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FAQ: Steering and Suspension
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) >Steering and Suspension
Are struts simply oversized shock absorbersDo wheels have to be realigned when struts are replacedHow do electronic suspension systems workHow do you know when a vehicle needs new springs
How to tell if the FWD constant velocity joint needs replacingShould I sell individual CV joints or complete FWD driveshaftsU.S. metal-studded snow tire regulationsWhat are the significant causes of excessive tire wear
What do variable rate springs doWhy replace rack-and-pinion steering rather than rebuild itWhy should ball joints and tie rod ends be changed in pairsWhy should shocks and struts always be replaced in pairs
Are struts simply oversized shock absorbers

A strut performs the same ride control functions as a shock absorber, but it is also an integral part of the suspension rather than an add-on component.

On most strut suspensions (except some late model Honda applications that have "wishbone" suspensions), the struts replace the upper control arms and ball joints.

The 1986 Honda Accord has a rear double-wishbone suspension. The strut plays no role in wheel alignment in this arrangement, serving only to carry the vehicle's weight and to dampen shocks.

Struts serve as the steering pivots and on most applications (except certain Ford suspensions like the Mustang and T-Bird), they also carry the springs. On some rear-wheel drive strut suspensions, the wheel spindles are part of the front struts (which adds to their cost). The same is true on some front-wheel drive rear strut applications.

Another important difference between struts and shocks is that struts also affect wheel alignment, whereas shocks do not. A bent strut or a mislocated strut tower can cause tire wear and steering pull problems.

Many struts are also rebuildable. On many import cars, the struts have an internal cartridge or wet elements that can be replaced by unbolting the upper strut mount, swinging the strut out from under the fender, disassembling the upper strut components, and replacing the internal components with a new cartridge.

On most domestic applications, however, the entire strut must be replaced. Replacement options include both nonpressurized and gas pressurized versions, the latter offering all the same benefits as gas shocks.

One often overlooked strut component that usually needs attention is the upper bearing plate that sits atop the strut. This plate supports the weight of the vehicle and serves as the upper pivot point for steering. If corroded or worn, it can make noise, increase steering stiffness and reduce steering returnability.

Do wheels have to be realigned when struts are replaced

Most of the time, but not always. It depends on the application. When a MacPherson strut is replaced on a vehicle where the strut is an integral part of the suspension and it has provisions for camber and/or caster adjustments, the original wheel alignment settings are lost when the strut is removed.

Even if the position of camber bolts and/or upper camber/caster plate is carefully marked prior to removal, variations in manufacturing tolerances between the original strut and its replacement will probably alter suspension geometry enough to require realigning the wheels.

On vehicles with "wishbone" strut suspensions, the strut doesn't play a role in wheel alignment. On these vehicles, realignment of the wheels after replacing the strut is not necessary.

On vehicles with rebuildable struts, it is not necessary to realign the wheels if only the strut cartridge is being changed. It is necessary to mark the original positions of the upper strut plate and/or lower camber prior to unbolting anything to preserve the original alignment settings.

How do electronic suspension systems work

The basic idea behind simpler electronic suspensions is to use electronically adjustable shocks and/or struts so suspension ride control characteristics can be adjusted or adapted to changing driving conditions, resulting in improved ride and handling.

Electronic shocks and struts have a small electric actuator motor mounted either atop the unit or inside to rotate a control rod or selector valve that opens or closes metering orifices in the piston valve.

This changes the relative stiffness of the shock as it travels through compression and rebound. The next generation of electronic shocks will use solenoids rather than motors because solenoids allow faster response times.

The position of the control rod or selector valve inside the shock or strut is determined by a dash-mounted switch in manually controlled systems and/or a microprocessor in systems with more sophisticated automatic controls.

Electronic shocks are nothing new. The Japanese introduced them to the U.S. market back in 1983 on the Mazda LX626 and the Nissan 300ZX. Since then, they have been offered on a variety of Japanese sports coupes and luxury sedans.

In recent years, systems have been adopted by numerous domestic models as well. The 1988 Lincoln Continental was the first domestically-built vehicle to sport electronically adjustable shocks, followed by the Ford Probe and Corvette in 1989.

One advantage of electronically adjustable shocks/struts that becomes quickly apparent when you are behind the wheel is that no one ride control setting is right for all road conditions. The damper setting that works best depends on the frequency and severity of the oscillations. A soft setting that gives a boulevard-smooth ride under one type of driving condition lacks sufficient dampening action to control the vibrations that are produced under different road conditions.

