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Ireland Engineering 22mm Sway Bar Installation

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Posted after a recent install of the Ireland Engineering 22mm front and rear sway bar on Schwarz.


22mm Front/22mm Rear Swaybar Kit




Although helpful, the folks at IE seemed to be a bit too busy to offer much detail on confusing parts of the installation, so I’m hoping these tips from my personal experience will be of assistance to both manufacturer and customer.

I have attached the original pdf 2002 Swaybar Installation (IE bars).pdf2002 Swaybar Installation (IE bars).pdf of these instructions (which has pictures, and you should use in conjunction to this document) and can also be found on the IE website, but it is a circuitous process.  First, set up an account, then go to the bottom of the web page under “Customer Service” then click on “Downloadable Instructions”.  Look for the instruction set for the 2002 22mm sway bars, and add it to your shopping cart.  Check out as normal (you won’t be changed), and at the end of the process after you “Continue to Shipping”, you will see “downloadable pdf” and “digital download”, click on that and it should open up the instructions.  A link will also be sent to your e-mail.

TOOLS: You will need, in addition to the jackstands needed to get the car off the ground, TWO jacks, TWO 8x30mm bolts, (same type as the bolts that hold the rear swaybar U-brackets in place, but like ¾” - 1” longer), zip ties (about 12” or more in length), access to a vise and (I used) channel locks to bend/straighten the rear U-brackets, assortment of 12mm-17mm sockets and wrenches, torque wrench (optional?), file (optional?).  Plus, possibly, other unforeseen accoutrements….



Front Bar Installation


You will immediately notice that the front IE swaybar routes differently than the stock swaybar.

It is routed underneath the subframe and mounts via the mounting blocks to the subframe/chassis connections.

The front hardware includes:

1) Endlinks

2) Billet mounts with bolts

3) Pivot bushings with u-brackets

4) Swaybar

-Get the car off the ground.

-Remove the stock front swaybar. (Save the pivot bushing brackets, they are NLA from BMW so hang onto them. If your car was not equipped with a rear swaybar you will need these brackets to install your rear IE bar.)

-Use a jack to support the subframe so that you can still access the two bolts needed to be removed in order to install the Alu mounting blocks.  Remove ONLY ONE SIDE AT A TIME.

-Install the mounting blocks one at a time (support the subframe while doing this). The blocks use the front two chassis-to-subframe bolt holes. Torque the supplied bolts (the longer in the rear, the shorter in the front) to 52ft/lb (72Nm). Use blue loc-tite if deemed necessary. **TIP: After torquing a bolt, mark it with a paint pen. This will remind you of which bolts are tightened and will tell you if they start to loosen down the road.

- NOTE:  I had to file/shape the blocks slightly to fit between the two lips of the forward bolt on both blocks…it only took a few minutes.



modifying, slightly, the Alu block to fit between the supporting frame


-Liberally lube the swaybar pivot bushings (grease is supplied, or use a silicone-based dielectric grease available at most hardware/electrical stores) and slide them over the bar.

-Slip the u-brackets over the bushings and bolt to the bottom of the mounting blocks (the swaybar should now the attached and the ends left dangling).

-I know it’s a stupid thing, but make sure the swaybar is facing the right way (“ears” up) before you bolt it to the mounting blocks…ahem.

- Also, note…and I verified this with IE…that there is no set torque for those U-bracket bolts that go into the Alu block.  IE indicated that they just tighten them until they feel set, but not “superman” tight.  I used the 72Nm suggested for the other mounts.

-Now it's time for the endlinks. Disassemble an endlink and install onto the control arm. The control arm should be sandwiched between the bushings. Slip the spacer sleeve and jam nut on to the point where they start to tighten, do not tighten yet.


To eliminate any preload of the endlinks (which would quickly destroy your endlinks) first attach the heim-joint to the desired hole on the swaybar. Position the swaybar roughly parallel to the ground and cycle the strut assembly upwards to mimic body load (you can use an extra jack for this. IF the weight of the car is already compressing the suspension [on ramps] this obviously isn't needed).

The heim-joint and the endlink should naturally line up. Thread the bolt up into the heim-joint.

-With the heim-joint threaded on then you can snug the jam-nut on top of the spacer sleeve. DO NOT over-tighten, tighten until the bushings begin to deform, then back the nut off slightly. If a few threads are exposed between the heim-joint and the jam nut it is ok.

- Keep the side you were just working on supported, and use a second jack to pre-load the suspension on the other side.  It will make things easier.

-Repeat procedure with the opposite side

-Now you are done with the front swaybar.












The IE rear swaybar mounts like a factory swaybar, however the adjustable endlinks utilize a slider that can choke up (making the bar stiffer) or backed off, depending on your use and driving preference.

The Rear Hardware Includes:

-Urethane Pivot Bushings

-Endlinks with billet sliders




Old vs the new


-Assuming your car is still off the ground, remove the factory swaybar (some 2002's were not equipped with a rear swaybar).

- You will need to reuse the factory mounting bracket (the front and rear brackets are interchangeable). Straighten the brackets.

