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Services > Auto Repair > Steering and Suspension System > Sway Bar

Question: How does a sway bar work?

Answer: Sway bars, also called stabilizer bars, are used to keep your vehicle from rolling over. It is a U-shaped steel bar that is connected to each of the vehicle’s front wheels. When your vehicle goes around a turn, your vehicle’s body rolls to one side, or its weight shifts to one side. When this happens, your vehicle is experiencing “body roll” or “sway.” The sway bar will control each wheel’s suspension to even out your vehicle’s body roll and keep your vehicle more level and in control. Again, when you are going around a turn, your vehicle’s body will roll or sway to the outside of the turn. This means that the weight of your vehicle is transferred more to the outside wheels, and the suspension on your outside wheels compress. The two wheels on the inside of the turn will rise, or the suspension will extend. Just think, when you are taking a sharp turn, you can actually feel your body moving or drifting to the outside of the turn. The next time you are going around a turn, think about how you can feel your body swaying and imagine that your vehicle is experiencing the same thing. The sway bar is in charge of controlling this body roll. The sway bar will push the tires on the inside of the turn down or compress the inside wheel’s suspension, so they stay in contact with the road to control your vehicle’s stability. The sway bar will distribute your vehicle’s weight over all four tires to keep your vehicle as flat as possible through a turn.

Question: Why do sway bars need to be replaced?

Answer: Body roll is bad. It reduces your vehicle’s traction by rolling your vehicle’s weight to one side during a turn. Sway bars keep your inside wheels in contact with the road surface. If your sway bar failed, the inside tires can actually lift from the surface of the road, and you can lose control of your vehicle. If this happens, your vehicle is also in danger of rolling over. Sway bars allow you to keep control of your vehicle through turns.

Question: When do sway bars need to be replaced?

Answer: There are several things you can look for to determine if you need a new sway bar. First, the easiest sign is when your vehicle sways too much when you are taking turns. Second, when you are passing an 18-wheeler or if one is passing you, your vehicle will sway from the 18-wheeler’s crosswinds. Lastly, when turning your vehicle is difficult and you have to overcompensate for excessive swaying, your sway bars should be checked. Any of these signs can mean that your sway bar is loose or damaged, and you should have your sway bar inspected by a professional. You should also occasionally check your sway bar and the bolts that link it to your vehicle to make sure everything is in good shape and not damaged.