Have you ever wondered what is a sway bar in a car? Well, if this is the situation that you are into and want to learn everything about sway bars, then you are at the right place because we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to these components.
- What Is Body Roll?
- What Is Sway Bar?
- Bushing Importance
- Sway Bar Link
- How To Replace?
Suspension is probably one of the most important aspects of your car. The car’s suspension is keeping your wheels and the body of the car in check. If some of the suspension components fail, you will start to experience a ton of different symptoms that will be really annoying and difficult to ignore and they will ruin your driving experience of the car.
Not to mention that driving like this could be really dangerous. Why so? Well, because you drive with great speeds and you need that feedback from the steering to be 100% on point. You just don’t want to get bad steering feedback and end up crashing your car in a ditch or into another car. This is why smart people have created suspension components such as the sway bar. But what is this component all about? More on that in a bit.
First, we are going to learn what body roll on a car is and why it is important for you to know. Then we are going to cover what is a sway bar in a car and compare a strut bar vs sway bar. After that, we are going to learn the symptoms of a bad sway bar and learn more about how we can diagnose bad sway bar links and how to replace them. So, if you want to learn more on this topic, follow along.
What Is Body Roll
Now before we start understanding what is a sway bar in a car, we need to understand what is body roll. This is essential because if you want to understand the purpose of a sway bar you need to know what is body roll. So, if you want to learn more about this, follow along, if not you can jump to the next chapter where we are discussing the topic of what is a sway bar.
Nevertheless, body roll is a condition that your vehicle gets in when you are driving on the road. This situation often happens when a vehicle has a high center of gravity. So, the bigger the vehicle and the higher the ground clearance, the more problems you are going to have when it comes to body roll.
Body roll in general is when the wheels are turning where you intend. But the body of the car leans towards the outside of a turn. This is simple physics.
So, if you have a big vehicle and you turn sharply to the right, the body of the car will lean left and vice versa.
Neutralizing body roll is close to impossible. Especially when we are dealing with big behemoths of a car like full-size SUVs or full-size sedans. So, this is a completely normal thing that you will come across while driving a big vehicle.
Luckily, there are some devices that are intended to tackle this problem or in simple words to make it less pronounced. And that’s what we are going to learn next where we are going to cover what is sway bar in a car and then we are going to learn the difference between a sway bar and a strut bar.
What Is A Sway Bar
Now let’s get to business and learn what is a sway bar in a car. A sway bar or anti-roll bar as it is known is a special device that is installed on some cars.
As we already explained, cars with a low center of gravity do not need these sway bars since they have a really low body roll.
The bigger the body roll on a vehicle is, the beefier the anti-roll bar needs to be in order to meet the demands and keep the car stable. But what does a sway bar do in the first place?
This is a special bar that is tweaked and designed in that way to flex and then return to its normal shape.
Now let’s imagine a situation on the road when you take a fast-speed corner. In this situation, there is a ton of body roll on the car. So, what the sway bar does in this situation is that it gets the impact and then tweaks a little bit.
When the bar tweaks it basically absorbs the high G forces that the body produces. Then once you get out of the corner the sway bar in a car relaxes and gets its normal shape.
What is worth noting is that the sway bar is connecting the two wheels and has rubber bushings to which it is attached. At both ends, there are sway bar end links. These end links serve the purpose of making sure that the sway bar is flexible enough and allow some travel.
Overall, the sway bar is a simple device but a very important device. But what are the types of sway bars? Let’s learn more about that in the following chapter.
Types Of Sway Bar
As we learned what is sway bar in a car and learned its main purpose, which was simply to reduce the body roll while cornering.
We think that now it is time to cover the different types of sway bars that are out there. Knowing the types will help you out when it comes to getting the proper sway bar for your vehicle and help you out when it comes to doing track days and other racing adventures off-road. So, let’s get into it.
Solid Sway Bar
We learned what is sway bar in a car, now let’s cover the first type of sway bar that is there. And that is the solid sway bar. So, what are the main characteristics of this type of bar?
Well, this bar is far sturdier and heavy-duty. This bar is fully made out of metal and doesn’t have any holes inside.
The downside of this type of sway bar is that it is really heavy. These sway bars are often the ones found in-stock vehicles that haven’t been modified. The benefit of this type of sway bar is that it has a higher spring rate than the other type that we are going to cover next.
And this spring rate plays a huge role when it comes to doing track days. And in order to overcome this defect, the tubular sway bar needs to be a bit bigger to perform like a solid sway bar. Since we mentioned it, let’s cover the next type.
