Adding a sway bar will improve the handling of your car. The sway bar is basically a vehicle suspension stabilizing device. If you are pulling a heavy trailer you will need a sway bar to help increase the suspension roll stiffness on your pull vehicle. Some SUV’s may need to have a sway bar installed to make them safer on the road too. The first sway bar was patented in 1919 by a man named S.L.C. Coleman from Fredericton, New Brunswick. The sway bar is designed to connect the left and right wheel together by a lever arm that is linked by a torsion spring.
The sway bar actually has two main functions which are to reduce body lean and improve the handling performance on a car or truck. A sway bar will make your car much more stable when it is being driving on the road. It reduces body lean by increasing the stiffness of the suspension. It improves handling by tuning out the understeer or oversteer behavior of the car. Sports utility vehicles and high priced cars like the BMW 7-series come from the factory with “active” sway bars now. These vehicles use computer controlled suspension technology.
Body roll happens when you are driving in a straight line and turn thru a curve or around a corner. As your vehicle turns the suspension is compressed and moves to one side. If there is less compression because of the sway bar it will result in less body roll. You can stiffen the suspension so that it will not be as soft and compress as readily. In other words, a sway bar makes it harder for the driver suspensions to move in opposite directions. Sway bars are also called anti-roll bars by some in the auto industry. They can also be known as stabilizer bars or roll bars. Having sway bars installed is the fastest and least expensive way to add stability to make your car safer on the road.
A sway bar looks like a u-shaped metal bar that is connects each wheel on the same axel to the chassis. This means that one end of the u-shaped bar is connected to a wheel and the center part of the sway bar is connected to the body. With the sway bar connected to the wheels and the chassis body roll can only happen in accordance with the stiffness of the sway bar. The bar will allow for less twisting so less jounce and rebound can happen at the opposite ends of the suspension.
There are two factors that determine how stiff the sway bar can make the suspension. One is the diameter of the sway bar. The other factor is the length of the sway bar’s u-shaped arms. A larger diameter sway bar will provide more stiffness while a thin sway bar will not provide much stabilizing effect. An experienced professional that installs sway bars can tell you exactly how big the diameter should be in the sway bar you want installed on your vehicle.
The other factor to consider is the length of the sway bar arms. The longer the sway bar arms are the less torque is needed for it to twist. The shorter the sway bar arms are the more toque is needed for it to twist and become unstable. A professional who installs sway bars will know how to use multiple end points to help shorten the length of the momentum arm so there will be less twisting and turning when going around curves and corners. If you feel your vehicle is unstable in turns you can talk to your mechanic about adding a sway bar to stabilize it more so that it will give you a safer driving experience.