Took two tries, but I was finally able to install the front AFE sway bar on my Q (rwd) this morning. The first try ended in dismal failure as I just couldn’t get enough leverage to break the 17mm nut loose on the sway bar end link to disconnect the oem sway bar, even with a 1/2" drive breaker bar. So I bit the bullet and invested in a cordless impact wrench, probably something I should have done eons ago. That did the trick, and the rest of the process was straight-forward. Note: the driver’s side end link nut took several seconds of "pounding" by the impact wrench before finally loosening, and as a result that nut now wears some slightly rounded corners. Still was able to reuse for the new sway bar.
I had done much research regarding torquing the sway bar with wheels hanging (my Q was on jack stands) or flat on the ground/lift as some installers recommend in order to avoid "preload." AFE instructions didn’t specify and their own install video shows wheels hanging, as did many other YT install videos. Since the end links pivot at the top and bottom to allow movement of the control arm, I didn’t think it mattered either way with the non-adjustable oem links, so I torqued and buttoned everything up with the wheels hanging. That scenario may change though when I get around to the rear install. I used the provided silicon grease on the bushings and also put a thin coat on the sway bar end link contact points, and all stud/nut threads were dabbed with Loctite. Another note: due to the larger mounting brackets with the Zerk/grease fittings, there is minor interference with the Z-1 alum splash shield, but I should be able to live with that.
I had also intended to replace the oem end links with some adjustable/beefier end links, but due to a vague catalog listing, the end links I received weren’t correct, so I reused the stockers with the new AFE sway bar. The after-market rear end links I received look correct, which I will confirm when I do that install later this week.
I used the "soft" setting of the sway bar as I’m not interested in max handling, just enhanced. And on the shake-down run on some favorite twisties near my neighborhood, my Q does seem to corner flatter with less lean, so "soft" is good for me. I expect even more enhanced handling when I get around to installing the rear sway bar later.
Here are a couple of pics comparing the old to the new. The oem front sway bar is about 21mm thick and approx 7-1/4 lbs in weight, whereas the AFE bar in its distinctive blue color is 35mm thick and weighs 14 lbs - definitely much beefier and should hold up for a long, long time. Rear install to come soon - thanks for your interest.
Today I was able install the rear AFE sway bar, completing the project I started earlier this week when I changed out the front sway bar. The rear was a little more involved and time-consuming as there were four plastic "shields" underneath that needed to be removed to allow access to the mounting bracket bolts, the tailpipes needed to come off, and replacing the oem end links with the SPL adjustable links also took more time install time.
I disconnected and removed the stock end links first, carefully measured their length, adjusted the SPL links to match, then installed them. Then I removed the stock sway bar mounting bolts, brackets, and bushings, and tried to maneuver the old sway bar out of its space, hoping to avoid having to unhook the mid-pipe. By sheer luck I discovered that the sway bar could be removed simply by letting it rest on the mid pipe and then pulling it straight back toward the rear bumper where it could be easily taken off because I had removed the tailpipes (I have no muff). The thicker AFE sway bar also went in by the same route, though I had to coax it a bit to get past the differential. The rest of the sway bar install was simply a reversal of the oem bar removal, though setting the proper position of the new sway bar and adjusting the SPL end links for "0" preload took time.
After buttoning everything back up and double-checking my work, I took the Q out for a test drive and was rewarded with no clunks or unusual noises. Even with both sway bars set at their "soft" settings, the Q leans noticeably less than before, and that makes the wrenching worth it.
Here are a few pics of the swap - thanks for reading !!
The oem bar is 22mm thick and weighs about 4 lbs; the AFE is 28mm thick and weighs a little over 7 lbs.
Slid the new bar into place using the mid-pipe as a "runway." Old bar came off in the same manner.
Here's a close-up of the SPL adjustable end link.
New bar, mounts, and links in place - re-install the splash shields and tailpipes and this project is done.