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Are these toast and should be replaced? The top bushing looks exploded - but how about the others, how does one check?

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These have only been on for less than two years; but I was running some very worn tie-rods ends for a while, so I think that did a number on everything else in my suspension?

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These do need replacing. As you suggested the top one is blown out (damaged, anyway). I doubt the reason was due to the tie rod ends, though. Tie rod ends keep the wheels going in the right direction. The sway bar helps to keep the vehicle level during cornering.

The reason these are worn out sooner than expected is because whoever put them on there, cranked the nut down onto the bushings and squished them. These should only be tight enough so there's no play. That means, tighten them up so there's no gap between the parts. You don't want to tighten them down until they squish, just enough so they start bulging at the sides. Look at how much thread is sticking out the top? That's a huge amount. There's a nylock nut on there for a reason: so it won't back off. It doesn't need to be tightened down until it stops (no more thread).

When replacing these, replace all of them. IOW: Both sides, top and bottom. Use all new hardware and new bushings. You shouldn't just replace a part of these. They aren't that expensive in the first place. Poly bushings look good, but when treated like this will wear out a lot faster than rubber ones will. Either way, when they are replaced, don't allow them to be cranked down so much.

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    Correct for urethane bushings, but rubber ones need to be squished.
    – Moab
    Apr 11 '20 at 21:37
  • Super helpful, thank you! Any advantage to poly vs regular rubber? I think I'm going to do this myself (shop did it last time) and actually do it right. Sadly, the more I learn about vehicles and the more I work on them, the more I realize most shops do an utterly sloppy job :(
    – wild coast
    Apr 12 '20 at 1:05
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    @wildcoast - Poly is a bit stiffer than rubber, which provides less deflection. If you are looking for a performance gain, this might help a little. The downside of poly is it tends to squeak in some applications, like A-Arm bushings. I don't think you'd have that problem in the sway bar ends, though you might see some in the bushings, if your car is equipped with them (the bushings which hold the sway bar to the frame ... sorry, I forgot to mention those in my answer). Apr 12 '20 at 1:37
  • In your repair manual or factory service manual, there will be specifications for how much to tighten the nuts.
    – pak
    Apr 15 '20 at 22:28

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