- By “straightening the brackets”, Andrew means to bend the U-brackets slightly, opening up the “U” in order to accept the slightly bigger bushings.  One poster commented that he sanded the bushings, etc.  The folks at IE are pretty smart guys, and the bushings were made to fit as manufactured.  If you open up the brackets a little so that the bushings will fit with little to no deformation to the swaybar hole, your life will be much, much easier.  So clamp the U-brackets in a vise (gently, as not to bust them…remember they are precious!!), and take a pair of channel locks to GENTLY open the “U”.  Test the supplied bushings to see if they fit in the brackets without deforming the opening that holds the swaybar. ONLY BEND THE OPENING JUST ENOUGH TO ACCEPT THE BUSHING WITHOUT DEFORMATION.  IF YOU BEND IT TOO MUCH, IT MAY BE DIFFICULT TO REMOUNT.



This is what the bracket looks like before you straighten it...obviously NOT fitting without serious deformation....



Gently, little by little, open the "U" until the bracket accepts the new bushing with little to no deformation.


Much better!!


Now check to see how your straightened bracket (with the new bushing) fits on the new bar.  This looks MUCH better, and it's OK that the bushing is longer than the bracket...


- Lube the rear pivot bushings and slide them over the rear swaybar. Place the u-brackets onto the bushing.

- Slide the bushings and U-brackets out to the point at where the swaybar just starts to bend.

- Lift the swaybar up and slide a u-brackets tab into the slot on the subframe.

- Zip tie the swaybar to the subframe.



Zip-tying the rear bar to the frame while I worked helped immensely!


- Center the swaybar, as best you can, to be even on both sides of the subframe.  Make sure the bushings are properly seated in the U-brackets.

- To get the bolts started use a succession (I only needed the one length of bolt) of long to short 8mm bolts to cinch the bracket into place. **This can be frustrating if you are not patient or have not straightened the bracket.

- There are pictures of C-clamps being used in the original instruction set. One other poster hinted at the horror of getting the U-brackets to fit..sanding bushings and stripping bolts. So I prepared for the worst and pulled out C-clamps, big channel locks, several sizes of bolts, etc, expecting to spend hours wrestling with this thing…but it was, in reality, not so difficult…even easy, with the U-brackets easily mounted just using the longer (~30mm) bolts to get it started.  Here’s how:




I started out with all of this stuff...but ended up needing only the zip ties and the "mid length" bolts in the picture...the middle set of 8x30mm.  Note the stock bolt is on the left side with the washer.


* CAUTION:  If your U-brackets start to grossly deform to the point you think they might tear or break…I’d back off and try another approach.  This worked well for me, and went smoothly.  If you’re not getting the same results, then it’s probably best to re-think the situation and go your own route.  Just keep those U-brackets safe!!!

1. Start one side by getting the longer bolt properly threaded into the “deeper” end of the bracket mount.  By “deeper”, the mount forms a triangle against the subframe…and one side will obviously accept a longer bolt before bottoming out…that’s the side you want to use at this stage.  The bracket hole will be at an angle to the mounting hole (see why opening the “U” too much is bad?), but you should be able to properly thread the “starter” bolt into the mount, perhaps with a little fiddling. Tighten that longer “starter” bolt in a few turns, but don’t snug it just yet.

2.  OK, that should have been pretty easy…now, do the same on the other side of the swaybar.

3.  Now tighten each side, a few turns at a time, until the U-brackets draw in close enough to allow them to accept the stock bolts.  If your “starter” bolts are too long, you may have to start over, inserting a group of washers in order to provide space enough to get to this point before your “starter” bolts bottom out on the subframe.  If you cinch down one U-bracket fully before the other, installing the “loose” side will be tough.

4. Properly thread in and tighten the stock bolts good and snug.  Remove the longer “starter” bolts and thread in the stock bolts in their place.

5. Make sure all bolts are good and snug, keeping in mind that the bushings will probably compress over time, and those bolts will likely need to be checked at some point in the future.

-Install the rear endlinks in a similar manner as the fronts, except taking the sliders into account (slide them up and snug them down. In the off chance you cannot get the slider tight enough you can file the pinch opening slightly to allow for more clamping).

- What Andrew doesn’t say, but implies here is that we are to also pre-load the rear suspension while installing the bushings.  I assumed this and jacked up both sides as to avoid the detrimental endlink pre-loading mentioned in the front bar installation section.

- After calling IE, I was told that the angle of the opening of the swaybar clamp to the endlink assembly line should be kept to a minimum as the car sits on the ground.  In other words, the final picture in the original instruction set shows the proper alignment.

A good starting stiffness is to have the sliders positioned about a half-inch from the end of the bar.

-Now get your car back down on the ground and go for a drive!





The left side rear bar after install.


I hope this helps alleviate the frustrations at least one ’02 mechanic looking for a bit of bolt on performance with this popular kit!

I can tell you that installing these bars took the better part of an afternoon, but all went very smoothly…it was a pleasurable wrenching experience.

Of note:  Ireland Engineering has been sponsoring the Bay Area ’02 Fest…an event I try to attend every year….for the last several years. 

Edited by swizman
add original IE instructions in pdf
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