Strut replacement cost varies by location
Like most car repairs, strut replacement cost varies by the type of strut you install as well as how many other components your replace at the same time. As a general rule of thumb, typical strut replacement cost runs about $600 to $700 per pair.
Strut replacement cost also varies by the labor rates in your area and which type of shop does the job.
Strut replacement cost at the dealer
A car dealer will use be the most expensive since their hourly labor rates are higher than a chain or independently owned repair shop. A dealer will also use genuine factory parts which cost more than aftermarket parts. On the flip side, genuine factory struts will duplicate the original ride feel better than aftermarket struts. Figure roughly $800 per pair at a dealer.
Pros: Genuine factory parts and close to factory ride
Cons: Most expensive
Strut replacement cost at an independently owned repair shop
Independently owned repair shops purchase their struts from a local auto parts supplier as they need them. So they pay a slightly higher price than the chain operated stores that buy struts in large quantities. Since the hourly labor rate at independently owned repair shops are less than the dealer, you can save about $100 to $200 on strut replacement cost by having it done at an independently owned shop.
Pros: High quality aftermarket struts and lower price than dealer
Cons: May take longer for the shop to get the parts and you may have to take the vehicle to a second shop for an alignment afterwards
Strut replacement cost at a chain operated tire/muffler/brake shop
Chain operated tire/brake/muffler shops often run promotional strut replacement sale prices to draw in new customers, so their prices often appear to be lower than other shops. The most common promotion deal is: Buy 3 struts, get the fourth for free. But the promotional price is often a bait-and-switch offer. Once in the door, the shop will add try to upsell you on a better strut or add the cost of strut mounts and alignment.
Worse yet, since company owned and franchised chain stores buy so many struts, they purchase directly from the strut manufacturers. With that kind of purchasing power, they usually buy a “look alike” strut unit that’s actually a lower quality part. The chain offers you a lifetime guarantee to make you think you’re getting a top quality part. But many times you’re getting a bottom of the barrel low quality part that will fail sooner than a high quality aftermarket part or one sold by the dealer. Here’s the catch; if the part fails, the chain will replace the strut for free, but YOU pay for the labor.
If you plan on keeping your vehicle for a long time, I recommend staying away from company owner chain repair shops.
Pros: Always on sale promotional pricing that has the appearance of saving you money. Lifetime warranty
Cons: Bait and switch pricing and lower quality parts. Lifetime warranty doesn’t include labor costs.
The strut brand is important
There are really only three strut manufacturers: Monroe, Gabriel, and KYB. They make just about all the replacement struts used by shops. However, they make different grades of struts—economy and premium. Chain operated repair shops usually buy private labeled economy struts, but they charge premium prices. They’ll offer you a lifetime warranty, but the warranty doesn’t cover labor. If you take your car to a chain operated repair shop, you’ll usually get lower quality parts for higher prices. Get it?
What’s in a strut assembly?
A strut assembly consists of the strut, coil spring, dust boot, and strut mount. There are two ways to replace struts. Both methods involve removing the old strut assembly from the vehicle. Once it’s out of the vehicle the shop can disassemble the strut from the strut mount and spring or they can install a brand new assembly that includes all new parts.
Disassembling and replacing just the strut requires more labor and that increases strut replacement cost, but the parts cost less because you’re only replacing the strut itself.
The downside to this method is that you’re reusing the old spring and mount. Those parts don’t last forever (mounts get noisy and coil springs start to sag), and if they fail before you’re due for replacement again, you’ll have to pay for the labor a second time.
Installing a complete strut assembly takes far less labor and may reduce strut replacement cost, especially recommends replacing your old own strut mounts. The complete strut assembly costs about 50% more than just the bare strut, but the labor is less.
To replace just the strut, shops charge about $175 per side for the parts and about $100/strut for labor. You replace struts in pairs; the two front struts or the two rear struts. When the job is done, the shop must perform an alignment. So the total cost runs about $600. To install new strut assemblies, plan on around $750.
What else to replace when you’re doing struts?
In many cases the shop has to disconnect one end of the stabilizer bar end links in order to remove the strut. Stabilizer bar end links are fairly inexpensive (usually less than $40 each). Ask the shop if they have to disconnect the stabilizer bar end links on your vehicle. If so, ask if they’ll cut you a better price on end link replacement since you’ve already paid for half the labor.
Struts are wear items just like tires. The strut manufacturers recommend replacement every 50,000 miles. Nobody does that. The truth is, they usually last about 80,000 miles. Here’s how to know when yours are worn out and how to buy new ones.
Is a strut a safety item or is it just for comfort?
A strut’s job is to “dampen spring rebound.” In other words, if you hit a bump, the struts prevent the tire from bouncing several times after the initial bounce. When struts wear out, the tire may bounce three or more times after hitting a bump, and that reduces your control of the vehicle and increases your stopping distance? By how much? Well, tests show that worn struts can cause your tires to spend so much time in the air bouncing that those worn struts can actually increase your stopping distance from a 60-MPH stop by as much as 12-feet. That can mean the difference between life and death. If you drive much beyond the 80,000 mile mark on your struts, you’re simply gambling with your life.
Plus, you’re causing excessive wear on your tires and your vehicle’s entire suspension system. The continued bouncing wears out ball joints, control arm bushings, and stabilizer bar end links.
©, 2016 Rick Muscoplat
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat