If your axles are swaying side-to-side or you’re starting to feel the chassis vibrations that are symptoms of the dreaded Jeep Death Wobble, it could be time to replace your track bar. Alternatively, if you’re making any changes to your suspension to alter your Wrangler’s height, it’s critical to ensure that your track bar is the correct length for a stable and centered ride.
Though somewhat similar in name to the track bar, a Jeep’s sway bar has a different purpose. Your Wrangler isn't necessarily a comfort-oriented road car...it's a 4x4 truck with serious hardware dedicated for off-road performance. With that said, Wranglers have become significantly more refined over the years, and the front sway bar helps to spruce up those on-road manners. By reducing body lean, they improve handling and road-feel. Off the beaten trail, however, sway bars can actually become a hindrance. Read on to learn more about what each of these two undercarriage components does on your Jeep 4x4.
What Does a Track Bar Do?
The song "Wobble" by V.I.C. is divisive. Some see it as the quintessential fun dance-along, while others want to see it banned from ever being played at a wedding again. Regardless of your viewpoint there, it's clear that we can all come together and agree on one thing: the Death Wobble is something that should always be avoided.
The Death Wobble occurs when your track bar's bushings, collars, or brackets cause vibration, therefore moving your front axle from side to side as it starts to wiggle away from your Jeep's body.
Although rarely an issue on factory-stock Jeeps, the Death Wobble is more likely to occur on beefed-up custom suspensions if proper care isn't taken to keep things in place. A properly set-up track bar, also known as a Panhard rod, is the solution to preventing this issue from occurring. When lifting (or lowering) your Jeep, it's important to make adjustments to your track bar as well, to keep the overall platform level.
What Changes Do I Have to Make to My Track Bar?
Unlike sway bars, your track bar does not have to be adjusted, replaced, or removed on any regular basis. It’s only necessary to replace your Jeep Wrangler’s track bar with a new one if you are lifting, or lowering, your Jeep. This is a necessary step to ensure that you are keeping the frame in-line with the suspension. Lifting your Wrangler without doing so will result in having a track bar that is too short, leading to the body being off-center from the suspension (typically leaning towards the passenger side in this case). Lowering your Wrangler with no changes would result in having a track bar that is too long. Fortunately, for those of you making frequent adjustments to your ride height, a simple solution exists: adjustable track bars! By installing one of these on your Jeep, you’ll be able to ensure that your Jeep is centered and stable with just a few turns of a wrench, even if you decide later on to lift or lower your system. This ensures that you can take measures to prevent Death Wobble before it ever happens to you.
What Does a Sway Bar Do?
While your Jeep's track bar will prevent chassis and suspension wobble, a sway bar (also known, ironically, as an anti-sway bar) will allow your Jeep's body to remain level while engaging in turns. It may also be called a roll bar, anti-roll bar, or stabilizer bar. This is great for giving your 4x4 some nice on-road manners and extremely beneficial when towing heavy loads. However, it can actually hamper your performance off-road, as you encounter uneven terrain. The JL Wrangler now features an electronic sway bar disconnect, allowing you to make the switch with the push of a button (though some may find that completely removing the bars allows the best possible results). If you have a JK or older model, however, you'll need a sway bar disconnect kit if you want to remove your sway bar. Many enthusiasts consider this an absolutely necessary step, as you'll usually be traveling at low speeds and needing as much articulation as possible.
What Changes Do I Have to Make to My Sway Bar?
In the off-roading community, many will regard it as a requirement to remove the front sway bar before heading out into rough terrain. The benefits of the sway bar actually become drawbacks when trying to tackle jagged terrain. When scaling rocks or traversing uneven earth at low speeds, the lack of a sway bar will allow your front wheels to move up and down with more independence. This allows for better articulation and therefore increased control as you move across lumps and gaps.
When your parts are old or worn out, it may be time to replace your sway bar, sway bar links, or sway bar bushings. Even on brand-new Jeeps, drivers will want to take their sway bars out to be ready for off-roading. Removing your stock Jeep Wrangler’s sway bar can be a bit of a hassle, not to mention time-consuming. In order to facilitate easier removal, a variety of quick-disconnect sway bar kits are available. Here at CJ’s, we have dozens of affordable options to fit your Wrangler and allow you to quickly adapt for both paved road and off-road conditions!