The suspension system of your vehicle is responsible for two primary things. It has the largest effect on your vehicle’s handing on the road and it makes the car a comfortable place for you and your passengers when the car is in motion. The shocks and struts are part of the suspension system and there can be very real consequences if these wear out. It can cause substantial issues like hydroplaning, swaying, subpar performance, and less quality handling. That is why it should be part of your vehicle inspection.
In most cases, the life of a strut or shock is around 50,000 miles. In that amount of driving, those components will have cycled millions and millions of times, which causes wear and tear over time. If your shocks and struts have not been replaced in over 50,000 miles, it’s a good idea to consider doing so. You may not even know, as there are often no real visible signs that wearing or damage is occurring.
If you find you have strut problems, it’s best to replace the shocks or struts within a week or two. The quicker you do so, the less damage your vehicle will experience. It’s also a good idea to have your mechanic look at them each time you stop in for a checkup. This allows you to catch a problem earlier, so it can be fixed before there is damage to your car.
Shocks and struts are both responsible for the same thing, they stop much of the bounce of a vehicle and dampen spring movement so that the car ride is smoother. However, these two parts are very different. A vehicle will have either a strut or a shock at every wheel, but not both. Whatever your vehicle is designed with is what you must use.
The largest difference when it comes to shocks and struts is that the strut acts as a part of the essential vehicle suspension system, but a shock doesn’t. A strut influences steering and alignment, as well as handling. This is one of the reasons that struts tend to be more expensive than a simple set of shocks.
There are numerous ways in which damaged, worn, or broken struts are diagnosed. If your vehicle has extra play in the suspension, which might manifest as being bouncier, the struts may be worn out. However, in many cases, a Kwik Kar technician will realize there is a strut problem when replacing a related part. It is also possible that a damaged strut will be found while your wheels are being aligned.
The first thing that a technician will do is lift the vehicle and support it with a hoist or jack stands. At that point, the wheels will be removed on the front, back, or all four wheels. The rotor will then be removed along with the brake caliper. The sway bar link is also disconnected. The technician will disconnect the strut from the steering and the strut tower, so it can be removed from the vehicle.
If the complete strut assembly will be replaced, it’s fairly straightforward to install. However, in many cases, the coil spring will be used from the previous assembly. This means that the strut must be disassembled and compressed, and the new strut must be put together before installation. Then the job will be complete and things will be tested before you get your car back, in better condition than before.
It’s generally recommended that you replace struts in pairs. So, if one front strut will be replaced, the other may be as well. The reason for this relates to the fact that the performance of the car and the quality of the ride will be worse if the struts are not matching in quality and type.
It is generally advised that the steering and suspension be inspected before repairs begin, in order to see if any other parts need replacement or repair. This will also cut down costs when considering labor, as compared to replacing each worn part separately. A wheel alignment is another option that is generally recommended post strut replacement. The new struts can alter the vehicle’s ride height, which will also alter the wheel alignment.