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TL Sway Bar Upgrade: Install and Thoughts

1880 Views 58 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Ang
Hey all, I got all the parts for the TL sway bar upgrade and did it earlier today. It went fairly smooth considering Wisconsin winter rust on these little nuts and bolts. (tools and part numbers at the end)
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On the top is my old sway bar and the bottom is the one that comes on a 2009-14 Acura TL-SHAWD
The stock Crosstour rear sway bar is 15mm wide and the TL's is 20mm as well as being more straight.

To remove the sway bar you have to remove the end links that attach to a bracket that comes off of the knuckle.
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As well as two other brackets that hold the sway bar with one bushing each. On each side, a bolt runs through to the welded nut from on the top of the rear subframe. These bolts are 12mm and they have a lock washer on the top.
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In an ideal world without corrosion, these sway bar end link nuts should come out when you put a 5mm Allen into the bolt end and turn the nut with a 14mm. I immediately knew that wouldn't work as the 5mm didn't fit in it and a 4.5mm was too loose. So I busted out the vise grips and held the back side of the link and loosened it with a ratcheting box end wrench and an m18 impact wrench. The one on the driver's side was a little worse, so I ended up having to cut off the little boot and grab the entire joint to hold it as I took it off with the impact, the penetrant I sprayed on it was steaming off by the time it came out.
(If you are replacing the end links you don't have to worry about removing the nut that attaches to the sway bar itself.)
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Once you remove the end links and the bushing brackets are out the sway bar is loose. Route it out from either side of the car, since its a long bar that isn't flexible you have to fenagle it to come out. If I was able to do so, anyone else can too. I got it parallel with the car and out from between the frame and the exhaust, I think I also went into the spare tire area a little bit so that wiggle room helped.

After you remove the bar you can compare it with the thicker TL bar, see first pic again, and now you can do the reverse of removal. Once the sway bar is in place above the lower control arms on both sides you can attach the bushings to the bar and loosely bolt the bracket in. The bushings themselves are directional and have an arrow pointing to where the front should be. Now that the bar is mostly in its position you can attach the end links to the new bar, they are directional so you can't mix them up. When everything is loosely bolted in, tighten down the bushing brackets and then the end links on the bar side and then the knuckle side (I used good-and-tight as a torque spec here). When the wheels are bolted back on and torqued you can set the car down and roll it back and forth to set the joints and bushings in their place, check to see that the nuts and bolts are all tight at this point and then you're done and should have something that looks like this if you used all new parts.
(note the rightfully upside-down "20.0" on the bushing)
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After going for a drive the change of feeling while cornering at speed is night and day, this feels so much better and will really show you how sloppy it felt before. It also shows you that stiffening up the rear gives away how bad the front is, and when I inspected everything while I had my engine out everything was solid even at 116k miles. Still makes me want an upgraded front sway bar, but that looks a little more involved, most likely have to drop the subframe for it or sneak it out by magical ways.

Now for the list of stuff.

2010-15 Honda Crosstour Parts:
Left Side End Link - 52325-TP6-A01
Right Side End Link - 52320-TP6-A01
Bushing Bracket x2 - 52308-TA0-A00
Bracket Bolt x4 - 93402-08020-08
Link to Knuckle Nut x2 - 90002-S10-000
Link to Bar Nut x2 - 90212-SA5-003

2009-14 Acura TL Parts:
Sway Bar - 52300-TK5-A02
20mm Bushings x2 - 52306-TK5-A01

You can get all of the parts from one Acura parts place but the only thing to look out for is the "link to knuckle nut", on the parts page for a 2009-14 TL, they use the same nut as the "link to bar nut", so if you do use an Acura distributor just get 4 of the 90212-SA5-003 nuts.

Jack Stands (I couldn't find mine but I trust my Jack)
19mm, for lug nuts
14mm for end links
12mm for bushing brackets
5mm Allen for end links (In an ideal world)
A variety of Vise Grips (For when the Allen hole strips out)
A knife (If you need to take desperate measures)
Impact Wrench
Electric Ratchet
3/8" ratchet
Torque Wrench (for the wheels, or don't, the impact is fine)

Electric tools aren't required but they make it go a lot faster, you can use the tool in your trunk if you don't have anything else for the lug nuts.
You can use an impact with extensions or the box end of a wrench on the end links but that's very tiring.

