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Bad Struts Noise – How Long Can You Drive With Bad Struts?

How To Know If Suspension Is Damaged

What are struts? The struts of a car are the components that are solid car components, allowing for the wheel assembly, the chassis and body to move in unison, once you hit a bump or a dip during driving.  When your struts begin to wear out, you will have some unwelcomed noises to deal with. From clunking to knocking sounds, bad struts noise is nothing to ignore. Additionally, struts: 

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  1. Are tall and slender and an integral part of the vehicle suspension. 
  2. Integrate several different suspension parts into one compact assembly. 
  3. Support the vehicle’s weight. 
  4. Helps the vehicle adapt to road irregularities.  

Located in on all four wheels, in the inner suspension assembly is the strut unit or assembly.  This unit is attached to the wheel assembly and the vehicle chassis in the back and front of the vehicle. When your vehicle’s strut assembly begins display signs of failure or wear and tear, that faulty assembly begins to affect the comfort level you experience. And if completely ignored, you can face other issues too.  This results in unsafe and hazardous driving conditions. 

Other components on the car can succumb to damage too, due to a faulty and worn strut assembly. Some include: 


If your strut assembly fails completely, then you will experience misaligned suspension coupled with reduced drag- thus causing more pressure and stress on internal engine components. This can end with tremendous damage. 


As the struts are a significant part of the complete front-end suspension alignment, when they fail to do their job, the suspension will drag. This will result in your tires-located in the front of the car- to absorb more heat than they should.  


With the faulty strut assembly and your vehicle’s tires absorbing more wear, your car’s vehicle axel and transmission will prematurely age and become damaged. This can cost lots of money to repair. 

Strut noise- A Telltale Sign that you have Bad Struts 

Bad struts noise is not pleasant at all. Lots of times, faulty struts that are worn will produce noises that should serve an alert that your strut assembly is declining and needs repair. Drivers speak of bad strut noises that sound like banging, rattling and even clunking sounds.  Generally, you’ll hear the noise when the vehicle is riding or traveling over specific irregularities in the road- such as bumps, potholes objects on the freeway- and more. 

Many front strut assemblies are equipped with a bearing located at the top. The bearing provides the strut assembly as well as the steering knuckle to rotate or pivot, once the driver turns the steering wheel of the vehicle. Many drivers also hear that rattling, banging and clunking sounds, when they turn the steering wheel of the vehicle they are driving. 

Common Noises From Suspension And How To Repair Them 

Your vehicle’s strut is a huge part of your suspension. Think of your strut assemble taking the place of the upper ball joint and the upper control arm. Based on its design, a strut is very light and doesn’t need as much space as the shock absorbers in many suspension systems. 

Suspension noises vary and some of the noises are more common than other noises. Many of the noises are very typical and general to a specific component. Lots of auto professionals will know where to check for the cause of issues by performing various evaluations and road tests. 

Below are some of the most common suspension/bad struts noises that plague drivers. 


Deep knocking sounds generally mean that the shock is the issue. You can check for leaks (oil is the most common) before you do anything else.  Once a shock absorber leak, that shock absorber will begin to lose its stability and stiffness. This results in that “thump-thump” sound you may hear. 

If you hear a knocking sound when you depress the brakes on your car- especially when the car has almost come to a complete stop- the cause may be the rear brake linings that are sticking.  You can get to the root of the issue and isolate it-by, pulling the handbrake- allowing the brake linings to drag a bit. Your knocking sound should cease if the linings are the culprit.  And you should still hear the sounds if the problem is located in another part of the car.  

What about knocking sounds while driving at a slow and steady pace? 

If you’re experiencing a knocking sound while driving at a slow and steady pace, then the cause may be any of your loose suspension components. The most general causes include: broken shock mounts, stabilizer links that are loose, bar bushings that are loose and out of place and shock absorbers that are dull. 

Knocking sounds while driving on bumps and cracks in the road 

As you’re driving and you begin to hear knocking sounds that emit from the rear or the front wheels- as you drive over potholes, cracks or even bumps on the road- then you can trace the issue to stabilizer links. In order to locate and diagnose links that are loose, you can hoist your car or use a jack to lift it. Grab the link that is lower and see if you are able to shake it.  If you feel it loose, then you have that knocking sound on your hands. 

What about knocking sounds as you turn your steering wheel? 

Sometimes, the steering wheel so difficult to turn; but it is a sign that your suspension is giving way soon.  Be sure that you don’t mistake your difficult and stuck steering wheel/ steering column joint for a broken or a busted shock mount bearing. You may want to take your car to a trained auto professional for a true diagnosis of the problem. 

Loud metal-to-metal noise While Driving Over Potholes 

Harsh and loud metal-to-metal noises as you drive over a usually mean a faulty control arm bushing. Over time, control arm bushings have a tendency to wear and dry out. They’re also prone to cracking. Your faulty and dried control arm bushing will generally affect your steering system. You may also experience shaking car wheels, should you drive at high speeds. Another culprit of metal-to-metal noise may be bad coil springs. They can if they are in an incorrect position if someone replaces them.  


Are New Struts Supposed To Make Noise? Are My New Struts Bad? 

There’s a good chance that you have great replacement struts. But the noise you are hearing after the repair may be due to worn or loose mounting hardware. So, take your car back to the shop and ask your auto professional to check that the mountings. He or she will make sure that they are tightened securely, and look for any other worn suspension components. For a noise coming from the strut, then your mechanic will need to look at the upper bearing plate and replace it -free of charge, after you paid- if this is necessary.  

Does my vehicle need to be aligned after I have strut Replacement? 

Yes. And your mechanic will complete the repair with an alignment. Many auto professionals recommend an alignment after any new struts are installed. Sure, there are a few exceptions where the vehicle manufacturer does not provide alignment recommendations. But generally, your auto professional will align the car. 

Why Is The Spring Seat On The Replacement Strut Bigger Than On The Original Strut I'm Getting Replaced?

Many replacement struts are equipped with a lower spring seat that is very large diameter. This is a safety measure and not a defect. This design is also in place to keep a broken coil spring from coming into contact into the tire. Your auto professional will provide clearance and check all parts and components before sending you on your way. 

Can You Put Struts On Wrong Side?

Since struts aren't side specific, the likelihood of this happening is slim to none. The shocks and OEM coils are the same for both vehicle sides. Reversing them shouldn’t have any effect. Check with your mechanic for additional issues or questions you have. 

What Happens If A Strut Breaks While Driving?

When you have a broken strut, there will be one area of our vehicle that moves a bit freer, farther and faster than the other side. This broken strut will increase wear and tear on the other suspension components. You may see failure of additional components.  And if you have damage to other suspension components then you’re looking at a heftier repair bill. 

How Do I Quiet Noisy Strut Mounts?

The clunking noises are not caused by the struts but rather a worn top bearing plate and bearing. You may need to check to see if you replaced those components of the strut assembly, or if you replaced the strut cartridge.  The bearing plate and bearing should always be changed with the strut – just about everything in the strut assembly with the exception of the spring, basically. 

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