Conversely, a firm setting may give better ride control under different driving conditions, but become unacceptably harsh under others.

The more complicated systems add automatic load leveling (to compensate for changes in vehicle loading) and/or ride height adjustment (vehicle lowers at speed to reduce wind resistance).

The most advanced electronic suspension today is the optional active suspension under the Infinity Q45. It uses hydraulic actuators instead of conventional or electronic shocks to support a portion of the vehicle's weight.

How do you know when a vehicle needs new springs

Type topic text here. When the original springs are no longer able to maintain proper ride height or are not capable of handling vehicle load requirements, new springs are in order.

All springs sag with age. The constant load they bear leads to creep within the molecular structure of the metal. Over time, the spring weakens and begins to lose height (coil spring) or arch (leaf spring).

As the spring settles, ride height decreases and causes undesirable changes in wheel alignment. That is why alignment technicians are always supposed to measure ride height before they realign the wheels. More than an inch of sag usually means time for new springs.

Spring sag also reduces suspension ability to support its normal load. This, combined with decreased ride height, means less clearance between suspension stops and chassis. The result can be bottoming on rough roads or when carrying extra weight.

Spring sag can also have a negative effect on safe handling and braking. A wheel's ability to maintain traction during acceleration, braking and cornering depends to a large extent on the load it carries.

A weak spring does not carry its fair share of the load, so the wheel with the weakest spring is most likely to break traction and spin or skid during hard acceleration, cornering or braking. Weak springs also allow more body roll, which puts added strain on the shocks, struts and other suspension components.

Weak springs need to be replaced and when they are, both springs on the same axle should be replaced (both fronts or both rears). This maintains the same side-to-side ride height.

Trying to "shim up" a weak spring with inserts or a spacer is not the professional way to address the underlying problem. Shims and spacers can be used to restore ride height, but they cannot duplicate the original ride.

Such products usually make a spring more rigid (stiffer spring rate) and decrease the amount of suspension travel the spring can handle because of less space between the coils. Nor can shims or spacers provide many of the benefits that are available with various types of specialty replacements like variable rate springs (those that become increasingly stiff as the load is increased).

How to tell if the FWD constant velocity joint needs replacing

Noise is usually the most obvious clue. Check the following list of symptoms:


  • The classic symptom of a worn or damaged outer joint is a popping or clicking noise when turning. The symptom can be aggravated by putting the car in reverse and backing in a circle. If the noise gets louder, the outer joint(s) should be replaced.

  • A "clunk" when accelerating, decelerating or when putting the transaxle into drive. This kind of noise can come from excessive play in the inner joint on FWD applications, either inner or outer joints in a RWD independent suspension, or from the driveshaft CV joints or U-joint in a RWD or 4WD powertrain. The same kind of noise can also be produced by excessive backlash in the differential gears.

  • A humming or growling noise, sometimes due to inadequate lubrication in either the inner or outer CV joint, is more often due to worn or damaged wheel bearings, a bad intermediate shaft bearing on equal length halfshaft transaxles, or worn shaft bearings within the transmission.

  • A shudder or vibration when accelerating may be caused by excessive play in either inboard or outboard joints, but more likely the inboard plunge joint. These kinds of vibrations can also be caused by a bad intermediate shaft bearing on transaxles with equal length halfshafts. On FWD vehicles with transverse-mounted engines, this kind of vibration can be caused by loose or deteriorated engine/transaxle mounts. Be sure to inspect rubber bushings in the upper torque strap on these engines to rule out this possibility.

  • A vibration that increases with speed is rarely due to a bad CV joint or FWD halfshaft imbalance. A missing damper weight on a halfshaft can sometimes cause harmonic vibrations, however. An out-of-balance tire or wheel, an out-of-round tire or wheel, or a bent rim are more likely causes.

  • If a joint seems noisy, a visual inspection should follow. If the boot is loose, split, cracked, torn, or punctured, chances are the joint is noisy because it has lost its supply of grease and/or the joint has been contaminated by dirt and/or water. Either way, the boot and joint will probably have to be replaced. If a joint isn't making noise but the boot is damaged, the boot should be replaced immediately. If the grease feels gritty, dirt has gotten inside the joint. Chances are the joint has already been damaged. Either way, the joint should be disassembled, cleaned and inspected before the new joint is installed. CV joints require a special high temperature grease. Ordinary chassis grease will not do.

