- 13mm and 14mm deep socket and socket wrench
- 13mm and 14mm box end wrench
- 10mm gear wrench and 10mm socket (HIGHLY recommended, but not absolutely needed)
- Torque wrench
|Parts you will need:||
- BMR Front and Rear swaybars (Purchased from )
- All needed bushings and endlinks are included in the kit from BMR.
- Medium strength loctite
- Car Ramps (Rhino ramps recommended)
If you've been fortunate enough to drive a true modern sports car, you probably noticed how tight and responsive the car felt. While the F-body
may not be a true sports car, you can get it one step closer by upgrading the suspension. One of the key parts of the suspension is the stabilizer
bar, a.k.a the anti-swaybars or "swaybars" for short.|
The swaybars help transfer weight from one side of the car to another in a corner which in turn keeps the car flatter. A driver would notice this as less swaying, less body roll, more responsive steering, and most likely a change in the understeer/oversteer tendencies of the vehicle depending on which bars are used.
So, to make a stock F-body feel a little less like a leaning boat in the turns, we're going to upgrade the swaybars. We called up BMR Fabrication and ordered a set for our project F-body, a 1999 Trans Am with Eibach pro springs. The package consisted of both front and rear bars, along with all necessary bushings and a set of polyurethane bushed endlinks.
Here's a pic of the parts received in the BMR package:
|BMR Swaybars, Prothane Bushings, and Endlinks|
First, we of course need to drive the front of the car up on ramps and set the parking brake, then chock the rear tires to keep the car from rolling off of
the ramps. Go ahead and get your tools and a portable light and toss them under the front of the car and climb under there.|
Once you are under the car, we can clearly see the stock stabilizer bar, the bushings, and the brackets holding the bar to the chassis. Not so clearly, if you look at the ends of the swaybar you will see the endlinks going down from the swaybar and connecting to the A-Arms.
So, now that we're acquainted with what is down there, lets get started. On the drivers side there is going to be a big black rubber splash curtain. Towards the top
of it, a stud will be poking through it and a small metal retainer will be pushed onto the stud. Using your fingers, unscrew the little metal retainer
and pull back the rubber curtain so that is no longer wrapped around the swaybar.|
Now you should be able to clearly see the drivers side swaybar bracket and bushing held to the chassis by 2 bolts. If one of the bolts is double ended and has a nut on the end of it, remove the nut using a 13mm socket. That nut is holding on a bracket that some F-bodies have. We'll get to that later. If your car does not have a nut holding up a bracket, skip down to the step that starts off "Now that we have no bracket in the way..."
|Now, if you had the nut in the previous step, we're going to have to do a few things to remove the bracket that it was holding up. There are 2 more bolts holding the bracket to the car, but to get to them, we need to peel back the wheel well cover a little first. Using a 10mm socket, unbolt just one of the bolts for the wheel well shield, as shown in the picture.|
|Once the 10mm bolt is removed, you can peel back the wheel well cover a little and you should be able to look straight up into the car and see the whole bracket. There will be 2 10mm bolts holding the bracket up in there which you need to remove. I found it easy to use a 10mm gear wrench to remove them. Once both bolts are out, the bracket should just fall out assuming you did indeed remove the 13mm step above.|
Now that we have no bracket in the way, we can continue on with the rest of the install. |
We're going to remove both endlinks next before we unbolt the whole bar and drop it down. To do this, get a socket wrench with a deep 13mm socket on it, and use that on the BOTTOM of the endlink....you'll have to stick the socket up into the bottom of the A-Arm to get to it (as shown in the picture). Meanwhile, you'll also need a 13mm box end wrench to hold the top of the endlink to keep it from spinning freely. Unbolt the endlink until the top retaining nut comes completely off. You should then be able to tap the endlink downwards through the swaybar, and then through the A-Arm until it is totally free.
Repeat this process for the other side of the car.
|Now that the endlinks are disconnected, all that is holding the bar up are the 2 brackets/bushings. Using a 13mm socket wrench, unbolt the 2 13mm bolts holding each bracket to the car, being CAREFUL as the bar is heavy and it will want to drop down on your face if you aren't expecting it. Once unbolted, REMEMBER the orientation of the bar and how it went in the car. The bar can be bolted up WRONG so you must make sure when we put the new bar in it is in the exact same orientation as the stock bar came out.|
|Included in the package from BMR were new Prothane brand polyurethane bushings and endlinks. Unwrap the two large red bushings that will be used to mount the front swaybar. In the package with the bushings is a packet of grease specially designed for use in this application. Tear open one of the grease packets and smear a liberal amount (maybe 1/4 of the package) inside both of the bushings for the front swaybar, as shown in the picture.|
Now pry open the bushing and place it on the new BMR swaybar in the same position as the stock bushings on the stock swaybar. The slit should face towards
what will be the front of the vehicle. When placing the bushing, try to get them as close to the same place as the stock bushings were on the stock bar|
We can now see how the new bar and bushing stacks up to the old bar and bushing. The BMR bar is a SOLID 32mm bar, compared to the hollow 30mm bar. This extra strength along with the stiffer bushing will help make the car feel much more stable when turning or slaloming. The old endlinks also look pretty pathetic compared to the new ones.
