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.