Tubular Sway Bar
The next most common type of sway bar in a car is the tubular sway bar. A tubular bar as its name implies is a bar that is hollow on the inside. Meaning that there is nothing inside of the bar.
A benefit of the tubular design is that you will save some weight. This could be really crucial when it comes to high-performance use on the track. So, if you are performance oriented and you want to reduce the weight of your car, you need to get one of these aftermarket sway bars for your vehicle. This way you will cut down on weight and you will improve your performance.
But the downside is that these bars do not have the same performance as the solid ones. This means that you will need to have a thicker tubular bar to perform in the same manner as the solid bar. So, if you have a 1-inch solid bar, you will need to get a 1-1/8 inch tubular bar to replace this component accordingly.
So, keep these things in mind when you plan to upgrade. And another thing that you need to make sure that you follow is the bushings. And more on that we are going to cover in the following chapter.
The Effect Of The Bushing Material On Performance
Now let’s discuss more about another topic when it comes to the sway bar in a car and that is the effect of the bushings when it comes to the performance of the sway bar itself.
If you didn’t know, there are a few bushings on each of these sway bars. These bushings are there to keep the sway bar in check and also allow it to flex when necessary. These bushings are basically allowing this component to travel when it is exposed to the load.
The factory bushings are rubber ones that can dry out and when they go bad, the sway bar does not perform as it used to in the past. So, when these components fail, they allow the sway bar to flex vertically instead of twisting horizontally. This situation when the bushings are shot is known as a bushing deflection. And is something that you don’t want to have because the body roll of the vehicle will pretty much increase.
There are a lot of aftermarket replacements and the most popular replacements for these components are the polyurethane bushings. These bushings are far more durable than rubber and they have hydrophobic properties. This property simply does not allow them to dry out and fall apart.
In addition to this, with these bushings, the sway bar will not deflect so much as with the rubber bushings. These polyurethane bushings perform about 20% better in comparison to your standard rubber bushings.
So, doing an aftermarket replacement on these bushings should be one of your top priorities if you want to race this car. Also, even if you don’t race the car, if the factory bushings are more than 10 years old, just go ahead and replace them. They don’t perform as they should anyway.
Sway Bar Link Diagram
Now let’s discuss another topic when it comes to sway bar in a car. And that is the sway bar link diagram.
If you didn’t know, sway bars are not directly connected to the control arms. So, why not connect them directly?
Well, there are a number of reasons why is this the case, but the biggest reason is that the driving would be too stiff and not very pleasant at all. This is why sway bar links were invented to improve this aspect and allow a more comfortable ride.
So, what is the sway bar link diagram? The sway bar link in simple words is a connector that connects the anti-roll bar with the lower control arm of the vehicle.
This is a small metal bar that sits vertically in the car’s suspension. And on the top and bottom, there are bushings that come into contact with both the sway bar, or anti-roll bar as people would call it, and the lower control arm which basically holds the wheels of the vehicle.
And when there are problems with the suspension, they are most often caused by these anti-roll bar links that have bushings and the bushings simply fail over time. But more on the symptoms that you will experience when this happens, we are going to cover later on in the article. Now let’s cover another important topic and that is the strut bar vs sway bar. So, if you want to learn more about this, follow along.
Strut Bar VS Sway Bar
Now as we learned what is sway bar in a car, let’s now move on and learn what is the difference between a strut bar vs sway bar. Are these two components the same or is there a difference? Let’s cover this really quickly.
When it comes to these two components, we can say that there is a big difference between the two of them.
Sway bar or anti-roll bar as we learned connects the two wheels. While the strut bar on the other hand connects the strut towers.
A strut bar is also known as a strut brace that basically links the two strut towers and improves the rigidity of the front end of the car.
Strut bars are often aftermarket components that are installed by the owners. Even though, some high-performance vehicles include them as a standard. It really depends on the model. But you will not notice one of these in a standard commuter car, that’s for sure.
What is unique about both of these components is that both of them reduce body roll. So, if you plan on using them for a high-performance vehicle. Then getting both of these mods should be an excellent idea.
With a proper sway bar in a car and also a strut bar on top of the engine, your front end will be a lot stiffer. This will improve the cornering ability of your vehicle immensely.
In addition to this, both of these mods are fairly cheap to obtain and you will not spend a ton of money on these upgrades. Unless you go for something fancy like a carbon fiber strut brace or a hollow sway bar in a car. These upgrades are kind of expensive and can cost a good penny.
Sway Bar Bushings Symptoms
Now let’s discuss more about the bad sway bar symptoms also known as bad sway bar bushings symptoms.
