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Shock and Strut Replacement -- Cheap, OEM, or Upgrade?



  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,562
    reading these prices for strut inserts, I miss good old shock absorbers.

    I have had to replace both rear shocks on my 2005 Odyssey (poorley designed, wear out too soon) by 50K. At least Honda paid for the 1st one under warranty.

    For the 2nd, I bougt the part at Honda (a ridiculous price. Something over $100). Local tire shop replaced it for about $30. Would have gone aftermarket, but turns out, only Honda OEM is available now.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,562
    oh yeah, the reason I found this thread.

    I have a 2000 Acura 3.2TL. Just over 149K on it. At the last oil change (148K) the dealer reported that the RF sturt was leaking (I don't think much though, and it was fine 3K before that).

    These are original to the car (I only have had it since 146K though). Seems to ride and handle fine, no noises, and the tires are wearing perfectly (only the 2nd set, with 58K on them).

    actually, I need to look up what suspension I have. I am sure the real is multilink, so that means just plain old shocks. If the front is gold old 'bones too, won't that mean just shocks, so an easier time of it? Or do they still have strut cartridges to replace?

    Maybe I am out to lunch, but I also just though of a mcpherson strut as a fancy shock inside the coil spring, instead of mounted outside the spring!

    maybe I should crawl under the car tomorrow and look.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    With a plain old fashion shock, if the shock goes bad, the wheel still stays where it is supposed to be even if you take it off or break it in half. It will bounce around terribly, but still basically safe.

    With a strut, it does look like a shock inside of a spring. The critical difference however, is it is actually a major structural part of the of the three attachment points. It is the attachment point, that holds the wheel in vertical position. If the strut breaks, the car collapses onto the tire in the wheel well, and you have a wreck.

    You need to align the wheels after replacing the struts. At your mileage, they're way overdue.
  • At 149K your struts are on life support. You don't notice it because the deterioration has been so gradual. Once you get new ones, it'll be an eye-opener for you.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,562
    Well, going by the Shipo evaluatin method (if the car isn't bouncing, and the tires are wearing well, no problem!) I should be OK.

    But yes, new ones might improve the ride and handling, but the car is doing fine with the old ones one. Must be a testament to good suspension design.

    I did see that the KYB GR-2s are available (only about $58/each at tire rack) for the TL. The fronts are shown as struts, but the rears are shocks.

    Just have to get some install quotes for the labor, since not a chance I try it myself.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • I have been informed that my struts migh have to be replaced. I have 90,000 on my 1987, Tercel. Prices have been unbelievable to me at between $850 for independent mechanic to over 1,700 from a dealer. Could this be true? I have never paid over 50 or 75 dollars for each shock on my truck or any vehicles. Is there any cheaper way to go?? A car this old is hardly worth more than 2 or 3 grand!! Thanks
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Older 'shocks', can be easily replaced just by unbolting the old, and replacing with new.

    Struts are heavy duty shocks with suspension springs around them, and are an integral part of the suspension. They have to take the suspension apart to take them out of the vehicle, then take the spring off the strut (dangerous) to replace the shock, then put it all back together again and align the vehicle.

    Shop around, it's a very common repair, many many vehicles have struts now a days.

    Oh and by the way, if the old strut fails/breaks, the vehicle can fall on the tire causing you to loose control of vehicle.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 13,562
    I found the same thing when pricing strut replacement on my TL (although the rears look like shocks, they still are considered "struts")

    even various indy places (I never asked the dealer) were all over the map, from around $850 to over 1,200.

    The best price, by far? Sears. They are having a special on Monroe struts/shocks (common aftermarket units). For the TL, it was ~620 all together, then there was a mail in rebate on top of that. Their standard replacement price is not too bad, and right now, they have a 1/2 price on struts (and free on shocks) replacement special (for the labor).

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • minjiminji Posts: 6

    I dropped by a STS yesterday for oil change for my 1997 Taurus with 108k on it. I was told that all 4 struts need to be replaced and that's reason why I sense vibration on highway and when I brake. The price quote I got was ... as follows:

    2 Q Struts $398 * 2 (I guess it's for front, don't know what Q struts are)
    Labor 2.4 hr $216
    2 Q Struts $389 * 2 (rear?)
    Labor 3.5 hr $315
    Alignment $75

    Is it a fair quote? I hope not... From all past discussions here, I can understand it takes quite some time to replace struts so I'm ok with 6 hr labor cost. But why are those struts so expensive? Is it just for 1997 taurus? I searched online and I saw a lot of them were tagged $50-60 and 150 tops, am I looking at the same thing? What are my options now?

  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,065
    Vibration when braking at highway speeds would more likely be related to warped rotors.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I'm guessing here, but sounds like they may be putting on complete strut assemblies and not replacing just the strut insert (the shock absorber part).

