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



  • 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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,587
    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?

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • 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: 8,054
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,587
    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.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • 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: 8,054
    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.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I agree with Kiawah and obyone. I would stay away from the muffler/brake shops. Look around/ask for a good independent shop if you can't do it yourself.

    I have used KYB's on my '92 Sentra and my wife's '94 Caravan. I replaced them myself, so only had to pay for the parts. I think $75 is around the price for a KYB shock - a bit more if you want the adjustable ones (that you probably don't need). The entire strut assembly (shock, spring, assembly) can also be bought for some vehicles for about 2.5X the cost of the shock itself. If you want to do the job yourself and you've never done a shock replacement on struts before and don't have the patience and the tools (spring compressor), the complete assembly is probably the way to go.

    For on-line prices of parts, try (no, I don't work for them).

    Kiawa's estimate for labor and alignment is probably close.

    You might want to repost this over in the Repair and Maintenance forum where many of those who turn wrenches themselves hang out.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 25,333
    I recently priced out the job for an Acura TL. I believe the civic is the same, with struts up front and shocks in the rear (shocks are way cheaper to replace).

    Prices are all over the place (usually for the exact same units). $1500 is insane. Even the ridiculous prices I got were more like $900.

    KYB is good, and probably who made the OEM. Most common to find is Monroe, which should be fine for your needs.

    Right now, Sears has easily the best prices. They are offering free install on shocks, and 1/2 price on struts (this is for Monroe sensortracks).

    probably should be in the $500-$600 range, with alignment, for you car.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • garfieldthecatgarfieldthecat Posts: 1
    edited June 2015
    The problem is that you are pricing the job at a repair shop instead of a parts shop, simple as that. Buying the parts and doing it yourself with a repair manual is going to be WAY cheaper. If you are capable of doing the work (physically and tool-wise) that is what I would recommend. But you have to be very careful because when you release the tension on those components they can really mess you up.
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    If someone has to ask about what struts are, then that is NOT a job they should attempt. Anybody who has wrenched on cars might attempt it for the first time with care. On a number of vehicles you have to get the spring back in exactly the right orientation rotation or you'll have problems.

    Just shop around, you can find many shops to do it at reasonable prices.
  • larry760larry760 Posts: 2
    2002 Toyota Camry - only 26K miles - first 6k driven by older person and hardly used-- I'm now told that the way the new tires are "cupping" after a recent alignment shows "struts" leaking --- I am getting estimates of $800 to $900. I plan on keeping car at least 5 to 10 more years.

    Q1- Does this condition sound right?
    Q2- Should I stay away from the Monroe's sold at Sears because of a cheaper price?
    Q3 - Should I go with a "lifetime" replacement guarantee by a very reputable firm .... I forgot the brand.

    Thanks Larry760
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    Since the car is 8 years old, I'd opt for the Monroe's. I've used them before and could find nothing wrong with them.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 25,333
    just brought my 2000 Acura TL in today for 4 new struts (151K on it, I think they gave their all).

    Deal kept getting better. SInce I got the quote (took a while to get the parts in), Monroe has a rebate too.

    So, 1/2 price (1 day sale) rate at Sears, and they have cheap install.

    ends up being $517 inc. tax and alignment. Then $80 back.


    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • larry760larry760 Posts: 2
    Thanks for the response. I had the car checked some place else and they felt that I didn't need the struts right now so I am putting it off for a while.
    I did go to Sears to get a price on Struts for the CAMRY and even after rebates and discounts, it will still cost $918 for the "Monroe". I guess that car just seems to cost a little more than others .... another place was talking over $1,000. Thanks again ..... really appreciated.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,587
    If the tires are actually cupping and you can see this, you probably do need struts.

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  • smashpdxsmashpdx Posts: 1
    edited April 2010
    I have a '95 Subaru Legacy LSi wagon, which I tend to push around a little bit. All things considered it handles quite well. I get good road feedback, not a particularly intolerable amount of body lean, and at 223K miles I haven't had much to complain about.

    Until recently, that is. Noticed some weirdness after I hit something nasty with the right front tire - whatever it was punched a really good-sized round hole through the sidewall. Apparently the right front strut is leaking badly. The left front is on its way to join the party. Not surprising at all given the age.

    I have two quotes, one from a shop that has a solid technical reputation for suspension and tire work, from Geos to racing vehicles, and one from a dealer I trust. For all 4 struts both quotes come in around $1350, including alignment. The specialty shop has suggested Gabriel struts. They are familiar with KYB but their experience is that their customers who get KYB and aren't into full-on sport driving come back complaining about a harsh ride. The dealer, of course, is offering OEM, with most of the cost stuffed into the parts rather than the labor.

