Review: Installing an Addco Rear Swaybar Short Cuts

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By: Tim Stucky. 8/2002

Street manners are an area that most rockcrawling enthusiasts worry little about when building up a truck. I enjoy rockcrawling, therefore, I fit into that category. However, upon purchasing an '88 4Runner for pavement duties, I quickly discovered that body roll was the main culprit of the truck's lack of handling. Body roll is the tendency of the vehicle to lean towards the outside of a turn. Referring back to high school science, one of the basic laws of physics states that when an object is in motion, it stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. On a car, that outside force is the tires and they are responsible for changing the direction of the vehicle. During a turn, the weight of the vehicle is transferred to the outside suspension components, thus compressing them causing the inside of the vehicle to lift. In shorter terms, that is called body roll and it can prevent the vehicle from handling smoothly and performing at its best.

Every driver has different preferences in how they want their vehicle to handle. Most are satisfied with the factory ride, but many would like to enjoy better and smoother cornering. Many people make the mistake of trying to control body roll by using a combo of stiffer springs and shocks. While this works to some extent, the result is often a bone-jarring, harsh ride that can cause even the highest quality cd players to skip. My idea of a good suspension is to keep it moderately soft and resilient, but have minimal body roll in corners.

The Addco rear sway bar

All first generation (1984-1989) 4runners came from the factory equipped with front sway bars, but lacked a rear one. After upgrading to larger diameter torsion bars up front and custom springs in the rear, I found that my 4runner handled and rode much better than stock, but still had a lot of body roll. It tended to over steer or push through corners more than I'd like and it didn't feel very well balanced, sure footed, or predictable while cornering at high speeds. In the event of an evasive maneuver at freeway speeds, I was concerned about the truck's handling and ability to respond to my input. A general rule of thumb in the autocross world that applies to most vehicles is to add stiffness to the rear of an under steering vehicle or to the front on an over steering vehicle. However, the stiffness between the front and rear also needs to be balanced to perform best. I decided to put the theory to practice and added an Addco rear sway bar.

Installation is entirely a bolt on affair and the directions are adquate. It took me about 2 hours due to the tight spaces caused by my auxiliary gas tank. The first step is to install the axle hardware that mounts the bar itself to the axle. Next, the upper mounting points need to be installed. The driver's side mounts directly on the frame while the passenger side bolts onto the upper shock mount. Once the mounts and bar have been attached to the axle, install the end links and bushings. The end-links should be as close to straight up and down as possible and the bar should be offset 2" to the driver's side of the vehicle due to the thickness of the shock and mounting point.

The mounting hardware up close The Addco bar attached to the axle The driver's side upper mount The passenger side is a tight fit with the extra fuel tank

The finished product

After torquing down the last bolt, I took it out for an aggressive test drive with high expectations and much to my delight, the swaybar delivered as promised. My test drive began with many simulated evasive manuevers at various speeds and ended with numerous powerslides at 50+mph around a 15mph corner. Immediately, I could tell the truck was much more balanced and had much less body roll. Even powering out of corners with the vehicle sliding, it feels very stable and the thought of rolling over is quickly dismissed by a quick steering adjustment into the slide and a generous dose of the go-pedal! While adding a rear sway bar is not something I would ever want to add to an off-road vehicle, it is a welcome addition to a vehicle that sees mostly road miles. For those who want to enjoy the best of both worlds, a set of quick-disconnects could be fashioned much like the front disconnects currently offered by a number of aftermarket vendors. Nonetheless, I would highly recommend the Addco rear sway bar for daily driven 4runners.

Contacts Related Links
  • Addco Manufacturing Company, Inc.
    1596 Linville Falls Hwy.
    Linville, NC 28646

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