    Depending on the vehicle, there are two ways to do a strut replacement. Both of these descriptions start with the strut assembly removed from the car. One requires that the coils be compressed and removed, the strut insert removed and a new one installed, then the springs and the top plate (?) put back on.

    The other way replaces the entire strut tower as an assembly, insert, springs, the whole thing as one unit.

    The first is more labor intensive, but the parts are cheaper (since only the strut insert is replaced). The seconds is faster, but the complete strut assembly is obviously more expensive than just the insert.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    Start watching the paper for ad's in your area, this is a very common service repair, and many places can do it.

    Also call a couple different places, and ask them for a quote over the phone to replace 4 struts and align.
  • If they didn't put a run-out gauge on your rotors they are just GUESSING.

    It would be a shame to do all that work and have the same problem.

    Would they then take off all the old parts at their expense?
  • minjiminji Posts: 6
    Thanks everyone for your input, I really appreciate it!

    I went to an Indian auto repair shop where I usually go for repair and asked them if I absolutely need to replace all 4 struts. They did a quick check and tole me that there's a bad jaw bolt (is it the correct name?) around the left front tire that needs to be fixed and also need to replace the rear suspension (which I believe is the same thing of rear struts?). The quote I got from them is around $500 which I think is reasonable. What do you guys think?

  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,065
    I still think that the vibration is being caused by warped rotors.
  • I have a 2005 lacrosse cxs when new it drove like a caddy.It now has 42000 on it tho the rid is decent not the same.Is it time to change the struts,i was told factory are not the best and usally last 50,000 it that true?thanks for any help.
  • Most struts in any car are degraded by 80,000 miles. This is usually rather gradual, and the owner may claim that the car still rides fine, which is true because he/she has noting to compare it to.

    I think 50K is a bit premature for serious degradation of the ride but of course this depends on what you carry, where you live and how you drive.

    If Bilstein makes struts for your lacrosse, I'd recommend them if you plan to keep the car a long time and want the very best.
  • Hey out there. So, I have a 2003 civic & recently gave it to the dealership for an oil change. Less than 2hrs later, they tell me that my struts are leaking & the repair is $1500 & ask me if I want it done! Obviously not, that's insane pricing! So I'm taking it to a muffler/brake type shop tomorrow to further investigate. I was hoping to get some info b4 hand since most mechanics change all info & jack up prices as soon as a GIRL walks in! So annoying! are my questions. Never doing struts before I know nothing. What brands are best for quality but not super expensive? I want a good middle brand. I dont drive long drives & my car is at 81,000 on an '03 so that shows. I am aggressive as a driver though. Also if only one strut is leaking which doesnt get explained in Honda's assesment, can I change only one? Will I need to change strut mounts/boots if there is a leak? How many hours estimate should this take? what is an estimate on 1strut leak to fix? 2strut? just in case!

    My appt is tomorrow afternoon so Im sorry this is so late, just found your blog today while searching info. Any answers soon would be great!
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    If one is bad, undoubtedly the other one is either already bad or not far behind the first. You replace them in pairs, front or back. Fronts usually get the most wear.

    A strut is a really heavy duty shock, with a spring around it. You could replace the whole thing, but it is typical to have someone take the strut out of the car, take the spring off the old shock, mount it back on the new one, and put it back in the car. You must also get your vehicle aligned, as they are tearing the whole suspension apart. It is dangerous and hard to take the spring off the shock, and most shops will have a spring compressor that does that for them.

    Prices will vary based on the part of the country you are in and labor costs. You can just call a couple places and they'll give you a quote over the phone. You may even find shops advertising sales on this work.

    I haven't priced this in years, so my estimates might be way off. But I would expect to pay somewhere around 75-150 for each shock unit part, and another 100-150 in labor per shock. Add 50-100 for alignment. So I would estimate about 400-700 bucks. If you are replacing the whole strut (new shock and new spring), it would be substantially more. But again, my estimate may be way off to current prices.

    You could also call an autoparts chain (Pep Boys, AutoZone, etc), and they'll give you the prices for the shocks. Some also have attached garages which can do the install as well.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,065
    I'd be wary of those muffler/brake type shops as they are known for overpricing. One name comes to mind if you don't have a local mechanic I'd consider taking it to Sears simply because they have an assortment of struts ranging from performance to economy and usually priced fair.

    As far as economy brands I'd consider Monroe and KYB and at 7 years and 81K miles I'd have both done along with the rear shocks and be done with it. Also, the strut doesn't have to leak to be worn. After changing the shocks and the struts along with an alignment I'm sure you would be impressed with the ride and handling of your car.
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