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Stiffening Your Challenger’s Body with Sway Bars

Stiffening Your Challenger’s Body with Sway Bars

A stiff, flat laying car has much better control through the turns, which improves handling and track time. In a third-gen Challenger (2008-2018), the car is kept flat with the use of sway bars. Sway bars are intended to reduce body roll as the articulation and momentum of the car raise or lower one side of the vehicle in relevance to the other. If you want to know exactly what they work to improve, you can easily remove them to reveal just how much body roll a car like the Challenger is subjected to while turning. Perhaps you’ve even pushed your car through the turn to the point where the body began to roll. This definitely inspired the thought of making some upgrades to this area. Before getting started, you need to know what your options are.

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Challengers are known for their straight line potential, but on the winding back roads, you'll encounter something more than raw go power: body roll. Body roll is the stuff of many muscle car owners' nightmares, but there are ways to mitigate the terror. Sway bars are the first go-to solution because of their ability to join the two halves of your Challenger together, stiffening the body and negating a good chunk of body roll.

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What are Sway Bars?

We know, in theory, how a sway bar works, but what exactly is it? A sway bar lives between the suspension components on either side of the vehicle. It essentially ties either end of the suspension to the other in order to keep it articulating in order to keep the car flat. In appearance, they look just like a bar and are constructed of a tubular design. Sway bars go by many names. The three most common are sway bar, stabilizer bar, and anti-roll bar.

Front vs Rear

A major playing factor on the way a sway bar will react in any vehicle depends on the drive type. Since the Challenger is a rear wheel drive vehicle, we can begin to make inferences from there. Sway bars don’t just keep the vehicle flat; they also directly impact the steering. 

  • Front: On a rear wheel drive car like the Challenger, the front sway bar works to reduce oversteer
  • Rear: The Challenger would benefit from a rear sway bar in an effort to reduce understeer

Adjustable Sway Bars

Many people are familiar with sway bars being fixed units but there are adjustable units out there. The adjustable features allow owners to easily adjust the stiffness of their sway bar. This is usually done by simply increasing the length of the sway bar. 

A longer sway bar will be stiffer than a shorter one. Now, sure keeping the car level is always a good thing but when steering comes into play stiffer may have some negative impact on handling. Because of this, owners can infer what they need to combat and go the appropriate stiffness in order to combat it.

Thicker Sway Bars vs Thinner

If you don’t wish to get involved with adjustable sway bars or simply can’t afford the investment, you may simply choose to buy fixed sway bars. Length isn’t the only factor that impacts the stiffness of a sway bar. The thickness of the bar does as well.

  • Thicker: deflect less keeping stiffness
  • Thinner: deflect more allowing for more flex

Thicker bars have a wider diameter and deflect less than thinner bars do. As we mentioned thicker isn’t always better, and in order to choose the appropriate bar for your Challenger you’ll have to pay attention to what the car is doing in order to balance things out.

Thicker bars in the front than the rear can act to reduce oversteer while combating body roll, but if understeer is an issue thicker bars in both the front and rear will work to neutralize the issue. You’ll have to feel it out to see what’s right for you.

Installation & Locations

The installation of an aftermarket sway bar is super easy, especially on a car like the Challenger that comes with them right out of the factory.  To install them, you really shouldn’t peak over an hour’s worth of time in order to do the front and rear. 

  • Front Location: across the front anchoring near the lower front control arm
  • Rear Location: across the rear anchoring near the rear shock mount

It’s a good idea to have a helping hand nearby in order to properly install a sway bar. This isn’t due to the level of difficulty but you will want to lift the car and remove the wheels in order to access the sway bars and go through the installation process. Though, for the job all you will need are some basic hand tools and equipment to lift the vehicle off the ground. 

When to Consider This Upgrade

There are a lot of reasons to consider making an upgrade such as larger sway bars. Though, considering the Challenger comes equipped with sway bars from the factory, it may be rendered an inappropriate expense. To decide whether to make the upgrade, you should consider the intended purpose of the vehicle:

Drag Racing: The Challenger is an excellent vehicle for drag racing. In a drag race, there is obviously no turning, so sway bars do work to keep the vehicle flat which is important but in most cases, the factory units will work just fine. 

Road Racing: Challengers are big heavy cars and the factory units will have to work hard under the conditions of a road race. If high-speed turns are on the agenda, larger/stiffer sway bars are a must. 

Comfort: The factory units will work well for daily use as that’s well within their wheelhouse. If a driver would rather a stiffer more responsive drive through the turns, larger/stiffer sway bars can be installed. Though, stiffer shocks and other suspension components may also be considered to improve these areas.

Fitment includes: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-8, RT, SE, SXT, RallyeRedline, ScatPack, Hellcat, GT, TA, Demon