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Steering Stabilizers

Rancho Suspension: Steering Stabilizers

What is a Steering Stabilizer?

A steering stabilizer or steering damper is very similar to a shock absorber except that it is mounted horizontally. Steering stabilizers are nitrogen gas charged hydraulic pistons and are available in both twin-tube and monotube configurations. Stabilizers are most commonly used on trucks, and can be very advantageous to people that haul or tow a lot of weight. It will help keep the steering smooth and controllable while the truck is under the stress of a heavy load.

What Does a Steering Stabilizer Do?

Just like a traditional shock absorber, a steering stabilizer absorbs some of the movement in a vehicle's suspension, making life easier for the driver. Steering stabilizers absorb the side-to side motion in a vehicle's suspension, stopping vibration, wheel shimmy and bump steer. A steering damper will make a heavy vehicle much easier to drive, especially over rough or bumpy roads and at highway speeds.

Why do I need a Steering Stabilizer?

A steering stabilizer will improve the handling, road feel, stability, prevent steering wobble and bump-steer and reduce driver fatigue. Having an easy to control truck or RV can make driving much less of a chore, especially when towing over long distances. Ease of steering is a big deal with large vehicles like motorhomes, especially because of the long distances typically driven. If you're tired of having to fight the steering wheel of your truck or motorhome for control over the vehicle and trailer, a stabilizer can be a huge help.

Vehicles that have been lifted or use aftermarket wheels and tires are particularly susceptible to steering wobble, where the normal bounces of a vehicle at highway speed will be multiplied by the truck's suspension until the wheels begin to wobble uncontrollably. A steering stabilizer can help reduce or eliminate wheel wobble.

Bump steer is a problem many trucks have that results in a loss of control over the vehicle on rough roads. Often when a truck hits a bump while turning, the force of the impact will jar the suspension enough to change the direction the tires are facing. When you take a turn, you are picking out a cornering line (usually in the very center of your lane) and sticking to it. Imagine that line drawn out on the road. Now imagine a pothole in the road causes your line to suddenly jump three feet to the side. Obviously, this can be dangerous. Even when the driver has a firm grip on the wheel, bump steer can pull the vehicle out of the driver's intended line and at high speeds this can be especially dangerous.

How Hard is it to Replace a Steering Stabilizer? Do I Need Special Hardware?

Most steering stabilizers are built to be direct OEM replacements, and only require a simple un-bolting of the stock unit and replacement.

There are 2 common types of steering stabilizers out there. The first is a stabilizer with loop mounts on each end like a convention shock absorber. These are the easiest to replace, and most people can install these with regular hand tools. The second is a stabilizer with a canti-lever style mount. These may have a loop end or a threaded stud on one end, and they will have a large threaded stud at a 90 degree angle on the other end. These are also fairly easy to install with common hand tools.

Before you order a replacement steering stabilizer for your vehicle, first check that it came with one from the factory. Many vehicles have an optional steering stabilizer, so you may need to physically check your vehicle if you are unsure.

If your vehicle did not come with a steering stabilizer from the factory, there are usually full kits available from a variety of manufacturers that allow you to retrofit a steering damper in the stock location, using the stock mounting points. These kits will be listed along with the other shocks and steering stabilizers on your vehicle page when available. In some cases, high performance dual stabilizer kits are available that are suitable for high speed offroad driving.

Steering Stabilizers are available from these high quality brands: Bilstein Rancho KYB Monroe

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