Lifespan of struts

yettibuttyettibutt Member Posts: 98
edited March 2014 in Honda
Just curious to what you think the typical lifespan of a set of struts is. I have a 94' Civic EX that I just purchased, it has 94K on it. Even though the car does not have excessive bounce or feel like the struts have blown, it does ride rough. What is the typical lifespan of a set of OEM struts? What would be a typical repair bill be to have them replaced. I could probably do this myself (I have a factory manual and am quite mechanically competant) but feel that air tools would probably be necessary to do this.


  • vidtechvidtech Member Posts: 212
    94000 miles,the struts could be they leak?give the car the bounce test,does it bounce more than twice?if not they are probably fine.i feel the springs are going to contribute to a rough ride while the struts will cause a bouncy out of control ride.overinflated tires are one thing to check too.
  • armtdmarmtdm Member Posts: 2,057
    My 92 Camry has 141,000 and struts still original and seem to handle fine, car handles better then some new ones I have driven.

    Type of driving, cornering, starts, stops etc. all contribute.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    About 5 years ago I repaired a set of front struts on a 1986 LeBaron GTS. I was repeatedly advised to not do such a dangerous and perhaps foolhardy thing. I was told that even death might result due to compressing the suspension springs and having a "slip" that could rocket parts right through one's body. This began to anger me some with its overwrought nature, and after my third estimate of $350 or so to do it "professionally," I bought the parts and read up on the do's and don'ts. I have air tools in my garage, and discovered that without them a terrible job would have become a nightmare (some humor there). All my shadetree friends now think I am a hero for having performed this arduous task. My sense of accomplishment was staggering, in view of the dangers and hard work. I do not look forward to another go at it, but might yet get motivated if the local "pro's" keep the prices up with inflation.
  • adc100adc100 Member Posts: 1,521
    Thats based on 3 cars.
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    Progressively decline from the first bump. Different people demand different levels of control.
    Shocks are speced at so many pounds [100-250] of pressure to move 1 ft per second [most shocks have less than a 8" to stroke [+- 4" when mounted under load]. The expansion resistance is usually twice the compression resistance. Pretty hard to lift up on the body [center of front bumper] with 500 pounds in a 3rd of a second smoothly. Same with pushing down except the springs are compressed so you need to exert [150 x3 x2 plus the 500 pounds for shocks...roughly 1400 pounds in 0.3 secs.
    Know any human that can do that?????????????
    The old fashion push and watch the bounce only tell you that they are way past worn out!
    Generally they are down to 50% of new firmness around 40-50,000 miles.
    Obviously a lighter car needs lighter shocks function of spring stiffness!
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    It's presumptive on my part, but I am rather sure that "McPherson" struts outlast shock absorbers by some meaningful margin-- maybe double the life. Let us hope so.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It has always been my impression that at around 80,000 miles most struts on most cars are ready for replacement, although possible still functioning marginally well. As q45 says, you can't really tell how bad yours are until you replace them and marvel at the difference. Most people wait far too long anyway.
  • hudraheadhudrahead Member Posts: 169
    Gee, it seems that every time I go to Goodyear or Firestone stores for a oil change or tire rotation they tell me my struts are shot & I probably need new brakes too ! LOL !! By their standards I guess they should be replaced about every 5,000 miles. LOL. I wonder how many "fish" they reel in a day on this rip-off ?

    hudrahead :)
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Very gradual changes do not distress us, while rapid changes impress us. How right you are.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    There's only two pieces of evidence in my book that warrant strut replacement. High miles, as I've pointed out, or leaking. Even bad noises can sometimes be corrected by replacing the cushion on top of the strut only, and "bad tire wear" may or may not be strut related, so don't fall for that one as a matter of course. Look elsewhere first for tire problems.
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    My girlfriend had a '90 Integra, that she sold at 217,000 miles. The car had the original struts, and still handled pretty well. I was quite amazed, actually. Oh, and I did the 'bounce' test - looked perfect.
  • bburton1bburton1 Member Posts: 395
    Did it once-biggest hassle is getting one of the ball joints off without destroying it-those pickle forks can wreak havoc. You will probably destroy the rubber boot which is pricey. Now when it comes to compressing the spring-be careful. Did it once with a ratchet wrench-took lots of time. Went lots faster when I used an impact wrench to tighten the compress bolts down. One got away and eeech it can do damage. Be careful not to lose the bearings the strut rides upon. Did that too.

