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Scion xA/xB 1st-Gen Suspension & Handling Coilovers, Shocks, Airbags, Swaybars...

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Old 03-04-2004, 06:46 PM   #1
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Default What are the pros and cons of a front strut bar?

What are the pros and cons? Is it good/bad for your car? Anyone have it on the xb?
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Old 03-04-2004, 07:26 PM   #2
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My XB came with the Hotchkis strut bar. Great looking piece to race up the Echo engine. I've never driven an XB without one or ever had mine off. I can't see it helping THAT much, but who knows...it may save my life in an evasive maneuver in the future. I don't do that much racing in the XB.

For strut bar theory, I found this informative site...
http://e30m3performance.com/myths/St...bar_theory.htm

Hope you're up to par on your engineering statics.
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Old 03-04-2004, 07:34 PM   #3
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thanks a lot man, it helped. Cool, so it helps keep your Strut Tower from fatigue and can help in turning. Lesson learned.

I was thinking about it because I'm trying to buy a Hot Lava xB which comes with one installed.
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Old 03-09-2004, 05:32 AM   #4
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A thicker rear anti-sway bar will make 10x the difference in handling improvement dude and it probably costs LESS.

Don't put a thicker FRONT sway bar on though, unless for some weird reason you like oversteer.

Strut tower braces keep the body from flexing a little, but cars have such high torsional rigidity now that they barely flex at all.

The bottom line is the strut tower things are 75% about looks and about 25% function and that's being generous. A thicker rear anti sway is much smarter if you care more about making a real and noticeable difference in handling more than dressing up your engine bay with some bling.

Up to you. Ask people who really understand suspensions and they will tell you what I did.

The strut tower things are promoted more and sell well because you can SEE them. It's a rice...uh.. I mean nice dress-up part to impress your friends while a sway bar no one can see, it's not chrome and purple with gold bolts. It is 100% performance and it's for you to enjoy yourself, not to impress people when you pop the hood.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 03-09-2004, 02:34 PM   #5
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nest makes a good point.

even if you are an experienced race car driver, you may notice absolutely nothing adding a front strut bar. In theory they help keep the strut towers from moving, which will help to maintain camber in turns. In reality I doubt they move on the scion at all anyway.

So, the 'con' of the strut tower bar would be weight. Its not much, but it is in the worst possible place (up high in the front of the car). Not that you would notice that either.


A stiffer rear swaybar may indeed be a good idea. The rear suspensioon geometry is especially bad, so preventing the rear from rolling is likely a good thing. Lower and stiffer springs are also a big help there.

The nice thing about swaybars, is you get DRASTIC increases in roll stiffness, with little effect on ride quality. To get the same reduction in roll with springs would make for a very bumpy ride. The downside of swaybars is they increase weight transfer which will reduce grip. Often the increased stability and reduced camber change due to body roll are worth it.

People generally find cars with stiff swaybars much more fun to drive, since the car reacts so quickly to steering inputs.
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:32 PM   #6
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the best cars have strut bars, or should. It keeps the body from flexing when you hit a bump. A good idea when you have changed your factory spring and shocks with lower and stiffer models, and the wheel has been changed. Dont forget, that your wheels and tires are part of the suspension of your car. Big wheels are like stiff springs, and if you have a lowering kit, and big wheels, the car will take a pounding, and a strut bar is a good investment if you drive over rough pavement
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:42 PM   #7
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Agreed.

The reason most front wheel drive cars don't come with stiffer rear sway bars and DO come with front sway bars is that the average driver isn't accustomed to dealing with oversteer. A stiff rear antisway bar and no front sway bar will lend you alot of control, but it also puts you in control right up to the limit where oversteer occurs, so an inexperienced driver can get a false sense of confidence and get into trouble quickly.

A front antisway bar and moderately stiff rear bar and somewhat softer springs reduce handling ability, but they also give the drive some feedback. Oversteer comes on very gradually then so that any driver can detect it when the car takes a turn and slowly begins to move toward the outside becoming progressively harder to handle. It limits cornering ability, but keeps the average driver out of trouble.

The other extreme is what you'd find in an old Porsche 911. Rear wheel drive, weight over the rear wheels and a real stiff antisway set up. Handles like a dream but 1 mph too fast and the understeer smacks you in the face and the ___ end whips around and sends you into a ditch. These are not cars for amateurs!

Overall though, IMO, in most front wheel drive cars the ideal set up is a stiff antisway bar in the rear with a real IRS (mac struts or d-wishbone-- NOT torsion beam) and no front swaybar at all. Front swaybars don't do anything but contribute to oversteer in a front wheel drive, front engine car. I don't know why the hell they even make them for the aftermarket. What for? To give you some training wheels if you're a sucky driver? You might as well leave the suspension stock then and save your money.

Stiff rear anti-sway and a coat hanger or nothing in the front, that's the way to go if you're experienced and know your car well enough to take it close to the edge safely and know when to back off.

Don't waste your money on strut tower braces or front sway bars guys. A stiffer rear antisway bar is the #1 best bang for the buck performance mod EVAR. It will do more for your car than a spendy strut tower brace or cold air intake or free flow muffler ever will. Most of that stuff gives miniscule gains that aren't even close to worth the money.

