The suspension system of cars and other vehicles can be made a lot more efficient and reliable by adding certain accessories—strut bars and sway bars.
Admittedly, many people don’t know much about these bars as they are a fairly new technology that only modern vehicles feature.
Most older cars don’t have it. Do you have the slightest idea when it comes to the strut bar vs sway bar?
What’s the difference between the strut bar and the sway bar?
While both play almost similar roles in a car’s suspension, those roles can be slightly distinguished, giving the two bars some distinction.
To be precise, the strut bar reduces the body flex effect and the sway bar minimizes the sway effect both of which the driver may experience under certain driving conditions.
What Is a Strut Bar?
Also known as a “strut brace” or “strut tower bar”, a strut bar ties together as a single solid unit the two opposing strut towers found in the engine bay.
This reduces the body flex effect that strut towers experience during hard cornering. Too much body flex is bad because it can easily lead to loss of traction and handling for the car, which may result in an accident.
What Is a Sway Bar?
On the other hand, a sway bar functions to prevent body roll or sway, a phenomenon whereby the body of the car feels like it’s about to tilt out.
It’s something you may experience when the car is making a sharp corner, especially at high speeds. The bar usually connects the left wheel suspension assembly with the right one. It’s also known as a “roll-bar,” “stabilizer bar,” or even “anti-sway bar.”
Differences Between Strut Bar and Sway Bar
The first difference between a strut bar and a sway bar is the location as both suspension accessories are located in different areas of the car.
For example, the strut bar is found in the engine bay in between the left and the right strut towers, both of which serve to add rigidity to the car’s suspension.
That’s not to say that it can’t be located in the rear part of the car as there are also rear strut bars. These are usually meant to attach between the rear strut towers in the trunk just behind the back seat.
They are typically common with AWD cars. A sway bar, on the other hand, is usually found beneath the chassis. You’ll find it in between the rear wheels, front wheels, or both wheels whereby it connects the left and right wheels.
The Shape and Design
Another difference between a strut bar and a sway bar is the shape and design. A strut bar comes in many different shapes and designs to choose from.
For example, we have straight strut bars that are slightly curved on both ends, triangle strut bars, and inverted V strut bars. As for sway bars, these bars are generally tubular, hollow or solid, and U-shaped from end to end. However, they may also feature many other curves and kinks due to fitment and design
The third difference between a strut bar and a sway bar is the material. A strut bar can be made from a wide range of materials, including aluminum, iron, steel, alloy steel, titanium, and adamantium.
A sway bar, on the other hand, isn’t as material-diverse as the former. It’s often built from one specific material—4140 Chromoly steel, which is tougher than many other metals.
Similarities Between Strut Bar and Sway Bar
Both Are Suspension Accessories
One of the main similarities between a strut bar and a sway bar is that both accessories are intended for suspension. Both are designed to help improve your car’s suspension capabilities.
Both Perform The Same Function
Besides being crucial suspension accessories, a strut bar and a sway bar are similar in that they perform the same function. Both bars help keep your car well-balanced and steady on the road, especially when making a sharp corner.
Improved traction and handling as well as reduced flex and body roll effects are some of the benefits you can expect to get from the shared functionality.
Oversteer or Understeer
Last but not least is the problem of oversteer and understeer. To start with, oversteer is where the car tends to turn more sharply than intended.
By the way, this can be very dangerous as it can easily lead to an accident. Understeer is the opposite of oversteer—i.e. Where the car tends to turn less sharply than intended.
Both the front strut bar and front sway bar can increase understeer, especially when the bars are too stiff. The rear strut bar and the rear sway bar, on the other hand, can both induce oversteer, especially if they are too stiff.
Tip: To avoid oversteer or understeer, avoid having bars that are too stiff on your car.
Is the Strut Bar and Sway Bar the Same?
The short answer is NO. While both perform the same function, a strut bar and a sway bar differ in many ways as explained above.
Tip: If you can only have one of the two suspension accessories in your car, maybe due to budget constraints or any other reason, you better have sway bars, one for the front wheels and one for the rear wheels. After all, they offer more benefits to your car’s suspension than strut bars.
As far as strut bars and sway bars go, a lot of folks have no slightest clue as to what these are. To recap, strut bars perform the same function as sway bars.
These suspension accessories help keep the car stable and well-balanced on the road, especially when it comes to making corners at high speeds. It’s a fairly new technology that is yet to gain popularity and that’s why you may not have it by default.
Luckily, it’s very easy to install a strut bar and a sway bar in your car. All you need is a wrench to do that in a matter of minutes. You can choose to install a set of strut bars or sway bars in your vehicle, a front strut bar or sway bar for the front wheels, and a rear strut bar or sway bar for the rear wheels.