Stabilizer / Sway Bar (Front) End Link Installation for a 2000 Ford F150 2WD Pickup
1997-2004 Ford F150s all use the same links for the front stabilizer bar.
Removing and replacing the stabilizer bar (aka Sway bar) end link bolts and bushings is a relatively easy job. There are a couple of places where the job gets a little difficult and needs a little finessing.
Here are the tools I used. Not pictured is the torque wrench used.
Long screwdriver used as a pry tool - any pry tool of similar size can be used.
Mirror - for hard to see into places - only used make sure the new link bolt is aligned properly in the control arm hole.
Flashlight - only needed a couple of times - once when I dropped a washer into the spring well on the control arm and had a hard time finding and retrieving it. Here's a hint, save yourself 15 minutes and don't drop a washer into the very tight space on the control arm where the spring nests. It's very difficult to get it out of there. Another hint, a magnet won't work to retrieve the washer.
19 mm for top end of old, original Ford Link bolt
5/8" for bottom nut of old, original Ford Link bolt
9/16" long socket for bottom nut of new, Moog Link bolt - You'll need a long socket here or a socket and short extension.
9/16" short socket for top end of new Moog Link bolt - a long socket will likely fit here but a short socket is easier to work with
9/16" box end wrench can also used on top end of new Moog Link bolt
Preparing the Vehicle
You don't need to raise the truck up on jack stands or take the front wheels off although I would think that removing the wheels would make the job a little easier. I just don't think that removing the wheels is worth the effort.
I just turned the wheel to it's stop on each side. I took this photo after I'd already partially installed the new link bolt and bushings on the left side of the truck. I turned the wheel similarly on the right side.
Vehicle prep - turn wheel out as far as it will go
Even with the wheel turned like this you will still need to crawl under the vehicle in order to use both hands.
Parts I Used
Link Bolt Bushing, Washer and Tube Spacer Orientation
Here's what the old and new links look like side by side. Note the orientation of the rubber bushings, washers and spacer on the new Moog link bolt.
Note that the washers go against the smoother curved side of the rubber bushings and that the pinched parts of the bushings go toward each other. These pinched parts fit in the holes in the stabilizer bar and the control arm.
Parts assembly orientation
Here's the orientation of the washers, rubber bushing and tube spacer starting at the top of the bolt (the end opposite the nut end). This is just for illustration only. You can't pre-assemble the link since it has to be installed in pieces in place on the stabilizer bar and control arm.
· Washer #1 with convex side against bolt end
· Rubber Bushing #1 with smooth side nestled inside concave side of Washer #1 and pinched side down
· The stabilizer bar will in between Rubber Bushings 1 and 2 when assembled on the vehicle
· Rubber Bushing #2 with the pinched side up toward the pinched side of Rubber Bushing #1
· Washer #2 with the concave side nestled against the smooth side of Rubber Bushing #2
· Tube Spacer
· Washer #3 with the convex side up against the Tube Spacer
· Rubber Bushing #3 with the smooth side nestled inside the concave of Washer # 3 and the pinched side down
· The control arm will go between Rubber Bushing 3 and 4 when assembled on the vehicle.
· Rubber Bushing #4 with the pinched side toward the pinched side of Rubber Bushing #3 and the smooth side down
· Washer #4 with Rubber Bushing #4 nestled into the concave side and the convex side facing down
· Nut on the bottom
I go into all this detail because it's easy to get some of these eleven pieces in the wrong orientation when installing them in place, and the bolt is barely long enough when everything is correctly oriented. More on the length issue later.
Remove the old link bolt, bushings and tube spacer.
(Sorry, I don't have any photos of me actually removing the old link bolt since I was working by myself and needed both hands to work the top and bottom wrenches.)
· Hold the top of the link bolt with a 19 mm socket or box end wrench.
· Use a 5/8" long socket on the nut on the link bolt located on the underside of the Control Arm.
· You may have to use some penetrating oil or WD40 on the nut. I didn't. Try wire brushing the nut and exposed threads first to remove dirt and/or rust. Use the penetrating oil as a last resort since it's messy. I hate using that stuff.
· When the nut is off, remove the link bolt and all bushings, along with washers that may have become loose, and the tube spacer.
At this point, the stabilizer bar may drop down somewhat depending upon the condition of the link bolt, bushings and tube spacer on the other side of the vehicle.
I had to use some wood blocking to hold the stabilizer bar up so it was easier to work on it. Using string to hold it up didn't work well, and I couldn't find a piece of wire so the wood was my only choice. It worked.
In the photo below, note the 'Spring (pry point).' This will become important later.
