Here is the scenario: you take your vehicle into your local repair shop for an inspection. Your mechanic takes a thorough look at your car and comes back saying that it needs new shocks or struts. You’ve heard the line before. But before you hand over your hard earned money for the strut replacement cost, you want to know what these components are and if you really do need them.
Here is your complete guide on strut repair prices, the process, and when you should get your struts replaced.
What are Struts and Shocks?
Most modern day vehicles are equipped with shocks, struts, or both of these parts. Shocks, also known as shock absorbers, do just that: they absorb bumps in the road and enable your vehicle to drive steadily along uneven terrain. They have a piston and a cylinder that contains either a liquid or gas substance. A spring is connected to the piston. When you drive over a hump in the road, the piston inside of the cylinder will move up and down against the spring and gas/liquid, efficiently absorbing the shock from the bump. Struts have a similar purpose but are designed differently. Both components are mounted to a car’s suspension system and are a necessary component of steering, handling, comfort, and safety.
What is Their Purpose?
When many people think about a car’s struts and shocks, they think about a vehicle’s comfort level while driving over bumpy road conditions. However, shocks and struts are essential for your safety while out and about too. When shocks and struts suffer extreme wear and tear, it enables a car’s tires to bounce, not allowing them to properly grip the road. This can dramatically impact braking, handling, and steering. If you’re worried about the cost of strut replacement now, just think about how hefty the damage will be if you lose control of your vehicle.
Additionally, bad struts can ruin other parts of your car if it is jolting every which way over bumps and potholes.
How Often Should You Replace Your Struts?
Some auto makers recommend replacing your vehicle’s struts every 50,000 miles or so. Other experts say that struts can last up to 100,000 miles. Between 60,000 and 100,000 miles is a good range to replace your struts. During this period, your car’s shocks and struts will have cycled more than 85 million times. If you change them routinely, you’ll never have an issue and they will keep you, your passengers, and other drivers on the roadways safe.
Signs and Symptoms that You Need a Strut Replacement
It’s important for safety reasons to know the signs that your vehicle needs strut replacement or repair. Here are some signs to keep an eye out for:
- If your struts are breaking down, hydraulic fluid will start to leak from them
- The shocks or struts are damaged or severely dented
- Your tires are suffering from uneven wear or are cupping
- You experience excessive bouncing when you drive over bumps
- Your steering is stiff or it makes noise
- Your mounts are worn or broken
- You’re experiencing a shaky or bumpy ride
- The car leans or sways when you turn
If you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should take your car into a service center to be inspected by a technician right away.
You can also find out if you need new struts by performing a simple bounce test with your vehicle. Go to the front corner of the car and push down on the front end. If the vehicle bounces up and down a few times, it’s time that you take it in to be looked at by an automotive technician.
Can I Drive with Bad Struts?
A car with worn-out front struts can be driven, but the ride will be dangerous and uncomfortable. A car highly depends on its struts for a smooth and safe ride.
How Important Are Strut Replacement Services?
The front strut replacement cost and rear strut replacement cost are both well worth the price because new struts will keep you safe and secure.
The strut assembly on the front of your car helps to absorb shock. Due to the engine placement, there is a ton of weight at the front of your vehicle. It needs help to adequately absorb the vibrations from every bump in the road. Without a properly working shock absorber system, your ride will not only be dangerous and uncomfortable, but your engine will be subject to potential damage as well.
What Happens During a Strut Replacement?
Here is what happens during a simple strut replacement:
- The mechanic will first take off the wheels. They need to get them out of the way to get to the struts.
- Next, they will remove the brake line assembly. This is because it’s connected to the strut system on most modern vehicles.
- A pinch bolt keeps the strut in place. The automotive technician will use a breaker bar to pry it off or some other type of specialized tool. A sway bar might also be in the way, so that will have to be removed as well.
- After that, the bolts that hold the struts in their place will be loosened and removed. From there, the struts can then be taken out and replaced. The mechanic should put some grease on the struts so that they are efficiently lubricated.
- After that is completed, all of the components of the vehicle that were removed to get the struts off will be put back in their proper places.
Car Strut Replacement Cost
Like many other types of auto repairs, strut replacement labor costs will vary by where you take your vehicle, the type of strut you need to get replaced, and how many other components you replace along with it. As a general rule of thumb, strut replacement costs will run you from $600 to $700 per pair.
