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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok... another question, I'm still trying to get a hang of car mechanics and parts. What is the difference between anti-sway bars and strut bars, and where do you install rear strut bars?
 

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Hondacrxblk said:
Ok... another question, I'm still trying to get a hang of car mechanics and parts. What is the difference between anti-sway bars and strut bars, and where do you install rear strut bars?
the difference between a strut bar and a swaybar is so great that they shouldnt even be used in the same sentence.

first, i think we need to define what each item is you listed.

a swaybar is often called anti-roll(sway) bar, because that is more of what it does, preventing roll rather than promoting. its just easier to say swaybar. this item is a functional, active part of the suspension. ive not seen any swaybar, either front or rear or both, sold relatively cheaply on ebay. a swaybar connects the suspension of the two sides together and resists the independent motion of each. so if on one side, the wheel is being pushed down, the other wheel is being pushed down as well. same thing if one is going up, the other is pushed up. This will in effect add or subtract to the spring rate on the wheel when you need it most, during turning. it theoretically would not change anything when going straight over a speedbump when both wheels are moving the same amount. however youll feel the effect of the swaybar when one wheel goes over a pothole moreso because youve taken away fro mthe independent suspension. you can have a front swaybar connecting the two front wheels, or in the rear, or both.

a strut bar is a structural addition to the chassis. it is not a part of the suspension. however, it does resist unintented displacement of suspension points when the chassis is under handling forces. this actually is more important in cars with macphersion suspension where the suspension pushes a lateral force at the top of the strut mounted to the chassis. this is why its called a strut bar, even tho not all cars have struts. movement of the top strut anchor would mean an extra change in suspension geometry, basically camber, usually in a negative way. but it actually isnt so much of an effect with honda double wishbone suspension. the strut bar still does function as a structural member and helps maintain chassis rigidity.

a tie BAR is another structural member that is intended to resist any chassis flex. these are placed underneath the chassis and bolts to two points on the suspension, but not on a moving part. its just a chassis stiffener.

a tie ROD, as mentioned is part of the steering, most ppl will talk of tie rods as the actual tie rod END that is at the far ends of the steering rack and connects to the knuckle with a ball joint.

the part that will most affect how your car handles is going to be the swaybar, because its the only part that is an active member of the suspension. let me reiterate, a strut bar and tie bar are NOT part of the suspension, a sway bar IS. very general principles of handling are dictated by differences between front and rear traction. oversteer is a CONDITION (*1) where the front tires have RELATIVELY more grip than the rear, so during a turn the rear tires are going to slide out and have a bigger arc, think of a spinning car still moving in one direction basically as ultra extreme exampble. understeer is the opposite - the car does not want to rotate because the rears have more grip. general rule of suspension - stiffen the rear for oversteer, stiffen the front for understeer.

therefore, adding a swaybar to the front will PROMOTE A CONDITION of understeer. and conversely adding a rear swaybar will promote a condition of oversteer. adding both, well you get an all around stiffer car. i recommend the spring/shock setup you currently have, and then adding a rear swaybar. but i also would recommend that adding that front sway bar will give you that "riding on rails" feeling in handling. a lot of ppl seem to like that too. its up to you. you can get a kit and play with it to what you like. you can ask which one is better or "BEST" than the others, they all seem to work, some have adjustable positions. Suspension Techniques is a popular brand.

now theres a lot of cheap options for a front strut bar. when i added a NEUSPEED front strutbar to my otherwise stock CRX, i actually can say i notice a difference in handling, in a positive way it seemed. im not sure if the cheap ones work as well, as i havent tried. but why bother with cheap stuff. now, my opinion from other ppls feedback on REAR strutbars is that they are not useful and do not change anything. looks like it would really get in the way of the hatchspace anyway. doesnt seem worth it.

ive not added any tie bar to my car, my opinion is that either front or rear is unecessary. the crossmembers in the front and back are part of the strongest and most rigidly designed parts of the car. it seems its just flashy metal to me. not saying stock has no room for improvement, i just wouldnt get caught up with adding structural rigidity where its not needed as much. again, its not like it directly affects handling.

