Torsion bars are the hallmark of all things off-road. Pickups have been using torsion bar suspension for almost a century. So, do Ford F150s have torsion bars?
Ford stopped using torsion bars in 2003. Before that, this simple suspension system was the go-to option for the F150. These bars were used to counter the torque from the engine and prevent the truck from “rolling” when taking tight turns. Ford eventually moved on to coil springs.
This article covers everything you need to know about torsion bars in Ford F150. It will cover everything from what torsion bars are to why Ford decided to stop using them.
Advantages of Torsion Bars
The torsion bar is a vital suspension component found in many light trucks and SUVs. It’s a simple but very effective way to reduce the complexity of a suspension system.
Torsion bars are basically big metal rods mounted between your vehicle’s frame and the suspension. As the name implies, they twist when force is applied to them. This twisting action provides resistance against the force, keeping your vehicle level.
You’ll find the bars on both the front and rear suspension of some vehicles. They’re most commonly used in place of coil springs, though they can be used in conjunction with coil springs as well.
Torsion bars have a few advantages over other suspension systems. Here are the top two:
There are no moving parts, which means there’s less that can break. This also makes them more resistant to corrosion. Compare that to coil springs, which have many moving parts susceptible to corrosion, and you’ll see why torsion bars are a suitable choice.
If you want to raise or lower your vehicle, you just have to adjust the tension on a nut on both sides. This means you get a free lift whenever you want, great for off-roading and going over curbs.
Why Did Ford Stop Using Torsion Bars in the F150?
The main reason Ford dropped torsion bars in 2003 is that coil springs are simply more versatile. With coil springs, you can fine-tune the suspension to your exact specifications. Torsion bars are more limited in this regard.
I also noticed that people with F150 torsion bars were most likely to lift the car, which changes the geometry of some of the suspension components. For example, the lower control arms sit at an angle, which means your lower ball joint is also at an angle. That translates to faster wear, which also applies to the upper control arm.
The ride quality also takes a hit when you lift the truck. Torsion bars are designed to work best when the suspension is level. When you lift the car, the shock absorbers can no longer do their job as effectively, resulting in a rougher ride.
How To Determine the Size of Torsion You Need
The easiest way to determine the size of torsion you need is to look at your suspension. You can find the torsion size in your vehicle handbook if it’s a stock suspension.
If you have aftermarket suspension, you’ll need to measure the diameter of the torsion bars yourself. The best way to do this is to remove the bars from your vehicle and take them to a local suspension shop.
Car forums are also great places to get advice on torsion bars. You can find many people with experience in aftermarket suspension, and they’ll be able to help you choose the right size for your needs.
Just don’t take internet information for the gospel. Everyone’s needs are different, so what works for one person might not work for another. When in doubt, always go with a larger torsion bar — it’s better to have too much than too little.
Can I Replace Torsion Bars With Coilovers?
You can replace torsion bars with coilovers. But keep in mind that coilovers are a completely different suspension setup, so this is more of a complete suspension swap than a simple spring replacement.
You’ll need to get new shocks, struts, control arms, and other suspension components to make the switch. And, of course, you’ll need coilovers.
This is a pretty involved project, and it’s not something I recommend for a beginner. If you’re thinking about doing this, I suggest you take your car to a suspension shop and have them do the work for you.
The results are a softer ride and better handling. But it’s important to note that you’ll lose some of the off-road capabilities of your truck. If you never take your vehicle off-road, this might not be an issue.
Is F150 Torsion Bar Replacement Easily Accessible?
The torsion bars on the Ford F150 are easily accessible and can be replaced without too much difficulty. You will need a few tools, including a floor jack and jack stands, but the process is not overly complicated.
If you’re looking to improve your truck’s suspension, replacing the torsion bars is a great start. You will not only enhance the quality of the ride, but you’ll also be able to fine-tune the suspension to your exact specifications.
The parts are also easily found in most auto parts stores, and the process can be completed in a few hours. So, if you’re looking for an easy suspension upgrade, replacing the torsion bar on your Ford F150 is a great idea.
You’ll lose some of the ground clearance, but you’ll have a more comfortable ride and cheaper repairs in case one of the springs gets damaged.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of torsion bars; I prefer coilovers. But that’s just my personal preference.
If you’re happy with the way your truck rides and handles, there’s no need to make any changes. But if you’re looking to improve the suspension, replacing the torsion bars with coil springs is a great place to start. Keep in mind that you’ll lose some of the off-road capabilities of your truck with coil springs.