Replacing the Front Swaybar End Links
I've had my Touring Wagon for about six months now, though it seems as if i only got it yesterday. I've driven to Las Vegas, autocrossed and put almost 8000 miles on it. There's always been something not quite right about the steering and i wasn't sure what it could be. Perhaps it was the wide tires i was using, or the variable power-assisted steering. Perhaps it was something else.
While trying to hunt down an annoying thunk i'm presently getting when turing the wheels from its furthest at low speed, i began inspecing my suspension for possible problems. I soon noticed how badly the bushings in the front swaybar endlinks looked. Could this have been causing the sloppiness i'd been experienceing? I ordered a set of new links from SubaruParts.com and installed them. You can get to the ordering page here, and the part number is 20420AA004.
Yes, it was the links.
Bushings get worn over time, with use, and by the elements. These ones had seen a good deal of all and weren't doing much more than keeping everything together. This is a relatively inexpensive and simple job that nets immediate and noticeable benefits. I'd recommend it for anyone with a pre 97 car with over 70k miles, especially if you have bad roads, massive seasonal temperature differences and long for a more precise feel on the wheel.
After replacing the links i noticed several things. The steering was more accurate, the front end was more quiet when going over rought bumps, and everything felt much smoother.
Tools needed for the job are simple. 1 14mm socket, 1 12mm socket, 1 14mm open/closed end wrench, 1 12mm open/closed end wrench and possibly a floor jack. If your car is low enough that you need to jack it up, you could run into problems. I don't know if it can cause problems to install the links when it's jacked up, but removal is definitely much easier this way.
Basically, remove the nut from the bolt on top and bottom, replace the endlink with new part and reinstall. The link and sway bar line up much easier with weight on the car. There's no tension when the car is flar, so don't worry about that.
Unfortunately i ran into a snag when i was nearly completed with the job. The lower bolt on the passenger side had rusted itself to the metal liner of the link and i was forced to cut the link off and eventually use a die-grinder to cut the bolt out. A set of bolts from the store easily replaced the rusty originals. If purchasing an aftermarket kit like the Whiteline versions, i believe all new hardware is provided.
Below are some pictures of the install.