Bigger tires don't mean better stability. Once you have a set in place, these wheels need to be backed up by the right components to ensure that they don't lead to loss of steering control and handling. And one way of doing that is by installing a steering stabilizer. This device works on helping your vehicle adapt to the changes made to it as a result of the new tires it has installed. By having a stabilizer in place, you'll be able to enjoy improved steering minus the hassles of dealing with steering binding, noise, vibration, and vehicle pull. So every time you drive your vehicle on rough terrain, you won't have to worry about losing control of it. Aside from improving safety, this device helps in prolonging the life of your steering system. To help it do all this, the stabilizer is constructed from high-quality materials to keep it from succumbing to wear and tear. It's also designed to match the specifications of most vehicle makes and models ensuring a perfect fit during set-up. As a result, installation becomes quick and easy to do. Since having bigger tires doesn't necessarily mean you'll get enhanced stability, make sure to pair your new set of tires with a steering stabilizer. That way, you'll be able to enjoy better steering control and handling whenever you take your ride for a spin.
Steering Stabilizer Buyer's Guide
- A steering stabilizer is a hydraulic device that is installed underneath your car.
- While shock absorbers dampen the suspension of your vehicle, steering stabilizers help control the behavior of the wheels.
- Steering stabilizers counter oscillation by restricting sudden wheel movements as you drive over uneven surfaces of the road.
- A steering stabilizer absorbs the shock that causes the lateral movement on your wheels and dissipates it to the vehicle’s frame.
- Single and dual steering stabilizers differ in usage, wherein dual stabilizers are typically fitted on vehicles used for heavy-duty functions as well as those that are lifted or with large tires.
- Avoid speed wobbling, pay close attention to sudden changes in steering behavior and any weird noises underneath your car, as these could be symptoms of a failing steering stabilizer.
- OE steering stabilizer replacements on CarParts.com could cost you anywhere between $20 and $410.
It’s important for your vehicle to have good handling, especially when you’ve upgraded to larger wheels as these tend to mess up with your ride’s maneuverability. Bumps and potholes can cause these wheels to wobble and be out of control. This behavior is known as speed wobble, and is sometimes referred to as the death wobble, mainly because it can become a life and death situation. To counter this, car manufacturers fit their vehicles with steering stabilizers that can be found in your vehicle’s undercarriage.
What is a steering stabilizer?
A steering stabilizer is a hydraulic device that is installed underneath your car. It is a damper connecting the center link to the frame of the vehicle. It looks a lot like a shock absorber but for a different purpose.
What does a steering stabilizer do?
Driving over bumps and potholes causes your wheels to oscillate, which is caused by an occurrence called Hopf Bifurcation. There’s a lot to discuss if you wish to go scientific-deep about speed wobbling but the behavior can happen at certain speeds and only at a specific intensity of an impact. Simply put, steering stabilizers counter oscillation by restricting sudden wheel movements as you drive over uneven surfaces.
How does a steering stabilizer work?
While shock absorbers dampen the suspension of your vehicle, steering stabilizers help control the behavior of the wheels. It does this with the help of hydraulic valving, which absorbs the shock that causes the lateral movement on your wheels. It then dissipates the force to the vehicle’s frame so you could have full control of your vehicle.
Single Steering Stabilizer vs. Dual Steering Stabilizers
Most modern vehicles are fitted with factory steering stabilizers which are often single steering stabilizers. Single stabilizers feature one damper assembly that’s installed on one side. While doing the job well, these are only efficient up to certain tire sizes. For tires larger than 33 inches, double steering stabilizers are needed.
Another reason for upgrading to dual steering stabilizers is if your truck is used mainly for heavy-duty tasks like towing or hauling. Lifting heavy materials will also require you to swap your stock steering stabilizer to its double counterpart. In short, the number of steering stabilizers you need depends on your driving style. If you do heavy-duty works with your vehicle, then you’ll probably benefit more on dual steering stabilizers.
Symptoms of a failing steering stabilizer
Steering stabilizers are often taken for granted until they fail and cause problems. A faulty steering stabilizer increases the risk of accidents caused by loss of control. To avoid such danger, pay close attention to sudden changes in steering behavior and any weird noises underneath your car, as these could be symptoms of a failing steering stabilizer.
Steering wheel shakes at high speeds
There may be multiple causes of a shaking steering wheel, especially at high speeds. One of such cause may be a bad steering stabilizer. Similar to out-of-balance wheels, a malfunctioning or loose steering stabilizer may cause your steering wheel to vibrate at speeds faster than 50 mph.
Steering becomes unstable off-road
A steering stabilizer’s job is to minimize the lateral movement of your wheels. When it becomes faulty, it often feels as if you have none installed. You’ll notice the difference as you drive over speed bumps and potholes at certain speeds. If the steering wheel vibrates violently as you bounce off the uneven road surface, your steering stabilizer may need to be replaced.
In extreme cases, the wheels have the tendency to wobble so violently that the steering wheel could slip off your hands. If this happens, you’ll lose control of your vehicle and bad things could happen.
