Excessive body roll is a performance car’s enemy. To combat this, we need various thingamabobs to tune your car’s suspension.
One of these components is the sway bar or, perhaps more formally, anti-roll bar. It helps reduce the body roll of a vehicle during fast cornering or over road irregularities. It connects opposite (left/right) wheels through short lever arms linked by a torsion spring. A sway bar increases the suspension's roll stiffness—its resistance to roll in turns, independent of its spring rate in the vertical direction.
Meanwhile, body roll happens when you turn into a corner. As your car begins to turn, its weight is thrown to the outside of the corner, causing your car to roll in that direction.
Simply put, a sway bar is a metal crossbar that ties the driver and passenger side chassis and suspension together. You will feel its effects as soon as you crank on the steering wheel and enter a corner, a sway bar ‘springs’ to life to help control the weight shift that occurs during cornering.
The sway bar will control the suspension of each wheel to even out the body roll of your vehicle and keep your vehicle more level and in control. Again, when you're going around the turn, the body of your vehicle rolls or swings to the outside of the turn. This means that the weight of your vehicle is transferred more to the outer wheels and the suspension on the outer wheels is compressed. The two wheels on the inside of the turn will be lifted or the suspension will be extended. Just think, when you're making a sharp turn, you can actually feel your body moving or drifting out of the turn.
While a sway bar’s primary function is to decrease body roll in cornering, it can impact overall handling as well. More specifically, aftermarket sway bars can drastically change under-steer and over-steer. Many aftermarket sway bars are adjustable, which means you can easily tune over-steer and under-steer depending on what road or track you’re driving on.
In short, if you feel your car has enough muscle mustering bends and you like the comfort it provides, aftermarket sway bars may take a lot more convincing. Upgraded sway bars are a major driver of vehicle handling characteristics and help with more than just body roll. Don't just settle for the biggest sway bars because they are the toughest, most expensive option; they should be thoroughly researched as there are a plethora of manufacturers, sizes, and styles. You can test what works and what doesn't work with your car with a clearer understanding of these components.
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