Sway bars and links are found in ATVs, forklifts, racing cars and family cars – basically any type of vehicle with a suspension.
Maintaining a vehicle in an upright position during a turn is vital to safety. The parts within a suspension system that help to control this movement are the sway bars and sway links. A sway bar is a long steel tube or bar that runs across the front and back of a vehicle. The bar allows the suspension to flex depending on the angle of the turn forcing one side of the vehicle to raise or lower to offset the turn on the opposite side.
A sway link, sometimes referred to as a dog bone, connects the sway bar to the a-arms in the front of a vehicle and in the back suspension. Generally, there are four sway links in every application – one for each wheel. These links hold the vehicle flat in a turn to prevent the vehicle from flipping over. Given their role in preventing rollovers, sway links must be precisely engineered for each application.
Knowing when to replace a sway link is just as important as its initial selection. When sway links wear, they make a clunking noise and tension loosens between the sway bar and the a-arms.
Important features to consider when selecting a sway link:
- Misalignment Angle
- Sealing – Boots and/or Seals
- Maintenance-free or Lubrication Needs
- Strong and Reliable Spherical Plain Bearing
Sway links can come in variety of coatings. The three most common include:
- Powder coating, which provides a good resistance to corrosion
- Zinc plating
Sway bars are changed in racing vehicles to allow the cars to have a different suspension response in turns. This type of arrangement gives the car greater flexibility to handle curves and increase overall speed. Some race cars have onboard adjustable sway bars to control how the car reacts to turns and help the drive keep control of the car.