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

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
edited June 2015 in General
Ever had a shocking experience when pricing out placement shocks or struts for your car?

This forum was suggested by a member who will share his stories and would like to find ways of bringing down the cost of shock/strut replacement.

Another poster notes that "Shock selection at the factory produces virtually a custom shock absorber tailored for the vehicle's characteristics."


  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    I called Midas the other day (they just happened to be the first place in the yellow pages I came across) for estimate for replacing the shocks (actually they're called struts on my Corolla). Are you sitting down? Drum roll please.....over $800. That's right, that wasn't a typo. The struts were $80 each, $200+ labor for the fronts, $300+ labor for the rears, and $70 for an alignment. You should've heard me laughing at the guy on the phone. He probably thought I was nuts, but I'm not as nuts as the estimate he gave me. I guess the days of having new shocks installed on for $100 are long gone! What could possibly be so difficult as to incure over $500 worth of labor for installing struts? They can't be that difficult to install! Where do you folks take you vehicles to have new shocks (or struts) installed and who has the best prices. I've got to find some place much more reasonable than Midas!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    What you are coming up against is shop labor rates, which are going up and up due to higher operating costs and the inability to find qualified techs at low salaries. Shop rates in my area at dealerships is about $135/hr and at private shops about $100/hr.

    Some day soon you will have to look at auto repair labor as the same as hiring a custom cabinet maker or expert brick layer or tile sculpturist.
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    ....the higher operating costs, but why on earth would it take a tech 2 hours to replace front struts and 3 hours for the rears? Struts are a pretty simple, straight forward part that's basically just held in place with a bolt at each end. It seems to me it shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes per strut. If that were the case, the price wouldn't be so astronomically high.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Yoou didn't get a price for removing and reinstalling the strut assemblies, you got the price for replacing the struts. After the strut assembly is removed it has to be installed in a strut compressor and taken apart, then the springs, lower spring insulators and upper mounts transferred to the new struts, and reassembled. After that's done and the struts are re-installed, an alignment is absolutely necessary.

    And if you can find anybody who can replace struts in 15 minutes, including bringing the car in, hoisting it, removing the old struts and installing the new ones, road testing, parking the car, and processing the paperwork in 15 minutes, then please send me his phone number. I'll hire him in a blink.
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    ....there was that much involved with strut replacement, but I still can't see it taking an hour for each front, and an hour and a half to do each rear. At any rate, I really didn't start this discussion to talk about every technical aspect of replacing struts, I'm actually hoping to have people post the places they've found that have the lowest prices for having this done.
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    Am I to believe no one has had their shocks/struts replaced before?
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030 generate some interest in this topic?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think most people like forums that are marque-specific when it comes to discussing repairs unless they are really big ticket/complex components like transmissions.

    We might try changing the title of the forum, like the one on Brakes...if you'd like....

    Shifty the Host
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    ....I'm open to suggestions. Any ideas for a new title?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Um....what about this?

    Shock and Strut Replacement: Cheap, OEM, or Upgrade?
  • bottgersbottgers Member Posts: 2,030
    ....make it happen. Thanks.
  • rosebroseb Member Posts: 1

