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It is well known that disconnecting the swaybars especially on the front allows the suspension to work in a truly independent manner, which allows for better overall articulation. This also gives a better ride quality over rough surfaces.

There are many aftermarket sway bar disconnects available but all require a pin/s to be manually removed and later replaced. This can be difficult as specific holes have to be realigned and it can be a time consuming excercise as well as no fun if its raining or you're parked in mud.

Consequently, a goal I have had since 1999 was to be able to do this by an incab system and ideally electrically. My main focus was to fit them on the front and over the past years I have given thought on devising ways to achieve this.

I had made a start using a cable system when I learnt that the similar set up I was proposing to use was in use on a European vehicle but it was electrically operated. After a few emails to a net buddy I eventually had one for test purposes. With minor modifications it could be used on the rear as a basic bolt on affair but using them on the front did not appear to be possible.

This pic shows it attached to the rear swaybar. The cable is routed inside and I managed to fit the electric motor section in the jack compartment out of harms way.

However, there wasn't enough clearance between the suspension A frames to use them on the front. As I was so close to achieving this goal I subsequently spent many hours looking for an answer on how they could be used and also attached to the swaybar in a different manner as they couldn't be used in their stock form due to the 4Runners overall swaybar design.

The answer finally came after I had fitted some 1 1/2" ball joint spacers as it became evident that if I could shorten the main body section it could be possible along with using a new mounting system I had in mind.

These two were for the front and show a complete unit and one I had started to make the necessary changes to.

It took a lot of time an effort to fit them to the front as there were swaybar and tyre clearance issues to also overcome. I also had to alter the top and lower bumpstops and fit longer brake hoses with a relocated bracket and also rebend the swaybar to suit. I then welded a bracket section to the body and used a rod end to attach it to the swaybar.

These pics show a front disconnect with the cable actuator, which I enclosed in hose for extra protection. I mounted the fully sealed electric motors to the underside of the body. I will get the complete chassis etc recoated with the gold/brown rust preventative treatment in due course.

The wiring was also a frustrating process as I also wanted to incorporate several safety measures as a previous test drive without the front swaybar proved to be scary. To ensure that this couldn't happen when they were disconnected I rigged up several LED warning lights to each switch. The outer light above each switch stays on to warn me that this swaybar is disconnected and although not intrusive the light is obvious, particularly when glancing at the rear view mirror.

When the switches are turned off the outer lights turn off and the inner light turns on during the relocking process and switches itself off when the swaybars are relocked indicating I'm good to go.

But as a further precaution I also incorporated a VDO speed alert into the system that is only activated via a relay when these switches are turned on to disconnect the swaybars. I have set it at 75kph so if I do forget to reconnect the swaybars after 4wd use as soon as I hit 75kph it emits a high pitched warning buzz, which can only be stopped by reconnecting the swaybars.

I mounted the control switches in the roof console with the left switch for the rear and the right operates the two fronts. Although the flash brightened this pic you will see the front swaybar light is on and the speed alert has been activated.

It is so convienient to be able to reach up and disconnect and reconnect the swaybars just by flicking a switch and to have finally achieved this goal was very rewarding.


In view of the swaybar releases and electric operated lockers I decided it would be a good idea from a safety perspective to also have power to their individual switches isolated by a separate switch. This would prevent either being accidently activated in any situation.

This came about because on one occassion I must have inadvertently switched the rear Electrac on when cleaning the dash. We have a very steep driveway and later I had a mild panic attack when it wouldn't turn at the bottom so I decided it would be a smart idea to isolate these functions.

I fitted an aircraft type safety switch behind the handbrake as shown in this pic. This location requires a conscious decision to turn it on. Power is then fed via a fuse box to both lockers, ARB pump and the disconnects etc for 4wd use.

Copyright © John Douglas