A new sway bar in the rear of your Ford, whether it’s a Mustang, Galaxie, or other Ford product, will improve how it handles in corners. This is even true if you’ve got a newer Mustang that’s already got a rear sway bar. However, like a front sway bar, you can’t just install the biggest bar that is sold.
The Rear Sway Bar Works with the Front Sway Bar
A rear sway bar works in conjunction with the front sway bar in your Ford to improve its handling. If the front sway bar induces too much body roll and under-steer, the right size rear sway bar will correct it. However, too much sway bar can make your handling go the other way. For this reason you need to work with a suspension expert to select the right sway bar for your car.
Tools and Equipment You’ll Need to Install a Rear Sway bar on Your Ford
You’ve got to get the rear end of your Ford off the ground enough for you to be safe and comfortable under it while working. I recommend ramps if you’ve got them. Otherwise a s set of jack stands and a jack will do. Either way, you want to block the front and rear of one front wheel to help ensure that the car doesn’t roll while the rear is jacked up. Here’s a list of the other tools and equipment, besides the sway bar kit itself that you’re going to need:
- Safety glasses
- Wrench set
- Socket set with extension and ratchet
- Drill and drill bit (For older Fords that don’t already have a sway bar installed)
- Light grease (recommended but not an absolute necessity)
Get the Car Up in the Air
Unless you have absolutely no alternative, you need to find someplace besides a driveway to do this work. IF you have no flat and level surface to do this work on, make sure you block both front wheels to ensure the car doesn’t roll while you’re under it.
For those of you that are lucky enough to have ramps, place them behind the rear wheels and carefully back onto them and firmly set the parking brake. Manual transmissions need to be kept in gear. For jacks and stands, lift the car from the differential housing and place the stands under the frame rails in front of the rear wheels then carefully lower the car onto the stands before removing the jack.
Install the Bushings-All Cars
Whether this is a completely new install or you’re upgrading an existing sway bar, put a light coating of the grease inside the bore of the sway bar axle bushings and slide the bushings over the sway bar. These bushings are the ones that are shaped like the letter “D.” Rotate the bushings a few times to spread the grease around.
Upgrading an Existing Sway Bar-Remove the Old Sway Bar
If your car already has a rear sway bar in it, you need to remove it. On older Fords, this will entail removing the axle housing clamps and the end links from the body/frame in front of or behind (usually behind) the rear differential/axle housing. On newer cars with independent rear suspensions, this will entail removing the end links from the control arms and the bar itself from the frame/body above and slightly in front of the axle/differential.
Solid Axle Installation Step 1: Attach the Sway Bar to the Axle Housing
For those of you with solid axle cars, your sway bar installation kit came with a set of U-bolts and plates to attach the sway bar to the axle housing on either side of the differential. Some bars are designed to be installed below the differential/axle, while others are designed to go above them.
Slide a U-bolt over the axle housing and place one of the plates on the other side of the axle from it, sliding the holes on the plate over the U-bolt. Next, slide and axle bushing clamp on top of the bushing and over the U-bolt. Finally, start the two nuts and snug them down, leaving them loose enough that you can move this assembly with some effort. Make sure you’re not pinching the brake lines before snugging the nuts up. Repeat on the other side.
Solid Axle Installation Step 2: Assemble the End Links
The exact steps for end link assembly will differ slightly from kit to kit, but they all follow these general steps:
- Slide the long end link bolt through the end link hole on the sway bar.
- Slide an end link bushing onto the bolt from the underside of the sway bar. The bushing is designed with a neck or lip that will fit against the sway bar.
- Slide a washer on top of this bushing. The cupped side goes against the bushing.
- Thread one of the nuts onto the end link bolt/stud.
- Slide a bushing against the top of the sway bar, making sure to align it correctly.
- Slide another washer on top of this bushing.
- Some kits will require a spacer to be installed at this point, while others won’t.
- Slide another washer and bushing over the end link bolt.
- Slide the end link mounting plate over the end link bolt with the “U” shape facing up.
- Another bushing and washer go next. Be aware of proper alignment.
- Thread a nut onto the bolt, just snugging it up.
Solid Axle Installation Step 3: Marking the End Link Locations on the Frame Rails
This is another step where ramp owners have it easier than the rest. You need to load the suspension up before this next step, marking the locations for the end link brackets on the frame rails. Raise the rear off the stands, pulls the stands, and lower the rear. Remove the jack.
Slide under the rear of the car and push the end link bracket on one side up until it sits against the frame rail while making sure the bar is centered side to side. I like to use a spring-loaded center punch, but you can use a Sharpie pen to mark the center of the two bolt holes on each end link bracket.
Solid Axle Installation Step 4: Attaching the End Link Mounting Plate to Your Ford
Use the drill with the correct size bit (usually around 3/8 inch) and drill the two bolt holes in the frame on each side of the car. Slide the end link plate bolts through the frame from the top and push the bracket over the bolts. Thread a nut onto each of the four bolts and snug them down hand tight.. You may need to push the sway bar ends out of your way prior to drilling. You might find it easier to start the holes with a bit that’s smaller-say ¼ inch.
Note: With some rear sway bar kits, the end link bracket bolts are actually squared-off U-bolts instead of individual bolts.
Solid Axle Installation Step 5: Tighten Everything Down
The nuts on the sway bar axle bolts should be tightened in an alternating pattern: Tighten one nut halfway then tighten the other halfway. Go back to the first nut, and finish tightening it then tighten the other nut. Repeat this on the other axle bracket.
You should also alternate on the end link frame bracket bolts. Next, check how tight the end links are by trying to spin a bushing or two. If you can’t spin the bushings, the end link nut is too tight. If you have to, loosen the nut by quarter turns until you can spin the bushing. If the end links are too tight, the bar won’t perform correctly and the bushings will wear out prematurely.
Note: Some rear sway bar end links will mount to the side of the frame rail using a single bolt through the frame rail. These bars will have a bushing wrapped around and clamped to the bar and a bracket. The bracket is then bolted to the inside of the frame rail with washers and bushings.
Newer and Independent Rear Suspension Rear Sway Bar Installation
On the newer Fords, especially the Mustang, the rear end is an independent suspension unit. Sway bars in these cars usually mount to the lower control arm and the frame rail above and in front of the axle assembly and usually use the OEM sway bar mounting locations. Some of these, like the Hellwig pictured here, have new hardware that lowers the sway bar away from the frame a bit, while others have the sway bar mounting directly to the frame.
What this will normally entail is two bolts on either side securing the sway bar to the frame and a bolt/stud from the end link going into a hole in the end of the sway bar. The end link will be secured to the bar by this stud and a new locknut. You will most likely need to thread the nut onto the stud by hand and then hold the stud with a small wrench as you tighten the locknut.