Are Strut Tower Braces Worth It?Last Updated August 11, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
Many vehicles, including the Mustang, use a MacPherson strut system in their front-end suspension. This means that the strut is part of the steering geometry of the car. One of the disadvantages of this setup is that load is transmitted up through a strut tower, which can cause chassis flex. Strut bars help eliminate flex when cornering by increasing the rigidity of your car's chassis.
What Does the Strut Bar Do?
Strut bars have a few different names, including strut tower braces or shock tower braces. Essentially, these bars connect the two front strut towers under your hood, creating a point of unification that overcomes the shortcomings of the suspension and reduces chassis flex. On vehicles with a very stiff chassis, or on ones that don’t travel at high speeds, a strut bar doesn’t do much besides add a little underhood dress-up. On vehicles that are light and nimble, it gives them new responsiveness, allowing them to handle speedy corners with greater ease.
A strut bar is also one of the easiest modifications to install and is one of the first choices for enthusiasts who have just caught the mod bug. It only takes a few bolts to connect a strut bar, and the benefits are evident immediately. It doesn’t hurt that strut bars are also relatively inexpensive.
Strut Bars vs Sway Bars
Strut bars are different from sway bars in several key ways. One is that while strut bars are installed under your hood, sway bars are a bar connecting two wheels together. Connecting the front wheels increases understeer, and using a rear sway bar increases oversteer. Strut bars and sway bars are both designed to unify the suspension and improve handling, and using one doesn’t mean that you can’t use the other as well. Sway bars do a better job of reducing body roll.
Strut Bar Pros and Cons
Joining your shock towers together gives your vehicle improved handling and greater rigidity, two important upsides. This is more important for people who have upgraded their factory suspension to one with stiffer/harder springs than the original. Some performance-oriented handling packages include a strut tower brace with their springs because of how well it complements other suspension improvements.
Better cornering and less body flex are two additional benefits of strut bars. It’s also a pretty low-commitment modification because they're as easy to uninstall as they are to install.
The only downsides to a strut bar are the small amount of weight (really negligible) they add and the slightly stiffer feel they give to the car's handling. Casual drivers may not find the change in handling as appealing as enthusiasts.
Which Strut Tower Brace Is Right for Mustang Drivers?
There are a lot of options out there for strut tower braces. If you’re buying a strut bar for a Mustang made before 2005, you’ll want to consider a triangular strut tower brace. This shape allows for additional stiffening over their straight bar counterparts. But, if you really dislike the triangular shape, Mustang drivers have reported significant performance benefits with both straight and triangular bars, so you can't go wrong.
If you have a Fox Body Mustang, you should absolutely get a strut brace. Because of the Fox Body’s lightweight and nimble build, it’s more likely to suffer from body flex than other Mustang generation.
Mustangs built for drag racing are the only ones that might not benefit from a strut brace. Drag races are straight-road races, and strut braces help with corners, so it won’t help much, if at all. If you’re trying to cut weight, it’s certainly one thing that can go. Or, you could always simply uninstall it before each drag race.
Installing a Mustang Strut Tower Brace
On S550 Mustangs, a strut tower brace comes with all Mustang Performance Packages from the GT Performance Package 1 up. But regardless of which Mustang year or trim you own, there are plenty of aftermarket strut bar options, and installation is easy.
For step-by-step instructions on installing a strut tower brace in your Mustang, check out these guides:
Customize the Look of Your Mustang's Engine Bay
Because of the way strut bars cut across the engine bay, they’re pretty phenomenal for car shows, or really for anyone who spends a significant amount of time with their hood popped open and who likes to show off their hard work.
Strut bars are typically metal, so if you’d like to paint them, it’s recommended that you use a fine grade of sandpaper to give the paint some surface to adhere to. Make sure you use heat-resistant paint since it gets pretty hot under your hood. Some people have even gone so far as to give their strut bar Shelby stripes to echo the ones on the hood. This is best done with a lot of patience and some painter’s tape.
Some Mustang enthusiasts have wrapped their strut bars in 3M adhesive in a variety of amazing colors and patterns. In short, the only limitation to the design of your strut bar is your imagination.