Complete collection of Jeep and off-road trails in the Las Vegas area
Airing Down and Disconnecting Sway Bars Part 2

Airing Down and Disconnecting Sway Bars Part 2

March 6th, 2017

So we covered airing down tires in part 1, now let's talk about disconnecting your sway bar.

One of the standard practices in getting ready for a Jeep run is disconnecting your sway bar. Let's start with what a sway bar is. Technically the correct term is anti-sway bar, however the two terms are used interchangeably. The anti-sway bar on a fixed axle Jeep (like a Wrangler) is just that - a bar that prevents it from swaying and is connected from the frame to axle that help stabilize roll when the Jeep turns. There is a sway bar on each of your axles, however usually only the front sway bar is disconnected when offroading. When you are turning while driving, the centrifugal force of the turn causes roll in the opposite of the direction of the turn. You can feel this on a fast tight turn when you and everything else in the vehicle wants to move in the opposite direction on the turn. This also causes a downward force on the opposite side of the Jeep. To take the example to the extreme, if you turn too sharply while driving fast, your vehicle will flip. This is because your tires want to stay on the road, but the rest of the Jeep wants to keep moving in the direction you are travelling.

The anti-sway bar helps stabilize the Jeep by "pushing back" so to speak against the roll during a turn. It helps secure the frame of the Jeep to both sides of the axle. It allows some movement of the axle relative to the frame, however it it will only allow so much roll before it starts resisting it. An anti-sway bar is an important part of your Jeep's suspension and should always be connected when not driving on a trail.

The help stabilizing the Jeep on the pavement is exactly what you don't want on the trail, especially if you like to rock crawl. When offroading, you want the axle to articulate, or flex on uneven terrain. By disconnecting the sway bar from the axle, it will allow the axle to travel the entire distance up and down that your suspension allows. This provides a great advantage when rock crawling or other uneven terrain. The difference between a connected sway bar and a disconnected sway bar is night and day.

Sway bar connect to the axleSway bar connect to the axle

So how do you disconnect the sway bar? Well, if you drive a late model Jeep Rubicon, your job is easy, just push the button on your dash board. For the rest of us, we need to get busy in garage before we get to disconnect on the trail. This post is not a write up with exact steps that are required to disconnect your sway bar, but I will generally describe the process. Most stock Jeeps have the sway bar bolted to the axle via connectors that have ball joints on them to allow the move around a little while driving. The best way to be able to disconnect the sway bay is to install after market sway bar disconnects which are designed for easy disconnection and reconnection. There are many kits available depending on the type of Jeep you have. I have a 2000 TJ and I use the Rough Country sway bar disconnect set. These are simple to install and makes it very easy to disconnect and reconnect the sway bar. Do some research and find which ones will work best for you.

Rough Country disconnect kit in the disconnected state Rough Country disconnect kit in the disconnected state

If you choose not use an after market sway bar disconnect kit, you can still disconnect your sway bar, it will just take a little more time. You can remove the bolts connecting the sway where it connects to the axle. Once it the bolts are removed, you can swing the sway bar up and fasten it with zip ties up and out of the way. It will take a few more minutes, but will be well worth it on the trail.

Be sure to reconnect your sway bar when you are done wheeling and before you hit the pavement. Driving at road speeds with the sway bar disconnected is dangerous as you will lose the lateral stability that it is designed to supply. You will also quickly notice how difficult it is to control the Jeep if you try driving with it disconnected.