Are you wondering if a Hellwig Sway Bar install is worth it? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We put the front and rear sway bars to the test by driving thousands of miles on rough backroads with a 5000lbs camper. We’ll give you our final review, so get comfortable and keep scrolling!
We Drove 15,000 Miles to Alaska and Back With Hellwig Sway Bars
In 2019, we took our 2020 Ford F350 pickup truck and Lance 1172 truck camper to Alaska. If you know anything about the drive to Alaska, you know that many roads consist of various twists, turns, and lots of dirt. Before embarking, we installed front and rear Hellwig Sway Bars. A heavy truck camper isn’t the easiest driving experience, especially on winding backroads. However, the two sway bars significantly impacted the handling of our truck and the body roll when going around turns.
Pro Tip: Get the inside scoop on our experience Building the 1172 Lance Truck Camper For an Alaska Expedition.
What Exactly Is a Sway Bar?
Sway bars are also anti-roll bars. They attach to the chassis, connecting the right and left sides of the vehicle. They are very simple in operation as they act like a twisting spring. When one side of the vehicle sags or compresses the spring twists and resists the motion. It basically is always trying to keep the vehicle level with the axle.
They help resist the vehicle’s tendency to sway from left to right around corners. Sway bars greatly enhance comfort and control when maneuvering a vehicle with a high center of gravity.
Sway bars are also relatively inexpensive, making them a popular after-market upgrade for trucks, RVs, and sports cars. They’re a no-brainer for anyone looking to gain more control on the road.
Keep in mind that on road and off road needs are different however and a stiff swaybar can negative affect off-road performance. If you are operating a lighter vehicle with a stiff swaybar the wheels may end up coming off the ground sooner when maneuvering in uneven terrain. Because of this some off-road enthusiasts even add sway bar disconnects to their vehicles so they can choose when to use them or not.
Who Is Hellwig?
Rudy Hellwig founded Hellwig Products in 1946 after World War II. After witnessing heavily-loaded vehicles sagging under the extra weight, he created the Hellwig Helper Spring, which he manufactured in his shop and sold and installed in his customers’ driveways. They now produce innovative suspension systems that help vehicles retain better control with heavy loads. Hellwig Products remains a family-owned business, with Melanie Hellwig White as the current President. They still operate and manufacture their steel products out of California’s Central Valley.
How Well Did Our Hellwig Sway Bars Hold Up Driving to Alaska?
Throughout our journey to Alaska, we drove the Dalton and Dempster Highways, Canol Road, and Top of the World Highway. Several areas had rough gravel roads and many sharp turns. With a loaded weight of 5,402 pounds, we found that the sway bars were critical for maneuvering our rig. The ford F350 was at its max weight and the sway bars significantly helped it handle it. Before the sway bars were installed, the truck would roll excessively and even pull the steering in the opposite direction, making it even worse. On road performance was significantly improved with the sway bars.
We’d highly recommend them for anyone looking to add more control to their journey, especially those with a heavy truck camper.
About Hellwig Sway Bars
There are various Hellwig Sway Bars available for the front and rear. All have steel construction. Hellwig touts their sway bars as “the best aftermarket investment you can make” for your money. With a quick bolt installation, you’ll find immediate improvements. Although your vehicle likely already has factory sway bars, Hellwig sway bars “feature larger than stock diameters and precision engineered components to optimize handling and reduce body roll.”
Does a Hellwig Help for Towing?
A Hellwig Sway Bar, especially a rear sway bar, will likely help some of the trailer sway when towing. However, they are not designed to help with this. Regardless, having more control over your vehicle when towing will help while venturing off the beaten path. If you want some extra help with trailer sway, you may want to consider installing a weight distribution hitch with sway control in addition to the sway bars.
How Much Does a Sway Bar Weigh?
While the weight of your sway bar will differ depending on the vehicle, Hellwig Sway Bars fall within the 17 to 60-pound range. A good rule of thumb is; that the more robust the sway bar, the heavier it will be. For example, heavy-duty sway bars for RVs will top off at around 56 pounds, while a car sway bar might only weigh 17 pounds. Truck sway bars fall in the middle at about 27 pounds each.
How Do Hellwig Helper Springs Work?
Helper Springs sit on top of the leaf springs in the back of your truck. They work with the existing spring pack to increase the level load rating to your truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). There are several Helper Springs available, depending on your load capacity. Like the Sway Bars, they come with a lifetime warranty.
Pro Tip: In addition to Hellwig Sway Bars, make sure you have these 9 Truck Camper Accessories You Can’t Travel Without.
Does a Sway Bar Affect Ride Quality?
A stiff sway bar may make the rids a little stiffer but not significantly. This is because if you hit a bump that affects both tires the sway bar does nothing as it will pivot with the frame. However if you hit a bump on only one tire it will put a little more downforce on that side making it a slightly rougher bump. Overall compared to the already stiff ride of an unloaded truck we did notice a little difference. But no difference at all when the truck was loaded.
Are Stiffer Sway Bars Always Better
It’s easy to think stiffer sway bars are always better, but that’s not the case. It’s all about the balance between the front and back. If your rear sway bar is too stiff, it might make your vehicle more difficult to navigate, inducing oversteer. However, if your vehicle is rear-wheel-drive and has a rigid front sway bar, your truck may understeer.
Are Hellwig Sway Bars Worth It?
If you have a truck, RV, van, or car that experiences body roll when turning corners, we highly recommend investing in a Hellwig Sway Bar. This is especially true if you’re planning a long trek over questionable roads! Ranging between $350 to $500, they’re relatively inexpensive compared to many after-market upgrades. Because of this, we think they’re worth it!
Do you have any questions about the Hellwig Sway Bars? Please leave them in the comments below!
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