What Is a Sway Bar Bushing?by Alice Collins
Sway bars are an essential component in the handling of a race car on track. The technology and design of sway bars and the bushings that connect them play a pivotal role in competition. Roush racing learned the importance of the sway bar setup during the 2008 season when another NASCAR team allegedly stole a sway bar to copy their design in the hopes of making up competitive ground on the race track. Understanding the role of the sway bar and bushing will allow you to create the best handling for your car on the track.
To understand what a sway bar bushing is, first understand what the sway bar's function is in your car. Sway bars stabilize your vehicle through the corners of the racetrack. The bars are attached to the suspension and enable the suspension on one side of the car to react to what the other side is doing. The sway bar balances out the load that is taken on while the vehicle is corning and is attached to the suspension through bushings. The bars are always used on the front suspension and occasionally used on the rear suspension, depending on the track.
Sway bar bushings allow the sway bar to float and react to the movement of the race car on track. Typically located on the lower control arms, the bushings are mounted to the chassis. Without the bushings, the sway bar would have a rigid connection to the chassis and stop all weight shifting. This would make the handling of the car in the corners next to impossible to control.
The bushing is made out of rubber, urethane or polyurethane. The sway bar fits into the center of the bushing. Around the outside of the bushing, there is a bracket that allows you to mount it onto the chassis.
The size of the bushings depends on the size of sway bar you are using. Sway bar sizes can range in size up to 2 inches in diameter. The brackets used to attached the bushing to the chassis can be upward of 1-1/4 inches high by 3-5/8 inches wide or 1-5/8 inches high by 4-1/4 inches wide in size.
The bushing itself can be composed of different materials. All materials resist extreme heat and cold and reduce friction. Prices vary, depending on the material used in the bushing. The materials are available in either red or black, and the brackets are generally plated to avoid rust and excessive wear.