Blog Car Care Advice How Long Can You Drive with Bad Struts & Is it Safe?
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How Long Can You Drive with Bad Struts & Is it Safe?

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Imagine this: You’re enjoying a scenic drive when, suddenly, every bump in the road becomes a jarring jolt, and you hear a loud clunking noise from your car. 

Well, that could be the telltale signs of your struts calling it quits. 

Now the question is: How long can you drive with bad struts?

Don’t worry!
We’ll answer that and other questions like how to diagnose a bad strut, how much a new strut will cost you, and more. 

This Article Contains:

How Long Can You Drive With Bad Struts?

The actual distance you can drive with a worn strut depends on how bad your struts are, vehicle type, as well as road and weather conditions. For instance, you may be able to drive slowly (under 45 mph) for a short distance if your struts are just starting to wear out or slightly worn. 

On the other hand, if your car has severely worn struts, it might take an extra 12 feet to stop from 60 mph, which could cause potential accidents and damage vital components. 

How does that happen?
Worn car struts can cause the tire to bounce off the pavement. This can make braking less effective and harder to control your car, especially on wet roads.

That’s why driving with a failing shock or strut is a serious safety concern and should be avoided at all costs. It might also reduce fuel efficiency, cause uneven wear in your tire, and lead to a loss of control of your vehicle.

However, worn shocks or struts don’t break down all of a sudden but wear out gradually. 

With good driving habits and nice roads, new struts can last around 100,000 miles. But the struts usually fail faster after you cross 50,000 miles, especially if you drive a heavier car or carry more loads.

So it’s essential to look for the warning signs.

What are the Telltale Signs of a Bad Strut?

From a rough ride and hydraulic fluid leaks to strange noises, here are some prominent symptoms you should look out for:

1. Fluid Leaks

A leaking strut is one of the common signs of a bad strut. 

Struts typically contain hydraulic fluid, essential for damping your car’s movement and absorbing shocks for a smoother ride on an uneven road. But as struts age, their seals may deteriorate and leak out the hydraulic fluid. This is called a blown strut and can severely affect your suspension system. 

Small leaks are normal, but if you find a big one, contact a mechanic immediately to get new struts. 

2. A Bumpy Ride

Faulty struts and a worn shock won’t be able to absorb shakes and can result in a rocky ride when driving on a rough road.

And that’s not the end of the story.

If you don’t fix those worn-out struts, they will make your car bottom out — meaning the suspension system will compress to a point where the undercarriage touches the ground. This can result in a temporary loss of power and damage to your suspension component.

3. Nose Dive When Braking

Does your car’s front end dip deep even when you brake lightly?
Well, your faulty struts may be the guilty party.

If the front end of your car dips too much, it can make the back end lighter and cause the car to spin out on a bumpy road. It can also lead to hydroplaning on wet roads.

Plus, if the car’s weight shifts quickly, it can make the car’s front bounce back fast. This can result in uneven braking, making your car take longer to stop and feel less stable and safe.

4. Squat When Accelerating

Sometimes, when your struts start to go bad, the rear of your vehicle squats excessively when you hit the gas. 

This is dangerous as it causes uneven tire wear and reduces the grip of the front tire on the road while accelerating. You may also notice your vehicle’s front end rising with acceleration, increasing the risk of spinning out. 

Note: Uneven tire wear can also be caused by tire alignment and tire rotation issues. If it’s too worn out, tire repair may not work instead, get new tires. 

5. Steering Wheel Issues

If your strut is bad, you might notice your steering wheel pulling to one side, especially when you brake or drive on a rough road.

A faulty strut mount bearing can also lead to a vibrating steering wheel and make it difficult to turn. Plus, your steering wheel may not return to its center position after a turn.

But that’s not all:
Vibrations in your steering wheel can be caused by a wheel hop, too. Wheel hop is when your wheel bounces repeatedly instead of settling down after going over a speed bump or uneven road.

In addition to fixing your struts, get an expert to look at your wheel alignment and suspension parts, like a coil spring or bushing, to fix a wheel hop.

6. Clunking Noise

A damaged strut is usually accompanied by a loud clunking sound, especially when driving over bumps. You might also hear this sound if you have a damaged strut mount or when your car bottoms out after you hit a speed bump or drive a bumpy road. 

Next, let’s check out how you can confirm a faulty strut.

How to Diagnose a Bad Strut?

If you don’t have good technical knowledge, it’s best to leave the diagnosis and replacement to the experts. Here’s what your mechanic would do to identify worn-out struts:

  1. Jack up the front axle of your car and secure it in place with jack stands.
  2. Look for any rusty areas on the strut or fluid leaks.
  3. Check for uneven tire wear and wheel alignment issues and suggest tire repair, tire rotation, or new tires.
  4. Finally, check your piston rods for an oil leak. 
  5. Next, to check for a damaged strut bearing, they’ll put your vehicle’s wheels on the ground and simply rotate the steering wheel. If they hear any loud knocking or clunking sound while turning the wheel, you may have a failing strut bearing.
  6. They’ll also look for cracks or separation of rubber from the steel in the strut mount. They will check for any abnormal side-by-side movements in the strut piston rod.

If you have worn struts, the only solution is to get a new strut. 

Wondering how much a strut replacement will cost you?
Let’s find out. 

How Much Does a Bad Strut Replacement Cost?

The strut replacement costs usually depend on your vehicle mode, strut brand, and local labor charges

Typically, you may have to pay around $400-$900 to get a pair of new struts. This includes about $200-$400 for labor and $250-$500 for parts. 

However, not all cars come with struts — instead, they may use a shock absorber. 

How to Know if You Have a Strut or Shock?

A shock is a hydraulic component mounted vertically behind the wheel. They help minimize movement generated by the suspension components.

Meanwhile, if you see a large, cylindrical component directly above the wheel — that’s a strut. 

Some vehicles have struts on all four wheels, while others have struts in the front and rear shocks. That’s why you should check both rear and front tires when looking for bad shocks and struts. 

Get Hassle-Free Strut Replacements at Autonation Mobile Service

Driving on worn shocks and struts is a risk that you shouldn’t take lightly. It can cause accidents, reduce brake efficiency, and may lead to an expensive engine repair due to increased stress and vibrations.

But spotting and fixing a bad shock or strut on your own can be quite a feat, and that’s why you need the help of experts from AutoNation Mobile Service.

We’re a mobile auto repair service available seven days a week. We offer upfront pricing, convenient online booking, and a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty on all repairs.

Get in touch with us, and we’ll come fix your struts or other car issues right in your driveway.