So, we're ready to bolt the new bar up into place. First, find your 4 swaybar bracket bolts (they are 13mm) and apply just a dab of
loctite to all of them.|
Next, Slide under the car and grab the new bar and lift it into place. Make the 2 ends of the bar go back ABOVE the 2 A-Arms, and make sure the bend in the middle of the bar is bent down as shown in the picture. If it is bent upwards, then you have the bar in upside down!
Once the bar is lifted into place, try to get one of the metal brackets in place and get a bolt started. This part will be a little tricky if you are doing the job by yourself since the new BMR bar is quite a bit heavier than the stock one, but it can be done. Get all 4 bolts started (holding both of the brackets in place) and then stop.
While the bar is still loose, we'll go ahead and install the endlinks. Before you disassemble the endlinks, make sure you look how they are assembled. There
is basically a top and a bottom "sandwich" to the endlink. In the middle of the top sandwich (the top has the nut on it) is where the swaybar will go, and
in the middle of the bottom sandwich is where the A-Arm will go. So, knowing that, get the long endlink bolt with a bottom washer and a bushing, and insert
it up through the A-arm. Once it is through the A-arm, slide on a bushing and a washer, then the spacer, then another washer, and finally another bushing. Once
all of that is on the endlink bolt, poke the rest of the bolt up through the hole in the end of the swaybar, cap it with a final bushing, a washer, and then
the nut. Now tighten down the endlink (using a 14mm deep socket and a 14mm box wrench to keep it from spinning) until it feels like it naturally wants to stop and
then torque it to 17lb ft. Repeat this for the other side.|
Now that the endlinks are installed, we need to tighten down the bushing brackets. Turning each one a few turns at a time, tighten all 4 bolts at the same time making sure the bushings are as centered as they can get in the brackets. Once they are tight, use a torque wrench and torque them to 41 lb/ft
Once that is done, reinstall your bracket if you had one (making sure you reinstall the 1 10mm bolt for the wheel well cover), and unbend the rubber water curtain and reinstall the little retainer by twisting it back onto the stud.
All that is left is to back the car off the ramps and enjoy!
To install a rear swaybar we'll need to get the rear of the car up in the air. You have two options. One, if you feel comfortable doing this, is to
reverse the car up onto a pair of rhino ramps. I do this all the time with no issues, but if you aren't gentle you can shoot right over the ramps. The
other option is simply to jack up the rear of the car either by the frame right in front of the rear tires, or by the differential itself, and then support
the car by jackstands. However you decide to do it, make sure you chock the front wheels to keep the car from going anywhere once it is up!|
Now that it's up in the air we can take a look at what we're dealing with. In the picture on the left I've labeled all the key parts. You should see the puny rear swaybar, going through two bushings held to the rear axle by 2 big U-bolts, and then 2 small endlinks hanging off the backside of the car at each end of the swaybar.
Using a 13mm socket wrench on the bottom of the endlink and 13mm box ended wrench on the top of the endlink to keep it from spinning, unbolt the endlink. Repeat for the other side
of the car.|
Once both endlinks are removed, use a deep 13mm socket to unbolt the 4 nuts holding the swaybar mounting brackets and metal spacers to the axle (via the U-bolts). Be careful not to drop the swaybar or metal spacers on your face as it'll fall once all bolts are removed.
That was easy huh? Either using the same packet of grease from the front install, or using the grease included with the rear bushings, squirt some
into the new red Prothane bushings for the rear bar and smear it around with your finger to make sure its all over the inside of the bushing. Once greased,
pry open the bushing and place it on the new bar in approximately the same location as the ones on the stock bar, making sure that the slit in the bushing
faces the rear of the vehicle.|
Now is a good time to compare how the new BMR bar compares to the stock stuff. The BMR bar is 21mm thick compared to the stock 19mm bar.
Once you are done admiring your new parts, get under the car and lift the rear bar up into place. NOTE: The bend in the middle of the shaft should be going DOWNWARDS, otherwise
you are installing the bar upside down! While holding the bar up in place, I found it easiest to put one of the endlinks through on one side first Remember, install
the endlinks like they were shown in the packaging...the swaybar gets sandwiched between two bare bushings, and the frame of the car gets sandwiched between the top two
bare bushings...the washers go on the outside of each sandwich. Once one endlink was started, I let the bar down for a sec and moved over to the
other side and installed that endlink. |
Now you can work freely without having to hold the bar up. Tighten up the swaybar endlinks using a 14mm socket and a 14mm box wrench, and torque them to 16lb/ft.
All that is left is to bolt up the swaybar brackets. Lift the bar up into place and using the new brackets included in the Prothane package (or reusing your
stock brackets), start the 2 nuts onto each U-bolt to hold the bar up. Before you tighten these nuts down, we need to move the u-bolts, spacers, and the brackets
to the exact same location they were on the car before we removed them. If you look at the axle, you'll see little metal tabs that raise up to fit a groove
in the metal spacers, and you can probably even see where the metal is cleaner on the axle right where the spacers were. Just try to get as close as possible
to stock location. In the end it doesn't matter that much if you are off a little bit.|
Once you get the 4 nuts started, tighten them a few turns at a time until they are all tight, and torque them to 18 lb/ft. That's it!
Now that the bars are installed you are ready for your first test drive. The car should feel much more responsive when moving the wheel side to side,
and it may feel even more so at speed. You'll notice the tighter feel even when just pulling out of a driveway. Go out and have some fun with your new
crisp feeling ride and be safe!|
I'd also like to thank for making excellent quality suspension pieces at affordable prices, which make it possible for documents like this to happen.