brackets are likely to be wider than stock. The slots will likely not line up with the bolt holes. You will have to either tap the "keeper" rings on the swaybar inward to make room, or widen the slot on the bracket to make it fit. I could not get those rings to move, even hammering on them, and had to modify the JBR bushing brackets.

I chose JBR because they have re-greasable zerk futtings to keep things quiet.
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 Old 06-27-2014, 07:57 AM   #25
 
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Originally Posted by ohioan View Post
To spec, doubt it. I don't understand what I didn't unhook in order to get as much room as everyone is saying they have room under there. I was barely able to get a 3/8 rachet with a small cheater bar in there, let alone a clunky ass torque wrench...
First question: Did you use OEM bushings?

Youre 100% correct. I misspoke. At least one of those bolts on each side is only reachable with a super long ratchet or an air ratchet. I used an air ratchet and I did not torque to spec, just tightened as much as possible and used a lot of silicone grease.
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 Old 06-28-2014, 07:44 AM   #26
 
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Originally Posted by Lex2007 View Post
First question: Did you use OEM bushings?

Youre 100% correct. I misspoke. At least one of those bolts on each side is only reachable with a super long ratchet or an air ratchet. I used an air ratchet and I did not torque to spec, just tightened as much as possible and used a lot of silicone grease.
I used these...

Sway Bar Bushings | SURE Motorsports
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 Old 06-28-2014, 07:56 PM   #27
 
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Try replacing the end links. I had to do both the bushings and the end links to fix all my clunks. Nice and quiet now.
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 Old 06-28-2014, 11:39 PM   #28
 
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I just came across this thread... I or the mechanics who worked on my car never dropped, loosened or even touched the subframe. The only scenario they had to drop the subframe is for the gen2 1.6 diesels.
It;s indeed a pain both in the ass and balls to change the bushings, it's 30 minutes of frustration and cursing but the subframe stays there. Keep in mind that the second you loosened all the bolts on the sub-frame you may need to re-do the alignment just to be sure. It's not mandatory but recommended even if you draw any marks with the previous position.
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 Old 06-29-2014, 04:05 PM   #29
 
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Originally Posted by xshigeox View Post
Try replacing the end links. I had to do both the bushings and the end links to fix all my clunks. Nice and quiet now.
I will do this with the $26 endlinks from autozone and get back to you to let you know if it fixes the clunk. Otherwise, it's staying unhooked and zip-tied to the strut...

I'll fix it before I trade it in or sell it. With as many miles as I have on the car (116k), I don't think I'll be tracking it again. Plus Nelson's Ledges road course is closing from what I hear.

Thanks guys for the help again.
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 Old 11-11-2014, 09:29 PM   #30
 
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My turn tomorrow... crazy thing is it didn't start to clunk until very recently... I about died when I saw this gap considering most folks had clunk with no visible signs of wear.


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 Old 11-11-2014, 09:36 PM   #31
 
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Have fun, im gonna imagine its harder on the speed 6 to do but either way good luck. I finally replaced my rears (easiest thing in the world) cause they started to creak real bad now that its colder.
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 Old 11-12-2014, 05:01 AM   #32
 
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Tried my front ones on the weekend. Rear bolts on the brackets are easy. Front ones are seized. Gave up after 4hrs and spraying with pb blaster in preparation for a second try this weekend.
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 Old 11-15-2014, 02:57 PM   #33
 
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ImageUploadedByTapatalk1416092163.189862.jpg

One bolt sheared off. Am I screwed? Probably have to drop the sub frame to get the other half of the bolt out? I got the bushings changed but still clunks on the side missing this bolt. Hoping it'll be ok through winter. Not clunking anywhere near as much as before.
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 Old 11-15-2014, 03:10 PM   #34
 
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Uh...how the fuck...Yah you will need to find a way to get the other piece out but likely will need to drop it now cause I dont know how the hell you would get a drill in there.

Unless you can do it from underneithe vs top.
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 Old 11-15-2014, 03:21 PM   #35
 
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Originally Posted by azarashi View Post
Uh...how the fuck...Yah you will need to find a way to get the other piece out but likely will need to drop it now cause I dont know how the hell you would get a drill in there.

Unless you can do it from underneithe vs top.

Yeah I guess I'm too strong for these bolts lol. Fucker was seized. Used pb blaster but this one decided to break in half. I'm going to have to look into what to do to get the sub frame down without taking a whole bunch of shit apart. It can't be reached from below because there's no hole lined up with the bolt.
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 Old 11-15-2014, 08:26 PM   #36
 
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Fuck it, time to get a new car.
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 Old 11-17-2014, 04:44 AM   #37
 
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So I have access to a lift. I'm going to guess removing the subframe would be the best plan to get to both the bushings and the end links. Or is that just a headache in its self?
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 Old 11-17-2014, 05:05 AM   #38
 
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It would certainly make it easier to get the bolts and bushings out if you drop the sub frame. There's very limited space to get a socket in there and you can't use a long one either.

I found the only real way to fit the socket wrench in there was around the down pipe area and you have limited movement like 1/3 turn at the most.
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 Old 11-28-2014, 12:00 PM   #39
 
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My '07 bolts are frozen on there. I gave up on this.
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 Old 11-28-2014, 01:30 PM   #40
 
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I tackled this job last week.

I put the car up on jackstands and let the bolts soak in PB Blaster overnight.

Had the job done in under 30 minutes the next morning without dropping the subframe, torqued to spec and all.

Having the right tools definitely makes a difference...

Here's what I used:


I linked two wrenches together to crack the front passenger-side bolt loose from the front side.

The other three I dealt with from the rear with the long-handled 3/8" flex-head ratchet.

Once that's done, it's just a matter of backing the bolts off. A ratcheting flex-head gearwrench expedited this for me, somewhat.

The front driver's side is easily the most problematic. Unlike the front passenger-side bolt, you can't access it from the front. And although I was able to break the bolt loose with the long 3/8" flex-head ratchet w/ a deep socket, I couldn't back it off at all afterwards, due to a lack of overhead clearance.

I ended up using a stubby 3/8" ratchet (the flex-head aspect of it wasn't necessary or beneficial) with a standard-length socket and accessing it from the wheel well. No need to remove the tire. In fact, I used it as a head-rest.

If you happen to own 3/8" mid-length sockets, those might make short work of that front driver's-side bolt from the rear. Can't say for sure, as I didn't try this method...
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