Fitting a strut brace and performance benefits

"Strut your funky stuff"

Strut bracesThink of a car like a shoebox with no lid. It will flex as you twist it and this is not good for handling.

Whilst the roof of the car affords a lot of rigidity there is still scope for flexing under cornering and on surfaces that are not level.

You might be thinking that a car is made of metal and is not subject to this flexing.

The actual requirement for doors and glass substantially reduce the rigidity of the car, but you can address this problem yourself.

In a convertible or cabriolet this flexing is a more exaggerated problem as there is no roof to strengthen the car, as many TorqueCars owners can testify.

A strut brace is a sturdy metal bar which connects the top of the strut towers (suspension pillars) together. This reduces the flexing and twisting of the body, under heavy cornering, and on roads with steep cambers.

Strut braces will reduce body flexing allowing better cornering and enhanced driver feedback.

Combined with a roll cage a very rigid car can be created. The front of the car is more subject to flexing than the rear, so most people fitness strut brace in the front of the car.

The strut braces need to be precision made, and many allow fine tuning adjustment after fitting. They need to be a strong and light, so many are constructed from aluminum or carbon fiber, but steel rods are also suitable.

When fitted a strut brace will improve the handling of the car by maintaining the originally calculated angles in the suspension geometry, even under heavy load. You will also get better feedback from the chassis, and cornering grip will be greatly increased.

Fitting a strut brace is a very simple job and easily accomplished in a short period of time. You will require a torque wrench, allen Key and socket. (Sometimes you need a metal drill with a slow speed setting.) 

First off lay the strut brace over the struts and ensure :-
1) They fit (you will be really stuck if they are too short/long or the bolt holes are in the wrong place.
2) They will not interfere or touch the engine or components therein.

You must ensure that the car is on a level surface, use a spirit level and check for vertical and horizontal level. You need to undo the bolts on the top of the suspension, fit the strut brace and refit the bolts. Don't over tighten them, they will snap easily so use the Torque Wrench to get a measure for the amount of force to use. (Some cars/strut brace kits may require drilling, so check the instructions before you start! If the strut only has one nut you will typically need to drill new holes around the top in order to connect the strut brace.)

Adjust the strut brace when it is on to straighten out the tops of the struts. (Over time the struts will have started to pull in so you are looking to correct this and restore the cars original geometry with the brace.)

The lower strut brace generally requires removal of the lower part of the suspension, but again is a simple job. It is easier to do this on axle stands or ramps but you must ensure that the car is on a level surface. We would also recommend a full wheel alignment check is performed to ensure that the car has an optimum set up. Please join us in our friendly forum to discuss all aspects of car tuning and modifications.

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One Response to “Fitting Strut Braces and how to install a strut brace”

  1. Bob James says:

    Good article but there are some often repeated inaccuracies that are worth mentioning.
    This idea of the front end bending and flexing under cornering loads, particularly on a road car has been often overstated I’m afraid.The degree of flex permissible in a modern bodyshell is less than you would imagine.

    If that’s true then why fit a brace at all??

    Obviously permanently and solidly fixing the front strut tops will brace the frame more than it would be without any bracing but the perceived improvement is in steering feel,it’s pretty subjective in all honesty and any gains are almost entirely down to the driver having more confidence in how the steering feels.Having a more connected feel and perdictable turn in etc will boost the drivers sense of communication with the road and the car, performance itself isn’t increased but the driver may well feel more confidence to corner faster and perceived improvements to handling and controllability at speed will no doubt be translated to a faster smoother drive.

    Aluminium vs Steel??

    The age old quandary but the answer it obvious right, go for Aluminium, it’s lighter and stronger, even looks sexier. If you are going for under bonnet cosmetics then you are probably better off with rhe lighter, prettier but more expensive one.I know I said the improvements are more in the drivers confidence (still talking road cars mind) more than wildly increased chassis rigidity and if they are worth having to you then you need a steel brace, let me explain. Aluminium is in fact lighter. Take two different braces of similar size, construction etc.The steel one will be significantly stronger, heavier but stronger. The aluminium one IS lighter but to have the same kind of strength(and remember you are bolting it between the towers to hold the front end more rigid under cornering, braking and acceleration)an aluminium brace would need to weight the same as the steel one, considering the density of steel vs all it would take up more space and negate all advantages you tried to gain. Cosmetic vs Function, take your pick.

    3 piece, solid, welded or bolted??

    Imagine a scenario where you wished to fix two points together to reduce any flexing caused by outside forces.Would you have basically a solid bar with no weak points bolted and welded onto solid fixing points or fix the strut top plates then bolt on the middle bar between.You want rigidity and strength so why would you compromise it’s ability to do the job by having built in weak points in from the start. The ability to unbolt the bar for engine/component removal has to be weighed up against the minimal gains you will get.
    If you’re aim is purely for the look when you open the bonnet then aluminium can’t be beat but for strentgh that translates into improved feel, cornering ability and handling then a fixed, solid steel bar type is a must lol

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