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Strut Replacement

Struts

When struts become worn, the vehicle will have excessive bounce, steering play, and probably squeak every time a bump is hit. Many people will wrongly attribute these problems to shock absorbers and replace those. This often temporarily fixes the problem, but the high load on those shocks will put them out of commission in a short amount of time, requiring another replacement.

 

Struts, like shocks, should be replaced in pairs (front or rear). This is a common maintenance protocol that is for both safety and ease of record keeping.

For the DIY home mechanic, the struts on most vehicles can be replaced in a few hours with the proper tools and knowledge.

To get started, properly lift and secure the vehicle for safety. The wheels should be off the ground and unsupported and will be removed for this job.

How the struts are connected will vary by vehicle. On most, the front of the vehicle will have the strut connected to the sway bar and steering knuckle. Some attach to the outer sway bar, which will likely require a puller to remove. Some also have brake lines that run through brackets on the strut for support. These will also have to be unclipped or removed.

Before removing the bolts that connect the strut to the knuckle, the knuckle should be well-supported by a jack stand, brace, etc. as it will be able to fully extend when removed from the strut and this can ruin CV joints and even tear a CV boot.

Once supported, remove the lower strut-to-knuckle bolts but leave the strut in place. Unless you have new bolts to install (recommended if the vehicle is old), be careful not to damage the threads on the bolt if you must pound it through to get it out.

Now remove the upper strut mount or bolt. On many vehicles, the upper portion of the strut is a single bolt that feeds through a wheel well hole into the engine compartment or trunk.

Once the upper strut is loose, work it out of position. Replace the new strut in reverse, checking all connections as you go. Refer to your vehicle's owner's manual for torque specifications (if any). Now is also a good time to check the boots and bushings, especially on the end link from the sway bar.

On most vehicles, the front struts are much harder to replace than the rear (which can also be called "spindles"). Most competent home mechanics can do all four in a day's work.

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