  • CV joint repairs should not be put off. Failures can have serious results. An outer joint that seizes while driving can cause loss of steering control. A joint that fails and breaks apart may cause the driveshaft to drop out of the car.

Should I sell individual CV joints or complete FWD driveshafts

In today's market, you have to sell both. Some people only want to replace the individual joint if it is bad. Others find it easier and faster to replace the entire driveshaft assembly. The choice is theirs, not yours. All you should do is provide the options.

Many professional installers prefer to change the complete FWD driveshaft assembly rather than to rebuild or replace individual CV joints. It eliminates the hassle of getting the old joint off the shaft, tearing it apart (if the joint is to be rebuilt), installing the new or rebuilt joint back on the shaft, and installing a new boot (which often requires special tools to do the job right). A new shaft also includes a new boot for the inner joint, which should probably be changed anyway while the shaft is out of the vehicle.

On some vehicles, there is no choice as to whether the joint or entire driveshaft assembly can be replaced. On FWD vehicles that use tripod outer joints (Toyota Tercel, Nissan Stanza and AMC/Renault Alliance), individual replacement joints are not available (though repair kits for tripod outer joints are available).

Those who prefer to change or rebuild individual CV joints with repair kits rather than to replace the entire shaft say it is more profitable to charge for the extra labor involved. Some consider replacing the entire driveshaft assembly to be an unnecessary expense if only one of the joints is bad.

Complete shaft assemblies are available at prices competitive with those of brand new CV joints. The most price competitive ones generally have rebuilt inner and outer CV joints which are little more than used joints that have been cleaned up, inspected and found to be within acceptable tolerances. Most shaft assemblies with rebuilt joints, however, have reconditioned joints with new cage and ball kits.

Some shaft rebuilders actually remanufacture their outer CV joints by regrinding housings, races and cages. Oversized balls are then installed to restore the joint to like-new condition.

There are trade-offs to consider when installing a shaft that has used, rebuilt or remanufactured CV joints. On the plus side, such shafts are less expensive, appealing to customers on a limited budget.

On the other hand, some installers question the longevity and reliability of a shaft that has used or rebuilt joints. For that reason, some prefer a shaft assembly with a new CV joint. These shafts generally cost a little more, but most also come with a limited lifetime warranty.

U.S. metal-studded snow tire regulations

Survey Of States

This update of a survey of U.S. metal-studded snow tire regulations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia was compiled by the Tire Industry Safety Council and American Automobile Association. The latest survey reveals the following:


  • Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia set seasonal restrictions for metal-studded snow tire use.

  • Seven states have unrestricted use of metal-studded snow tires: Colorado, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont, and Wyoming.

  • Ten states prohibit metal-studded snow tires: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland (except in five mountainous counties), Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The Council reminds drivers that when metal-studded snow tires are mounted on the front axle, they must also be placed on the rear axle for better handling and stability.

Since metal-studded snow tire regulations change frequently, check with local officials about legality in your area.

State Regulation

Alabama - Prohibited

Alaska - Sep 15 - May 1; South of 60 degrees - Sep 30 - Apr 15

Arizona - Oct 1 - May 1

Arkansas - Nov 15 - Apr 15

California - Nov 1 - Apr 1

Colorado - No Restrictions

Connecticut - Nov 15 - Apr 30

Delaware - Oct 15 - Apr 15

District of Columbia - Oct 15 - Apr 15

Florida - Prohibited

Georgia - Permitted only for driving on snow and/or ice

Hawaii - Prohibited

Idaho - Oct 1 - Apr 15

Illinois - Prohibited

Indiana - Oct 1 - May 1

Iowa - Nov 1 - Apr 1

Kansas - Nov 1 - Apr 15

Kentucky - No Restrictions

Louisiana - Prohibited

Maine - Oct 1-Apr 30

Maryland - Prohibited except in Allegheny, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties Mar 31

Massachusetts - Nov 2 - Apr 30 unless otherwise authorized by registrar

Michigan - Nov 1 - Apr 1, Northern regions: Oct 1 - May 1

Minnesota - Prohibited except for nonresidents who are subject to restrictions imposed by their Reciprocity is granted. Full-time nonresident students employed within Minnesota permitted use of studded tires, regardless of vehicle registry.

