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Thumping noises and extensive leaning or swaying in your 1996 Ford Explorer, can both be symptoms of a faulty stabilizer or sway bar link. The 1996 Explorer base model was equipped with standard four-wheel ABS, a 4.0-liter V-6 engine, and a two-wheel drive drivetrain. The sway bar is also known as an anti-roll bar, because it keeps the vehicle from leaning too far while turning and cornering. The sway bar links and bushings connect the sway bar to the chassis and the suspension.
Items you will need
- Tire iron
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Box-end wrench set
- Socket set
- Torque wrench
Front Sway Bar Links
Loosen the front wheel lug nuts. Raise the front of the Explorer using a jack, then place jack stands beneath the front sub-frame rails. Remove the lug nuts, then remove the wheels from the vehicle.
Insert a box end wrench on the top nut on the sway bar link. Hold the link still and rotate the link bolt counterclockwise, using ratchet and a socket. Rotate the assembly until the nut is free from the link.
Remove the link and link hardware from the Explorer, using a hammer to lightly tap the bolt downward if needed. Install a washer then a rubber bushing on the new sway bar link bolt. Insert the bolt upward through the lower control arm.
Insert a rubber bushing then a washer on the link bolt once it protrudes through the control arm. Push the link bolt upward and install the stabilizer metal sleeve on the link, followed by a washer then a rubber bushing. Push the link upward through the sway bar.
Install a rubber bushing, washer and nut on the top end of the link bolt. Rotate the nut a few turns to make sure it is threaded properly. Insert a box-end wrench on the nut. Hold the nut still and tighten the assembly clockwise, using a torque wrench, to between 10 and 13 foot-pounds.
Repeat steps 2 through 6 to replace the sway bar link on the opposite side. Install the front wheels, and tighten the lug nuts until they are snug. Lower the Explorer to the ground and tighten the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds.
Rear Sway Bar Links
Open the rear hatch of the Explorer. Remove the hatch cover for the jack assembly. Turn the automatic ride leveling switch off, if equipped. If the vehicle is not equipped with an automatic ride leveling system, proceed directly to Step 2.
Loosen the rear lug nuts, using a tire iron. Raise the rear of the Explorer with a jack, then place jack stands beneath the rear axle housing. Remove the lug nuts, then remove the rear wheels from the vehicle.
Insert a box-end wrench on the bolt head of the lower sway bar bolt. Remove the lower sway bar nut and washers. Repeat this process to remove the upper sway bar nut, bolt and hardware.
Install a washer on one of the new link bolts. Insert the bolt through the upper chassis mount hole. Install the new link on the upper mount bolt, then install a new washer and nut on the link bolt.
Align the lower link mounting hole with the sway bar mounting hole. Install a washer on the link bolt, and insert the bolt through the sway bar then the link. Install a washer and nut on the bolt, and rotate the nut a few turns to secure it.
Insert a box-end wrench on the upper bolt, and tighten sway bar link nut to between 40 and 60 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench and a socket. Repeat this step to tighten the lower bolt and nut. Repeat for the other side.
Install the rear wheels and tighten the lug nuts until they are snug. Lower the Explorer then tighten the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds. Turn the automatic ride leveling system switch back on only when the Explorer is completely lowered to the ground. Replace the spare tire kit hatch inside the Explorer.
- Failure to shut the ride leveling system off prior to raising the rear of the Explorer, can result in damage to the ride leveling system.