On the bushing brackets I used an electric ratchet with a deep socket, you can get them out with a regular ratchet and a deep socket or a shallow with an extension, a wrench might be hard to get in there.

If you look closely at the end link in that last picture you might be able to tell that it isn't a Honda nut, that's cause I didn't look close enough at the part pictures and just expected the links to come with nuts, since when would Honda be generous. I got a 4 pack of M10x1.25 flange nuts from O'Reilly's and they worked great.

Some more pictures:
A cool picture I found of the entire frame of a Crosstour, let me know if I should post the full ones, here I color coded the sway bar, brackets, and end links.
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A zoomed out area of the sway bar from the passenger side, includes the bar itself, bushing bracket, and end link
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The stock bushings, you can see the "FR <--" mark along with with the "15.0" mark (the bracket and bushings are separate pieces)
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In general how cross-compatible are the various parts from Acura sedans with the Accord and Crosstour, and which ones would offer useful upgrades like this? For example, I would suspect the TL could also offer struts that are "better" in various small ways, without trying to convert my comfy CUV into a performace sports car.

Any ideas on how to go about determining if any particular Acura part would fit and has reasonable potential for noticeable improvement, besides buy and pray?
and on the crosstour it may just not be compatible at all.
Although not guaranteed, if it "fits" on an Accord, it will likely fit just as well on a Crosstour. That's why Accords are a go-to source of parts.

The suspension I don't believe works, I forget exactly why but it's something to due with the vehicles weight and the suspension strength, if it was put on an 8th gen Accord the accord would sit to high,
If the problem is the Accord doesn't weigh enough, then the Crosstour may be its own solution to that problem:

According to Wikpedia, a 9th Gen Accord (equivalent gen to my 2013) has a curb weight of 3,193 lb, while a 4th Gen TL is reported as ranging from 3,699 lb (base) to 3,948 lb (SH-AWD). That's a pretty big difference. But according to, my i4 Crosstour weighs 3,730 lb, which is heavier than the base TL.

If the TL's strut is simply too tall, regardless of weight, then perhaps the smaller TSX might still have something to offer?

If you want parts, the compatible stuff comes from the 8th gen Accord sedan.
The question is not aimed at parts in general. It's about parts that might offer an upgrade from the mostly-Accord parts in the Crosstour, while still being "Honda parts"... and where "upgrade" is not defined as simply "more like a race car."
I can't see any benefit from having the tl suspension though, these facelift crosstours ride very smooth
My thinking on the strut, which is pure speculation at this point, is the TL strut might be designed with slightly more advanced (expensive) tech, potentially leading to a minor but noticable improvement in handling while maintaining that same luxury smoothness.
I'm thinking we would see little to no improvement by using the TLs other suspension parts, but then again I haven't seen anyone on here too obsessed with swapping honda parts with other honda parts.
All the info on the net about what you can do to upgrade a car is very heavily skewed toward "PERFORMANCE! Yeah!" That makes sense, I guess since an obsession with cars so often stems from an underlying obsession with "power". That same slant carries over into the aftermarket. Retailers and manufacturers target customers with either "discount" or "performance". But nothing (or at least relatively little) offered for "more luxurious ride".

I would think there should be a market for products satisfying a luxury vs performance balance, where spending more $€ means buying improved tech to shrink the size of the trade-offs made between choosing a comfort-oriented upgrade or a speed-oriented upgrade. But alas, that doesn't seem to be.

This balancing act is largely what car makers do when designing cars. Luxury cars are more expensive, so they can spend more money closing the trade-off gap between comfort and perf. Even in the lower end though, they want to make a car as luxurious and comfortable as the price point allows while still being "exciting to drive".

Yet (unless I'm completely missing something with my Google-fu) both the aftermarket and publishers seem to interpret "balance and trade-offs" as meaning "either upgrade for performance or stay with stock for comfort". So far, I have not seen any discussion of upgrading for the purpose of reducing trade-offs, nor any suppliers that describe their parts in this way.