    I recently took my 1993 Volvo 850, into my regular (and to my knowledge trustworthy) shop for an oil change and inspection. I was told that I need strut mount, struts, and rear shocks replaced. Their extimated cost for this was $1,500. Does anyone know if this is within the normal cost range? I'm planning on calling another mechanic and asking for a second estimate, just to make sure.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    How many miles on this car?
  • mike120mike120 Member Posts: 2
    I have a 93 Grand Am with 120k, Looking to get a couple of more months of daily highway driving ( apx 4k) before I purchase something newer. Local shop told me front struts need to be replaced but "SHOULD" get me the next few months without breaking.
    Any advice, I obviously want to be safe, feel a bit of a scare tactic from the shop, but don't want to spend $600 for a car that is worth $1,500.
  • kjdflkjdfl Member Posts: 1
    I see that you had to replace the struts on your Corolla. I think I am about to have to go through this process also. A few months back I started hearing a noise, like something is in my trunk. While having my brakes worked on the guy said it was probably a bad strut. I have also had a problem with my car shaking. The steering wheel vibrates and it is worse at high speeds. I have all new tires, balanced, alignment, new rims- so I am pretty sure that it is not the wheels or tires. Can anyone verify if this could be from the shocks/struts? How do I know if I need the front or back replaced? Any feedback is appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    If you have more than 80K miles on the original struts, you need them anyway, ....but no, front wheel shimmy would not normally be associated with bad's probably still a wheel balance issue although sometimes a bad CV joint can cause this very thing.
  • mmmcgalmmmcgal Member Posts: 1
    Hi everyone - I'm hoping to get some honest advise regarding strut replacement...I recently bought a 95 Ford Escort wagon with about 80,000 miles on it - when I went in for an oil change, the mechanic suggested that I have the struts replaced. I asked him if it was absolutely necessary that I have this done (since it is an expensive job and I have the whole "single-mother-limited-budget" thing going on....), and he said that eventually I would want to have them replaced because it would cause excessive wear and tear on the vehicle, and the ride would be less comfortable - but that as long as the car was handling ok and not making loud noises when I went over bumps that it was not something I had to have done immediately. I recently had another oil change with a different mechanic, and during the "complimentary safety inspection" this guy also said my struts needed replacing, and continued on to give me this "life-or-death" scenerio in which there was a danger of some spring or coil associated with my strut coming undone and popping the wheel right off my car - and how that could cause a fatal accident if I happened to be on the highway when it happened....! My car has not been handling any differently since I talked with the 1st my question is this...I understand that I will eventually need to have my struts replaced, but is it really as serious as the 2nd guy is making it out to be, or is he just trying to get me to spend my money now, when in reality it could wait for a little while longer?? Thanks for the advice!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    no noise + no unusual tire wear + no squirrely handling = no problem
  • shiposhipo Member Posts: 9,148
    My normal litmus test regarding struts is "If the car don't bounce on down the road and if they ain't a leakin' oil, leave'm alone."

    Regarding the shop that gave you the life and death scenario, not only would I run from that shop as fast as I could, I'd even consider reporting them to the BBB or some other such consumer protection group.

    Best Regards,
  • 431dan431dan Member Posts: 1

    first time, be gentle. I have a 2001 Avalon XLS and it gets loose on the highway. Tires are good and I run new X-Ice in the winter. Suggestions for shocks. I've been considering the Tokico.

  • emsearsemsears Member Posts: 1
    Two nights ago I got a flat tire when driving on the highway. When I went to get the tire replaced I found out the coil spring had broken, slipped down and sliced the tire open while driving. It certainly wasn't life or death, but I could see where there is potential to cause an accident. The broken coil could also slice the brake line. There was obviously a financial incentive for the mechanic to get your business, but I don't think he was that far off and certainly did not do anything worth reporting to the BBB.

    My car is a 1997 Nissan Altima with about 167K miles on it. I haven't had the struts checked/replaced since I bought it about 6 years ago, but now clearly need to do that before I drive it much further.

    Just thought I would pass that along.

  • stan6201stan6201 Member Posts: 26
    I want to repace the shocks on my 2WD Ranger with something that will provide control and as soft as possible ride. Most of my driving is FWY and 80+ mph is not uncommon when possible. I plan on keeping the truck for 3 more years. The truck is stock.
  • sbrewittsbrewitt Member Posts: 2
    Can someone help me 'justify' or better understand why I need to replace struts?

    I own a 1997 nissan max with 146,000. it runs and performs like new. I have never replaced the struts or brakes for that matter.
    The rubber around the stuts is ripped. I have been told that it is not hurting the car to drive with some tears but that I should have them replaced. The estimate is about $1,000 for all 4.

