Strut bar – does it really make your car handle better and safer?

Zamil Syaheer · Mar 4, 2020 11:07 AM

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Factory-installed strut bar in the 2020 Honda Accord 1.5.

You’ve probably seen or heard a certain aftermarket strut bar company suggesting you to install a strut bar in your car with a promise of improved chassis rigidity, enhance cornering performance and a much safer car. It is true, but there are drivers that thinks it is nothing more than just another gimmicky product.

So here comes the question – do you really need one and does it work?

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Factory-installed strut bar in the 2019 Proton Saga 1.3L.

Firstly, what’s a strut bar?

Strut bar or strut brace, as the name suggests is a metal or aluminum bar that connects to the two strut towers under your hood that holds the front suspension, tying the struts together which reduces chassis flex and body roll, thus making it work harmoniously as one.

Without the strut bar, one side of the suspension takes more load, hence it becomes unbalanced. It also reduces the wear-and-tear on other vehicle components and distributes the wear evenly, hence it is a little friendlier on your wallet for the long run.

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Oh, the car chassis flexes?

Yes. Chassis flex simply refers to a lack of rigidity in the car’s chassis. It is a sign of structural weaknesses, which means the suspension of the car will not be able to work efficiently as the chassis will take up the load. Simply put – the more rigid the chassis of the car, the stable the foundation will be.

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Okay, why my car came from the factory without it?

Back then, car manufacturers did not make chassis rigidity a priority. Cost control and the available technology of that era are not advanced enough for engineers to make full use of it. Thankfully, technology has improved along the way, hence car manufacturers are able to use stronger materials, apply new welding techniques, utilize cutting-edge chassis modeling and use better bonding adhesive.

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The result? Car manufacturer is able to design and build vehicles that delivers superior ride, improved rigidity, better handling, more comfortable, and response better to driver input. Depending on the types of vehicle and suspension design, car manufacturer can determine whether:

  1. The additional bar and braces are not necessary as it could mess with geometry or handling
  2. Or not many customer demands it as important, hence cost can be brought down lower

But this does not mean it could not be further improved. Most modern cars like the all-new 2020 Honda Accord in the cover photo do come pre-installed with strut bar and other chassis braces. As they say, every little bit of improvement counts.

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Hold on, other chassis braces? There are more than just a strut bar?

Of course. Their placement differs but the fundamental function remains similar to strut bar, which is to improve handling, reduce chassis flex and increase stiffness.

Bars for the rear strut, transmission mount, subframe, and even B & C pillars are readily available to buy. If not, the option to custom made one is possible.

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Should I buy all of it then?

It depends on what you are trying to achieve with your car. Some like the secure feeling of a more rigid chassis, while some would want to make the car safer overall. The choice is in your hands.

Are there any cons of installing one?

  • It does add a small amount of weight but these are really negligible.
  • Some interior brace comes at the expense of cargo and passenger space, which is probably not a good idea if you are the type that ferries passengers or items around.
  • Casual drivers may not find this as appealing as enthusiasts or spirited drivers as the slightly stiffer feel might not be to your liking.
  • If you drive more on off-road situations, there are times when you need the suspension to act independently, hence having one might affect its capability.

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In conclusion:

  • It’s inexpensive and provides improvement to your car. If you don’t like it, you can always remove them.
  • The effect is immediate, making this one of the best money can buy add-ons.
  • You may install all the available bars and braces for your car, but its best to consult your local mechanic for one that suits your car and driving style the best.
  • If aesthetic is the name of the game, it adds a visual dress-up point to your car.

Zamil Syaheer

Editor

More than 10 years experience, specialising in Motorsports, Advanced Driving, Event Management & Creative Design. He enjoys driving (drifting, actually) anything RWD with a proper LSD over the limit. Versatility is his motto and mantra.

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