    Yeah the franchise places can be very rapacious-some actually squirt oil on the struts-see it is leaking gotta be replaced. Another favorite is to cut the CV boots. Be careful out there-thieves abound.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'm sure the struts on that '90 Integra were pretty dead but again if you don't drive aggressively and if the strut hasn't collapsed you really don't have anything relative to compare it to. They can be even 50% efficient and still not exhibit any really horrible symptoms. If you stressed that car or loaded it up, you'd notice it.
  • dogbiscuit8888dogbiscuit8888 Member Posts: 3
    The struts on my 92 LeSabre had to be replaced at 63,000 miles. The ride was very bouncy and the tires developed flat spots from the struts being so bad. Tires were even rotated every 5,000 miles. The guys that do struts at home still have to take the car in to have a front end alignment.
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    If you don't take care of them soon enough, other components like control arms, and ball joints can wear. Experience talking.

    My experience with shocks is about 50,000 normal for shocks, and 80,000 to 100,000 on struts. Street driving only. Very little time on dirt roads.

    The bounce test on struts is really unreliable. Watch for leaking, wallowing over a bump when vehicle is heavily loaded in the back, or a lot of little visible bounces on concrete roads

    The bounce test is pretty reliable for shocks.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    The alignment question: I once placed "china marker" (crayon) alignment marks to guide me when putting the renewed struts back in the vehicle. It worked pretty well. I can't say more, because I sold the vehicle before getting it in for alignment.
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    Mr Shiftright - yes didn't drive the 90 Integra aggressively as it wasn't my car. And I am sure you are right - the struts must have been pretty dead. And yes, I didn't have anything similar to compare it to.

    But the car drove quite reasonably. I was quite surprised. I just didn't know that you can drive for so long on the same struts.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Oh, sure. If you are a kind of careful, slow driver, and you don't set up lots of severe dynamic forces, the car can sort of bounce along on the suspension quite nicely. Even at the mileage you stated, the struts would have some function left. My Benz drove just fine with the old shocks I had in it, but I noticed more and more front end dive when braking, and more and more body motion on certain roads at high speed. When I put in four new Bilsteins and a sway bar, man oh man what a difference. But you know, I could have sold that car with the old shocks and bushings, and most people would have been satisfied I think.
  • brorjacebrorjace Member Posts: 588
    My '95 Civic still has its original shocks/struts despite having over 113,000 miles on it. Most of the driving is one very smooth highways but I still think they are overdue for replacement.

    They pass the bounce test, but that's just for basic safety and I prefer my car to have much crisper handling than that.

    If I decide to keep the car and have some serious suspension work done (CV joints and/or axles) in the coming year, I'll have them replaced with high-performance units.

    Does anyone think it makes a difference whether you have a strut-type suspension versus one with A-arms (wishbones)?

    --- Bror Jace
  • al_saadallahal_saadallah Member Posts: 23
    I have a 1995 Lexus ES300 with 95K on it, do you think that i should have all my struts replaced? It seems like you can feel the bumps on the roads alot, and when you go over the concrete the tire feels like it is slipping off every bump on the road, like it slipping off the breaks in the road.
  • q45manq45man Member Posts: 416
    The easiest way to tell [since the suspension design on the newer ones hasn't changed] is to drive a demo model over the same roads for comparison.
    Do you have new [not worn out 1/2 tread or better]OEM tires at the correct psi.
    95k [7-8 years] is a long time to keep the same shocks on a car. I assume you are planning to keep the car another few years so why ride in misery!
  • al_saadallahal_saadallah Member Posts: 23
    Can i just replace the cartridges or do i need to replace the whole strut unit? is it expensive?
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    I recently bought a 92 Miata with 137k on it. All the shocks were original. The left front strut was making a nasty clunk over most bumps and the steering seemed real darty, so I ordered new front struts. The strut that was making all the racket was found to be leaking. After they were replaced, I noticed a huge difference in how the car handled. No more clunks and the steering is solid now. I didn't have the money to do the rear shocks, but even though they have high mileage, there is not a noticeable difference between how the front of the car rides and how the rear does. So, I would say, unless the car is bouncing uncontrollably, rides real rough, makes unusual clunks, or has difficulty staying str8 over bumps, then you don't need to replace the shocks. My mom's 92 Accord never had the shocks replaced in its 184k life, and it still rode nice. It was noticeably softer in dips and required some slight steering correction, but was still capable of handling quite well and providing a comfortable controlled ride.
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    For lack of a quantitative test, I had essentially decided that replacement of struts was often the only way to find out how badly the new ones were needed. I'm glad to see that I am not alone on this question.

