Strut Bar Vs Sway Bar – Which Suspension Mod Is The Best?July 23, 2021
IIf you have been thinking to improve your car’s overall stability and you are thinking between installing a strut bar and a sway bar? This may get confusing and people mix these two aftermarket parts, but you shouldn’t worry, we are going to explain everything you need to know when it comes to strut bar vs sway bar.
- Strut Bar VS Sway bar?
- Purpose Of the Strut Bar
- Strut Bar Disadvantage
- Purpose of the Sway Bar
- Sway Bar Disadvantage
- Which One To Get?
If you are packing a big displacement engine with a lot of horsepower it is logical to consider one of these upgrades. These ponies need to be held by something to run perfectly under the hood.
Fortunately, the technology has advanced pretty much a lot when we compare it from the 60s and 70s when the muscle era was at its peak. These mods were even popular back then but they were not engineered to perfection like they are today.
In this article, we are going to cover the strut bar purpose, how useful is a strut bar and its disadvantages. We are going to explain how to install the strut bar and its price. We are also going to cover everything you need to know about sway bars and their advantages and disadvantages. Also, the price. At the end we are going to see which one is the winner in the duel strut bar vs sway bar. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
Strut Bar VS Sway Bar?
Strut bars or strut braces should not be confused with sway bars. Although both are suspension mods that aid the drivability of the car.
The strut bar is installed under the hood and it connects both strut towers to improve the rigidity of the chassis.
Sway bars or anti-roll bars are mounted below the vehicle and their goal is to connect the two front wheels. This will result in increased understeer and at the back, they will increase the oversteer. The sway bar goal is to reduce the body roll of the vehicle.
Strut Bar Purpose?
Strut bar purpose in simple words is to reduce chassis flex. How the strut bar manages to achieve this? Well, the strut bar works in the way that it unifies both strut towers creating more rigidity when the car is cornering at high speed. The strut bar purpose will reduce the chassis flex and your car will be a lot more stable on the road or on the track.
Strut bars are extremely useful if you are running your car on the track and you need that extra momentum while cornering to get those lap times. That is the strut bar purpose. It will reduce the flex created from all those high g maneuvers and will improve the stability of your car. Your car will stay on the road and will grip a lot better than it used to.
If you are running a low horsepower car and you are not taking it to track days. Strut bar won’t do much. But it’s good for show off and you can make your friend jealous with this new upgrade when you open up your hood at the local cars and coffee.
Strut Bar Disadvantage
One of the disadvantages of strut bar is that your driving feel may feel a little bit stiffer than usual, also a little bit of weight will be added to the car. Strut bars weigh a few pounds but if you are running a race car, these few pounds matter.
The strut tower disadvantages are almost non-existent compared with the benefits that you will get and the ride quality that is included. Especially if you combine the strut bar with an aftermarket sway bar below the car. We are going to talk about the sway bars a bit later.
How To Install?
Strut bars are fairly simple to install. You only need a strut bar for your specific chassis. Take a note that you need a specific strut bar because if you try to install a different strut bar it will not fit.
Strut bars are made for the specific engine and chassis and if you don’t meet these requirements, you won’t be able to mount the strut bar. For example, if your engine sits too tall you won’t be able to mount this bar.
How to install a strut bar is fairly simple, you just unbolt the bolts that are holding your shocks on each wheel’s towers.
Then you need to mount the strut bar over and make sure that you get all the holes correct. The last step involves tightening up the screws and you are good to go.
In some cases where there are no holes for the strut bar, you will need to get a drill and drill out some holes to fit the strut bar. But make sure that you paint the metal after you drill in order to prevent rust to appear on that specific spot.
This is a fairly simple mod that is very easy to install. Perfect for every beginner when it comes to cars. After the installation, you will enjoy the improved rigidity of the vehicle and improved stability.
Strut Bar Price?
Strut bars are readily available in most online stores and you can snatch one for a good deal. They start from low as $50 and can go up to a few hundred dollars. Depending much on the company that makes these bars.
If you have that adventurous spirit, you can also look at the junkyards. There are plenty of cars that are in these junkyards with some of these mods. Just make sure that the strut bar is ready to go on your car and will be a perfect fit. Preferably from a same type of vehicle as yours. You can get a good deal for one of these strut bars even below $50. And that’s a bargain, to be honest.
Sway Bar Purpose?
Sway bars or roll bars play a big role in automobile suspensions. The goal of the sway bar is to reduce the body roll of the vehicle and improve the cornering characteristics of the vehicle.
