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2014 3.6R Limited
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I have to say, a couple years ago after reading all the must have a 19mm sway bar I was scratching my head. I don't cut my outback any slack when taking corners and am quite impressed with how well it handles. I finally got to thinking....maybe the previous owner installed a 19mm sway bar. So I crawled under my outback and mic'd my sway bar. Nope...16mm. I am completely satisfied with how well my Outback handles...yes it does get the hwy buffeting when windy...but I really question how much difference it would make.
 

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2016 3.6 Limited with ES
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2,578 Posts
I have to say, a couple years ago after reading all the must have a 19mm sway bar I was scratching my head. I don't cut my outback any slack when taking corners and am quite impressed with how well it handles. I finally got to thinking....maybe the previous owner installed a 19mm sway bar. So I crawled under my outback and mic'd my sway bar. Nope...16mm. I am completely satisfied with how well my Outback handles...yes it does get the hwy buffeting when windy...but I really question how much difference it would make.
Quite a bit, actually. One of the best mods I've made to the car and it easily qualifies for the "How much can $100 get you?" category.

It isn't turning the subie into an F1 racer but if you are a pavement driver it will surprise you.
 

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'17 OB 3.6R Touring [ex-'09 OB Ltd. (2009-16); ex-'01 Audi A6 Avant (2001-2009)]; '14 Impreza Sport Premium
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845 Posts
going to 19mm made a subtle but noticeable difference to me on our ‘17 Touring, fwiw.... less wallowing imo. No negative effects noted beyond The inherent handling characteristics.
 

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2018 3.6R Limited nav/eye purchased 8/6/18
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258 Posts
I am in Miami, our best defensive driving is to drive on offense :)
Also, who needs SCCA when you have rain at 3pm every day, LOL. I am only partially kidding.;)
I had to laugh when I read that! I have only been to Miami once - spent three weeks there in 1969. I could set my watch by the 3:00 rain every day!!
 

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2017 2.5i Premium Lapis Blue
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3,841 Posts
I have to say, a couple years ago after reading all the must have a 19mm sway bar I was scratching my head. I don't cut my outback any slack when taking corners and am quite impressed with how well it handles. I finally got to thinking....maybe the previous owner installed a 19mm sway bar. So I crawled under my outback and mic'd my sway bar. Nope...16mm. I am completely satisfied with how well my Outback handles...yes it does get the hwy buffeting when windy...but I really question how much difference it would make.
That has been my experience as well. Even when pushing mine pretty hard on some very winding roads I've never felt any need for improvement. The only time I ever considered the 19mm sway bar was after driving a few hours with a cargo box on the roof when I noticed more effect from crosswinds and meeting large trucks coming in the opposite direction. Some have said the larger swaybar might help with that but I don't know if I will ever bother.
 

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2016 3.6 Limited with ES
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2,578 Posts
B6, but I am kind of regretful for not having chosen the B4 instead.
About 1k miles ago I put on the B4 shocks and even my dealer who installed them was surprised Bilstein offered them. The service guy wanted to how I liked them.

The answer is that now that I have the B4 shocks, 19mm RSB and 85d bushings front and rear, the improved handling caused @z28dug to increase his BP medication.
 

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Subarus are designed to understeer because it's overall safer, though you may have less ultimate handling and grip on a good surface. Oversteer is much harder to deal with.

Even an understeering car can be made to oversteer if you start losing grip in a turn and lift throttle or hit the brakes, unloading the rear. A stiff rear sway bar will make this worse. It's just physics.


So if you're not confident in handling emergency maneuvers the thin rear sway bar will make it less likely that you'll oversteer if you go too fast into a corner and lift the throttle or brake, though it can still happen.

My choice is to go for neutral handling with a slightly thicker rear sway bar, but if I were setting up a car for my grandmother I'd stick with the thin rear bar.
 

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2019, Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R
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888 Posts
You can make any car oversteer with your right foot. All it takes is more horsepower!
 

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Subarus are designed to understeer because it's overall safer, though you may have less ultimate handling and grip on a good surface. Oversteer is much harder to deal with.

