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How to Use a Jeep Sway Bar Quick Disconnect

XT Staff

XT Staff

 / Jun 12 2019
How to Use a Jeep Sway Bar Quick Disconnect

You've seen the pictures in magazines, or perhaps you've been lucky enough to witness it; an old CJ glinting in the desert sun as it sits between two large boulders. One front tire is about level with the top of the roll bar while the other is directly under the drive shaft. This is not a wreck; the jeep is actually moving forward, albeit slowly, to the next rock. How do they do that?

Shop Sway Bars & Disconnects

Investing in a sway bar disconnect for your Jeep Wrangler is going to be vital in reaching the level of articulation you will want when wheeling tougher trails and terrain.

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The Beauty of Wheeling

If you have ever watched videos of people going off-roading, you have probably seen some pretty crazy things. One thing you see a lot is some of the crazy poses Jeeps can get in while flexing. Usually one wheel on top of a huge rock and the others planted on the ground.

When they do this, it gives you a great view of their Wrangler's suspension, but it also helps them maintain as much traction as possible when crawling over things. When it comes to going off-road driving, one of the most important things is keeping as much tread on the ground as possible and the best way to do this is by increasing articulation.

JK Sway Bar Disconnects - Front
Jeep JK Sway Bar Disconnects - Front

Boosting Wrangler Articulation

When talking about off-roading, articulation is how much flex you have. This means if one of your front wheels drives over something, you see how high up you can get that wheel without lifting another wheel off the ground. The easiest way to boost your articulation is to disconnect your front sway bar links. This can typically be done in just a few minutes with just a few tools. Doing this will greatly boost your Wrangler’s flex and it will make the ride on the trails smoother. Just be sure you reconnect them before you go back to driving on the road, otherwise it can be very unsafe. Vehicles with solid axles like Wranglers will see the greatest increase when your sway bar is disconnected. Vehicles with independent suspension systems will see a slight gain, but it will not be as drastic as on the solid axle systems.

2007-2017 JK Wrangler with Performance Dana 30 Axles
JK with Performance Dana 30 Axles

What Does a Jeep Sway Bar Do?

Jeep sway bars are designed to help keep your rig level and prevent rolling. If you are driving at high speeds and try to take a turn without a sway bar you are going to lose control and possibly flip. While this is great for driving on the road, it’s not always perfect for trails since trails are not smooth and level (at least not the fun ones) and you won’t be going very fast when you are off-road. Unbolting your sway bar links is not difficult, but after a couple of times it can become a hassle. You have to stop either when you get to the trail and disconnect them or when you get to an obstacle that you need the extra articulation for. This is where a set of quick disconnects comes in handy since it only takes a minute to pull a pin, disconnect the links, and pin it to the frame. It's quick, easy, and you don’t need to worry about losing a part somewhere while you are wheeling.

2005 Jeep TJ Quick Disconnect Sway Bar Links
Jeep TJ Quick Disconnects - Front

Driving With Your Sway Bars Disconnected

While on the trail, one of the key aspects of maintaining great traction is properly flexing or articulation. The Jeep’s solid axle design allows it to flex in a way that maintains incredible contact with most tires.

In order to properly allow for good articulation while off-road, the Jeep’s sway bar needs to be disconnected. The sway bar itself is designed to maintain a flat even stance and actually prohibit excessive articulation while on the road. During slower off-road conditions, articulation is key, therefore disconnecting the sway bar is critical. While driving with the sway bars disconnected it’s important to maintain a nice slow steady pace with minimal quick adjustments to the steering. A quick steering adjustment will offset the Jeep’s weight to one side and possibly result in a rollover if there’s enough speed built up and the angle is too great during the articulation.

While on the road and higher speeds, the sway bar should be connected. Although there isn’t a specific speed limit, road levelness and steering is more critical. If the road is un-level or you’re forced to make a quick steering adjustment, the faster you’re going, the greater the risk of a rollover. This is due to the Jeep’s inability to keep both sides of the wheels level when the sway bar is disconnected. The independent flexing of each side could also cause excessive bouncing and build up enough momentum to tilt the Jeep.

TJ Wrangler Driving Down the Road

Picking the Right Quick Disconnect for Your Wrangler

If you plan on taking your Jeep off-road an important step for maximum clearance and articulation involves disconnecting your sway bar. Rubicon sway bar disconnects have a built-in electronic disconnection module that electronically disconnects the sway bar by the push of a button. This avoids the need to manually disconnect the sway bar links. However, fellow Jeepers have been reporting problems with the Rubicon's sway bar disconnects. Should they get too wet, the electronic units can fail. Either you can replace the units with factory Rubicon units, or you can forgo the electric push-button for stereotypical quick disconnects.

Nonetheless, despite if your Jeep has an electronic disengagement or requires a manual disengagement of the sway bar links, the length is critical for optimal performance on and off-road. If you plan on lifting your Jeep, the correct length of sway bar links will put the sway bar slightly raised past a flat level. About two degrees higher than a flat plane. This ensures the best performance on the road for both an electronic and manual disconnection system. Off-road this length is critical for a Jeep electronic sway bar disconnect system because the system disconnects the sway bar in the middle and not on the ends. That means the sway bar links themselves remain attached to the bar.

If the length is too short, you run the risk of having the link drop down too far during articulation, wrapping around the other end, and bending in half. The same can be said if the sway bar links are too long and could cause the bar to go in the opposite direction. This scenario isn’t a concern with manual disconnection systems, but the ability to easily disconnect/re-connect a sway bar link is important for a manual disconnect. The sway bar links should have a large opening with a secure and heavy gauge attachment link to ensure that the links are held in place when engaged on the road and easily removable when off-road.

2007-2017 JK Wrangler Sway Bar Disconnect Kit for 2.5-6" Lifts
Sway Bar Disconnect Set for JKs with 2.5-6" Lifts

How to Manually Disconnect the Sway Bar - JK

If you're not ready to shell out for a quick disconnect set, knowing how to manually disconnect your sway bar will be important. First things first, you're going to need a couple of wrenches and some bungee cords. You can also use a ratchet, 3/4 inch socket, and an 18mm wrench.

Before loosening anything, you'll want to have your Jeep on the most level surface you can find. This will make removing the necessary bolts that much easier. 

Next, go under your Jeep and remove the bottom sway bar disconnect bolt. Make sure to store the nut and bolt in a place where they won't get lost. 

After that, rotate the disconnected sway bar joint so it's facing straight up. This is where your bungees come into play. Wrap the bungee around the joint, attach one hook to the top coil spring retainer, and attach the other to the back of the grille. The goal is to keep the joint upright and out of danger.

Do the same thing on the other side and you're ready to wheel!

Fitment includes: JL, JK, YJ, TJ, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Laredo, Sport, Islander, S, Sahara, Renegade, SE, X, Rubicon, Unlimited, Sport-S