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MINI Front Swaybar DIY

Front Sway-bar Replacement: The R53 subframe design is a wonderful example of compact packaging. Unfortunately the tight confines of the front end makes replacing the front sway-bar a time-consuming activity. It is not particularly difficult, just time-consuming, especially if you don’t have access to a lift. The process outlined below will allow you to drop the front subframe enough to remove the sway-bar. As usual, this description is a general explanation of the process. Refer to your Bentley Manual or other workshop guide before taking this on yourself. Disclaimer: These instructions are provided for general information. Use at your own risk. No wagering.

1. Safely support your MINI on jack stands and disconnect the battery. Set the jacks high enough to work under the subframe if necessary.
2. Put the front end into service mode by removing the front bumper cover, wheel liners, and front lower skid plate.
3. Remove the front bumper. Remove the front crash tubes. Use penetrating oil if necessary. Be sure not to misplace the plastic inserts once the crash tubes are removed. (While the bumper is off, clean between the radiator and condenser.)
4. Slide under the car and remove the power-steering fan and unplug it from the power-steering pump. Reaching to the top of the power-steering pump, carefully unplug the two electrical connections to the pump. If you are just lowering the subframe far enough to get to the sway-bar, it is not necessary to unplug the top plug.
5. Working from the top of the engine, open the clamp holding the power-steering reservoir and make sure it can drop into the engine freely as the subframe is lowered.
6. Disconnect the sway-bar from the lower drop link that is attached to each strut.
7. Using a ball-joint separator, separate the tie-rods from the front wheel hubs.
8. Above the steering rack toward the firewall is the steering knuckle. Turn the steering wheel to position the nut so you can remove it from the bolt. Fold the knuckle back on itself.
9. Disconnect the control arm bushing bracket from the body frame on each side.
control arm
10. Place your floor jack under the subframe at the circular opening and support the weight of the subframe with the floor jack.
11. Working behind each strut, disconnect the subframe from the body.
12. Disconnect the lower engine mount.
13. Remove the six bolts holding the rear of the subframe to the body shell.
14. Using the floor jack, lower the subframe far enough to reach the four bolts holding the sway-bar to the top of the subframe. Spray penetrating oil. If necessary, use a block of wood to wedge between the subframe and the body to get enough room to get a ratchet on the sway-bar bolts. These bolts are torqued to 122 ft lbs of torque so it will take some leverage to loosen them.
15. Carefully slide out the old sway-bar and replace with the new one.
16. Installation is the reverse of removal.

Notes: Be sure to torque all bolts to the required spec. The captured nuts in the body for the control arm bracket bolts torque to only 48 lbs not the 63 lbs specified in some manuals. If these nuts are stripped, try rethreading by boring the holes to 25/64th inch then thread to 7/16th inch (20NF pitch). If that doesn’t work, they will have to be cut out and new nuts welded in ($$$).

Torque Specs in FT LBS
Sway-bar end link to sway-bar 41
Tie-rod to steering knuckle 38
Front subframe to chassis 74
Crush tubes 74
Sway-bar to subframe 122
Lower engine mount 74
Power-steering pump 14
Rear subframe to chassis 74
Control arm bracket to chassis 48
None provided: PS Reservoir bracket; Steering arm knuckle