    What would you do? OEM, Gabriel, or KYB? (GR2's in my case - no AGX available for my car). I like my ride, but I need my handling, and am not interested in turning my Subaru into a rolling waterbed, if you get my meaning.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    Have never used Gabriel's. Have AGX's on our '92 SE-R, and even put regular KYB's on our '94 van. I like a firmer ride anyway. No complaints about the KYBs. I would go with the KYBs.
  • stumpy75stumpy75 Posts: 1
    In 2005, I had Sears replace the original shocks on my truck with Monroe SensaTrac shocks. After 70,000 miles, they are now worn out. According to the Monroe Warranty, Monroe says they will warrant any worn out shock, for any reason.

    However, Sears WILL NOT warrent them unless they are leaking or broken.

    In talking with Monroe, they now acknowledge that Sears will not warrant their shocks for wearout, and they are done trying to work with them. Monroe says to try and see if any other local shop will honor the warranty, and if not, then have them replaced, and Monroe would pick up the cost of the shocks after I return the shocks to Monroe. Monroe will pay for shipping them back.

    So, if you go to Sears to buy Monroe shocks, expect a problem if you think they are worn out, but are not broken or leaking. According to Monroe, this is the ONLY retailer that they have had this problem with.
  • I went for top oxygen sensor replacement. Mechanic told it will take 45 min. He told me you can come in the evening. I said it is ok. I will wait and take it and go. He sprayed penetrating oil, took it out and put the new one in 5 min. then he asked helper to test drive this, go for 20 min test drive. Helper was back in 2 min, Mechanic shouted why you are back so soon. The helper said, why do we need that long test drive for sensor replacement and we do not need a test drive also.
    Better to buy complete struct assembly from monoroe. Its $20 more than this, but should not take more than 15 min for honest mechanic. It some one take more then he is also like my oxygen sensor replacement mechanic.

    Even all the description does not take more than 20 min. If it is 1 or 4 there is not much paper work. It will not take an hour.
  • Back in l982, I took my '78 Dodge Aspen wagon to Midas to have new brake pads installed. they called me to say the brake hoses were rotted and by the time I got out of there, the bill was 325.00...expensive for l982 since that was about my week's salary at the time. needless to say, I have never gone back to Midas since then. I have found places like Meineke much more reasonable and without the Midas mentality of trying to upsell you on stuff you don't need.
  • alchipalchip Posts: 18
    Recently, I bought new struts and shocks for our 2006 Chevy Uplander with 167,500 miles from a local parts dealer. I was shocked at the price difference in buying the parts first, then bringing them to my local mechanic versus just going to the local tire shop. The whole job to replace both front struts and the rear shocks was about $ 850. The local tire shops wanted $ 1,375. The replaced parts were original and held up well, but I'm really looking forward to using my new Monroe SensaTracs. We're trying to make it to 250,000 miles. May need to replace the sway bar next.
  • obyoneobyone Posts: 8,054
    edited June 2012
    No kidding on the wide pricing difference. I went to and found the complete replacement cost for replacing both front and rear to be around $240.00 for monroe sensatrac. - ted_year=2006

    If you have the rear air shocks, that would increase your cost by $70 to $310. Where did you buy those replacements anyway?

    And why would you need to replace the rear sway bar? Barring a catastrophic collision, the sway bar should last the life of the vehicle. Now the bushings may be another story.
  • alchipalchip Posts: 18
    The replacements were purchased at Advance Auto Parts, on-line. They had a May special (15% off) with a $ 50 off coupon later if I spend another $ 100. I believe the sway bar to be replaced next is in the front which retails for about $ 50. I've had 2 different shops tell me it's time for the sway bar to be done. I must admit, replacing these items is beyond my facilities. I just don't have the bay and tools so I have to trust that others are telling me the truth. So I go for the multi-opinion approach on whether something needs to be done. Thanks for the idea about the bushings. I'll look for that next.
  • srs_49srs_49 Posts: 1,394
    I agree with obyone about the sway bar. It's just a thick metal bar that twists slightly when the vehicle leans, and really doesn't have a wear out mechanism, short of a total failure (breakage). The bushings are another matter, and it's fairly common for them to wear (that's what the sway bar twists inside of) and have to be replaced.
  • alchipalchip Posts: 18
    Thanks again for the advice. Again, as I mention, I really have not had the pleasure of lifting our vehicle up on a hoist and checking it out myself. What would be really neat is if Edmunds could have videos by make, model and year of vehicle, along with how to do things like replace bushings. I've checked out some You Tube videos on auto repair but they are almost all not applicable to my vehicle.
  • azfarazfar Posts: 8
    I have 2004 civic with 160 k's on it. my ride is very stiff i can feel every single peeble under my tire im thinking to soften my car up. i have got checked my cars tire and suspension and theres nuthing wrong with them except that they may be worn out. now my concern is shuld i jus replace the struts or shuld i got for whole suspensions? would i be able to get some smoothness just by replacing struts ? :sick:
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