Installing a Flyin' Miata Front Sway Bar

by Jonathan Tang

The following install uses a Flyin' Miata Sway bar, but the steps should be no different for any other brand. The day prior to installation it's probably best to make sure all bolts and nuts are loosened from any binding from rust. So get some WD40 or Liquid Wrench and spray the end links and attachments liberally. I didn't use a jack or anything, but maybe you'd want to on the rear. The bolts are pretty close to the edge of the car, so I reached them without problem.

Step 1: Parts Required:
  • 14mm Ratchet
  • 5mm Allen Key
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Ratchet set with 10, 12, and 14mm attachments
  • Open 10mm wrench
  • Ratchet extensions
  • Jack (the one in your trunk is fine)
  • Ramps (not required if you use jackstands, but highly recommended)
  • Breaker bar (optional, but will help against tight parts)
  • Anti-seize compound (optional)
Step 2: Raise the car, and open the hood so you can get some light down under the car. Ramps are preferable to jackstands, because you'll need to tighten the end links back up with the weight on the car.
Step 3: First, you need to remove the plastic cover beneath the engine. This consists of 11 screws. The first are three tap screws just under the bumper. Use the 10mm socket here.
Step 4: The next two are at the back of the plastic cover, on each corner towards the middle of the car. Use the 10mm socket.
Step 5: The next two are in each wheel well. This is a picture from the driver's side, in front of the wheel.
Step 6: This is a tough shot to comprehend, but there is one screw on each side again, near the ones from step 5. If you get under the car and look up towards the front of each front wheel well, you should see them.
Step 7: The last two are inside the bumper area. So you'll have to get in past the plastic area that covers the front of the inner wheel wells. My passenger side has a rectangular hole in it for some reason, so this was easy to get to. This one is just the nut.
Step 8: The driver's side is not as easy, so I used the phillip's head screw driver, and removed three tap screws from the bottom of the front inner fender cover. This opened up enough space so my hand could reach in. Then remove the nut just as in step 7
Step 9: Success! You can pull the plastic cover off now!
Step 10: Here is a snapshot of the end link bolt. Many people, including me, missed this and made it a pain, because you can usually get the nut off part way, but then the whole bolt begins to turn with a ratchet. You'll notice there's a hole here to place an allen key.
Step 11: Use a breaker bar or ratchet to initially loosen the nut. But then use the allen key to hold the bolt in place, then use the open ended wrench to turn the nut off.
Step 12: Pull the end link out.
Step 13: I missed a snapshot here, so don't get confused why the new bar's already on. But now, remove the nuts from the sway bar brackets. You're now all ready to remove the bar. I pulled it out through the passenger side, because there are a few metal coolant lines that look a bit delicate. It took a few minutes, but not too bad. The hard part was getting the new, larger bar in.

Many people have a hard time getting it back in, usually because if you insert it from the passenger side fender area, the bar can't get over the lower radiator hose. Every time you try and raise one side of the bar, the other side hits the ground and prevents you from raising it further.

If you use the jack to raise the passenger side of the car a few inches, you can get more leverage to move the sway bar around and get it over the radiator hose. After that, I lowered the car back on the ramp. Don't do this if you don't feel comfortable or safe!. I figured even if the jack fell, it would land on the ramp (which was only 2 inches below the wheel).
Step 14: Put the end link in the new sway bar. FM instructions said to try the outermost hole first.
Step 15: Grease up the new bushings.
Step 16: Pop the new bushings on the bar, then apply the brackets.
Step 17: Tighten up the bracket bolts. I went around to each bolt and tightened little by little.
Step 18: Tighten up the end links! The bar is much thicker, so you'll notice that the screw doesn't go as far in as before. Replace the plastic engine shield, and you're done!

Back to the Garage

25 April, 2004