You are probably reading this because you are thrilled by fast turning cars and how they can maintain stability when negotiating the tightest of corners. To get that corner is not as simple as it may seem to be. Sway Bars, also called anti-sway or anti-roll bars are components installed on vehicles to add to the stability and compliment the entire suspension system to minimize the possibility of tipping over when at high speeds.
To understand the question What do Sway Bar do? I will make it helpful to you by trying to list the other vital components that work hand in hand with sway bars as a comprehensive car suspension system:
- Bushing and joints keep the wheels in proper position
- Shocks cushion the vehicle on uneven terrain
- Wheels and tires provide traction or the grip on the road
The Purpose of a Sway Bar
The number one reason of having sway bars is to keep the car from swaying or leaning on one side. A sway bar will always sit ‘idle’ up until that moment when the vehicle experiences force pushing it to one side. Sway bars apply a resistance force to the suspension system on each side, up and downwards, sway bars resist the leaning.
How Sway Bars Work
Every bar on its own acts as torsion spring (the ability to resist twisting force). The Sway bars are always attached on each end with one wheel and the other on the opposite wheel. This is done for both front and rear tires. Every time one side of the car is raised higher than the other the sway bar will twist to resist that movement and attain a balance.
This is an effort to restore the wheels at the same height and bring the vehicle to a level. Sway bars are relatively idle until a torsion (twisting) force is applied on the car. In other words, a car traveling on a level surface or hits the bump at the same time experiences no twisting force.
What are the Functions of a Sway Bar
To keep the Car on a Level
By limiting the tendency of the car to lean on one side especially at high speeds or sudden turns, sway bars maintain the forward or backward motion of the car. Sway bars work in tandem with tire limits. When the tire limits are stretched and are likely to lose grip sway bars will try to balance the opposing forces.
Limits Camber Changes
Camber is the angle that the tire of your car leans in relation to the chassis. The angle will directly impact the point at which the tire meets the road during turns, therefore, controlling the lateral grip. The continuous change in the camber angle is what determines at what point the chassis may rollover because the tires are starting to roll on the sidewall.
Transfer of Lateral Grip
Racers will always exploit the ability of the sway bars to transfer grip from one side of the car to the other. When the spring rate of a car is high, and the car goes low with little movement on the suspensions, there is less likelihood of the vehicle destabilizing its balance.
The sway bars on the front section will increase the rear lateral traction and the one on the rear increases front lateral traction. When the car is understeering there will be a transfer of lateral forces on both the front and the rear of the car giving the driver a more neutral feel and may decide to oversteer.
Coupling Suspension on Both Sides of the Car
When the car is under compression on one side, the sway bar will make an almost equal amount of compression on the other side to give the car the needed rigidity to avoid losing tire traction.
One significant disadvantage of using a sway bar is its tendency to resist movement when one side of the car is raised higher than the other. for instance, the tires on side hit a hole the sway bar will try to resist this upward force by trying to keep the wheels on the same level. This way the car will remain stiff on one side and may result in breakages over some time.
It is important to note that cars which encounter high turning forces where maximum tire grip is critical but tend to be driven on smooth terrain require large and strong sway bars. High powered cars often have thick front and rear sway bars. Off-road vehicles which can negotiate rough terrain are fitted with less rigid sway bar because of the constant presence of the twisting force.
Sway Bars are used on cars depending on the type of the vehicle and the nature of the terrain in question. You may feel compelled to have or change your sway bars to add more comfort when driving at high speed. I hope that I have been able to share valuable information with you, if so kindly do comment with other points that I may have missed out. Feel free to share this post.