What Do Steering Stabilizers Do?Last Updated October 3, 2023 | Andrew Boyle
If you had to guess what a steering stabilizer does, you could surely figure out what it’s for. If you’re not the guessing type, then we’ll go ahead and reveal the answer: A steering stabilizer stabilizes your steering.
All joking aside, steering stabilizers aren’t as simple and mono-focused as their name would imply. While they do serve to stabilize your vehicle’s steering, there are plenty of reasons you might need to upgrade yours or install a new one. Odds are that if you’re the driver of a Jeep Wrangler, you’ve heard about steering stabilizers as a solution to the infamous “death wobble.” There is some truth to that statement, but like most things, the truth isn’t that simple. Keep reading to learn what a steering stabilizer can do for your ride and what type of steering stabilizer you’ll need.
If your vehicle’s suspension is completely stock, then you likely haven’t ever felt that your ride needs any sort of stabilization. Vehicles that come from the factory are designed to handle predictably and easily. This begins to change once you start tinkering with the factory set-up.
Oversized wheels and tires, lift kits, or any sort of mod to your vehicle’s suspension is liable to upset its natural balance. While these changes might seem minor at first, the slightest imbalance can ultimately result in major handling issues.
Larger tires and lift kits are the usual culprits of steering instability. That being said, other mods like a heavy-duty bumper and winch can potentially hinder your vehicle’s handling as well.
The main type of vehicle instability that steering stabilizers can help with is bump steer. Bump steer is when some obstacle, usually something like a pothole, comes into contact with your wheel and causes it to turn without any of your input. While a bit of bump steer is manageable, it can become a serious issue.
How Do Steering Stabilizers Work?
Steering stabilizers are essentially shocks for your vehicle’s steering system. Unlike other suspension shocks, they are aligned horizontally.
The way steering stabilizers function is by absorbing the shock waves sent through the front axle. This helps dampen the jolts that potholes and other unexpected obstacles can send through your vehicle.
There are two main alignments of steering stabilizers that you may encounter. There are single and double steering stabilizer setups. The mechanical differences between these are what give them their names. The main distinction between the two steering stabilizer setups is the amount of damping force provided. Basically, if you have a very unruly steering system, then double stabilizers might be for you. Otherwise, a single steering stabilizer should be able to get the job done.
How To Install Steering Stabilizers
Installing a steering stabilizer is a relatively easy project. While you will need a jack stand or a lift, the rest of the installation consists of removing and reattaching bolts. While the specifics change from vehicle to vehicle, the overall methods of the installation process are the same.
If you are considering installing a steering stabilizer onto your ride, then be sure to check out this install on CJ Off-Road’s YouTube channel. This particular installation is of a double steering stabilizer on a JL Wrangler. There are also examples of steering stabilizer installations on a JK Wrangler.
Steering stabilizers can definitely improve your vehicle’s handling, but they aren’t a panacea for all handling problems. Despite what you may have heard, a steering stabilizer is not a cure for death wobble. Additionally, steering stabilizers aren’t necessarily solutions in themselves. A steering stabilizer can treat the symptoms, but not the causes of most suspension issues. If you do experience frequent death wobble, then a careful evaluation of your Wrangler’s suspension is in order. If anything, a steering stabilizer will hide the problems lurking underneath.
Even though steering stabilizers can hide underlying suspension problems, that doesn’t mean they aren’t even necessary in the first place. While you should certainly confirm that your vehicle doesn't have any faulty suspension components first, a steering stabilizer can make a serious difference for your ride.