    Thank you
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well it probably doesn't perform like new but it's hard for you to notice this difference because the struts tend to degrage slowly. Only when they totally collapse does the wear and tear become obvious. If you put new struts on, I'm sure you notice a difference---but if you don't drive hard and you aren't bouncing and thudding all over the place and your tires aren't wearing fast, well....maybe you can just milk 'em a bit longer....

    Usually 80,000 miles is a good time to replace the struts or at least think about it...that's when they start losing their edge. If you ever had to put the car through some hard work, like hauling stuff or very rough roads, as those old struts heated up you'd notice it I'm sure. They work okay right now but they have no "reserve".
  • sonixsonix Member Posts: 2
    I recently replaced my rear struts and was given a crazy price. First when Meinke said they cost $168.00 each I drove a few miles and asked at Advanced auto...after they stopped laughing they showed me the price they gave Meinke it was $64.00.

    Secondly I was told 2 hours for each side so at another shop they did it for 1 hour each side. The job was done in 1.5 hours. So in this case my bill went from ~$750.00 to ~$275.00!
  • sdk999sdk999 Member Posts: 1
    My Ford ZX2 (166k miles) needs struts all around. It's all original, which means they should have been changed about 80,000 miles ago, so I'm not questioning the need. The mechanic is afraid everything will fall apart when they're removed, and is recommending an "all-in-one type of strut. Before I spend the $850-$950 he's telling me this is going to cost, I have some questions.

    1) What is the difference between the all-in-one and the regular type strut?
    2) This is a sport model; will this type strut provide equivalent handling and support?
    3) Is the price quoted reasonable, or should I call around to more garages?
  • annammaannamma Member Posts: 1
    Mr Shiftright,
    I am shopping for front struts and mounts for my T & C 2001 LTD minivan. I am confused as to what brand I should go with.I am not shopping for price, I am shopping for simply the best in quality and if the best is worth all the price. My shop suggests that they replace with only MONROE replacement parts as their experience is best with them. I can understand the commercial interest to certain extent, but I would like an honest opinion and a kind of comparison for all the replacement brands.
    I hope to hear from you soon as I intend getting the job done in the next couple of weeks.
    Thanks in advance for your tips.
    Happy Holidays.
    Prakash :surprise:
  • oldharryoldharry Member Posts: 413
    There are as many opinions on the best struts as there are brands of struts.

    First, however, I will comment on labor.

    Many cars, especially Japanese labels, require removal of the rear seat to access the upper rear strut mounts. This is why rears are more time than front. Age of the car, if you live in a "salt" state will add time on both ends.

    I sell Monroe, KYB, and other brands that are special orderes to customer specifications. Monroe Sensa Tracs, IMO, give a good combination of ride and handling. KYB's have firmer ride in their peformance lines, and do well for the more aggressive driver. Bilsteins are high price high performace preferred by many drivers of Europian cars.

    If your car is older, and high miles, the mechanic may recommend strut mounts and bearings, rubber isolators, and boot and bumper kits with the strut job. If all these are needed, the repair cost can be scary. Depending on the car, a four strut job could runs from around $450 to several thousand dollars. When they first came out, the electrically controlled air struts on the Lincoln Continental were more than the price of a whole new Huyndai.

  • wpatterswpatters Member Posts: 54
    I have an Audi 1992 CS 100 two wheel ft wh drive. The shocks are shot. Can the shock cartridges be replaced on these struts or does the whole thing have to be replaced? Is this something a home mech. can do? I have a spring compressor that I used on a Toyota Camary a few years ago and it worked fine. I hear Audi's are a pain. If I was to take it to a shop how much would be fair to install all four? California San Francisco area.
  • gmhellmangmhellman Member Posts: 121
    My Bonnie has a leaking left front strut that needs replacement. I went to the local Pomps shop and got a quote for two front Monroe Sensa-Trac II struts, and 2 new Kelly Explorter 225 60 R16 Tires for my rear tires.......460 bucks out the door plus tax. This is an unbeleivable price. The local shops that I went to said that they couldn't even do the struts for that price. (I already had the front tires replaced with Kelly Explorers 2 years ago when my Michilens had separated their treads prematurely). I am just afraid that they are going to try to jack the price up by saying that I need new mounts and boots. The car only has 71000 miles on it. Any input would be appreciated.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    A qualified Audi repair shop charges about 4.5 hours labor + parts here in the SF Bay area (labor rates may be cheaper where you live). The fronts require strut inserts but the backs are just shocks.