Here is some information about different strut replacement costs at different locations:
- Strut Replacement Cost at a Dealership: If you take your car into a dealership to have the struts and shocks repaired or replaced, it can be higher because the hourly labor rates will be more expensive than a local repair shop or chain. An automotive dealer will use genuine factory parts on your car, which are more expensive than aftermarket parts. However, these types of parts will last you longer down the road. You should expect to pay $800 or more per pair at a car dealership.
- Strut Replacement Cost at an Independently Owned Repair Shop: Your strut replacement may take a bit longer at an independently owned repair shop since they get their struts and shocks from a local parts supplier only when they need them. This results in them paying slightly higher price than chain service centers. Since independent service centers charge less than a dealer, you can figure on paying between $600 to $700 on your strut replacement cost.
- Strut Replacement Cost at a Chain Service Center: Chain operated tire/brake/muffler service centers often run promotional strut replacement sales to attract new clients. This makes their prices lower than dealerships or independent repair service stores. But the promo price is usually just a bait-and-switch offer. Once you’re in their door, the shop sales associates will try and upsell you on better struts or even add the price of strut alignment or mounts.
Worse still, chain stores buy so many struts that they purchase them directly from the strut maker. With this type of purchasing power, they will often buy a look-alike strut that is a low-quality part. This results in you getting a poor quality car component that will fail sooner rather than later.
The Strut Brand You Buy is Critical
There are three top strut manufacturers, including Gabriel, KYB, and Monroe. They make just about all of the new auto struts that service centers use. However, they also make different grades of struts, including economy and premium. Chain service centers will usually purchase economy struts but upsell them at premium prices. They’ll also offer you a lifetime warranty, but that will not cover any strut replacement labor cost. We recommend getting your strut replaced at a chain store because you will be paying higher prices for lower quality parts.
What is a Strut Assembly?
Your struts are part of your vehicle’s strut assembly. The strut assembly also consists of a coil spring, strut mount, and a dust boot.
There are two ways to replace your car’s struts. Both of these methods involve moving all of the components of the strut assembly from your car. Once it is out of the vehicle, the automotive technician can then disassemble the strut from the strut mount and the spring or they can install a brand new strut assembly with all of the new parts.
Strut assembly replacement cost will be more affordable than strut replacement cost. This is because it involves a lot more labor. However, the parts will cost less since you will only be replacing the strut itself.
The downside is that your vehicle will still have its old mount and spring. These parts will not last forever and will eventually have to be replaced. This means that you will have to pay for labor a second time.
Having the entire strut assembly replaced will take far less labor and will reduce the strut replacement cost. The complete strut assembly cost will run you about 50 percent more than just the strut alone, but the labor costs will be less.
To replace just the strut, a service center will charge $175 per strut and about $100 for the labor. Remember, that you replace struts in pairs: two front struts and two rear ones. So the total cost would be about $600. It will cost around $750 if you opt to get a new strut assembly.
What Else Needs to Be Replaced if You Are Replacing Struts?
In many instances, the auto technician will have to disconnect one end of the stabilizer bar end links to remove your vehicle’s strut. These components are pretty affordable and will run you less than $40 each. For added savings, you can ask the service center if they have to disconnect the stabilizer bar end links on the vehicle. If so, ask if they can offer you a better price on these parts since you already paid them for half of the labor.
How to Save Money Strut Replacement Cost
To save money on strut replacement costs, you could attempt to do the strut replacement yourself if you have mechanical experience. But be careful and always have a good idea of what you are doing because it can be dangerous if you repair it incorrectly.
Beyond that, you should stay on top of your routine car maintenance and replace or repair the struts as needed in order to save money down the line.
Benefits of Strut Repair
If your struts are worn out, you will immediately notice a different after they are replaced. Your ride will be a lot more comfortable, no matter what type of terrain you are driving on.
Replacing your struts doesn’t only make your ride more comfortable. It also makes it safer and protects your vehicle from further damage. If the car is jolting due to an impaired strut, it can damage many other expensive components of the vehicle.
If your car needs struts, it is essential to replace them. Not only do struts boost the drivability of your car, but they also keep you and your passengers safe and protect your car from further damage.
Opt to buy quality struts at an independent car service center or at a dealership. And if you can, get the entire strut assembly replaced instead of just your struts to save money.
Struts are an important part of your vehicle and should be routinely maintained and replaced every 60,000 miles or so.