Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Strut replacement tips and tricks

Strut replacement tips and tricks — for DIYers

There are two ways to do a strut replacement; purchase just the strut and strut mount and reused the old spring, bump stop and dust boot or purchase a strut assembly and replace all those parts with new.

Most common strut replacement mistakes made by DIYers

Not measuring vehicle ride height before doing just a strut replacement

Springs sag over time and worn springs will wear out new struts faster as well as give you a less comfortable ride.

You’ll need to refer to a shop manual to get the ride height measurement and the exact location to measure. If your vehicle ride height is within specs, you can reuse your old springs.

Not paying attention to the orientation of the strut mount studs-to-strut tower.

Some vehicles will allow you to install the strut mount incorrectly. If the mount isn’t in the same orientation, it’ll make noise from that point on.

Reusing the old strut mount

The strut mount is designed to last as long as the strut. If you reuse it, you’ll be reusing a worn part. The strut mount contains the bearing plate with ball bearings that allows the strut to rotate during steering. Reusing an old strut mount can create a dangerous situation if the old bearings ever fail. In addition, the rubber in the strut mount may likely fail before the replacement strut wears out.

d new and old strut mount and bearing plate

Reusing the old bump stops

If you vehicle bottoms out, it’s the bump stop that prevents damage to the strut. At least check the condition of the old bump stop before you even consider reusing it. If it’s soft, worn or missing chunks, replace it with a new bump stop

strut bump stops old and new

Reusing a torn dust boot

Just about every plunge shaft on a vehicle incorporates a dust boot to prevent road grit from being forced into the seal. A brake caliper piston has a dust seal. So does the caliper slide pins. And you would never thing of replacing a rack and pinion gear and install the old tore dust boots. Yet DIYers routinely reinstall strut dust boots. Then they wonder why the strut fails early. The dust boot provides protection against grit damaging the strut piston seal. Do go through all the trouble performing a strut replacement and then skimp on cheap parts like a dust boot.

strut dust boot

Strut replacement installation tips

Tighten the strut mount fasteners with the vehicle still in the air

If you want noise and creaking, you’ll do what most other DIYers do; tighten the strut mount nuts while the vehicle is still on the jack stands. DON’T! The strut mount is designed to be tighten with the full weight of the vehicle on the mount.

Tighten the strut rod nut with a torque wrench, not an impact wrench

An impact wrench can spin the piston rod after its hit bottom. If the strut rod spins, it can damage the rod, valves, strut rod piston seal or even the upper strut mount.

Prime the strut before installingtighten strut nut

If a twin tube style strut has been lying on its side during shipping, it will have a  “dead” spot near the top of the piston travel where it takes a lot less force to stroke the piston. This is caused by the the oil and gas moving between the two chambers, making the dampening effect irregular.

If you notice a different in stroking effort, prime the unit by compressing and releasing the piston rod several times while the strut is in the upright position.

©, 2022 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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