The struts on the front of your car are a vital parts of the suspension system. They are responsible for keeping the vehicle, truck, or SUV properly aligned, balanced, and driving smooth while in operation. Like any moving component, struts are made to wear out over time. By being proactive about changing your front struts as recommended by your manufacturer, you can avoid further damage to steering and suspension parts like shock absorbers, ball joints, and tie rod ends, lower wear and tear on tires, and maintain a safe-operating vehicle.
Let’s take a look at a few of the common warning symptoms of damaged or worn out struts, and some tips for having them changed by a professional mechanic.
What are the Signs of Worn out Struts?
The front struts on your vehicle, truck, and SUV are mounted to the front-end of your car. They assist in the operation of steering, braking, and accelerating. Although the top and bottom of the strut are attached to solid automotive parts that do not move, the strut itself moves up and down frequently. This continual motion eventually makes them to wear out or for internal parts of the struts to get damaged. Here are 6 common signs of worn out struts:
- Steering response gets less than stellar.If you observe that the vehicle steering is sluggish, or not as responsive to input as usual, it is typically a warning sign of damaged or worn out struts.
- Steering performance becomes stiff.This sign is different than steering response. If you turn the steering wheel from left to right and vice-versa, and observe it’s more difficult to turn the wheel, this is a symptom of a damaged strut.
- Car sways or leans during turning.Struts assist maintain the stability of the vehicle while it turns. If you observe the car is leaning on one side while it sits still or while you turn, this is often an indicator that the struts need replacement.
- Excessive bouncing when driving.When you’re driving down the road and observe the front end bouncing more frequently, particularly when you drive over a bump in the road, this could imply it’s time to change the front struts.
- Premature tire wear.When struts are wearing out, it can cause great damage to the tires. The struts are a critical parts impacting suspension alignment. If damaged, they can cause the front-end alignment to be “off” — which can make tires to wear more on the inside or outside edges.
- Poor braking performance.Struts equally help keep weight balanced throughout the car. When they wear out, they can cause more weight to shift to the front of the vehicle during braking, adding to poor braking performance.
When Should Front Struts Be Changed?
Every car is different, which makes getting an easy answer to this question hard. In fact, ask most mechanics when front struts should be changed, and you’ll likely be told every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. That is a huge gap in mileage. In all truth, the life-span of struts and supporting shocks will depend greatly on the driving conditions and patterns. Those who drive on city roads and highways frequently might notice longer-lasting struts than those living on country roads.
The best answer for this question is to follow the 3 general rules of thumb:
- Have your struts and suspension checked every 25,000 miles or when you notice premature tire wear. Most automotive mechanics suggest having the front suspension part inspected every 25,000 to 30,000 miles. Most times this proactive inspection will alert a car owner to early issues — so minor repairs don’t turn into major mechanical failure. Early tire wear is equally a warning sign of worn out suspension parts, like the front struts.
- Always change worn struts in pairs. Like brakes, front struts should always be changed in pairs. This ensures overall car-stability and that both struts are responsible for keeping the car stable. In fact, most mechanics and repair facilities will not handle a single strut replacement for liability reasons.
- Ensure to have the front-end suspension aligned after changing struts. Irrespective of what your local mechanic might tell you, anytime struts or a front-end suspension part is removed, having the suspension professionally aligned is an important step.