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ARS REMOVING SWAY B We’ve been hearing it for years now. “If you want flex then remove your sway bars!” And while strictly speaking it’s true, for anything other than a rock crawler, flex is a vastly overrated piece of a much bigger puzzle.

AIRBAGS AND GVM Airbag helper springs, particularly those fitted to utes, have copped a fair amount of bad press lately and it’s largely undeserved. The problem is that people fit them up and mistakenly assume that their vehicle’s gross vehicle mass (how much weight you can carry) has magically been increased, when all the airbag is designed for is to compensate for the extra weight that’s still within the GVM when you’re loaded up for touring or towing. Folks go ahead and throw everything including the kitchen sink onboard, then hitch up their deluxe multi–axle caravans and head off touring and then turn around and wonder why it doesn’t last. Y’see, by adding an airbag to a chassis that’s well in excess of its GVM, you’re basically adding a stress locating point. In other words: hit a big enough bump at speed in an overloaded vehicle – that’s where she’s going to bend. Which is exactly what happens. Hardly the airbag’s fault, I reckon…

Take a GQ Patrol for example: Ditch the sway bars and all of a sudden the rear end is flexier than a drunken gymnast. Only, your body roll is now 400 per cent worse, and the front end is actually flexing less. All of sudden you’ve got a poorly balanced truck that looks great on the travel ramp for no noticeable gain off-road. Hot tip: keep the rear sway bar in – the extra resistance actually forces the front end to work. You won’t win a ramp-off with your mate in his slinky-mobile, but yours will drive a whole lot nicer, and probably further, too. The moral of the story? Your sway bars are an integral part of your suspension and are there for a host of very good reasons – leave them on. Traction and balance trump a few extra inches of largely unusable flex every time in the real world.

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UNSEALED 4X4 ISSUE 013  
UNSEALED 4X4 ISSUE 013  
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