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Eliminating Sway: Improving a 2016 Chevrolet Colorado’s Handling with a Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit

Sway Away

John Lehenbauer
Sep 10, 2019
The handling characteristics of a truck are an important part of its overall driving dynamics. Being behind the wheel should be an enjoyable time, and there should not be any question about how your vehicle will handle. However, many trucks are not always stable through turns, especially when they are towing or carrying a load and traveling at a decent rate of speed.
The problem is the suspension cannot adequately control body roll while turning, which causes the vehicle's weight to shift toward the outside of the turn. This subsequently increases the amount of load imposed on the tires and suspension. The imbalance can lead to a number of different things: tires lose grip, steering becomes erratic, and, eventually, a driver loses control.
Most truck manufacturers try to counter body roll with a rear antiroll bar (sway bar) that works in conjunction with the front suspension. But many times, the factory-installed stabilizers barely counter roll, even when a truck is empty. So, when the truck is loaded with heavy cargo, the increased force makes the single bar up front far less effective, allowing for an even greater amount of body roll.
One good solution for combating body roll and increasing the overall driveability of a truck is installing a rear sway bar. Attaching a sway bar to the rear axle increases the suspension's stiffness, which reduces the side-to-side shifting of weight that creates body roll. This reduction in the body's rotation improves a truck's handling, safety, and comfort on the road.
Photo 2/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit Lead
Having driven plenty of trucks that suffer from excessive body roll when turning, we want to install a rear sway bar and see how much handling improves by adding one to Crystal Jones' '16 Chevrolet Colorado.
Prior to receiving the Hellwig Suspension Products Rear Sway Bar Kit for '15-to-'18 Colorados and GMC Canyons, we took a drive to Moorpark, California, to evaluate the truck's handling demeanor (unloaded) by driving it through the twists and turns of Stockton Road. Then, after Gear Driven Automotive's Saul Gutierrez handled the installation, we returned to the same hot corner to see what type of difference the bar makes.
Photo 3/33   |   Upon arriving at Gear Driven Automotive in Northridge, California, the first task of our project is lifting Crystal Jones' '16 Chevrolet Colorado so the Hellwig Suspension Products rear sway bar kit can be installed.
Photo 4/33   |   The Hellwig rear sway bar kit is unboxed and laid out on the workbench before the installation begins.
Photo 5/33   |   This is the Colorado's stock rear suspension.
Photo 6/33   |   Saul begins the installation by bolting the upper linkage brackets to the truck's left and right framerails. He approximates the brackets' mounting location and bolts them on, leaving them loose so their position can be adjusted.
Photo 7/33   |   The inside of each sway bar bushing is coated in urethane grease before being pressed onto the bar.
Photo 8/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit 007
Photo 9/33   |   The bushing mounting brackets are placed on the bushings.
Photo 10/33   |   U-bolts are used to secure the sway-bar assembly on the rear axle. The bolts are left loose to allow for any necessary adjustments.
Photo 11/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit 010

The next step is assembling the linkage. Bushings are installed in both ends of the links, then the sleeves are pressed into the bushings using a vise and urethane grease. The two halves of the links are then put together at an approximate length with the jam nuts left loose.

Photo 15/33   |   The assembled links are installed into the frame brackets. Saul then bolts the bottom of the links to the sway bar.
Photo 16/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit 015
Photo 17/33   |   Saul positions the sway bar assembly so it does not interfere with any of the suspension.
Photo 18/33   |   The U-bolts are tightened.
Photo 19/33   |   The frame brackets are then positioned, and the hardware tightened. The upper linkage fasteners are also snugged up.
Photo 20/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit 019
Photo 21/33   |   The truck is set on the ground so clearances can be checked after the suspension compresses to ride height. The link on the passenger side is hitting the exhaust pipe, while the sway bar on the driver side is against the spare tire.
Photo 22/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit 021

With the truck back in the air, Saul unbolts the links from the bar, adjusts their lengths for better clearance, and then reinstalls them in the forward bolt hole of the sway bar. Moving the links into the forward bolt hole also stiffens the sway control of the bar by reducing the amount of leverage. Jam nuts on the links are also tightened at this time.

Photo 26/33   |   After a quick check to make sure there is no further contact of the sway bar and linkage, collars are installed on the bar. The collars are used to keep the bar from moving sideways in the bushings, which keeps it and the linkage from coming into contact with anything in the vicinity.
Photo 27/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit 026
Photo 28/33   |   Saul makes one final inspection with the truck on the ground to make sure none of the sway bar assembly is hitting the exhaust or other components.
Photo 29/33   |   The truck's new sway bar makes no noticeable changes to the stance.
 
Behind the Wheel
Though most people would have to do a double take to notice a Hellwig rear sway bar kit is installed on Crystal Jones' '16 Chevrolet Colorado, from the driver seat, an improvement in the truck's handling characteristics is definitely discernable.
Driving the truck through the turns of Stockton Road in Moorpark, California, before the installation, we could feel the body shift, the rear suspension unload, and the rear tires on the verge of losing traction. The stock front sway bar alone did not give us confidence in the truck's ability to handle turns at speed and in emergency maneuvers. Reducing speed going into turns was a must in order to keep the truck in a comfortable driving zone.
With the Hellwig rear sway bar, the truck has a much tighter, nimbler feel. The truck is much more stable at speed now, and the bar provides confidence in turns and quick maneuvers. The drive is more enjoyable knowing the truck now tracks properly.
If you're concerned about a rear sway bar possibly changing ride quality, it does not. The Colorado's ride remained the same.
Photo 30/33   |   The picture on the left shows the Colorado cornering hard before the installation of the Hellwig Suspension Products rear sway bar kit. There is a noticeable amount of body roll and load on the outside tires. With the stabilizer bar installed (bottom picture), roll is reduced due to the better distribution of weight.
Photo 31/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit 030
Photo 32/33   |   Here is another look at the Colorado taking the same corner, without the Hellwig sway bar (top) and with the bar installed (bottom).
Photo 33/33   |   2016 Colorado Hellwig Rear Sway Bar Kit 032

Sources

Gear Driven Automotive
818-678-6500
http://www.geardrivenautomotive.com
Hellwig
800-435-5944
http://www.hellwigproducts.com

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