The sway bar connects both wheels. This sway bar has two characteristics, anti-lean and anti-roll. Anti-lean characteristics prevent the vehicle from leaning to one side, especially when it comes to dirt terrains where the driving conditions are far from perfect. And the anti-roll prevents the body roll at high speeds. This sway bar is quite useful when it comes to racing applications and cars that are driven to the absolute limit.
The sway bar will keep the car on the track and will improve the overall stiffness of the chassis.
Sway Bar Disadvantage
Although the benefits of running a sway bar are very big. There are still some drawbacks when it comes to sway bar or anti-roll bar. And this downside is because the sway bar connects both of the wheels. If the vehicle is driven on some bumpy road or some broken pavement. The anti-roll bars will produce some unpleasant sensations and vibrations. Which are very increased if you have an extremely stiff suspension with small diameter sway bars.
Are Aftermarket Sway Bars Worth It?
Aftermarket sway bars are totally worth it if you are running your car on the track. You can snap these for a good deal and they will improve the ride quality and cornering ability on the track. Improving the overall stiffness, especially if you put them in combination with a strut bar. Your front end will basically be like a tank and will grab those corners with ease. Body roll will be reduced to an absolute minimum.
Also, these aftermarket sway bars are extremely adjustable and you can set them in any way you like. You can alter the stiffness anytime you want. Depending on the track that you are driving, you will snap that perfect setting that will give you results.
Also, driving these on public roads will make your car safer. Even though it the ride quality may suffer because of the stiff suspension. You will feel every bump and a lot of vibrations. Especially if you are running your car on some bad pavement that is full of holes. So, before adding this mod, you should consider that. But, overall, it is a good mod and you will benefit a lot from it.
How To Install?
Sway bars are fairly easy to install. In order to perform this job, you only need common tools. Nothing special is needed to replace a sway bar.
When you purchase a sway bar you will get a sway bar and end links. In order to perform this job properly, you need to jack up your car first. Make sure that the front of the car is fully in the air and then remove the wheels.
The first thing you need to do is to remove the end links that are on each side. Locate the bolts and remove them. Once you remove the end links. It is fairly simple to remove the old sway bar.
Remove the old sway bar and install the new one. Then install the new end links that came with the kit and make sure that you bolt them nice and properly. After the installation, you can mount on the wheels and also make sure that everything is nice and tight.
Make sure that you don’t forget to grease the end links and the bushings. They need to be lubricated in order for the parts to move freely and not cause friction. If they are not lubed and there is friction. The end links and bushings will wear off prematurely and your sway bar will fail.
Sway Bar Price?
Sway bar prices may vary. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, and also depends on your overall budget. Online the cheapest sway bars can come at a price of $150 for the whole kit. There are also separate sway bar links that come at a price of $30 and bushings cost also $30.
A good aftermarket sway bar system can come at a higher price. Good racing sway bar kits can cost from a few hundred dollars up to a few thousand. Depending on your budget that you want to invest in your car’s suspension. Getting a quality brand is also beneficial because the build quality is much better on the pricier sway bars. They have better quality end links and also overall better build quality.
With them also comes the adjustability and the possibility to set your sway bar at whatever setting you prefer. If you want a stiffer ride, you can go that route, if you want a looser ride with more body roll you can go the other route.
Strut Bar or Sway Bar, Which One To Get?
In my opinion, you should get both. A strut bar is a fairly cheap mod and you can do it by yourself at your home with ordinary wrenches. It will improve the stiffness of your chassis and the ride quality will stiffen up. You may start to feel the bumps more but your end result on the track will be perfect.
Also, if you install a strut bar you should also get a new aftermarket sway bar. These two mods go hand in hand. The aftermarket sway bar will reduce the body roll and your car will behave like is riding on rails. This mod will improve your track times by a lot. You will grab these corners like nobody else.
In this article, we have compared strut bar vs sway bar and we have discussed their characteristics. We also discussed their purpose and how your car would behave when you are getting one of these mods.
Take a note that if you install one of these mods your car will not drive as on stock suspension. When you mess with the suspension you need to be prepared for changes. Some of these changes are positive and some of them are negative. You will improve the stiffness and the anti-roll characteristics and you will gain speed. But you may lose the comfort that your stock suspension offers.
So, at the end of the day, it depends on which thing you prefer the most. The sporty feel or the comfy ride quality? I personally would go for the racier feel. Because I’m a car fanatic in my soul and I try to make my ride the best and the fastest car around. If you feel that way, these mods are perfect for you.