Most of the off road community is very familiar with a sway bars and their end links or more specifically making them disconnect to allow for more suspension travel off-road. There are also a number of “off-road sway bars” that are great on the trail because you don’t have to work your disconnects which are very popular and still prevent the crazy body roll you would get without them period. But what about the other part… What about making your Jeep handle on-road?? What about for that other 90% of the time the most of us spend traveling here to there? What about that time you spend traveling to your wheeling or adventure destination with your rig loaded to the max with camping gear, bikes, kids, cooler, chairs and maybe a roof top tent?
We set out to find what was in the market and if it really worked. We found our perfect guinea pig. (I mean test vehicle) Eric Johnson of Northridge 4×4 up in Silverdale, Wa was kind enough to let us use his Jeep for the flogging. First, the rig: 2014 JKU, 4.5″ AEV suspension, Bilstein 5100 shocks, 37″ Tires, AEV roof rack, AEV front and rear bumpers, ARB roof top tent, ARB drawer system and ARB freezer fridge built by the good people at Northridge… When it is loaded Eric would only say “it’s heavy!!” And really what is this about? We are trying to find out if we can get some on-road manners back for the long trips to the destination. (From our door step to Moab, UT is only 1001.4 miles) We reached out to Hellwig Suspension Products out of Visalia, CA to see if they had the fix. Hellwig has been in the industry for over 65 years and is 100% Amercian made and is also one of the few family owned and operated business still going. We can get behind that because ‘MERICA!
Hellwig Suspension Products offers the biggest and baddest sway bar for the JK platform that we could find. We chose their front sway bar (Part no 7876) which comes in the form of 1 ¼” heat treated chrome moly goodness covered in an attractive hammer-tone finish. This is their “Off-Road Ready” version that is specifically designed for JK’s lifted 3-5” for on-road performance and comes with quick disconnect end links to give us the flex off-road. When we un-packaged the front bar we immediately noticed 3 holes at each end which we learned were for “tuning” the sway bar. For the Rear we went with part no 7706 which is a 7/8” bar, again heat treated chrome moly awesomeness, both bars were packaged well and came to us undamaged.
The install. With the help from the Northridge shop getting the Jeep on a lift definitely helped, but not required on the lifted JK. First we started on the front which was forgiving as we didn’t need to retain any of the factory hardware. When doing the install make sure to lube the polyurethane bushings with the grease supplied. We connected the end links to the farthest out hole to give us the tightest handling. Another neat feature with this kit from Hellwig was their mount for the sway bar end links that keep the bar secured when you disconnect and go off-road. With 2 people the install was a snap. On the rear we had to retain the factory end links for the installation. Again, making sure to grease the poly bushings. The install on front and rear uses all of the factory mounting point sans the front end link holder which made installation a breeze. Total install time was about an hour and change front and rear. Hellwig suggests to give yourself plenty of time as you are taking off factory pieces in different stages of wear.
DID IT WORK?!?!
Was all of this effort even worth a damn?!?! We decided to let Eric answer this one, after all he has driven it day in and day out and would know if it made a difference. In his own words:
Before installing the Hellwig sway bars my Jeep was a burden to drive when loaded down with the roof top tent and all my camping gear. After the installation of the Hellwig sway bars the Jeep is a pleasure to drive even when loaded down with the tent, camping gear and a boat in tow. The Jeep has almost no noticeable body role and the steering feels much tighter and more responsive. I am amazed at the difference these sway bars have made!” So. If you fall into the category of driving your Jeep daily and using it as your destination vehicle we would definitely recommend taking the time to install these sway bars!Eric from Northridge4x4