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Old 05-03-2014, 10:00 PM   #1
mike390
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Getting Sway bar on Focus 2013

I have been thinking about getting a Sway bar on my focus 2013. I noticed that the prices vary a lot by brand, but it just looks like a metal bar. Anyone have any recommendations on a lower priced bar that still preforms good? Also would the front or back have better bang for my buck?


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Old 05-04-2014, 12:33 AM   #2
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Think about it more, and decide what you want to achieve by the change.

"Anti-roll bars", commonly called "sway bars" reduce body roll by linking the left & right suspension through a torsion bar spring. This effectively stiffens the suspension at that end when only one side is being pushed upwards, no change when both wheels move together. Ride is stiffer when hitting individual bumps as a side affect of the added roll stiffness.

All else equal (keeping it simple here) transferring more weight to the outside wheel in a turn will make that tire slip more (traction is overwhelmed sooner).

Due to weight bias alone, a FWD car puts more load on the front wheels making them slip sooner in a corner (under steer). Transferring weight to the outside wheel in the rear by use of a sway bar makes that slip more, increasing over steer to even out the slip angle between the front & rear of the car. Extreme application of this will make the inside rear actually lift off the ground - maximum weight transfer available.

Again leaving out spring rates/suspension geometry/toe & camber angles, use of different size sway bars front & rear can fine tune the handling of a car when cornering. Larger bar at either end increases slip at that end - understeer at the front, oversteer at the rear. Too much of a "good thing" can be hard to control, the current ST model for example needs the intervention of stability control to help keep the tail in back where it belongs - particularly in lower traction conditions.

As to the things just being "steel bars", you can purchase the right steel alloy bar & bend a set yourself with a torch. Wrong alloy and it'll not be "springy" and/or break quickly from metal fatigue. Fitting it perfectly can be a bit of a challenge depending on the number of bends as well.

When you buy one, you're paying for the right materials & construction as well as the testing done to determine a good balance of size & material for acceptable handling.

Like most mods., "Best" depends on the intended use. You're "tuning" for different performance than stock, and there's always a plus & minus to each change. Fitting the car better for your purposes is the objective - there isn't a perfect setup for everyone or all circumstances. "Stock" would use that setup if it existed! Stock in suspension is tuned for stability & comfort over performance, sacrificing some of that stability/comfort for increased performance is the usual objective of suspension modification. Taking terms from Nascar, remember that too "loose" (oversteer) is as bad as too "tight" (understeer). FWD can't reduce oversteer by backing off the throttle, that actually INCREASES the problem. So a bit "tight" is best for most purposes in a FWD car.

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Old 05-04-2014, 11:15 AM   #3
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Thanks for that amazing response man. I understand the modification way better now. So my intentions of doing this modification was to make the handling on the car a bit better. I don't know if it is true but a friend of mine said it would also increase the lifespan of the car by reducing the twist on the body from all of the force acting on the vehicle over its lifespan.

So basically on a FWD car the rear would increase the oversteer, making the car corner better and increase power by stabilizing the front wheels, but at the cost of a bit less control?
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Old 05-04-2014, 03:53 PM   #4
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There ya go, when you start with understeer adding a bit of oversteer evens things out. The "anti-roll" will also keep it flatter, so overall grip can even increase by keeping the tires flatter on the ground.

Car will "rotate" better in the corners, with less "plow" in front. Overall "control" is improved when it's more balanced IMHO, trading a bit of straight line stability for better turning is a plus you can put to good use.

Tried to give an overall picture quickly as I could, keeping a bit of understeer is faster/better for street or track on sweeping corners - loose in the tail is a more specialized setup that's NOT fun on the street, useful for quick rotation on sharp corners in Auto-X & Rally. 9/10ths Driving is for racing, we northerners do 8/10ths regularly in the snow & are still happier when it's not needed.

You're not going to get to that point just by adding a typical rear bar, the stiffest ones avail. will push the limits for the street though.

Racers go for stiff springs, stiff rear bar, sometimes no front one & zero toe at the rear. It takes all those changes working together for a good result, the springs are doing most of it by themselves - so stiff they "corner weight" the car by adjusting each spring's perch, lifting one corner even slightly transfers a LOT of weight.

Street needs more compliance for the bumps, tuning the cornering response with the sway bars is our answer.

Chassis is stiff enough with modern cars that it doesn't come into play as much, you can see this by jacking at a front corner to change both tires on that side.

One final note, you can tune the initial response of the bars by choice of links & mounting bushings. You'll note that stock the front responds quicker due to solid ball joints on the end links. Poly bushings for rear links can even that out, an inexpensive modification.
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