Seeing your tutorial, that chose to use Acura parts for an upgrade, got me thinking about how Honda is thinking this way. So maybe looking toward Acura OEM parts could be a good way to find parts that were specifically designed around the (obviously unattainable) goal of improving perf and comfort at the same time, but maybe with a larger design-budget and higher price tag than would have been available for the equivalent Accord parts.

I have no idea whether the strut assembly, in particular, got any such treatment. Could be essentially the same part just tuned to support a different platform and/or tuned to a different perf/luxury balance. And even if it is actually "a better strut" as I might hope, that doesn't necessarily mean it will perform better and/or feel better in the Crosstour. But I think I've probably rambled on enough by now to make it clear why it still sounds enticing to me.
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I know Bilstein makes good stuff, M539 Restorations on youtube uses them exclusively and he is a very OEM oriented guy. The only thing is finding something from anyone that fits on our cars, or even the regular accord or TL, 8th gen wasn't very popular for mods as much as the other generations or even in general with honda's own lineup.
If Bilstein makes something that fits, it's by accident and they won't tell you which it is. just says they can't show you anything if you search for any Crosstour or 8th or 9th gen Accord.
If Bilstein makes something that fits, it's by accident and they won't tell you which it is. just says they can't show you anything if you search for any Crosstour or 8th or 9th gen Accord.
Nothing says it fits the crosstour, you just have to know what fits from the 8th and 9th gen Accord.
1. There are certainly many retailer and manufacturer websites that do list parts for the Crosstour, even if some don't.
2. As stated in my post, Bilstein 's website does not list anything for the Accord either.

So I really have know what you mean here, or what you're getting at.
I'm not sure what my 2012 CT needs for a more shutterless ride, but it sounds like this may be the issue.
This is a mod, not a repair. A CT with stock parts should already be very smooth.

The primary benefit of this mod is to reduce understeer. In particular, the rear end should be more willing to whip around and follow the front of the car. Should also help a tad with body roll, I think.

You should probably repair whatever is causing shudder before worrying about upgrades. Unless you were doing some nasty off-roading, the chance the shudder is from a bad rear sway bar is pretty low. While something like, for example, a bad bushing is super common.
After going for a drive the change of feeling while cornering at speed is night and day, this feels so much better and will really show you how sloppy it felt before. It also shows you that stiffening up the rear gives away how bad the front is, and when I inspected everything while I had my engine out everything was solid even at 116k miles. Still makes me want an upgraded front sway bar, but that looks a little more involved, most likely have to drop the subframe for it or sneak it out by magical ways.
In what way do you find the front to be "bad" after the mod?

I've been reading up a bit on how sway bars work. And I have a hypothesis that even further reducing the size of the already relatively small front sway bar might actually lead to an improvement by (like stiffening the rear does) pushing even more of the lateral load transfer toward the rear of the car.

A lot of the Accord owners who tried going the other direction, with a stiffer front bar, seem to complain that it still fails to bring body roll under control. So there's no reason to expect some panacea there.

The Crosstour has more weight in the back, far from the steering, than an Accord. Seems like the more we can successfully shift suspension and steering control toward the back of the car, the closer we would get to balance.

Or maybe, even assuming my theory is any good, it would only apply to FWD i4s (like mine)?, where the rear weight discussed is also far from the drive axle and the smaller engine results in reduced front weight.

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The part I find ”bad” is really just the exaggerated feeling of having the front roll more than the rear
If it's so "exaggerated" between front and back, wouldn't that imply the body is twisting a lot? A twisting body should show improvement with a stiffer strut tower, which is much easier to replace than the front sway bar.
I'm begining to think it wasn't a "I don't like the looks" issue but a lack of adequate marketing on Honda's part.
I think the Crosstour was just ahead of its time. "Crossover" was not really a thing, and people were confused by a car that couldn't seem to decide whether it was an SUV or a sedan or a wagon.

If you read editorial reviews of it back around 2010-2012, it's shocking just how much most of the writers felt a very strong need to make it very clear they thought it was very ugly.

I look at it now and see the best looking car you can buy. But I was oblivious to its existence back in the 2010s, so I can't vouch for whether I would have felt the same then.
There was a marketing problem too, though. 😉
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