photos by: the author
Keeping The Mule Planted in the Corners with the Help of Hellwig
It’s been a little while since we’ve brought you an update on our 2016 Silverado project, that we lovingly refer to as “The Mule.” Designed as a stylish, muscle car-themed Silverado pickup to haul our junk and well, our other junk, it has served us well for the last several months. However, it’s been quite a culture shock of sorts when your author hasn’t driven a truck in years and has been burdened driving pony cars for the last decade or so.
After taking one too many corners faster than we should, it quickly became apparent that our Silverado project was woefully ill-equipped to handle the sharp corners that we’ve become accustomed to in more stout vehicles. As a result, we had to rectify that by giving our friends at Hellwig Products a call.
Looking for a new level of control, we knew we would need a rear anti-roll bar (the Silverado leaves the factory without one, completely) and if there was a way to improve upon the front piece, we would certainly do that as well. It might seem odd upgrading the suspension on a brand new vehicle but if the OEM hardware doesn’t live up to our needs, then it only makes sense to make it work.
We chose Hellwig’s bars over some others due to the level of quality, fitment on the vehicle and the end results we’ve typically seen from other Hellwig products. For further proof, you can check out our C5 Corvette install and the results we’ve obtained from our sister title, Timeless Muscle Magazine. In addition, they have their roots in truck and RV suspension upgrades and have used their knowledge for other product lines. So naturally, our 2016 Silverado would be right up their alley.
Plus, we haul a lot of relatively heavy car parts, including engines and rear ends, in the bed of The Mule and we’re constantly hauling around Project Redrum or a new project car. Hellwig’s bars are not only designed to improve handling and stability in an unloaded vehicle, but when you’re also towing your race car or have a load of cargo.
During our off-time with Project Redrum and Project Wicked6, we had a Saturday evening to get The Mule on the lift and implemented with our new Hellwig sway bar kit. The install was straightforward, and a lift is highly recommended if you have access to one. That’s not to say that you couldn’t do this laying on your back in your driveway with the help of some jack stands, but for the sake of ease we’d recommend the lift.
To add some additional insight in regards to the features and benefits of the Hellwig front and rear sway bar kits, we’ve included the official feature breakdown from Hellwig below.
Front Sway Bar PN-5910 Features:
- Reduces body roll for better vehicle control
- Greatly improves cornering traction for safer driving and turning capabilities
- Distributes weight evenly to all four wheels
- Lifetime warranty
- Made in the USA
- Fast, Easy “Bolt-On” installation
- High quality hot formed and heat treated 4140 chrome moly spring steel
- Polyurethane bushings
- Includes all required mounting hardware
- NOTE: If your vehicle has 6 Speed Transmission on 2007-2013, you must add Hellwig Spacer Kit # 7799
An easy and affordable way to upgrade your vehicles handling performance. The torsional effect of the sway bar will significantly reduce sway and body roll. The sway bar will help to transfer the pressure on the outboard wheels and apply opposite pressure on the inboard wheels. Weight is more evenly distributed to all four wheels helping your 1/2-ton pickup stay more level with the road — making for a safer, sturdier, and more enjoyable ride.
Rear Sway Bar PN-7735 Features:
- 1-1/8” heat-treated 4140 chromoly solid steel
- Polyurethane bushings
- Adjustable for desired amount of sway control and handling
- Easy installation with no drilling required
- Made in the USA
- Lifetime guarantee
Provides added sway control when hauling heavy loads or towing. Greatly improves cornering traction for safer driving and better handling. The GM 1500 Rear Sway Bar from Hellwig Products features a 1-1/8 inch heat-treated 4140 solid chromoly steel bar for maximum sway control. The adjustable rear sway bar and mounting brackets are powder coated for durability and good looks. Includes all necessary hardware and does not require drilling to install.
As seen in the above gallery, the install is pretty straightforward. You remove the stock sway bar by removing the end links on each side, as well as the remaining bolts holding in the U-brackets that hold the sway bar in place. As we’ve mentioned earlier, they’re replaced by the hardware that Hellwig provides, including the bolts.
Hellwig also supplies the bushing grease that we applied both inside and outside of the poly business, that eliminates any squeaking as well as help prolong the life of the bushing itself.
It’s also important that you lube the sway bar bushing with the included bushing grease that Hellwig provides. They actually supply two tubes, and there’s typically enough to have an extra tube for maintenance purposes later, if you apply it sparingly.
Obviously there isn’t a sway bar to replace on the Silverado, since there isn’t one in the first place so Hellwig provides you with additional hardware to mount the rear bar. They include a pair of saddle brackets and dog bone-style, powder coated end links that connect the saddle brackets to the sway bar.
You want to be sure to grease the end link bushings, and on either end, use a vise to press-fit them into place, ensuring they’re mounted perfectly even on either side of the end link edge. You adjust them by turning them clockwise, or counterclockwise, depending on the length from the saddle bracket to the sway bar.
In the case our Silverado, we had to unbolt the E-brake cable to allow for more room for the U-bolt that mounts on the passenger side of the rear axle. You want to make sure that there isn’t any cables, wiring or hoses that could potentially get pinched during during tightening. Hellwig recommends removing the spare tire for ease of access, but oddly enough, our in-house technician insisted in working around it, proving that it was possible. Whatever, but if your have larger hands than the average bear we’d recommend it.
Hellwig also recommends installing the rear bar with the weight of the vehicle on the pavement — for ease of installation and maintenance. Essentially, the weight of the vehicle needs to be on the wheels. It should be noted that we used our ramps for the rear wheels, and only used the lift to get certain shots for the sake of this article.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.