Waiparous Trail Run & Sway Bars

A weekend trail run through Waiparous provincial recreation area in Alberta resulted in a bit of a learning experience about sway bars and sway bar links.

The weather started out a bit miserable, but the weather network seemed confident it would clear up by “mid-day”.
The video below is the drive out from Cochrane Alberta to the first river crossing on the trail.

(YouTube videos are all available in 1080HD, so be sure to adjust in the YouTube settings!)

It doesn’t look like much, but a Jeep WK broke a front axle attempting this crossing.

Continuing on, we passed through some easy trail conditions despite the early spring rainy and melting conditions.

The low cloud cover was interesting to see and had we not been with someone else, it would have been nice to stop and setup for a time-lapse video of the cloud movement.

Finally, we get to what looks like a relatively easy hill. Sure, it’s steep, with some rocky sections, but really not a problem for a Jeep…

I make the climb and it seems to go without any problem. A couple of scrapes on the bottom, but nothing worse than I’ve experienced before – but then, I noticed something wrong. It was the sound and just a bad feel to the Jeep.

A quick look around revealed nothing hanging down, so I pressed on a few more meters – the noise still there, but not as loud. We all stopped for a closer inspection and found that the sway bar and link jammed up in the tie rod knuckle.

It would have been nice to have taken photos of the situation, but I was more concerned with getting it fixed without any damage occuring. I’ve marked up a photo I took later, showing what went where:

I know the process behind disconnecting the sway bar links and the reason why (better articulation over rough terrain – essentially it lets you keep all 4 wheels on the ground more than possible with the sway bar still connected). None-the-less, I have never disconnected the sway bars on the Jeep yet and today I hadn’t planned on disconnecting either, but the jammed up situation required lifting up the front end and doing a disconnect.

All said and done, we were able to free up the jam and tie the sway bar up out-of-the-way.

I turned around at this point – uncertain as to if any damage to the Jeep might have occurred. All was good with the handling of the Jeep, but the disconnected sway bar links sure made a difference with the roof top tent on top.

Once we were off the trail, reconnecting the sway bars was easy and there was no problem with continuing the weekend adventures. A bit of research showed that my sway bar links are original OEM – far too short for a 3.5″ lift. My ProComp lift was to include longer sway bar links, so I’m a bit concerned that the company that sold and installed the kit shorted me on the links. If you’re out of Edmonton and had work done by Trucks Plus, have a look over what should have been done – closely!

New links are on order and I’ll have a detailed post on sway bars, sway bar links and my new links once I get them and complete the installation.

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