Sway bar end links and their replacement
Thanks to Dennis Weaver, Dave Kegel, Mike Edmonds
Sway bar end links are another important part of your car's suspension. There are both front and rear links and they are different parts. A failing sway bar end link will sometimes give a "squeaking" sound, sometimes a clunk, sometimes a clacking. A further indication of a failing link is to have the car jacked up and be able to move the front wheel, by pushing or pulling at the 2 and 8 o-clock positions.
The common reason for failing links is that the rubber bushings or boots on the sway bar linkage will wear out or tear. Additionally, sway bar end links can fail catastrophically. Dave Kegel had a rear link snap on him and believes that is was a combination of cold weather and poly bushings that caused the break. You will know of a catastrophic failure because it will make a lot of noise with the end of the big bar banging around under the car. If it is just your sway bar end bushing or boot that wears out, you will be unable to replace it alone, unless you get "recycled" bushings from a junkyard.
At a dealer, the front link will cost you $34.88, and the part number for the front link is F4DZ-5K484-A. The rear link should be around $21. Both sides (whether front or rear) are the same number, the difference is the way you install them -- see below. The links are made of plastic, supposedly an improvement from the thin steel ones, and replace the '93 and earlier sway bra links. In addition to purchasing new links from a dealer, you can get them from Joe Scott or the SHO Shop ($34 each for front links and $21 each for rear links). Allegedly, Moog makes a front sway bar link that is greasable and has metal bearings. Moog's link should fit '86 to '96 Tauruses The Moog sway bar link part number is K8702 and the link goes for $46. Federal Mogul/TRW also makes a replacement front end sway bar link, part number is 18136. Here is a link to the Federal Mogul/TRW catalog page listing the correct part.
To replace a link, you have to remove two nuts. All that is required is jack the car up and then put a second jack under the rotor (obviously after removing the wheel) and take the pressure off the sway bar. The only trick is that the links have a correct end up. They are white plastic devices with a ball joint on each end. One end is marked with a red mark and the other end has a green mark. The end with the red mark goes up on the right side and the green mark goes up on the left side. If you get them in the light you can see the direction molded into the plastic "right up", "left up", "right down." Replacing the links is maybe a 30-minute job if you take your time. Use Lock-tite. You are supposed to replace the nuts when you remove them from the old strut, it is up to you. The nut is a nut with washer combination, and the part number is N804911-S160. The nuts shouldn't cost more than a few dollars each.
Those who've replaced their links note that in addition to ending the clunking noise, the new links seem to tighten up the suspension. One final note, you should probably have your car realigned after replacing the links.