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The Theory of a Front Strut Tower Bar - Page 2
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 Contrary to the simplified analysis on the previous page, many people believe that a strut tower bar is predominantly under compression, not tension. This assertion is partially born out in some cars where the strut towers gradually move closer together over time. And I have heard of incidents where the strut tower bar was instrumented with strain gauges as the car was driven around. These tests show the strut tower bar is under compression as well as tension, depending on what the car is doing. One test showed that the highest loads recorded on the strut bar were in compression as the car was pulling out of a garage (sideways down an inclined driveway - we have all heard a stiff car twist under this condition). So what is this all about? Is a strut tower bar under tension or compression? One likely theory is that it experiences both. It just depends on the driving conditions. Cornering on smooth asphalt induces tension. Driving in a straight line over bumps induces compression. A force diagram illustrating how compression forces result from driving in a straight line (over a bump) is shown in Figure 2: Figure 2 The left side of the figure shows the resultant forces acting ON the strut tower assembly. Force 1 is the road holding the car up, and force 2 is the weight of the car. Forces 3 and 4 result to stop the strut from spinning (they counter the moment produced by forces 1 & 2). Force 4 of course has an opposite and equal reaction force which is Force 5. This is shown on the right (in green) and is the resulting compression force on the strut tower. Bear in mind that when the car encounters a sharp bump or dip in the pavement that the chassis may momentarily experience 3 or 4 G's. This means that F1 and F2 in Figure 2 could equal several thousand pounds for short periods! F3 and F4 (and therefore F5) are much smaller, but could still be quite significant. To calculate F5 more precisely would require some exact chassis dimensions. In conclusion; some cars spend most of their lives driving in a straight line. Such cars might experience the strut towers moving together over time. Track cars spend a lot of their time cornering at over 1G. Thus a track car might see it's strut towers spread apart over the years. This means that a strut tower bar can be under tension OR compression, depending on the environment that the car is operated in.
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