    Probably the whole job, done well and professionally by people who know Audis, would be around $800.

    Given that it takes a pro 4.5 hours, you'd have to figure it would take you 8.0 hours or so, if you had the right tools. Probably doing the rear shocks would be easier for you.
  • smegmurfsmegmurf Member Posts: 2
    Hi, I have a 2003 Toyota Prius with 80,000 miles and it recently started driving a little bumpy. I live in Denver and it's been unseasonably freezing and snowy. I took it to a mechanic and he drove around with me, said I should spray hot high-powered water in it to unfreeze it and then see what happens. I went to a car wash, and the water was cold... are there really hot water sprayers at some self washes? Is there really such a thing as a frozen strut? AND he said it would be $425 to replace ONE! From what I'm reading on this forum about $1000 being high for four... I think I should see someone else!!!

    What do you think?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well 80K would not be unusual for weakening of the struts. That's about when it starts to happen on just about any car.

    As for "unfreezing" them, they should regain their normal function after driving them for a while---you don't have to defrost them, no. They should warm up on their own from road action.

    You could inspect your struts on a lift for leakage, that would be the first thing to do.
  • smegmurfsmegmurf Member Posts: 2
    How about the quote price... $425?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    That's parts and labor for two front struts?
  • annie_hannie_h Member Posts: 1
    I'm in Denver too (incredibly awful roads this winter) and my 1995 Saturn with 116,000 miles needs two new struts and strut caps. The dealer quoted me: $117.22 each for struts, $79.34 each for strut caps, 2.5 hours of labor at $98.50 and told me my car will need to be aligned ($85). So the total before tax is $724. Ouch. If I knew a really good mechanic I'd take my car there, but I don't!
  • toslattoslat Member Posts: 7
    Need to replace front shocks on my 03 4dr Accod EX V6 (left one leaked out).
    Can someone recommend a replacement part (someone suggested KYB gr-2) and a cheap mechanic in the bay area for a student like me to have their shocks replaced.
  • coderedcodered Member Posts: 43
    i have a 90 has a noise that hits at 40mph....when i trun to the right its gone....maybe a strut???? 1st fwd car not sure what to look for when thy go bad...any info would be good ...thanks
  • jimrayodenjimrayoden Member Posts: 1
    We took my wife's 1999 Lexus SC400 to the dealer to investigate a leaking shock on the right rear. The dealer recommended replaceing it and the other rear (they said it was starting to leak as well). The total for the job: $953! Wow, to say the least, this is sticker shock (pun intended). I know the dealers are expensive, but is this highway robbery, or the going rate?
  • wrench1wrench1 Member Posts: 8
    I've worked on autos/trucks for over 35 years and changed hundreds of Struts on Chrysler, VW, GM, Ford, Nissan etc. If the price sounds high, most times it is! I am NIASE certified and always got upset when customers would tell me of 'SO Called" mechanics ripping them off. I found that most vehicles with bad struts usually need the upper mount and bumper rubber changed also. I suggest that you ask around other friends to see who had honest/good service and maybe as i did, when younger, did a lot of side jobs at home for half of what the garage would charge.
  • flyinv57flyinv57 Member Posts: 1
    I have a '95 Jetta that is making a slight "clunking" sound from the left front strut area. The 'bounce' test reveals nothing but I am wondering, can I just replace the struts upper bearing plate or upper mount without having to replace an otherwise good working strut? The noise seems to come from that upper mount, Thanks
  • hodginihodgini Member Posts: 5
  • hodginihodgini Member Posts: 5
    man am i out of my element. one of my shocks broke. the bottom ring type part came disconnected from the shock itself. i'm not dumb so it looks like it's something i could take care of but when i got the nut that was holding the ring type part on off and began2try getting the ring thing off it wouldn't come? should i just force it? it doesn't seem like it would screw off cause how would u do that if the thing hadn't broken. i found a cheap replacement part but if i can't get the old one of it won't do me anygood. if somebody could give me a little advice that would b great. thanx.
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Can you confirm your situation?

