Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics)

Posted by: BigMerc96

Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/03/13 09:47 AM

Yesterday I "upgraded" from my stock 26mm front sway bar to a '98-'02 style 29.5mm P71 front sway bar on my '97 Town Car. I ran into a couple complications that I thought I'd document with pics as pics would have helped me greatly while fighting with this thing.

The main complication is that the sway bar bushing studs just spun, 3 of the 4 studs did this and would not loosen or tighten at all after being loosened half way. I ended up cutting 1 of them and breaking the clip on the remaining one on each side and sliding it out of the frame.

First off, the '00 P71 29.5mm bar next to the stock '95-'97 26mm bar:

Note the extra bend in the middle to clear the oil cooler on P71s, civi sway bars don't have that bend.

Next, here is the stupid clips/studs:



And the pic that I REALLY wish I had when trying to get the stupid clips out of the frame:

As you can see, the clips slot into a keyhole shaped slot in the frame, there is a tab on the clip that keeps it from sliding back out of the slot. With some prying I was able to release the tab and then knock the stud/clip out of the slot after removing/cutting 1 of the studs on each side.

Here is the studs installed in the frame:


Additional notes:

-The clips are part number N806729-S436 and come in a package of 4. Cost was about $4 each for a cost of $16 for the package.

-The nuts that go on the studs were a ridiculous price at the dealer, but they are just M10x1.5 nylock nuts which I sourced for about $0.50 each at the hardware store.

-Each car has 4 studs.

-this design is shared with at least '95-'02 Panthers, probably even earlier, and maybe even later than that.

-This is apparently very common. The parts guy didn't even need a part number when I told him what I needed he went in back and got them for me without even checking in the computer. He commented that the service guys who do these things all the time are always breaking them.

-I suspect these things were never intended to be used twice, even the one that didn't break looked pretty fragile compared to the new ones and there was no way I was going to reuse it. It did find a home in my tool box tho.

-a '98-02 front sway bar does indeed fit a '95-'97. The mount to the steering knuckle is the same, but the stud end that goes thru the sway bar is significantly larger on the '98-'02 style end links.

-You could probably use '95-'97 end links on a '98-'02, but they are actually more expensive. You cannot however use a '98-'02 end link on a '95-'97 sway bar, the larger stud on the newer end link will not fit thru the older sway bar.

-The car corners much flatter, but seems a bit more prone to understeer than the 21mm HPP rear sway bar/stock 26mm front bar combination. The balance is closer to the stock 26mm/17mm combo, just much flatter and more neutral/less understeer prone.

-I think this is a winning setup, but after having the car tail-happy for so long, it'll take a bit of getting used to.

-yes I know my car is rusty. The frame is still solid and is what you'd expect on a car of its age in the rust belt.
Posted by: GutsyGecko

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/03/13 10:25 AM

About the understeer, it holds true for whales to. Addco bars make the understeer pretty terrible. I mean, you can definitely turn sharper/flatter, but the back end will never try to pass you again.
Posted by: BlackVic_P71

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/03/13 11:32 AM

Those studs look identical to the ones I replaced on my '05 CVPI. I didn't know what was happening at first when trying to take one of the nuts off, it just kept spinning. I had to cut the bracket to get the stud out and order the part from a local dealer and drive without a front swaybar for a few days.
Posted by: Mazlem

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/03/13 09:47 PM

I had my stock 27mm front with a 21mm rear for a while and that would want to step out if I pushed it. As soon as I put the 29.5mm front on it moved to understeer like you said. I think a 28 or 28.5mm front would be a perfect match for the 21mm rear bar. Gonna have to try that with my next car.
Posted by: 2006grandmrq

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/03/13 10:03 PM

before i got my addcos my car already tended to push when compared to the older 01 GM i had previously, after addcos KYBs and low pro rubber i lost most of the push and now its just slight understeer to the point of predictability but no push..
Posted by: sm41

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/03/13 10:08 PM

I think I just want an upgraded rear bar now. I'm dangerous/stupid/risky like that.
Posted by: Mazlem

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/03/13 11:38 PM

If you've got the 27mm with original bushings, maybe put in poly ones and leave it at that? Or at least new rubber ones. Or is your car a P71 sm41?
Posted by: pantera77

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/04/13 12:50 PM

I must say those clips are a better design the then self tapping bolts 79-91? use that are notorious for stripping out.
Posted by: maxknox

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/04/13 02:23 PM

I had similar clips for my rear sway bar. Thread was trashed on the clips and the bolts. Surprisingly, they stocked the clips at my local Lowe's in 2 drawers marked "automotive" in the hardware aisle. I was blown away. Also found replacement bolts but I was dumb and got regular duty instead of hardened or heavy. at least I know where to get replacements, right?
Posted by: F1erceK

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/05/13 02:36 PM

I did this same mod to my 00 LTC a few months ago. I used oxy-acet to cut mine out (a good excuse) and went to Napa/Advance for 4 'generic' style threded clips, and bought the appropriate bolts. Holds just the same, so far no issues and I beat the piss out of my car in corners sometimes. A nice combo with a comfy ride.
Posted by: 2007CrownVic

Re: Front Sway Bar replacement adventure (w/ pics) - 07/05/13 03:24 PM

Originally Posted By: aknox077
I had similar clips for my rear sway bar. Thread was trashed on the clips and the bolts. Surprisingly, they stocked the clips at my local Lowe's in 2 drawers marked "automotive" in the hardware aisle. I was blown away. Also found replacement bolts but I was dumb and got regular duty instead of hardened or heavy. at least I know where to get replacements, right?


That might be a bonus for you. If the bolt breaks before the tab it threads into does it'll be easier to get apart.