Stabilizer links act as components of auto suspensions, connecting several other parts that take much of the punishment as you pass over pot holes and other road imperfections.
Modern cars use segmented suspensions. Stabilizer or sway bars have stabilizer links. The stabilizer bar holds pairs of wheels connected, while stabilizer links hook this larger piece with arms that go up to the wheels themselves. Ball joint connections enable turning and suspension travel.
Stabilizer bars links improve handling and shock absorption, keeping the car from swaying too much as you turn–which could lead to loss of control. Adding stabilizer links between the main bars and the wheels refines this process of control, so cars handle “tight.”
With the prevalence of pot holes and bumpy roads, your entire suspension needs to withstand shocks, so stabilizer links employ cast iron, steel and alloy in their construction. Most have at least one ball joint for connecting with adjacent suspension components. A minority of stabilizer links lack ball joints altogether. Japanese and European car makers often employ this flat type.
You can identify stabilizer links by looking for ball jointed metal connections next to the wheels. Mechanics may refer to them simply as ball joints. Related but different parts of the suspension, such as idler and Pitman arms, can be found at the center of the undercarriage below your steering wheel. Most stabilizer links measure around 10 to 15 inches.
Worn stabilizer links affect steering, ride and fuel efficiency. Symptoms include a creaking or screeching noise as you pass road imperfections, plus wobble, skip and “dead zones” in steering. Don’t overlook these signs, as broken stabilizer links can lead to loss of control.
While not expensive items, stabilizer links require specialty tools and brute force to fit properly. Two stabilizer links on a domestic car should set you back around $120 to $150 at a budget repair shop. Unlike many other items on your car, new stabilizer links have an immediate and noticeable effect on the quality of your drive.