The sway bar itself is really sturdy and cannot break. But what can break are the bushings that hold this bar as well as the bushings on the end links. And they can cause symptoms to develop.
1. Squeaky Or Rattling Noises
The first symptom in our list of symptoms of a bad sway bar in a car is the squeaky or rattling noises. These noises will come from the undercarriage of the vehicle if the bushings are failed.
So, if you notice squeaks and then rattles. Then these bushings are definitely worth checking out if you want to avoid experiencing other symptoms that we are going to list next. But how you can diagnose bad bushings? More on that we are going to explain later on in the article.
2. Slow Response While Cornering
The second common symptom of a bad sway bar in a car is the slow response while cornering. If the bushings on the bar are damaged, the bar will move where it shouldn’t.
And this will create problems while maneuvering the car. The car will have a slow response time and you will practically end up stuck with a car that doesn’t drive particularly well.
So, if you want to avoid something like this, then you need to learn how to diagnose these bushings and more on that we are going to cover later on in this article after we cover the last symptom in our list of symptoms of bad bushings.
3. Increased Body Roll
The third most common symptom is increased body roll. The body roll will really increase if you drive a car like this. Why is this so?
Well, mainly because the sway bar is not doing its job right. This means that the sway bar simply has too much play in it. So, whenever you notice how the vehicle leans too much on the outer side while you corner, then you need that you have a problem with bad bushings on the sway bar. But how you can diagnose these components? Let’s cover that in the following chapter.
Sway Bar Bushings Replacement
Now let’s learn more about how to replace the sway bar in a car. How you can do this task? Well, the first thing is to rely on symptoms. Symptoms like an increase in body roll, squeaks, and other noises can tell you quite a lot about the condition of your suspension.
But you cannot know what is causing this problem unless you get down below and start working on the car. For this, you will need to lift the front end and get a pry bar.
Then you can start to wiggle the sway bar and see if there is a play in it. Also, another good thing to do is to closely inspect the bushings with a flashlight. If they are all cracked, then you will have to replace them as well.
But what about the sway bar replacement? Well, in order to replace them, you will have to remove the sway bar from the car. How you can do that as well as how to diagnose a bad sway bar in a car, you can check in the video above.
Sway Bar Replacement Cost
Bushings for sway bar in a car are fairly common to come by and really cheap. You can get them for less than $30 and replace them DIY for this cheap.
Or if you are not mechanically inclined, you can go to a shop and replace them over there. This could cost you some money but not a lot. You can get the complete job for less than $150.
After that, it is useful to do an alignment just in case you don’t want to have problems in the long run with uneven tread wear. Just remember in order to save some money in the long run, replace everything that is defective in the suspension in order not to do an alignment again and again.
Sway Bar Bushings Facts:
- The sway bar or anti-roll bar is used to improve vehicle handling.
- Not all cars have sway bars, but those that do are connected to the vehicle body by sway bar bushings.
- Worn or damaged sway bar bushings can cause reduced handling, knocking noise, and squeaking noise.
- If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s recommended to get your vehicle diagnosed by a professional and find a shop in your area.
- The sway bar ties the wheels together to improve vehicle handling and stability.
- Sway bars usually connect between the control arms and body or frame of the vehicle.
- Sway bar bushings isolate the sway bar from the body or frame to reduce noise.
- Bad sway bar bushings should be replaced by a professional mechanic using specialized tools.
- If the bushings failed due to a fluid leak, the leak should be repaired before replacing the bushings.
- Sway bar bushing replacement is usually a straightforward job and does not require an alignment in most cases.
In this article, we have covered what is a sway bar in a car. We learned what this component does and how it works.
Then we covered the strut bar vs sway bar and learned which is which. In addition to this, we learned the common symptoms of bad sway bar bushings and also how to diagnose and replace these components.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Is Body Roll In A Car
Body roll in simple words is the situation when you corner, your car and the body of the car leans outwards. So, the faster you corner, the stronger this lean would be. Especially if we are talking about big vehicles like an SUV or a truck.
What Is A Sway Bar
A sway bar is a simple bar that is installed on the vehicle to reduce the body roll. The sway bar increases the stability of the vehicle in cornering.
What Does A Sway Bar Do
The sway bar reduces the body roll of the vehicle while cornering and also makes sure that the car is stable all of the time. Most bigger vehicles have these anti-body roll components installed on them to do this job.
What Is A Sway Bar Link
A sway bar link is a simple iron rod that connects the anti-roll bar and the lower control arm of the vehicle.
How To Check Sway Bar Links
You can check them visually, if the rubber is cracked, then they need to be replaced. You can also inspect them with a pry bar and see if there is too much play.