Drop links are short metal rods with joints known as 'bushings' at each end. The purpose of drop links is to connect the anti-roll bar in a car's suspension to the rest of the suspension structure. Other names for drop links include 'end-links' or 'anti-roll bar links', or occasionally 'sway bar links'. Due to the strong forces imposed on them, drop links can and do wear out over time. When drop links do wear out, the car's handling may be compromised. The suspension may also become noisy.
For a car owner looking to replace the drop links on his vehicle's suspension, it is important that he know a little about their functioning, and how to source good quality replacement drop links at a reasonable price. Increasingly, car owners are looking to eBay for quality replacement parts for their vehicles, including drop links for suspension systems. eBay has thousands of listings for original manufacturer's parts, and third party replacement parts. To find the right part, a buyer needs to know how perform a keyword search and then how to employ various search filters to refine the search.
What Are Drop Links?
Before heading onto the eBay site and conducting a search for replacement drop links, it wise for the user to first learn a bit about the form and function of drop links. Although the word 'links' may suggest something which is short, in the nature of a chain link or cuff link, car suspension drop links are atypically about 25 cm to 30 cm in length.
Drop links resemble metal rods with a kink at each end to which a joint is attached. The joint looks like a large metal knuckle that contains a synthetic rubber bushing. The purpose of the joint and bushing is to allow for a semi-rigid connection between the drop link itself and the anti-roll bar. In order to understand why this connection is so important, one needs to understand the nature and purpose of the anti-roll bar.
Drop Links and Anti-Roll Bars
The anti- roll bar is a steel bar that sits beneath the body of the car. It is attached via the drop links to both the left- and right-hand side wheel suspension structures. The purpose of the anti-roll bar is to limit the extent to which the chassis leans, or rolls, when the car is cornering or turning.
Usually there is one anti-roll bar at the front of the car, joining the two front wheels, and a second at the back of the car, joining the two rear wheels. Since each anti-roll bar has one drop link at each end, there are a total of four drop links in a car. However drop links are sold in sets of two, not four, as each anti-roll bar is treated independently.
By linking the two wheels together with an essentially stiff metal bar, the anti-roll bar prevents the wheels from moving too far out of alignment from each other when the vehicle takes a corner. Without the anti-roll bar, one side of the chassis would be pulled right down to the ground by the force of cornering, and the opposite side would be thrust upwards. Although the anti-roll bar is essentially stiff, there is some give in it, and the joints between the anti-roll bar and the drop links provides even more give. This flexibility prevents the structure from being too rigid, which would make for an uncomfortable ride and poor traction on the road.
How Do Drop Links Work?
With some insights into where drop links are located in a car's suspension system, and how drop links fit into the functioning of the anti-roll bar, it is now possible to understand more clearly why drop links are so important. Since the drop links are located between the anti-roll bar and the rest of the suspension, these components play a crucial role in transmitting forces from one wheel to the other, across the body of the car. For the anti-roll bar to work properly, it needs the right amount of rigidity and the right amount of flexibility. If the drop links malfunction, or the bushings wear out, the car starts to corner and turn badly, affecting a car's handling on the road. If a car no longer hugs the road as it should, the driver could lose control of the car.
Signs Drop Links Need Replacing
Signs that a driver should lookout for include a knocking noise from the suspension, and changes in the handling of the car. Normally these are signs that the rubber bushings have become degraded by the constant stresses that the drop links are subjected to when a car turns and takes corners. To replace the bushings effectively means replacing the whole drop link, as the ball joints at each end of the drop link are integral to the link itself.
Conducting a Keyword Search on eBay
It is easy to find drop links on eBay. Simply enter a search term into the search bar on the eBay home page. In this case, a good search phrase would be something like 'drop links'. This brings up literally tens of thousands of listings for drop links and anti-roll bars for most of the popular models and makes of car. At present these search results are mostly for cars other than yours, but it is very easy to narrow the results down so that they reflect your needs.
Using Search Filters to Refine a Search
Do this by specifying the make and model of the car, whether new or used items are desired, and whether the preference is to see only manufacturer's genuine parts, or additional drop links made by third parties.
Make and Model of Car
When a seller lists drop links for sale on eBay, the seller is required to specify which make and model of car the set of drop links is compatible with. Car suspension systems can vary from one make and model to the other. If buyers know their make and model of car, they can sort the listings, such that only compatible drop links appear on the results page. If the the buyer's car is not listed as an option, he should consult the owner's manual, a parts catalogue, or the car's manufacturer.
The Condition of the Drop Links
The eBay search engine allows the buyer to sort the listings based on the condition of the car part. The user can sort the listings according to whether the listing is for new, used, or refurbished parts. Most of the listings for drop links are for new parts. While at any time eBay can have thousands of listings for used drop links at prices much lower than used part, the buyer should be cautious here. As drop links are subjected to a variety of forces, used drop links may not have much life left in them. Therefore, the buyer should read the item descriptions carefully and examine the photos listed by the seller to determine the condition of the used drop links. Once fitted, new drop links should last for several years, or more, depending on the mileage and the type of forces the drop links are subjected to.
Since many eBay sellers offer comprehensive charts and advice about which drop links are compatible with which model of car, compatibility ought not to be a problem. What the buyer does need to decide though is whether to go for original manufacturer's parts, from the maker of their car, or to go for third party replacement parts. This table addresses some of the pros and cons of third party drop links as opposed to original parts.
Third Party Parts
The car owner can fit the part himself
Quality can vary
Might affect car warranty
Generally, more expensive
Car's warranty affected if not fitted by qualified mechanic
Normally consistent in quality
Maintains warranty if part fitted at authorised service centre
The original manufacturer parts are likely to cost more, but some people prefer them because quality is consistent. Ultimately, which to go for is a question of personal preference and the car owner's budget.
The seller specifies the buying format: auction or pay the list price. While auctions can be exciting, and the buyer can often pick up a set of drop links for much cheaper than if the buyer paid the seller's listed price, the downside is that a buyer can lose out to a higher bidder. Participating in an auction requires patience as an auction could run for several days, but the committed bidder is rewarded with prices often well below retail.
Assessing the eBay Seller
Sellers with the highest feedback scores are referred to as eBay Top-rated Sellers. Buyers find that Top-rated Sellers are consistently the most knowledgeable about the merchandise they sell. Buyers and sellers rate each other at the conclusions of every transaction. A buyer rates a seller based on the seller's level of customer service the and the quality of the merchandise. On the seller's profile page, the buyer can read the feedback left by previous buyers. A buyer can sort the listings based on the status of the seller, such that the search engine only displays listings posted by Top-rated Sellers.
Drop links are part of the car suspension and sit between the anti-roll bar and the suspension infrastructure. There are two drop links for each anti-roll bar, which makes four in all. Drop links are typically about 25 cm to 30 cm long, and consist of a metal rod with knuckle shaped joints at either end. These joints allow a certain amount of flexibility in the suspension system, but if the drop links become worn and, therefore, too loose, the proper functioning of the anti-roll bar is compromised. Since the anti-roll bar helps stabilise the car when cornering hard or turning, and transmits forces across the body of the car to help even these forces out, worn drop links can substantially impair a car's handling.
When replacing drop links, it is possible to find both original manufacturer's parts, and third party manufactured parts. The latter are normally cheaper. eBay has listings for both these types, and generally has listings for drop links for most of the popular models and makes of car. eBay's search engine is very easy to use and allows the user to quickly sort through the thousands of listings to find a compatible set.