Your daily drives have gone from being smooth and comfortable to a rattling ordeal. Besides this, your car’s front sinks when you brake.
Keep reading as we answer these and get you to know the common bad strut symptoms.
This Article Contains:
- 6 Common Symptoms of Bad Struts You Shouldn’t Ignore
- How to Inspect the Struts on Your Car
- Can You Drive with Bad Struts?
- 5 FAQs about the Struts on Your Vehicle
Let’s get rolling!
6 Common Symptoms of Bad Struts You Shouldn’t Ignore
Your car’s ailing struts can cause various issues, like body roll, steering problems, uneven tire wear, etc., as covered below.
1. A Bumpy Ride
A strut is a crucial suspension component on your car and takes on a speed bump or any other irregularity in the road. Faulty struts on your vehicle won’t effectively absorb impacts from driving over a bumpy road, leading to a shaking and uncomfortable ride.
2. Nose Dive and Rear Squat
While some nose dive is inevitable from hard braking, a damaged strut can make it more pronounced even while braking normally. Reason — a failing strut won’t resist the forces acting on it while braking, and your car’s front will go down.
Similarly, when accelerating, your car’s weight shifts to its rear. If its suspension system isn’t in good shape, your car’s rear can squat as you hit the gas pedal. You may also experience body roll while turning due to bad suspension parts.
3. Uneven Tire Wear
The strut assembly on your vehicle helps the tires maintain good contact with the road. Bad struts can make the tires bounce and cause uneven wear, termed “cupping.” A worn strut mount can affect your car’s wheel alignment and wear out a tire’s inner or outer edge faster.
4. Steering Issues
The upper strut mount bearing allows the front wheels to turn according to the steering wheel input. A damaged strut mount bearing can make the steering wheel vibrate and hard to rotate. It may also not return to its center position after making a turn.
5. Unusual Sounds
You may hear knocking or clunking sounds while driving over a pothole or bump due to metal-to-metal contact in a bad strut assembly. A worn strut bearing may also produce a squeaking sound while turning.
6. Fluid Leaks
Seals in the damping system of a strut can wear out, causing hydraulic fluid leaks. This reduces your car’s suspension system effectiveness and is known as a “blown strut.” You may notice oil or grime on the strut’s hydraulic cylinder due to a leak.
Do these symptoms appear familiar to you?
Let’s see what you should do next.
How to Inspect the Struts on Your Car
A few basic tests can help you determine whether a faulty strut mount or another suspension component is causing the issue.
A. Parked Level Test
Look at how your vehicle sits when parked. If the front appears to be sitting lower than it should, or if the front right end rests lower than the left or vice versa, it implies a failing strut.
You can also measure your vehicle’s suspension height from the top of the tire to the bottom of the fender wall. The right and left wheels shouldn’t have a substantial height difference.
B. Bounce Test
This is what you have to do:
- Place your foot or knee on the bumper or hood of your car.
- Push the vehicle down.
- Take off your foot or knee abruptly and watch the car return to its original position. The vehicle should rise and stay there without bouncing much. If it keeps on bouncing, this indicates a strut problem.
If these elementary checks couldn’t help you decide if you need a new strut, get help from a professional service like AutoNation Mobile Service.
C. Professional Diagnosis
Here are the steps a mechanic will follow to diagnose the worn struts:
- Open the hood and locate the strut mounts.
- Check if each strut mount is appropriately secured in its place and its nuts and bolts aren’t rusted.
- Rotate the steering wheel from the lock-to-lock position and observe any unusual sound to check the upper strut mount bearing.
- Raise the car using a hoist or jack.
- Check the coil spring to ensure it’s not broken.
- Look for cracks or damage in the rubber seat of the upper and lower strut mount into which the coil spring attaches.
- Compress and release the coil spring to check excessive movement in the strut piston rod. If it exists, you may have a bad strut mount.
- Inspect the piston cylinder for hydraulic fluid leaks or a blown strut.
Depending on the diagnosis, the mechanic may suggest a coil spring or strut mount replacement or swap the whole strut assembly with a new one. It’s best to replace struts as a pair. Combining an old and new strut can cause uneven tire wear and balancing issues with your vehicle.
Note: During a strut replacement, get the wheel assembly and other suspension parts inspected for issues like bearing noise, bad shocks (shock absorbers), etc.
Can you put off replacing the damaged strut for some time?
Let’s find out.
Can You Drive with Bad Struts?
You shouldn’t drive your vehicle with worn struts if you experience steering or handling problems. It can compromise your and others’ safety on the road. Get your car inspected by a mechanic ASAP in this case.
If you have other bad strut symptoms, have a mechanic look at your vehicle soon. In this case, driving can further damage the suspension system and cause uneven tire wear.
Would you like to know more about the suspension system on your car?
5 FAQs about the Struts on Your Vehicle
Here are answers to five common questions you may have about struts:
1. How Do Struts Work?
A strut acts both as a structural and dampening component for your vehicle’s suspension system.
The spring in a strut maintains the ride height and ensures the tire remains in contact with the road while going over a speed bump or pothole. It takes up the impact from the tire, which is then transferred to the hydraulic piston system in the strut. The hydraulic system dampens the “bounciness” that would have resulted from the spring and provides a smooth and comfortable ride.
2. How Much Does a Strut Replacement Cost?
The approximate cost for replacing a pair of struts can be around $400-$1140. A pair of strut assemblies may cost $300-$840, while the labor charges can vary from $100-$300. You’ll also have to go for a wheel alignment after strut replacement, which can set you back by approximately $170-$220.
3. How Long Do Struts Last?
Struts can last about 5-10 years or 50,000-100,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer, load, road conditions, and your driving habits.
4. What’s the Difference between Struts and Shock Absorbers?
A strut provides a more compact alternative for the spring and shock absorber combination in a suspension system. Unlike struts, shock absorbers aren’t structural members and don’t support the vehicle’s weight. They only dampen the oscillations of a separate coil or leaf spring.
5. Do Bad Shocks Cause the Same Symptoms as Worn Struts?
A failing shock can also result in a rough ride on a bumpy road, uneven tire wear, unusual sounds, and fluid leaks. However, a bad shock won’t affect your vehicle’s suspension height. Moreover, a worn shock on a front wheel may impact the handling and steering response more than a faulty shock at the rear.
Struts, if present on your vehicle, are an integral part of its suspension system. Get them checked when you go for a scheduled car service or an engine repair job. But if you notice the symptoms of a bad strut earlier, have your car inspected by a qualified mechanic like AutoNation Mobile Service.
We are a mobile auto repair service that can address your car’s bad struts and other issues right in your driveway.
Contact us, and our expert technicians will ensure your drives get as comfortable and smooth as they used to be.