Mississippi - Prohibited

Missouri - Nov 1 - Mar 31

Montana - Oct 1 - May 1

Nebraska - Nov 1 - Apr 1 special permit issued by Dept of roads

Nevada - Oct 1 - Apr 30

New Hampshire - No Restrictions

New Jersey - Nov 15 - Apr 1

New Mexico - No Restrictions

New York - Oct 16 - Apr 30

North Carolina - No Restrictions

North Dakota - Oct 15 - Apr 15

Ohio - Nov 1 - Apr 15

Oklahoma - Nov 1 - Apr 1

Oregon - Nov 1 - Apr 30 unless specified differently by Dept of Transportation because of weather conditions.

Pennsylvania - Nov 1 - Apr 15

Rhode Island - Nov 15 - Apr 1

South Carolina - Permitted for snow and ice driving if they do not protrude more than 1/16" from the tread

South Dakota - Oct 1 - Apr 30

Tennessee - Oct 1 - Apr 15

Texas - Prohibited

Utah - Oct 15 - Apr 15

Vermont - No Restrictions

Virginia - Oct 15 - Apr 15

Washington - Nov 2 - Mar 31

West Virginia - Nov 1 - Apr 15

Wisconsin - Not permitted except for cars with out of state registration (only if such car is passing through the state for a period of not more than 30 days.)

Wyoming - No Restrictions

What are the significant causes of excessive tire wear

Uneven or accelerated tire wear can be caused by wheel misalignment, worn suspension and steering components, and/or improper tire inflation.

The most critical alignment angle with respect to tire wear is toe. Camber is also important and can be affected by caster. Misalignment is usually caused by worn, loose or bent suspension and steering parts (bad tie rod ends, idler arms, control arm bushings, ball joints, struts, etc.), but can also be due to spring sag or improper ride height.

With tire inflation, underinflation is just as bad as overinflation. Both can cause uneven tire wear. Underinflation can also make a tire run dangerously hot.

For a tire to roll down the road with the least amount of resistance and maximum directional stability, it must be aligned with the road, parallel to the other three wheels on the vehicle, square with the chassis, and properly inflated.

Rolling resistance is affected by a number of things, one of which is the straightness of the tire with respect to the direction of travel. If the tire is skewed slightly to one side or the other (toed in or out), it will scrub as it rolls. Scrub increases rolling resistance and also wears away the tread, leaving a feathered wear pattern.

Toe refers to the parallelism of a front or rear wheel to its companion on the opposite side. From a bird's-eye view, all four wheels should be parallel to one another and pointing straight ahead.

Toe is measured by comparing the distance between the front edges of both tires on an axle to the distance between the trailing edges. If the distance between the front edge is further apart than that at the rear, wheels have toe-out.

If front is closer together than rear, wheels have toe-in. Toe settings may be specified in inches, millimeters or degrees. Toe is most affected by worn tie rod ends, a worn or loose idle arm or center link, or a bent steering arm.

To minimize tire wear, rolling toe should be kept as near zero as possible. To achieve this, the compliance or amount of give in the vehicle's steering linkage and suspension must be taken into consideration.

As a vehicle starts to move, rolling resistance pushes the tires back. This compresses the couplings and rubber fittings in the steering linkage and causes the wheels to toe-out slightly. It isn't much of a change, but most rearwheel drive vehicles call for static toe-in settings of around 1/16" to 1/8" to compensate.

With front-wheel drive, the situation is different because the front wheels pull the vehicle down the road. Engine torque causes the wheels to toe-in under load. Most FWD suspensions have a negative scrub radius built into the steering geometry.

The tire pivots slightly to the outside of its centerline. This helps to offset the tendency to toe-in. Even so, most front-wheel drive vehicles still require toe settings of zero to 1/8" toe out.

Toe also changes as the front wheels turn. Because the inner and outer wheels don't follow the same path (the inner one follows a smaller circle than the outer one), the inner wheel must toe-out to compensate. This is called the "Ackerman Principle of Steering" after the engineer who invented the idea.

Toe-out depends on the angle of the steering arms with respect to the steering knuckles and chassis. The amount by which toe changes is called "toe-out on turns." This angle is also listed in alignment specs and is checked by turning the wheels on the alignment rack.

If toe-out on turns is off because of a bent steering arm, the tires will squeal and scrub whenever the wheels are steered.