Rattling noise under the front end of your vehicle
A clunking noise underneath your vehicle is never a good thing. If you hear a noise under the front end of your car accompanied by one or more symptoms in this list, the chances are your steering stabilizer is in bad shape. The noise comes from the contact between the loose steering stabilizer and either the vehicle frame or the center link.
Hydraulic fluid droplets under the front end of the vehicle
If you see a small puddle of viscous fluid under the front section of your vehicle, it means your steering stabilizer has a leak. Steering dampers rely on hydraulic fluid to function. Leakage can happen when the housing gets damaged after a recent collision with either a vehicle, a rock, or any solid object for that matter. The loss of hydraulic fluid will compromise the steering stabilizer’s ability to slow suppress the lateral force that causes the wheels to wobble.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, be sure to take your car to your trusted mechanic immediately. Failing to do so may lead to other problems affecting neighboring components, such as the center link, front suspensions, and control arm. Getting a steering stabilizer kit is far less expensive than having to replace an entire suspension assembly along with other failing components.
On the brighter side, addressing the issue as soon as you begin noticing it saves you from possible accidents that may occur.
How much is an OE steering stabilizer replacement?
OE steering stabilizer replacements on CarParts.com could cost you anywhere between $20 and $410 depending on whether you’re purchasing it as a direct replacement or a performance upgrade. They are sold either as a single steering stabilizer, sets of two, or as kits. You can minimize your search time by indicating your vehicle’s specific information such as year, make, and model in the filter tab. You may also select your preferred brand in the “Refine By” section on the left-hand side of the catalog.
Helpful Tips in Choosing the Right Steering Stabilizer
The purpose of this component is clear and simple-to stabilize your vehicle's steering. But aside from this, it provides more than what the name suggests-it also supports other suspension parts, prolongs tire lifetime, and increases vehicle safety especially when your truck needs to tow a payload. This section will explain where the steering stabilizers are located, how the different kinds work, and what is best for your driving style to keep your head from bobbling in different directions.
Where can I find these steering stabilizers?
Steering stabilizers are located under your car's front suspension. You will see a horizontally placed, pump-shaped component when you look down. Although some vehicles are manufactured without steering stabilizers, these easy-to-install components are available in the market.
What are the different types of steering stabilizers and how do they work?
There are four common types of steering stabilizers:
- Coil SpringThe idea behind a spring is pretty basic: the longer it stretches out, the more it will come back. When you turn a vehicle and rotate the steering wheel, the coil spring below stretches and holds the tires and wheels in center position. As you rotate the steering wheel back, the spring releases tension and returns to the original position.
- Coil-HydraulicThis type of steering stabilizer is based on the coil spring's mechanism; the only difference is the hydraulic piston that increases stability and prevents the coil spring from retracting quickly.
- HydraulicAlternately, the hydraulic steering stabilizer works on purely a hydraulic piston. Although it adds weight to your vehicle, this type of stabilizer provides better control and smoothness. This stabilizer performs like a shock absorber for the suspension system.
- Gas SpringThe gas spring steering stabilizer contains oil that circulates around its piston which then compresses the gas and creates pressure that keeps the wheels straight. The lubrication from the oil gives smooth movement when you are turning the vehicle. This is the latest type of stabilizer in the automotive market today.
How will I choose what stabilizer is right for my vehicle?
Ideally, steering stabilizers are installed on heavy-duty or lifted vehicles; but their impact on driving stability made them very popular to drivers. When purchasing, you should consider how often your car carries heavy load. If it's not frequent, then go for a single stabilizer. Otherwise, consider dual stabilizers to achieve maximum driving control. You can already snag a single for under $50 in the market.
Increase Your Steering Control in a Just a Few Steps
As a driver, one of the most important things you have to concentrate on is the steering wheel because only a few inches separate safety from catastrophe. If your car seems wobbly and uncontrollable, you may need to check the steering stabilizer in your car's suspension system for defect before any incident occurs.
Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you install a steering stabilizer.
Tools you'll need:
- Box-end wrench/ Combination wrench
- Floor jack
- Jack stand
- New steering stabilizer
Step 1: Park your vehicle on a level surface, engage the parking brake, and chock the rear wheels.
Step 2:Check the steering stabilizer under your car's front suspension. If you have ample work space down there, you may skip the next step. Otherwise, proceed to step 3.
Step 3: Set the jack under the car's solid frame. Raise the car until you can work comfortably underneath. Position the jack stand close to the front suspension and demount the jack afterwards.
Step 4: Remove the bolts on both ends of your old steering stabilizer using the box-end or the combination wrench.
Step 5: Test the steering stabilizer by applying lateral pressure. Place your hands on both ends and clasp them together in the middle. This should apply pressure on the steering stabilizer and upon your release, it should retract slowly back to its original position.
Step 6: Place the new steering stabilizer from the previous one's position and secure it with the same nuts and bolts. You may also use the hardware included with the new stabilizer.Step 7:
Disengage the jack stand carefully, and switch on the ignition to test the steering stabilizer. Rotate the steering wheel from side to side and see if the stabilizer responds with the adequate pressure.
The entire installation will take around 15 minutes for DIY experts and 30 minutes for beginners.