Understanding Steering Stablizers
WHAT IS A STEERING STABILIZER AND WHY I SHOULD UPGRADE MINE?
If you're a truck or off-road enthusiast, you've probably heard a thing or two about steering stabilizers. More times than not, you can find one pre-installed on your truck right from the factory, especially on solid axle vehicles. This component of the steering system can make a significant difference in your vehicle's performance, safety, and overall driving experience. In a nutshell, a steering stabilizer is a shock cylinder installed on the front end, typically between the axle and steering linkage, to help reduce front end vibrations and steering wheel oscillations when coming into contact with less than ideal on/off-road driving conditions (ie. uneven roads, potholes, rocks and other obstacles in your path).
These obstacles cause additional unexpected forces on the steering components and can lead to poor handling characteristics and potentially dangerous driving situations, even on a bone stock vehicle. Factor in the taller center of gravity and altered steering geometry that comes with installing a lift kit along with the larger mass of oversized tires/wheels and the factory steering stabilizer can quickly become underequipped for the job of controlling the vehicle’s steering/handling characteristics.
THE BENEFITS OF AN AFTERMARKET STEERING STABILIZER
Now that there’s a better understanding of their functionality, let's explore the advantages of upgrading your vehicle’s steering stabilizer to an aftermarket setup from BDS and FOX.
Improved Handling & Control: Steering stabilizers reduce the "wandering" feeling you might experience when driving, especially at higher speeds with oversized tires/wheels. They firm up the steering and improve the driving experience making your vehicle easier to control driving over any terrain.
Enhanced Safety: A stable steering system means better control over your vehicle, which translates to improved safety. Whether you're navigating city streets or tackling challenging off-road terrain, a steering stabilizer can help prevent accidents caused by sudden steering wheel movements.
Extends Tire & Steering Life: Ultimately by better controlling these “events” while driving, you’ll effectively reduce the wear and tear placed on front end steering components which will in turn reduce the wear and tear on your tires. This coupled with proper front-end alignment will extend the service life and driver enjoyment.
TYPES OF STEERING STABILIZER
BDS offers several direct bolt-on steering stabilizer upgrades, both single and dual steering stabilizer kits. Upgrading the small factory cylinder to a larger capacity cylinder(s) from either BDS NX2 series or upgraded FOX 2.0 Performance Series (PS) will increase damping force and improve control on your stock height or lifted vehicle. The NX2 cylinder is a hydraulic design where the FOX 2.0 PS is a lower pressure nitrogen charged design providing 50/50 valving to improve responsiveness.
Single steering stabilizers are designed to replace the OE steering damper and often bolt directly into the original location for a quick and easy install. In some cases mounting brackets or hardware are necessary which will be noted. In additional to the NX2 and FOX 2.0 PS cylinders already discussed, for some applications FOX offers an ATS (adjustable thru shaft) stabilizer designed for increased damper capability with adjustability in firmness.
Stepping up from there BDS offers dual steering stabilizer kits for many popular applications. These bolt-on using heavy duty brackets to mount a pair of your choice of BDS NX2 or upgraded FOX 2.0 PS cylinders. They effectively double the damping force for better control and handling while offering an improved aesthetic to the front end of your truck with most mounting end-to-end (some older applications use a stacked mounting configuration). When adding big lifts and wider tire/wheel combos the BDS dual steering stabilizer is a must.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO NOTE
1. Vehicle alignment and correcting steering and suspension geometry are all very important to ensuring your lifted vehicle performs great on and off-road. While a steering stabilizer will help improve handling characteristics and drivability, it shouldn’t be used as a “bandaid fix” for an improperly set up suspension. Aligning the vehicle to bring caster, camber, and tow within an acceptable range is crucial to ensuring your truck performs at its best.
2. Similarly on the “bandaid fix” topic, if you have worn out steering components (ie worn out tie rod ends, slop in the steering box, play in the wheel bearings, etc) these items will need to be addressed prior and in addition to adding the steering stabilizer.
3. Depending on the application, some dual steering stabilizer kits require a minimum amount of lift for sufficient clearance to operate. See important notes for any fitment qualifiers.
4. Some IFS (independent front suspension) equipped vehicles do not have factory installed steering stabilizers and due to their rack-and-pinion steering design do not require them even when lifting and installing larger tires.