    You are talking about a shock, not a strut correct? A strut is an integrated unit, comprised of a longer shock with a spring wrapped arount it.

    Assuming this is a shock, what you are saying is that the shock itself has broken into two pieces. The bottom mounting piece of the shock has had the weld broken apart from the bottom of the shock. Correct?

    Assuming correct, then there are a couple different types of bottom shock mountings that are typically seen. One is a U-shaped frame, the shock mount with rubber bushing slips between the U, and a bolt goes thru both sides of the U and the shock mount. Another typical connection seen is a bolt that is mounted on one side only with the threaded end sticking out, and the rubber bushing shock mount is put over that, followed by a big flat washer and a nut. Is it the latter that you have?

    If so, then you should be able to remove the nut and washer, and slide the rubber bushing shock mount off. Normally you would have the shock attached which you can pry on to get it off, but in your case you may have to get a big screwdriver behind the bushing to get some leverage.
  • hodginihodgini Member Posts: 5
    there is a bolt that i only have access 2 one side of. i took of the nut and the washer. now the broken of piece doesn't seem 2want 2come off. i was affraid of screwing up the threading if i forced it off, but is what your saying is that's what has 2b done? just force the thing off by any means necessay? thanx again 4 responding.
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Okay, yes, I think we understand your situation...and it needs to come off.

    Sometimes the shock mount is just a rubber bushing, sometimes it is a rubber bushing with a metal tube thru it, which slides over the bolt.

    If it is just the rubber, the rubber can get sticky and actually stick itself to the bolt....making it hard to get off. Usually what I try to do is put a pair of pliers or vise grips on the shock mount, and try to spin it on its' axis to break that sticky grip it may have.

    If you have the type with a metal tube thru it, sometimes the metal tube will deform and become hard to get off.

    Good luck
  • hodginihodgini Member Posts: 5
    the piece that is still on the bolt can be tisted either way and has rubber pieces on either side that look like they might go all the way through the thing. it definately has a rubbery feeling and sound when i twist it. so u'd go w/the big screw driver hit w/a hammer type idea?
  • kiawahkiawah Member Posts: 3,666
    Is the metal doughnut from the bottom of the shock still on the rubber, or is it off at this point?

    No I wouldn't hit with a hammer, you don't want to bend that mounting bolt, or break it off. I'd try prying it with a big screwdriver, using some frame or wheelpart as a leverage point. If that didn't work, I'd try using a small wheel puller, but not sure you would have one of those.

    For one car many years ago before I knew better, I actually burned the rubber off once with a propane torch, but that is particularly dangerous as the rubber catches on fire and burns, and then drops to the floor. Wouldn't recommend doing that.

    By the way, you're going to change out both shocks right?
  • hodginihodgini Member Posts: 5
    i was only planning on changing the one cause the other one is still attached. this is probably the part when u tell me i need2do both?? and i got it!!!! vice grips and twist 2 loosen it and then small pry bar up against some other part!!! wouldn't have been able 2do it w/out u. if u ever need something redone in your house let me know. i owe u one.
  • stec1979stec1979 Member Posts: 3
    I bought a 2 inch lift kit for my '03 wrangler last year and have yet to put it on. I seem to think that its a pretty easy task being that its only shocks and rubber coil spacers. Is this an easy task for someone with common sense or is it a big job thats just not worth the hassle and worth about 2 hours of labor fees?
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