4th Gen Camaro Sway Bar Bracket Strengthening

On 4th Gen Camaros and Firebirds, a new, thicker swaybar can be strong enough that it breaks the swaybar brackets. The cure is to weld a plate into the bracket to make it stronger. Daily driving, plus several autocrosses and a track day later, they are holding up great. User BlaineFab on http://www.frrax.com sells strengthened brackets.

I decided to buy new brackets. The new brackets were pretty cheap, I think they were about $15 each from Chevrolet. This way I could take my time welding and painting the brackets, and not be down if I ruined them.

The right picture above shows measuring the bracket. I wanted the strengthening plate to be the same thickness -- much thinnner and it might bend, much thicker and it might bend the bracket. I cut my strengthening plate from 1/8 inch by 3 inch flat stock.

There are several options for placing the strengthening plate. Looking at the swaybar, it just slides in its mount side-to-side, so there is little side-to-side force. Fore-and-aft forces only come from compressing the endlink bushings. Up-and-down forces are very strong, when a wheel moves up the swaybar has alot of force. Based on this logic, I decided to put my strengthening plate vertical and along the length of the car. Note I ground off all the rust, so it would weld well.

Here I ground the paint off the bracket, so I could weld to it.

Here is the plate welded onto the bracket. It might be overkill, but I welded both sides. Click for larger images.

Paint ensures the bracket does not rust. The holes did not quite line up, so I had to put the bracket into a vice and bend it slightly -- hand pressure was plenty.

I drilled and tapped a hole for a grease zerk. Note I drilled through the metal and the bushing. I also put a piece of tape with a label so I could keep the bracket with it's bushing, so all the holes would stay lined up.

At first, the grease zerk stuck into the bracket too far, so I put a washer under it, and locktite.

The holes were too small, so I had to drill them out a bit larger. I then painted so the cut metal would not corrode.

The endlinks look like this. I greased up these bushings as well as the bar bushings.

I was able to do the install with the wheels on ramps. Warning, do not lift up just one wheel! The swaybar would then be under alot of torque and could injure you.

The car handles great with the new swaybar! It only leans about 1/2 as much. Before, it would suddenly spin with race tires (I think it was bottoming or topping out). Now it handles much more gently, and is much easier to catch if I start to lose the car. The ride is still civilized enough for daily driving. The tires are also wearing much more evenly (it used to be the shoulders wore away quickly), and I have been able to lower the tires pressures for competing (before I had to pump them up very hard to keep from rolling them over).

Some links:
http://www.ExplodingDinosaurs.com    my main page
http://www.frrax.com    great discussions on Camaro and Firebird handling
http://www.scca.com    go around corners as fast as you can! Cheap and fun!
http://www.stranoparts.com    national champ sells a good handling package for Camaros and Firebirds