    Bror Jace, my impression is that your Honda struts are just as difficult to evaluate as are MacPherson struts. Like you, I am faced with replacement on a 92-95 Civic. OEM struts are very expensive but apparently wear rather well. Can you suggest a brand that provides control at least as good as OEM at a lower price? Thanks.
  • brucer2brucer2 Member Posts: 157
    Since the Civic is very popular there are all sorts of performance grade struts available for them. I've used KYB GR-2 struts on a Maxima and find them to be a good OEM dampening rate replacement. At a dicount, local parts place I paid under $70 apiece for front struts. Always replace the rubber dust boots and any "rubber" pads/gaskets used in the mounts (between the top strut mount and chassis).
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    It has 125K. The racing specialty shop which carries KYB struts drove the car and said their opinion was that they could go another 30K. Other steering components are still in great shape.

    I'll probably go another 10 -- 15 on the front ones, and 20--25 on the back.

    My problem is that after changing the struts on my Mazda I know how smooth new ones feel.
  • yettibuttyettibutt Member Posts: 98
    My main question is what is a typical labor charge for installation of 4 struts. I have a 94 Civic. I think if I do replace them I will go with the nicest units I can afford, maybe the KYBs. What are your opinions on more mainstream brands like Gabriel or Monroe?
  • spokanespokane Member Posts: 514
    Thanks, Brucer2, I'll check on the KYB's.

    Yettibutt, I have had good luck with Monroe Sensatracs on large cars but, like you, would like to hear from others regarding these on the Honda Civic.
  • leomortleomort Member Posts: 453
    I have a '94 Toyota Paseo w/ 181,300 miles. This car only has strut suspension. No shocks. The car always rode rough even when new. Still have the original struts. Last year, I casual mention the struts at Pep Boys. They said struts would be expensive to replace and wouldn't soften the ride too much. The car passes the informal "two bounce" test. Like you guys opinion on this.

  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    If you elect to change 'em, I think you'll like the results. You are so high on the odometer, are you sure you will keep the rig long enough to justify the expense?
  • 87ranger287ranger2 Member Posts: 13
    I have 146,000 on the struts on my 95 Taurus. The tires are still wearing just fine, the car doesn'nt keep bouncing after driving over a dip in the road & they pass the bounce test. Who could ask for anything more?
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    I'd call the service manager of the Toyota Dealership. See how often in general Struts have to be replaced. Certainly at 180K miles you've gotten your moneys worth.

    With struts the bounce test aint worth squat. Nada. The struts have springs which can absorb the bounce all by themselves. I've seen new cars that bounced more than my Mazda did, yet the Mazda Struts were bad. All 4.

    Better tests are wallowing and most certainly leakage.

    Leomort. To me the biggest factor is the ride. When the struts were replaced on the Mazda it rode better than I have. My KYBs are softer for the normal bumps, but absorbant and firm at the same time on rough roads. I can't believe the difference a premium shock makes. The car is sporty yet comfortable. The High end Gabriels and Monroes are supposed to be good as are Bilsteins, but the only premium ones I could get were KYB. If you want to dump it at 200K certainly take the rough ride for a little longer.
  • leomortleomort Member Posts: 453
    thank you for your replies. The exspense vs how much longer I'm going to keep the car is something giving me serious debate.

    probably keep the car until Fall 2003. At which time it will have about 225K. If the car is still mechanically working, it will be relagated as a third car.

