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SUSPENSION SERIES: Anti Sway Bars

Created on 2019-04-05 by Megan Russell

Anti sway bars are pretty self explanatory, they keep your car from swaying to one side or the other. The automotive world calls this “body roll”. The purpose of the anti sway bar is to give you more control over the handling of your car. When you go into a corner with your car, your cars body leans into that corner and that puts pressure on the inner suspension and wheels. When that pressure is applied to one side of your suspension the pressure is relieved on the opposite side. Downward energy on the side that is leaning in and upward energy on the opposite side, this is called body roll and this is what the anti sway bars job is to correct. When your suspension is being manipulated in this way, your anti sway bar which is attached to both sides of your wheels both front and rear, will be tested in its ability to not twist and give into the roll. That is the primary function of the anti sway bar, to stay solid and strong under stress and keep the wheels firmly planted on the ground and maximize tire contact patch on all four tires, even when corning.

Anti sway bars do not hurt the ride of the vehicle, they aid in response time for quicker maneuvering and keep the wheel from being jerked out of your hands in emergency situations. It is one of the first and best upgrades to do on a new vehicle and we highly suggest it for anyone looking to build performance and safety into their vehicle.

Most cars come with some form of front and rear anti sway bars, but when wanting to get more stability out of your car, one of the first suspension upgrades to do is upgrade those stock bars. While many brands put anti sway bars in most of their models for safety reasons, they made them less aggressive to appeal to the masses and ensure a plush ride. A smaller bar means more give in the corners, giving the car a floatier and softer ride. Most factory suspension setups will favor under steering purely as a safety precaution.

Most aftermarket anti sway bar kits are built to correct your car’s understeer or oversteer bias. Purely for example, the IPD Volvo kit# 100986 is made for the 240 model Volvo and comes with the option for a lighter 22mm rear bar and a heavier 25mm front bar to mirror a closer to factory anti sway bar feel, without the risk of giving an otherwise unready driver a higher chance of oversteer. Rule of thumb, front wheel drive is under steer happy and rear wheel drive is overseer happy. (Drift nerds, we are looking at you!) Additionally, the benefit of a heavier duty front and rear anti sway bar, is the exceptional body roll control for our performance driving customers as well as those who choose to drive a lowered car.

One thing that is important to note is construction. Many aftermarket companies and some factory manufacturers create their anti sway bars out of hollow steel instead a solid steel like some better aftermarket performance companies. Because of the solid steel design we see less failures in our bars and consistent performance. Though some bars will be near the factory size for your vehicle, it is a stronger and more rigid solid steel that will show a sizeable difference when it comes to your vehicles performance. After all, the bar is built to not easily bend or give in to pre-load and the diameter alone is not the reason behind that performance.

Most anti sway bar kits utilize heavier brackets than factory and polyurethane bushings that take and transfer energy from performance driving much better than factory rubber. The entire kit is built around performance and upgrading the factory suspension reaction. Most anti sway bars, mounts and bushings install into factory locations on your vehicle and require no additional fabrication or specialty tools to install, usually. It is key to find a kit that not only supplies a better bar but also supplies upgraded bushings and brackets to help with supporting a stronger anti sway bar system in your car.

The next suggested upgrade would be your sway bar end links, they are essential in controlling the anti sway bar motion as well as taking the brunt of the impact from the performance that the upgraded sway bars give. Stay tuned for my next article on sway bar end links AND as always, leave your comments or questions below.

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