Jeep Rubicons have some great features and are great trail rigs, BUT, the Rubicon sway bar disconnect sucks. It is a common problem that affects many Jeeps, can create issues far past the sway bar itself, and is an extremely expensive part.
We had a 2014 Rubicon straight die coming off a trail that took two weeks, and three great mechanics to finally diagnose as being an electrical issue sourced from the sway bar electronics. As we tore into the sway bar we found the (supposedly waterproof) electrical connector filled with water, the actuator itself completely filled with water, and the gearing within the sway bar completely rusted.
This is not an uncommon issue and Jeep knows it. Just about every Rubicon owner who wheels at all will eventually deal with it – and then have to make a choice. The options are, for the most part, expensive.
When faced with a faulty sway bar disconnect you can:
When facing our rusted sway bar, and completely destroyed actuator and electronics we elected to go with the EVO Manual Disconnect.
This was only after completely reconditioning the sway bar gearing. Once you break the sway bar open, you will find each half of the sway bar has a gear, with a larger gear that slides back and forth, either engaging both gears (thus locking it together) or just one (thus disengaging the sway bar and allowing both to move free). Any, or in our case, all of these gears were rusted and damaged. To fix this, you need several hours, patience, and good hand strength.
First, and most obviously pull everything apart and clean everything out with degreaser. Then we used a coarse sandpaper to begin to remove the rust and grime from the outer gearing and fork that moves back and forth. This just takes time. Starting at 80 grit, we moved slowly to 1,000 grit. It was never completely clean, as pitting has occurred in some spots, but with care and patience you can nearly completely restore the gearing.
Installing the EVO Manual Disconnect was very straightforward at this point; the only hiccup was the provided spring was giving too much force to the plate to allow the gear to fully engage both gears upon re-engagement. After a call with EVO, we cut the spring.