Original Ford link bolt and bushings about to be removed
Installing the new Moog Link Bolt, Washers, Bushings and Tube Spacer
· Slip Washer #1 on the bolt with the convex side against the bolt head
· Slip Rubber Bushing #1 on the bolt so that the smooth side nestles into the concave side of Washer #1 and with the pinched end of the bushing pointing down toward the nut end of the bolt.
· Thread this assembly through the hole in the stabilizer bar. Don't worry about getting the pinched end of the bushing to fit in the stabilizer bar hole just yet.
· Don't let the bolt go through the control arm hole just yet.
· Hold the bolt at an angle and slip Rubber Bushing #2 on it with the pinched side up. This pinched side will later mate into the hole on the underside of the stabilizer bar.
· Slip Washer #2 with the concave side up onto the bolt so that Rubber Bushing #2, already installed, fits into the concave of the washer.
Now it's going to get a little tricky since there's very little room to work. You can gain maneuvering room by moving the bushings and washers already installed on the bolt further apart. I did this for the next steps plus I used my pry bar (the big screwdriver) to pry up a little on the stabilizer bar to gain more room. You'll understand this better as you do the next steps.
About using the pry bar. You only need to pry parts a little - perhaps 1/8" to 3/8" in order to get things aligned. Using too much pressure on the pry bar or prying parts too far can certainly damage them so be careful and prudent as you pry.
· Slip the Tube Spacer on the link bolt. I positioned the link bolt over the control arm hole and slipped the tube spacer on through the hole in the control arm.
· When the tube spacer was on, I pushed the link bolt up so it was almost even with the bottom of the tube spacer. This means the bolt and Bushing #1 were sticking up a half inch or so above the top of the stabilizer bar. See the photo below. You will need this room to do the next step.
· Next you have to slip Washer #3 and Rubber Bushing #3 on the bolt below the tube spacer. In order to do this you will need to pull the bolt to the side as far as possible. That's why the space at the top is needed - for tilting purposes. See the photo below.
Washer #3 & Rubber Bushing #3 installed
Note how Bushings 2 & 3 are separated in this photo which allows the link bolt to be pulled to one side to facilitate the installation of Washer #3 and Rubber Bushing #3.
· Slip Washer #3 convex side up onto the link bolt so the convex side is against the tube spacer.
· Slip Rubber Bushing #3 smooth side up on the link bolt so it nestles into the concave side of the washer. See photo above.
This is where using the pry bar under the stabilizer bar and using a point on the spring as a fulcrum makes the preceding steps a lot easier. See the 'Spring (pry point) in the photo above.
· When Washer #3 and Bushing #3 are on the bolt, maneuver the assembly in line with the hole in the control arm. This is difficult and almost impossible unless you use the pry bar to relieve the tension the stabilizer bar is placing on the link bolt assembly.
· When the assembly is lined up with the control arm hole, push the link bolt down through all the bushings and washers so it protrudes through the hole in the control arm.
· Using a mirror, look under the control arm to make sure the bolt is centered in the control arm hole. If necessary, use your pry bar to pry up on the stabilizer bar and link assembly so you can move and center the bolt in the control arm hole. If you don't pry up on the stabilizer bar to relieve the tension it is virtually impossible to get the bolt lined up properly.
· Reaching under the control arm, slip Rubber Bushing #4 onto the link bolt with the pinched side up, smooth side down.
· Slip Washer #4 onto the link bolt with the concave side up so it nestles into the smooth side of Rubber Bushing #4
Now, you will note that there are no threads protruding beyond Washer #4. Why they couldn't have made the bolt a quarter inch longer is one of life's great mysteries. Here's how to handle that.
· Make sure the link bolt is pushed as far down as it will go. You may have to tap on it with a hammer or one of your tools to make sure it's firmly seated against the top washer.
· Make sure the pinched ends of all rubber bushings are firmly seated in the holes in the stabilizer bar and the control arm. I had a lot of problems getting them seated in the holes. You might have to wiggle them from side to side to get the pinched ends of the bushings to slip into the stabilizer bar and control arm holes. Use the pry bar to get wiggle room.
· Use your pry bar. Wedge the end of the pry bar under a convenient coil of the nearby spring, rest the pry bar across the top of the link bolt then pull down while feeling the end of the bolt under the control arm. You'll notice you will have a quarter inch or so of thread to work with.
· Undoubtedly while you were prying on the top of the bolt, Washer #4 fell off the bottom. If you're working by yourself as I was you'll have to hold the washer and nut in one hand and pry bar in the other.
· This will take some practice. It took me several tries on each side of the vehicle to complete this step
· Finger tighten the nut on the bottom as much as possible before releasing pressure with the pry bar.
· Finally, use your torque wrench to tighten the nut to about 17 pounds.
And, that's it. You're done. Your installed stabilizer bar end link should look like this.
Stabilizer bar end link installed but not torqued to specs yet