Torsion-Bar Springs

Basic Info on the Most Simple of All Springs

David KennedyPhotographer, WriterFred WilliamsPhotographer

We wish we could tell you that torsion-bar springs are modern technology's answer to the quest for soft riding, long travel, and easily modified suspensions. When we were researching this story we hoped that we would stumble across some tech tidbit that would open the door to some unexplored applications for these straightened-out coil springs to give you new alternatives to the leaves and coils. We're sad to say it seems we need to keep looking.

"Basic" and "off-road use" go hand-in-hand. Of all the types of springs you can find on a 4x4 the torsion bar uses the most basic design. Throw in the fact that our country's M1A1 Abrams battle tanks use torsion-bar suspension and they start to sound like the perfect spring for off-road use don't they?

Unfortunately the reality is that this simple spring design has been great for the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but has left us in the aftermarket with 4x4s that are more difficult and more expensive than ever to lift. For now the only correct way to lift a torsion-bar-sprung independent-suspension 4x4 is to drop all of the suspension locating points down to gain lift, sort of like adding longer shackles to leaf-spring suspensions. The upside is that when lifted this way a torsion-bar-equipped truck can maintain a stock ride quality. The down side is that it is almost impossible to get additional travel out of this kind of suspension. If you're starting to feel discouraged about owning a torsion-bar-outfitted truck, fear not! We'll keep investigating options for torsion-bar suspensions until we find something that makes them work better than the other spring options out there.