Even an understeering car can be made to oversteer if you start losing grip in a turn and lift throttle or hit the brakes, unloading the rear. A stiff rear sway bar will make this worse. It's just physics.


So if you're not confident in handling emergency maneuvers the thin rear sway bar will make it less likely that you'll oversteer if you go too fast into a corner and lift the throttle or brake, though it can still happen.

My choice is to go for neutral handling with a slightly thicker rear sway bar, but if I were setting up a car for my grandmother I'd stick with the thin rear bar.
it's always those front wheel drive guys... always trying to lift that rear inner wheel in the turns...

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Subarus are designed to understeer because it's overall safer, though you may have less ultimate handling and grip on a good surface. Oversteer is much harder to deal with.

Even an understeering car can be made to oversteer if you start losing grip in a turn and lift throttle or hit the brakes, unloading the rear. A stiff rear sway bar will make this worse. It's just physics.
This is the answer. Stiffening the rear suspension without stiffening the front will increase oversteer, which is less safe for the majority of drivers, which is why most cars are built to understeer.

Stiffer sway bars arent a 'harmless' upgrade, they make the car feel 'better' by changing the handling dynamics. If you want to neutral out the car, you could add stiffness to the front suspension (aka, increase understeer).

If you read the fine print on most aftermarket springs/sway bars for the Outback, companies specifically warn against combining stiffer springs and sway bars in the rear without changing the front, as it can lead to dangerous oversteer like your wife discovered. Not that you need to remove the sway bar, but you do need to understand how it changes the dynamics of the car and how you should drive it in response
 

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2011 Premium, 2019 Limited
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14 Posts
If she got into an oversteer condition, there's more than simply a bump involved IMO. I put one on my wife's 2011 when new and took one home with me when I picked up our 2019 as I was surprised the factory didn't upgrade them already. Best $100 you can spend on an Outback. Dealer matched online price.
 

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2011 outback 3.6R LT. 2015 Outback 2.5 (white) eyesight, tow pakage, skid plate, moon roof
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I gave my grand daughter 3.6 2011 outback with 2 inch lift and 19mm adjustable sway bar running on BFG all terrain tires. I had driven it in rugged nevada back country, city and highway 40K. No problems. gave it to her for use in severe Northern Idaho winters and trips to Arizona. Outback now has 140K 0N IT with zero problems. Sway bar was best mod on car and eliminated ghosting.. Tires tires tires are all important. 2015 stock 2.5 (60) is junk in comparison. I bought 2915 for safety features due to old age creeping under the door. Disappointed in 2015.
 

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'15 Outback 2.5i Ltd PZEV w/ Eyesight, Crystal Black Silica
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Put the 19mm on my 2012 OB because of the squishy suspension feel (specifically the rear end) and wandering it had in highway conditions especially in towing situations. No regrets. Felt more stable, especially when towing. When I traded for my 2015, I found that the stock chassis and suspension was improved and not as soft as the '12. But still had the same wandering highway and towing charactistics. So 19mm bar added.. And again an improvement was noticed. Any negatives I can think of is more due to the suspension in general after 119k is starting to show signs it's getting tired. Maybe the stiffer rear end embellishes that a bit.
 

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2018 Outback Touring 3.6R
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Interesting feeedback. The engineers usually do a pretty good job setting up modern suspension on cars, making compromises in competiting attributes for safety and as to satisfy the majority of consumers. Personally, I must be an 'average' consumer as I think the car handles very well in both paved and unpaved roads. Always open to ideas though
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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You can never change one dynamic without creating consequences in other areas.

When you understand what a sway bar is designed for, body sway/roll, you also have to understand how the struts and springs are affected.

The damping rate of struts and springs determine the overall effect of any size sway bar. Low damping means the strut and spring compresses easy and it's vertical movement is most times smooth and it allows for easier vertical movement in off road situations. Higher damping rates are a deterrent to vertical.movement and stiffen the suspension and therefore the "ride". The wheel assembly is held down firmer with high damping rates.

Any Jeep owner knows that low damping rate shocks and springs are a plus when crawling. They also know the truck is going to handle "odd" on the highway at speed.