Camber also affects tire wear. For directional stability, the tires must be perpendicular (straight up and down) with respect to the road. Any tilt to the inside or outside will cause a tire to turn in that direction like a bicycle leaning into a turn. This causes steering to pull to one side and creates uneven wear across the tread face.

Camber is the inward or outward tilt of the wheels as viewed from either front or rear of the car. If wheels lean in, they have negative camber. If they lean out, they have positive camber.

The amount of camber is always expressed in degrees and is found by measuring the tilt of the wheels on an alignment rack or by using a level that attaches to the wheel.

Because camber affects tire wear, the ideal situation is to have zero running camber on all four wheels to maintain full tread contact with the road. Like toe, camber changes as the suspension moves up and down. To keep the wheels vertical once the vehicle is loaded, a small amount of static positive camber may be required.

Camber should generally be within 1/2 degree side-to-side. Otherwise, the vehicle will lean toward the side with the most positive camber.

Camber misalignment can be caused by a sagging spring, a bent strut, bent spindle, worn control arm bushing, worn ball joint, or mislocated strut tower (too far in or out).

Camber corrections are made by replacing worn parts and/or by realigning the suspension using either the factory adjustments (cams, shims or elongated holes) or aftermarket aids.

What do variable rate springs do

These springs increase load carrying capacity (usually 1,000 to 1,500 pounds.) without increasing ride harshness. Heavy-duty replacement springs will also increase load carrying capacity, but their stiffer spring rate may make the ride too harsh for comfortable everyday driving.

Consequently, variable rate springs are a better option for the customer who occasionally pulls a trailer, carries extra passengers (car pool commuters), carries extra loads (like an anvil salesman), or uses his vehicle for occasional weekend off-road recreation.

If original springs are sagging and need to be replaced anyway, upgrading to variable rate springs is an option well worth considering. They cost about the same as standard replacement springs and are no more difficult to install.

Why replace rack-and-pinion steering rather than rebuild it

Overhauling a power rack is not a job for the novice. Special tools are required to remove and install internal seals. The tools are expensive and may not be cost justified for a shop that only does an occasional rack. For a do-it-yourselfer, the tools could end up costing as much as a new or remanufactured rack.

It is tricky to get seals properly positioned. If a seal slips or is damaged during installation, the rack will leak. For that reason alone, many professional mechanics won't waste their time trying to rebuild questionable racks.

Operating pressures within a power rack generally do not exceed 100 psi when the wheels are in the straight-ahead position. In an easy turn, the pressure can increase to as much as 300 psi and it goes up to 700 psi in a tight turn. The highest pressures are usually encountered when parking. If the wheels are up against a curb or if the steering wheel is turned hard against the stop, internal pressures can climb to 700 to 1,400 psi. This is why anybody who overhauls a rack better make sure the seals don't leak.

Time is another important factor to the professional installers. Anything that makes their job easier and faster is money in their pocket. If given a choice, most avoid doing repairs the old fashioned way because overhauling certain components in the shop slows them down and takes too much time. That's why many components (like starters, alternators, front-wheel drive driveshaft assemblies, even brake calipers) are often replaced with new or remanufactured units rather than overhauled in the shop. The same is true for racks.

Time is money... and at $40 per hour it doesn't take long for a mechanic's time to add up. By the time a mechanic spends $25 to $30 for a seal kit and several hours overhauling a rack (assuming it can be overhauled), he can end up spending as much of his customer's money as if he had bought a replacement rack in the first place.

Another reason why installers and do-it-yourselfers do not rebuild their own racks is because some racks are not rebuildable - at least not with a seal kit alone. If the teeth in the center of the rack are worn or damaged, a replacement rack bar can run $100 to $150.

If the housing is worn, distorted, cracked or otherwise unusable, a new housing can cost upwards of $125. If the control valve is bad, it will cost $150 to $250 to replace - if you can find the parts. Individual component parts for racks are not readily available in the aftermarket because everyone knows it is cheaper and smarter to go with a new or remanufactured rack if the original rack needs to be overhauled.

Rebuilders can often salvage worn aluminum spool valve housings by boring out the housings and installing a stainless steel sleeve. The sleeve not only restores tolerances, but also prevents the wear problem from reoccurring. In that respect, a remanufactured rack may actually be better than the original. Most rebuilders also pressure test their racks after reassembly to make certain they function correctly and do not leak.

