Spring & Sway

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by Bruce Caldwell  More from Author

Sway Bars And Performance Springs

A good handling Mustang is one without a lot of wasted motion. A car that feels like it’s going to tip over in corners isn’t much fun. You want the suspension to stay as firmly planted on the road as possible. To that end, a car with excessive body lean and too soft springs needs to be firmed up.

Two relatively easy suspension upgrades are installing larger, stiffer sway bars and high performance coil springs. The term sway bar is something of a misnomer since the bar’s purpose is to prevent sway. That’s why some people also call them anti-sway bars, stabilizer bars or anti-roll bars.

Sway bars are transverse bars that link the left and right side of either the front or rear suspension. The bent ends design serves as lever arms or links. Some sway bars have adjustable end links. By tightening the links the sway bar reacts instantly to control body roll. When the links are loosened the sway bar effect is softened allowing more body roll. A tighter rear bar will reduce understeer. If the car oversteers loosening the rear sway bar will restore chassis balance.

The main function of a sway bar is to reduce body roll. The stiffer (or thicker diameter) the bar, the less body roll. Besides stiffer than stock sway bars, another easy upgrade is to install high performance mounting hardware and bushings.

Performance coil springs (or sport springs) usually lower the vehicle an inch to an inch and a half. This modest lowering reduces body roll and pitch by lowering the car’s center of gravity. The lower center of gravity improves handling and braking. Sport springs have custom designed spring rates; they’re stiffer than stock, but not so stiff as to ruin the car’s ride quality.  XM

It’s difficult to see the difference in diameters between the factory 2005 Mustang rear sway bar (black) and the beefier Steeda sway bar (blue). Relatively small diameter increases provide substantial handling improvements. Notice the difference between the thick billet aluminum sway bar mounts and the thin rods used by the factory.

This is a 1 3/8-inch diameter Steeda front sway bar for 2005 and 2006 Mustangs. It provides better roll compliance for improved cornering. It comes with urethane bushings and has three end link positions for adjustability.

This is a pair of the new Steeda billet aluminum rear sway bar mounting brackets for 2005-06 Mustangs. The plate that secures the urethane bushings is removable so the bushings can be changed without unbolting the brackets.

This shot underneath a 2005 Mustang shows how the sway bar brackets are attached to the body.

CNC-machined billet aluminum front sway bar mounts for 2005-06 Mustangs are designed to stay rigid under hard cornering. These Steeda units are sized for Steeda’s heavy-duty front sway bars.

This is a Steeda billet sway bar mounting bracket for 1994-2004 Mustangs. They’re much stronger than the stamped factory strap-type mounts.

This side-by-side comparison of a sport spring left (blue) and an original Mustang spring (black) illustrate the lowering effect of high performance springs. What a photos can’t show is the increased spring rates of sport springs.

Coil springs can be heavy and as everyone knows, weight is the enemy of performance. Steeda designed their Ultra-Lite Spring Kit to be 15% lighter than conventional sport springs. They lower a car 1 1/8-inch to 1 3/8-inches, improve handling and weight less.

Changing rear coil springs is basically a remove and replace operation, but it’s not a ten-minute drill. The car has to be lifted and the body put on jack stands. The shock absorbers (and in some cases, the brake lines) need to be unfastened so the axle can droop thereby removing any pressure from the springs.

Front springs are more difficult to change on late-model Mustangs due to their front struts. The spring and strut come out as a single unit.

The difficult and potentially dangerous part of swapping front springs is compressing the spring so it can be separated from the strut. Suspension shops have special spring compressors that allow them to remove and install springs safely.

Steeda Autosports
1351 NW Steeda Way
Pompano Beach, FL 33069


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