    I'll call the Toyota dealer and see what they said about how long their struts.

    What do struts usually run $$$$

  • mrdetailermrdetailer Member Posts: 1,118
    The struts cost about $80.00 apeice, installation about 200. I understand that this varies widely.

    You might want to consider replacing only the front ones. You will enjoy the comfort at a lower cost. I did mine in pairs front one year, and back ones a year later. No major problems.
  • leomortleomort Member Posts: 453

    Talk to the Toyota dealer. They don't really have a recommend mileage replacement for struts. Only when the car starts to ride rough or they start to leak. Cost per strut is around $125-135 + $90 labor to put them in.

  • yettibuttyettibutt Member Posts: 98
    Why is the labor so much on these things? I changed the shocks on my truck in front of my apartment, 4 shocks were 80 bucks at sears.
  • brucer2brucer2 Member Posts: 157
    Most shock are held on with 2 or 3 bolts/nuts and it only takes a few minutes to change one. A strut is part of the suspension (controls the wheel movement/geometry) that is made up of the "shock" and spring. You have to first take off the wheel. The simplest strut mounting is several top and bottom bolts. When it comes off there is an assembly that has to be taken apart. The spring has to be compressed (special tool) retaing nut removed and then reassembled with the new strut. Struts which use cartridges need more disassembly. Very often there are other suspension components attached (rear struts typically) and they have to be unbolted (better have air tools).
    When new struts are put in you almost always also need new dust boots and top insulator (big rubber composite washer between the strut mount and body). In almost all cases replacing the front struts changes the wheel alignment, so that has to be done. Even with air tools and a lift it can take several hours to change struts.
  • leomortleomort Member Posts: 453
    actually, I was surprise that the labor charge was only $90 for the struts. I was expecting much more.

  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    I posted in the RSX and Civic Maintenance topics, and someone suggested the problem might be a defective strut.

    Can anyone say if it sounds likely? Shifty?

    sgrd0q "Acura RSX Problems & Solutions" Mar 23, 2002 9:10am
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Sounds like brake pads, oddly enough, but of course I can't hear the 'depth' and "quality" of the sound, so I really don't know. If the spring tensioner that secured the pads is loose or fell out, this type of noise and rhythm could occur.

    I'm not sure how your car is aligned, if shims of some type are used, but these can sometimes fall out and cause a similar type of noise. As for the struts, usually they kick up a fuss louder than a click.
  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Member Posts: 398
    Thanks for the response! I guess I'll let the dealer look into this again...
  • cynthiagcynthiag Member Posts: 63
    I just traded in my 1985 Camry liftback... it had 198,000+ miles and all original struts and shocks.

    The ride and handling were still fine and it passed the bounce test. As far as I could tell, the ride was fairly equivalent to the 2002 Subaru Legacy L I test drove. (I ended up buying the Outback wagon though.)

    I last had the car fully loaded about a year ago when I moved and it did just fine with the loads, although the engine kinda groaned a bit under it.

    If the automatic transmission had held out, I'd probably have gotten to 200,000 on those struts. Or further. So there ya go...
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    cynthiag: So close to the 2 hun K! If the tranny was a goner, I suspect your trade value was more like a junk yard dropoff-- value by the pound. Enjoy the new Subaru!
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    Cynthiaq - too bad you did not keep it to break the 200K! I know firsthand those first series camrys will go way way along into 200K+. But if the tranny was really going, it would have been too expensive to justify keeping it, I am sure.

    My outback sport has 115K miles, and was just in for service where I asked them specially to inspect the struts (I am pretty sure it is struts all around on that car) and they said they were no problem, no need to do anything yet, and those struts are the originals. As for the feel, it is hard to say...I think it pretty much drives like it did when it was new, but I know since I have been driving it since new, and the process of strut decay is so slow, I would probably not notice if they were getting worse. I have not yet looked into the cost of replacing them, but I have been thinking about doing so, and figure it would cost about $800 installed to go with OEM. Sound about right?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

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