Not all vehicles have sway bars, but they're far from rare, especially if you're looking at vehicles that come high off the ground or are designed for a more engaging performance than your average model. Sometimes called anti-sway bars or anti-roll bars, they connect opposite wheels to increase suspension roll stiffness, essentially helping to reduce body roll. You might have one at the front of your vehicle, one at the back or you might have both. They're generally resistant to wear and tear, but damage can occur over time.
While it's possible to keep driving on a damaged sway bar, the best course of action is to take your vehicle in for servicing so the issue can be checked out and corrected. Here are three issues you'll be risking by ignoring the problem.
1. Looser Handling at High Speeds
Problems caused by damaged sway bars break down differently depending on where that sway bar is. Sway bars at the front tend to cause problems when you're driving at high speeds. If you're heading into the fast lane, handling may feel a little looser than it normally does. This can make it harder for you to control the vehicle. You'll generally find the difference is more pronounced in performance-oriented vehicles. Sway bars also add control over road irregularities; since those are more of an issue at high speeds, you'll notice greater sway when you hit them.
You can mitigate these issues by staying off highways and keeping your speed relatively low until you're able to reach a service centre.
2. Reduced Stability While Manoeuvring
If your damaged sway bar is located at the rear, you're more likely to notice differences when you're changing lanes, taking corners, or performing any other action that makes the vehicle sway to one side since that sway bar will no longer be controlling the car's weight as it once did. As above, this makes the vehicle much harder to control. In this case, the difference is more pronounced if you're driving a pickup truck, crossover, minivan or any other vehicle type that comes up high off the road or has high ground clearance.
3. Higher Repair Costs
Even if handling and stability wasn't affected by a damaged stabilizer bar, it would still be worth getting the issue fixed as soon as possible to keep repair costs to a minimum. If sway bar bushings are loose or lack proper lubrication, metal-on-metal contact can occur; get them looked at right away and the cost of the job should be lower. You'll also avoid putting added stress on the suspension, and work on your suspension system is almost certainly going to be more expensive than work on a sway bar.
Reach out to a car service for more information.