To know what the heck a sway bar IS, we must first explore what the heck a sway bar IS NOT. A sway bar is not:
So…what the heck is it then?
A sway bar is a part of many vehicles’ suspensions that helps distribute weight more evenly among the tires during a turn, thus making the vehicles easier to handle. Other names for it include: anti-sway bar, anti-roll bar, and stabilizer bar.
First, sway bars run the same direction as the wheel axles, connecting the back wheel suspensions to each other and the front wheel suspensions to each other via sway bar links. Secondly, they are strong and inflexible, but can be twisted…much like some people’s political views (Oooohhhh he just went there!).
According to physics, when a vehicle makes a turn, there is more weight transferred to the side of the vehicle on the outside of the turn, which causes the side of the vehicle on the inside of the turn to lift a little (or a lot if it’s a sharp, fast turn). That doesn’t make much sense to me when I think about it, but I am no physicist. Then I think about it again, and it makes a tiny bit of sense. Then I think about macaroni and cheese. I’m hungry. My thoughts notwithstanding, that’s how it is.
Let’s say you’re driving straight and you need to make a right turn. Did you say it, or was I the only one? Fine. Whatever. So, you turn your wheel to the right. That actually shifts more weight to the left side of your vehicle from the right side. The right side wants to lift off the ground.
Here’s a play-by-play example of how a sway bar works during a right turn:
Here are some things for which to watch and listen regarding your sway bar(s):
One of the most common sway bar issues is broken or damaged sway bar links and bushings. If you experience any of the above situations, the best thing to do is to take it to your local, trusted mechanic. Suspensions and the like can get pretty complicated and need to be calibrated to each vehicle to ensure safety and that the vehicle can handle the way the driver wants it to.
So, there you have it. Now you know what the heck a sway bar is NOT, what it IS, and learned that I am hungry for macaroni and cheese.*
*I love macaroni and cheese so much that I had a macaroni and cheese bar** at my wedding reception.
**A mac-n-cheese bar is not similar to a sway bar.
Tell me what other automotive parts baffle you. I’ll tell you what the heck they are!