Everyone wants to talk about strut bar benefits, but they never seem to mention the disadvantages. We’re going to explain what a strut bar is, what it does, and how it affects the ride quality of your vehicle.
Strut bars are an inexpensive upgrade that anyone can install on their vehicle. It’s essentially a bar that connected both your left and right struts together, and you can have one installed in the front and/or rear of your vehicle.
Some people treat it like a cosmetic upgrade, installing one just for the looks. They do add a nice visual effect when you pop the hood, but in some vehicles they’re simply more cosmetic than functional.
What’s a strut bar?
A strut bar, or strut tower brace, is a bar that connects two suspension strut towers together. They’re designed to reinforce your chassis and improve handling during higher speeds. Therefore, many tuner cars have an aftermarket strut bar installed. If you make a car faster, you should also do some modifications to improve the handling.
What do strut bars do?
Strut bars improve the handling and performance of your vehicle. Having a strut bar installed can make your car feel more stable and predictable. When a car has bad handling, it will become obvious at higher speeds. So, when you install performance mods like a turbocharger, headers or intake – you will want to improve the handling as well. The stock suspension is designed to work flawlessly with the stock power, and any increase in power may cause a decrease in handling at higher speeds and during acceleration.
Since strut bars increase the rigidity of your vehicle, the chassis won’t flex when you’re making a sharp turn or hit a bump on the road. This has its benefits, especially if you’re building a racecar.
Benefits of front and rear strut bars
There are many benefits to installing strut bars on a vehicle, so let’s just put them in a list and make this simple for you…
- Reduced wear-and-tear on other suspension parts
- Reduced chances of your vehicle rolling due to the even distribution of roll force
- Reduced sway
- Easy to install
- Improved handling
- A stiff feeling behind the wheel – not everyone is okay with this
- Not good for off-roading or other situations where you need the suspension to act independently
- Not helpful for straight-line driving
There are certainly more pros than cons when it comes to strut bars. For those who like to modify their vehicles for performance and handling – a strut bar is almost a necessity. Paired with lowering springs or coilovers, a strut bar has an even more dramatic effect on the car’s handling.
It’s also important to factor in the extra weight you’ll be adding to your vehicle, as more weight can cause a decrease in fuel economy. However, the weight isn’t very significant, and there are carbon fiber options out there. Carbon fiber strut bars offer the same strength as steel, without the weight.
Placement can be an issue, as some vehicles simply don’t have the space under the hood. Many folks have bought strut bars that don’t fit right, and the bar blocked them from closing their hood. Make sure there is clearance between the valve cover and strut bar. Most aftermarket strut bars are designed to fit, but you should be careful with any off-brand parts ordered on Ebay for this very reason.
Some vehicles just don’t get much benefit from front or rear strut bars, so do your research before purchasing one. In many cases, an upgraded rear sway bar will be more beneficial. Every vehicle is different. For example, the 1st generation Scion TC gets more benefit from a rear sway bar, and a front strut bar provides very little benefit.
With that said, strut bars are usually a cheap suspension upgrade and it can’t hurt to try one if you’re thinking about it. For those who crave better handling at higher speeds and fast cornering – strut bars are a great option. But, if you don’t need one, don’t waste your money unless you’re okay with it being a cosmetic upgrade.
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