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How to upgrade your ‘97 - ‘01 C5 Plastic Rear End Links to Aluminum 2002’s
By Mark Vaquer

When I found out that the 2002 Z06 ‘Vette was equipped with aluminum rear sway bar ‘end links’, I decided that it would be a great idea & a nice little mod to order a set of these and upgrade my 2001 Z06 with these heavier duty pieces. They are, as you’ll see, better constructed (not plastic!) and easier to work with than the earlier ‘97 - ‘01 end links. These are available from most C5 aftermarket vendors, but I went with the GM parts. Metal end links also come with all quality aftermarket sway bar packages (Hotchkis etc.). The GM ‘02 end links retail for $20.25 each; curiously these parts are ‘made in Japan’, not the USA. When ordering these ‘02 end links, refer to GM part #10435298. The same part number fits both sides. This is also the part number for the ‘02 front sway bar end links. I decided to not use these on the front of my Z06 because the ‘01 front end links are metal from the factory. If your Corvette Coupe/Vert front end links are plastic, you’ll want to perform this same modification to the front as well. This picture shows the right rear end link as installed from the factory on my ‘01 Z06.

Here is a picture of the front right ‘01 Z06 metal end link.

Here are a few comparison shots of both rear sway bar end links side by side. It’s obvious that the new ‘02 aluminum part is superior to the ‘97- ‘01 plastic one. The ‘97- ‘01 part has a ‘Torx’ drive (size TX-40) inset in the end of the mounting bolt. Notice that the ‘02 part has been upgraded in this area to accept a metric size ‘allen head’ key instead of the ‘Torx’ drive. The new ‘02 part also gives you the option of using an 18mm open end wrench on one end while using an 18mm socket on the nut on the other end of the mounting bolt. They did this so that you can securely hold the bolt while tightning it down to specification. Believe me, this makes it much easier when mounting and tightning the 18mm nut. You can mount them this way without even using an Allen key. Also, note how much sturdier the ‘02 piece is compared to the ‘97- ‘01 one. The ‘97 - ‘01 plastic end link is inferior when comparing it to the ‘02. I don’t think that you can go wrong performing this simple mod. Certainly a better constructed piece & definitely a nice inexpensive upgrade.

The 1st thing you need to do to perform this mod is to (safely) raise the rear of the car. You can either lift the rear of the car using ‘jacking pucks’, or you can refer to HOW TO LIFT YOUR C5 SAFELY & QUICKLY WITHOUT USING JACKING PUCKS, which is another ‘how to’ article that I’ve written. This procedure can be performed completely without removing the rear wheels; however, it will make the job much easier & it will go faster if you do. Once the car is lifted & properly supported and all of the vehicle weight is off of the suspension (‘unloading’ the sway bar), you can begin.

Once you’ve safely raised the car & removed the wheels/tires, begin by breaking loose the 18mm nut. Insert the ‘Torx’ drive into the end of the end link bolt to hold it securely in order to break the nut loose with an 18mm open end wrench.

While holding the bolt stationary with the ‘Torx’ drive, continue to loosen the nut with the 18mm open end wrench until you can remove it with your fingers. Don’t remove the nut until you’ve repeated this same procedure with the lower nut & bolt. For some reason, the upper nut is harder to loosen & remove than the lower. The lower one is a little tougher to get to, but it’s much easier to remove. Once you get both nuts loose enough, remove both of them. Keep these nuts handy as you will be re-using all 4 of them. Remove the plastic end link. You may have to work with it for a few seconds, but you should be able to remove the end link fairly easy. This is a picture of what you should see after the plastic end link has been removed.

At this point, you need to apply some ‘anti-seize’ to the threads of the new aluminum ‘02 end link bolts that you’re about to install. Install the new aluminum end link bottom (lower control arm) bolt 1st.

Put the 18mm nut on the bolt until finger tight. Swing the end link around & up to put the upper portion through the sway bar end. You may have to move the sway bar a little bit, but it will move fairly easy without much effort. Put on the 18mm nut until finger tight.

Now this is where you’ll see where the ‘02 end link is a much nicer piece and is very easy to install. Use your 18mm open end wrench on the base of the end link bolt where GM has designed into the bolt a spot where you can grip the bolt while tightning/loosening. Hold the bolt with the 18mm open end wrench. Use a 1/2" drive 18mm deep socket & ratchet to tighten the nut. Tighten the bolt down to 53 lb/ft torque or you can just tighten them down very tightly. As long as you get this nut suffciently tight, I don’t think that the torque specifications are as critical on this as it is on other parts of the car. You can also use an ‘Allen Hex Key’ (inset in the end of the end link bolt) instead of the 18mm open end wrench , but (IMHO) it would be more difficult to tighten the 18mm nut properly using this method. This picture shows what the left (driver) side end link should look like installed & torqued down to spec.

You will probably find that once you’ve completed one side, the other side will take half as long to do. Just repeat all of the above steps for the opposite side. When you’re finished, double check everything. Carefully lower the car & take it for a spin. There should be no squeaks/rattles or unusual noise coming from under the rear of the car. If there is, chances are something’s wrong & you need to re-check your installation to find the problem(s). From start to finish, this entire procedure shouldn’t take longer than 1 1/2 - 2 hours to complete; but don’t get in a hurry. Just take your time & do it right no matter how long it takes!

DISCLAIMER: You perform this modification at your own risk. Neither I nor the * family of sites make any claims that the information contained in this article is accurate, complete or that it will not damage you and/or your automobile. The information contained herein is strictly for educational purposes, intended for Z06Vette.Com/CFiveVette.Com forum members and is only from my personal experiences. Remember to use common sense when lifting any car and crawling beneath it. Always make sure that it’s properly and securely supported with the proper equipment and always on level ground, preferaby on a concrete surface & NEVER on dirt or grass!
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