A strut bar is a long metal bar that travels from one suspension strut to another. This bar is typically located at the very top of the strut and can be on either the front or rear suspension. The strut bar is intended to increase the rigidity of the tower to which the strut is bolted and to prevent loss of traction in hard cornering.
A strut bar has several names it may go by, including strut tower brace and strut brace. No matter the name, the strut bar increases handling by limiting the amount of flex in the strut and strut tower. This can also eliminate metal fatigue, which can lead to the strut tower breaking.
Strut tower braces typically are placed on a vehicle after market. That means they aren't generally included with the car as sold, though some high-performance vehicles do go home from the factory with a strut bar. The strut bar placed on a vehicle from the factory is typically less effective than those that can be purchased after market, so the vehicle's handling may still be improved by replacing the factory installed bar.
The installation of a strut bar is simple in most cases. It usually involves the removal of the upper strut nuts from under the hood of the vehicle, placing the bar ends on the upper strut studs, and tightening the upper strut nuts. On occasion, a strut bar is designed for multiple applications, so a minor adjustment may need to be made.
A strut bar, just as its name implies, will only work on a vehicle with struts. If a vehicle has only front struts and rear shocks, a strut bar may only be placed on the front end. If a vehicle has four shocks, then a strut bar cannot be used at all unless a suspension conversion is performed.
A strut bar can be made of one of several different metals. The most common metal for a strut bar to be made of is aluminum, which saves weight on the vehicle. More rigid bars are made of stainless steel to save money. Some higher-end strut bars hitting the market are made of titanium, which provides the rigidity of steel and the lightweight feature of aluminum.
Installing a strut bar on a vehicle is one way to increase its handling capabilities. It also reduces metal fatigue created by high-speed cornering. A skilled mechanic can help you determine if a strut bar is right for your vehicle and the ways you use it.