What Is a Sway Bar?

What Is a Sway Bar?

Last Updated March 11, 2021 | Alison Smith

Sway bars are essentially a torsion spring that is attached to a vehicle’s frame, linking the left and right suspensions together. Also called anti-roll bars, stabilizer bars, or simply anti-sway bars, they reduce vehicle body roll and improve handling when cornering. When turning a vehicle, the outside wheels might not always be equal to the inside wheels. Not only can this cause vehicle body roll, but it can also create instability and unequal weight distribution. While some body roll is normal, too much body roll is not. A sway bar compensates for the imbalance created when making a sharp turn. When the vehicle is traveling on a straight path, sway bars really don’t affect ride quality at all. You may even forget they are there until you suddenly need to make a quick U-turn. Depending on the application, the purpose of a sway bar can vary, although not all vehicles are equipped with an anti-roll bar. Race cars may opt for a stiffer sway bar, while off-road rigs might want a more flexible sway bar for better handling on rough terrain. Here are the main features of a sway bar:

  • Links both sides of the suspension together
  • Reduces vehicle body roll
  • Keeps vehicle level and handling straight during cornering
  • Can be installed in the front and rear of the vehicle
  • Minimum impact on ride quality
  • Can be adjustable or disconnectable
  • Solid or tubular constructions
  • Helps evenly distribute weight

Off-Road Sway Bar Wrangler

Jeep Wranglers, which are known for their ability to easily flip over, feature stabilizer bars in both the front and rear in order to balance the steering while turning. Jeep sway bars enhance the safety and stability of the vehicle, so they handle better. Sway bars can either be solid or tubular. Tubular sway bars are hollow, which means that they are lighter than the solid versions. Because they are more lightweight, if you want to achieve the same stiffness as a solid sway bar, you’ll most likely have to upgrade to a larger diameter bar. As a sway bar’s diameter increases so does the rigidity. While most stock sway bars will do a fairly decent job, aftermarket sway bars are going to be higher quality and more heavy-duty.

Oversteer and understeer are two terms that are often discussed in relation to sway bars. Front sway bars tend to have a better initial turn when entering a curve, but they are prone to understeer while exiting. Rear sway bars, however, tend to experience oversteer when entering a corner. Sometimes modifying or upgrading your sway bars can remedy any oversteer or understeer issues.

Jeep Sway Bar Button

Disconnecting Sway Bars

So, if sway bars are supposed to stabilize a vehicle, why would someone want disconnecting sway bars? Well, the ability to disconnect sway bars is extremely useful in off-roading applications. The Rubicon, Jeep’s most off-road capable Wrangler, features an electronic front sway bar disconnect. So with the push of a button, you can disconnect the front sway bar links in order to achieve maximum articulation and increase flexibility, which is necessary for off-roading and maneuvering around obstacles and tight spots on the trail. If you’re interested in upgrading to disconnecting Jeep sway bars, there are plenty of aftermarket end links that can be easily detached when out on the trail.

If you don’t have a Rubicon and you want more flexible sway bars for off-roading, then there are aftermarket options that can improve traction. Most aftermarket sway bars that are designed for off-road use can still be used on the road, but they will have different handling characteristics than the factory anti-roll bars and may cause the vehicle to have more body roll than before. Some hardcore off-roading enthusiasts even opt to forgo sway bars all together to get the most flex possible.

Adjustable Sway Bars

Some disconnecting sway bars are also adjustable, although that doesn’t have to be the case. Adjustable sway bars end links can be increased in size in case you further modify your Jeep. Perhaps you are planning on adding a lift kit in the future. By purchasing adjustable Jeep sway bars, you can make sure that your end links will still fit properly if you add a few inches in height. Other adjustable sway bars have 2-3 different positioning holes so you can custom tune your suspension to get the perfect amount of stiffness or softness for both the front and rear of the vehicle.

So whether you’re looking for a disconnecting Jeep sway bar or want to upgrade your factory stabilizer bar to coincide with a lift kit, CJ’s has all the parts that you need!

Sources: speed.academy | Image Credit: jeep.com, fourwheeler.com

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What Is a Sway Bar?

Sway bars, often referred to as stabilizer bars or anti-roll bars, are featured in many vehicles to help prevent vehicle body roll and lean, especially when cornering. Sway bars are attached to the chassis, helping connect both the right side and left side in order to stabilize the vehicle while still permitting each side’s suspension to move on its own. While sway bars are great for certain driving applications such as on the track or on the trail, the purpose that each sway bar serves will be quite different depending on the scenario. Let’s look at Jeep sway bars and how they improve performance off-roading and on the street.

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