Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder PowerDork
4/9/09 8:25 a.m.

We want it all. We want delicious food that doesn’t make us fat. We want dream vacations that are easy on the wallet. And we want corner-carving cars that still deliver a plush ride.

We can’t help you with those first two items, but a simple piece of steel can make that third goal a reality. Meet the anti-roll bar.

The anti-roll bar is simply a U-shaped tubular bar that links one side of a car’s suspension with the other. The middle of the bar hangs from the chassis.

The operation of the bar is just as simplistic as its shape. When the suspension is compressed on only one side of the car—for example, as a car dives into a turn—the anti-roll bar offers resistance as it is forced to twist, working to keep the car level and the wheels planted to the ground. The amount of force needed to twist the bar is its rate.

While stiffer springs at each corner of the car can more or less accomplish the same goal, the anti-roll bar does its job without turning a car into a stiffly sprung coal cart. Since the anti-roll bar simply rotates within its bushings when both wheels are deflected by the same amount, the bar is only along for the ride most of the time. The bar adds spring rate only when it’s needed.

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