Seriously. Trust me on this one.
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:47 PM   #8
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Thanks guys. Great info. I was going to get a DC bar but after reading all these great info. I decided not to. Do you know when can I get one of those thicker rear anti-sway bar? Thanks.
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahurdl01
the best cars have strut bars, or should. It keeps the body from flexing when you hit a bump. A good idea when you have changed your factory spring and shocks with lower and stiffer models, and the wheel has been changed. Dont forget, that your wheels and tires are part of the suspension of your car. Big wheels are like stiff springs, and if you have a lowering kit, and big wheels, the car will take a pounding, and a strut bar is a good investment if you drive over rough pavement
The best cars have so much torsion rigidity that the strut towers don't budge even 1/10 of a centimeter. Notice that whenever a car company introduces a model that nearly every one lists "60% increase in torsional rigidity" or something like that? Today's Scion has better torsional rigidity than the expensive German sports cars of 20 years ago. Strut tower braces are becoming obsolete, but you will find them OEM on some ultra high performance cars still.

They certainly can't hurt. My point is simply that for the money, they will make a barely discernable difference. They look cool, but I don't like to shell out cash on any mod that doesn't deliver some real benefit that I can feel, and I'm not talking about the placebo effect type thing rice boys get when they swear the 104 octane additive they poured in their Civic gives them 20 extra horsepower.

The same goes for cold air intakes and free flow mufflers/cats. The make the engine sound cool and rev a little more freely, but run a 1/4 mile with and without one or put it on the dyno, then tell me if you got your money's worth.

Of course only you can decide what is worth the money, but know the facts before you buy and don't buy the hype. [/quote]
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:58 PM   #10
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Im not sure that a stiffer front bat would always be a bad idea. The reduction in roll up front can sometimes actually add grip by reducing camber change. Though this is something I will be experimenting with. Im going to add the rear hotchkiss bar first, try that out, then put the front one on.
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Old 03-09-2004, 04:49 PM   #11
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Ide use a front tower bar for looks and thats about it.. you have to take distances into concideration... On a Civic the strut towers are X inches away from a solid bulkhead as in Firewall.. in the xB that X distance is almont non exhistant.. the firewall acts as a strut tower brace in our xBs..
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Old 03-10-2004, 01:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silkywilson
Ide use a front tower bar for looks and thats about it.. you have to take distances into concideration... On a Civic the strut towers are X inches away from a solid bulkhead as in Firewall.. in the xB that X distance is almont non exhistant.. the firewall acts as a strut tower brace in our xBs..


That's a good point, I never noticed that. There are a few cars designed that way, I've also seen some that have what looks like a second firewall, which is essentially just another structural element to add stifness to the front box.
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Old 03-10-2004, 01:54 PM   #13
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I might be smoking crack--but I always thought with an FF car, a rear sway bar would increase oversteer, while adding a front one or going with a larger one up front would increase understeer...not oversteer.
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Old 03-10-2004, 02:22 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDMxB
I might be smoking crack--but I always thought with an FF car, a rear sway bar would increase oversteer, while adding a front one or going with a larger one up front would increase understeer...not oversteer.
this is generally true no matter what wheels happen to be powered.

but sometimes, on a car that has LOTS of roll in stock form, a stiffer front bar will add grip to the front more than it transfers weight away from the rear.
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Old 03-11-2004, 03:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JDMxB
I might be smoking crack--but I always thought with an FF car, a rear sway bar would increase oversteer, while adding a front one or going with a larger one up front would increase understeer...not oversteer.
i'm smoking the same crack. it's true though btw. it's common sense.
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Old 03-11-2004, 05:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mechatune
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDMxB
I might be smoking crack--but I always thought with an FF car, a rear sway bar would increase oversteer, while adding a front one or going with a larger one up front would increase understeer...not oversteer.
i'm smoking the same crack. it's true though btw. it's common sense.

the relationship between front and rear roll stiness, and front and rear roll transfer due to body roll and THAT relationship with wheel camber at each corner and the relationship of increased side to side weight transfer due to roll stiffness AND the relationship of the CG changing as the body rolls is common sense?

lol


nothing about suspension is common sense =) mathematics can't even fully capture what the hell tires alone are doing =)
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Old 03-11-2004, 11:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackmott
Quote:
Originally Posted by mechatune
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDMxB
I might be smoking crack--but I always thought with an FF car, a rear sway bar would increase oversteer, while adding a front one or going with a larger one up front would increase understeer...not oversteer.
i'm smoking the same crack. it's true though btw. it's common sense.

the relationship between front and rear roll stiness, and front and rear roll transfer due to body roll and THAT relationship with wheel camber at each corner and the relationship of increased side to side weight transfer due to roll stiffness AND the relationship of the CG changing as the body rolls is common sense?

lol

nothing about suspension is common sense =) mathematics can't even fully capture what the hell tires alone are doing =)
har-dee-har har...whoa! where'd u get ur crack from? all i'm saying is, it's common sense that FF cars w/ an imbalance of stiffness, more so in the front= understeer.
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 03-11-2004, 11:18 PM
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