Take this in to account in conjunction with a larger sway bar that resist twist at a higher rate than the original fitment. Low damping rate struts will be pulled up by the sway bar when the opposing wheel compresses, moves up, when weight is shifted on to that wheel. Right hand curve at speed, the body rolls left, the left wheel compreases easily, the sway bar pulls up the right wheel and you've removed a majority of contact with the pavement at the right wheel. The same sway bar with high damping rate struts will keep the left wheel from compressing upward which in turn keeps the right wheel planted on the road.

When you add a larger bar in the rear you need to compensate at the front. When a larger bar is not available for the front, it's good to add a strut brace to help stiffen the front end to closely match the rear. The brace removes the body flex caused by weight shift in taking curves at high speed or aggressively, as in hard cornering.

When you change the rear, you must change the front. The car is one. Not front and rear.
You either set the car up for highway driving and expect different characteristics off road, or vice versa. It's difficult to find the middle ground to have both. Unless you keep the Outback stock.

If your highway is like driving off road, then your screwed, or you just drive slower. 🤕

Who wants to drive slower???
 

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2019 Outback 3.6R Touring
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You can never change one dynamic without creating consequences in other areas.

When you understand what a sway bar is designed for, body sway/roll, you also have to understand how the struts and springs are affected.

The damping rate of struts and springs determine the overall effect of any size sway bar. Low damping means the strut and spring compresses easy and it's vertical movement is most times smooth and it allows for easier vertical movement in off road situations. Higher damping rates are a deterrent to vertical.movement and stiffen the suspension and therefore the "ride". The wheel assembly is held down firmer with high damping rates.

Any Jeep owner knows that low damping rate shocks and springs are a plus when crawling. They also know the truck is going to handle "odd" on the highway at speed.

Take this in to account in conjunction with a larger sway bar that resist twist at a higher rate than the original fitment. Low damping rate struts will be pulled up by the sway bar when the opposing wheel compresses, moves up, when weight is shifted on to that wheel. Right hand curve at speed, the body rolls left, the left wheel compreases easily, the sway bar pulls up the right wheel and you've removed a majority of contact with the pavement at the right wheel. The same sway bar with high damping rate struts will keep the left wheel from compressing upward which in turn keeps the right wheel planted on the road.

When you add a larger bar in the rear you need to compensate at the front. When a larger bar is not available for the front, it's good to add a strut brace to help stiffen the front end to closely match the rear. The brace removes the body flex caused by weight shift in taking curves at high speed or aggressively, as in hard cornering.

When you change the rear, you must change the front. The car is one. Not front and rear.
You either set the car up for highway driving and expect different characteristics off road, or vice versa. It's difficult to find the middle ground to have both. Unless you keep the Outback stock.

If your highway is like driving off road, then your screwed, or you just drive slower.

Who wants to drive slower???
Very well stated. I have a 2019 3.6, i think all in it handles very well, for me maybe 10% of the time I would prefer a stiffer set up, however the roads where I left have some potholes, so have not up graded. If I was designing the car from scratch i would have selected a 18mm bar, based on more highway driving vs off-road. A number of people feel 16mm is not quite enough and 20mm seems to be too heavy handed except for maybe only hwy drives, although driving the 20mm over staggered speed bumps not much fun. Having said all that the 16mm is fine for most people, i come from the sports car world so I lean more that way, i also tend to buy pure play SUVs if going off-road alot, think Jeep, 4runner, Etc.


Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

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'17 Outback Limited 3.6R in Venetian Red.
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The added 50-70whp that the 19" sway bar adds makes this not only an ultimate handling machine (near GTR territory) but significantly ups the power output. I would say if you are not used to driving an ultra high performance car with this sort of modification, than your new hot rod is NOT suitable for a novice female drivers who hasn't driven high performance cars for at least 3 decades.

But all's well that end's well. I'm glad that the car isn't totaled and that nobody is hurt. But remember adding a significant handling and power boost to your car changes the driving dynamics insurmountably. To compensate you'd need to change the entire suspension, add Brembo brakes, and lower the car.

Having a family myself, safety is of the utmost importance. Switch the bar back to 16" and save lives.
 
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