One mistake installers should avoid when replacing a rack is not flushing out the power steering pump and lines to remove all traces of old fluid. Flushing is a must because it removes contaminants that could ruin the replacement rack. The system also needs to be purged of air by cycling the steering slowly back and forth until there are no more air bubbles in the fluid.

Related items that may also need replacing include rack mounts and steering input shaft coupling. If the coupling donut is deteriorating with age, it needs to be replaced. Metal swivel couplings also need to be checked for rust and binding. Do not forget to include new power steering fluid (follow manufacturer recommendations as to the proper type of fluid).

Why should ball joints and tie rod ends be changed in pairs

It is not absolutely necessary, but many professional installers insist on replacing both even if only one is bad. This is because both have more or less the same mileage and sooner or later the other one is going to fail too.

In many instances, the companion part on the opposite side is marginal, so it makes sense to replace both ball joints (uppers and/or lowers) or both tie rod ends (inner and/or outer) at the same time. It also saves the customer the inconvenience of having to bring his vehicle in a second time.

There is some evidence to suggest that suspension and steering components on the right side of a vehicle have a somewhat higher rate of failure than those on the left side. The right side takes more punishment when it comes to close encounters with curbs, potholes and other obstacles, and the typical vehicle makes more righthand turns than lefthand turns.

Even though all suspension components have the same mileage, those on the right side often need to be replaced at a lower mileage than those on the left.

It is important to check tie rod ends when doing any type of suspension work.

Some components also wear faster than others. Loaded ball joints (those that bear the brunt of the vehicle's weight) wear out faster than unloaded ball joints. Loaded ball joints are the lower ones on vehicles where the spring rests on the lower control arm, and the upper joints on vehicles where the spring rests atop the upper control arm. The lower ball joints on FWD cars are unloaded.

Outer tie rod ends also tend to wear out faster than inner tie rod ends because the outer ones experience more deflection and are more exposed to road splash, salt and dirt. Inner tie rod sockets on vehicles with rack and pinion steering are protected by bellows, so the rate of replacement for the inner sockets is only a fraction of that for the outer tie rod ends.

The real issue here is not which parts wear out first or why, but how your customer's needs can be best served. If only one tie rod end or ball joint is obviously shot, but its partner on the opposite side still appears to be in good condition (and the customer cannot afford to replace both at the same time) then do not tell him he has to change both.

Better to sell only what he needs now and get his repeat business when the other part fails than to risk losing his business by trying to sell him parts he is not convinced he really needs.

Why should shocks and struts always be replaced in pairs

Unlike some steering and suspension components, there is no significant difference in wear rates between left and right shocks or struts. If one shock or strut is shot, chances are its companion also needs to be replaced.

For front versus rear, there can be differences in wear rates depending on vehicle loading and usage. Generally speaking, when front shocks or struts need replacing, so do those in the rear.

Shock absorbers and struts are designed to dampen spring oscillations as the suspension goes through jounce and rebound. This prevents unwanted body gyrations and helps keep the wheels in contact with the road.

The ride control elements inside perform this task by creating resistance, which in turn transforms the energy of motion into heat. The up and down strokes of the piston inside the shock or strut pumps fluid back and forth through metering orifices in the piston and valve body.

The resistance created by these orifices helps dampen spring oscillations while limiting body and suspension motions. The pumping friction heats the fluid and the heat then dissipates through the shock body into the surrounding air.

After zillions of such cycles, the cylinder bore, piston and shaft seals eventually wear out. Though original equipment shocks have improved in recent years, many still may need replacing in as little as 30,000 miles. With struts, the lifespan is about double that of a shock.

Problem is, most people do not notice the gradual deterioration in ride quality until things get really bad. Many shocks and struts are not replaced as often as they should be. Replacement is needed if any of the following symptoms are noted:


  • A bouncy or uncomfortable ride

  • Nose dive when braking

  • Excessive body sway when cornering

  • Tail squat when accelerating

  • Fluid leaks

  • Physical damage to the shock or strut itself or its mounting hardware

  • Cupped tire wear

  • Indications of bottoming (check suspension stops)

  • Vehicle fails a bounce test (more than two oscillations after rocking and releasing the bumper)

  • When the rod on a gas pressurized shock or strut does not extend by itself (indicating it has lost its gas charge)



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