Footnotes:
(*1)i say condition because ANY car can be either be driven to a state of understeer or oversteer, without any change to the suspension. changing the suspension to alter the cars handling PROMOTES one condition or the other, but ppl who dont understand this think of cars with certain setups as "oversteer" or "understeer" when either is simply a state during the turn and is always changing in degree. its typical a car can exhibit corner ENTRY oversteer, and corner EXIT understeer. but that alone is dependent on HOW the driver actually drives the car into and out of the turn.
 

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theres a rumor floating around my group of tuner buddies that strut bars dont do a damn thing unless you jack your car up and install it with the tires off the ground.. it kinda makes sense to me, but can anyone verify this?
 

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A strut bar is just a chassis stiffener, do you think there's significant flex when it's off the ground versus on? Keep in mind that all the pressure on the suspension at rest is directed up into the shock towers, and these strut bars are intended to reduce lateral movement. Also, real strut bars are solid, non-adjustable pieces, so it doesn't matter how or when you put them on.
 

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SilverRex said:
theres a rumor floating around my group of tuner buddies that strut bars dont do a damn thing unless you jack your car up and install it with the tires off the ground.. it kinda makes sense to me, but can anyone verify this?
I think in my opinion that would be the wrong thing to do. You kind of want that shock tower to have all the pressure, be on the ground, when installing. If you take it off the ground there is no pressure. I guess i can see why you say that, but your car isn't flexing all the time, at a stand still is fine for installation, no need to lift it.
 

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From what i have heard, do not install a strut bar with the car off the ground! When you drop the car back down, the strut bar will keep the car ( which flexed when you jacked it up ) " frozen " from returning to its unloaded /unjacked position.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
xchipx said:
From what i have heard, do not install a strut bar with the car off the ground! When you drop the car back down, the strut bar will keep the car ( which flexed when you jacked it up ) " frozen " from returning to its unloaded /unjacked position.....
can someone settle this? :?
 

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I installed mine on the ground, my best friend jacked his up and installed it.. his car is sitting normally on the ground and he claims it works better. I think its about 50/50. Its either in his head or its maybe doing something different. But what you guys are saying makes more sense.
 

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a strut bar does not work as a flexure spring. it doesnt matter if you "preload" it or not. 3 or 4 feet of 5/8" diameter steel does not provide much spring force relative to what a car goes thru. its a structural part meant to brace in compression and tension.

any talk of preloading a strut bar is made by ppl who just dont know. to be honest, ive even read something on tanabe's website about promoting some kind of preload. i still think theyre wrong.

thats my educated opinion.
 

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What i meant by preload was when installing it with the car jacked up, if it is tightened up the brace will then be under compression ( or tension ) when the car is dropped back down. Permanently putting pressure on the mounting point of the chassis, or pulling /pushing the chassis itself.

Whether its a spring or not ( which it obviously isn't ) as much as you like it or not, all metal flexes / stretches / compresses under load. Hence preloading the brace and/or the chassis.

Tyson, i agree : tanabe saying to preload the brace is probably pointless anyway. A strut brace receives both compression and tension. Not just one. Preload it more to counteract compression for example, now the strut tops are more likely to move away from each other....

Here is a little test for people....
Mount a strut bar and wack up the preload on it. Feel how tight it is against its mounting points/bolts....
Drive it for a year , now see how sloppy it is against its mounts/bolts/adjuster. Ooops, have you preloaded the chassis in this spot so much that its permanently deformed the chassis?
 

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so im guessing that preloading the strut bar is bad.

but what about a partial preload, like with some of the weight taken of the wheels but not completely of the ground? so that the frame is neither bend in or bent out
 

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Hmmm, mixed feelings on the ebay sets. Some people say they are worthless, others say that they can make a difference.
Id say get a front lower brace to start off with, or even better have the front ( rear-most , so, not the crossmember, but the actual lca mount/ steering rack subframe) subframe seam welded. Now thats supposed to make quite a difference, according to a few people who i know which hillclimb/sprint crx/civic in the uk.
Installing rear strut braces may actually cause more understeer, so as a starting point id advise against those for the time being.

Something i will say that made a really big difference ( to my crx ) are fender braces, which can be had off ebay, are fairly cheap and simple, yet do really tighten the front end up. They are stealth too, as in no one knows you have them !
The fender braces seemed to make much more difference that my cusco upper brace.

Either way, whatever you do, you are probably best off getting a decent set of shocks / springs and good tyres first....

-Mark
 
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