End rattles and improve handling on Jeep Cherokee with Sway bar bushings
The front sway bar performs a very important function on a street Cherokee. It controls the body roll to improve the handling. The later model Jeep Cherokees used a larger diameter bar to further improve on road handling.
The bracket was also modified to help keep the bushings in place during times of extreme articulation. The combination of a larger bar and a larger bracket means there is very little clearance between the bar and the bracket. The bushing is also smaller so it wears faster.
As the bushing wears, the bar can contact the bracket and make a rattling sound on rough roads. Replacement bushings are now available form Crown Automotive as well as the Jeep Dealer.
To replace the bushings, leave the vehicle supported by its axle. If a lift is used for access, the axle needs to be supported in the normal position to avoid having stress on the brackets.
Remove brackets one at a time. To remove the bracket, loosen the two 15mm bolts and slide the bracket off the bushing. Pull down slightly on the sway bar and slip the worn bushing of the bar. Slip the new bushing over the bar and slid it into the proper position. Slip the bracket back over the bar and bushing and reinsert the bolts. Be careful to properly engage the threads before tightening. Repeat the procedure with the other bracket.
The end link bushings may also need to be changed as well. The bushing that attaches to the axle usually does not wear out. However if it does the best way to change it is to replace the entire sway bar end link. It will come with a new bushing already pressed in place.
I like to replace the end link bushings with polyurethane instead of the original rubber. However the procedure is the same using either the stock rubber replacements or the poly upgrade.
Remove the top nuts on both ends of the sway bar. Remove both upper bushings. Raise the sway bar up off the end links. Remove the bottom bushings. Replace both lower bushings. Lower the bar back in place. Now install both upper bushings.
Replace both retaining washer and nuts. Tighten the nuts until the bushing just begins to compress.
When driving off road when more articulation is needed, disconnecting the front sway bar will greatly improve front traction and handling. To disconnect the front sway bar, remove the retaining nuts at the lower part of the end link where it joins the axle. This bolt has a torx head but is normally pressed into the axle so that it will not turn. Just remove the 18mm nut.
Slip the end links off the bolts and secure the sway bar in its upper most position with an elastic cord.
If you go off road often, you can make removal and reconnection faster by replacing the bolt with a ½” pin available at most farm supply sources. Drive the original bolt out of he axle connection and replace it with the pin. Then you will be able to quickly disconnect and replace the sway bar connection by simply removing a clip and pin rather than having to use a wrench.