The struts are essential parts of most modern independent suspension, front-wheel-drive vehicles, and some of the rear-wheel-drive ones. Therefore, you should know at least what are struts in a car actually are and what they serve. Let’s take a closer look at these crucial parts of the vehicle.
Where are the struts positioned?
In each vehicle, both front and back struts are placed to the top of the chassis. They come through it down and provide a spot for attaching the coil spring. Without them, it will be impossible for you to uphold the height and stability of the vehicle.
What are struts in a Car exactly?
The struts are components of the suspension system, which connect the wheels to the body of the car. Together with other parts of the system, they provide three primary purposes necessary for the regular functioning of your vehicle:
- Support the car
- Allow the absorption of impacts from road irregularities, including potholes and bumps
- Help you to turn the car when needed
However, keep in mind that not all cars have struts. In some cases, the ones are using only one pair of these parts on the front wheels. On the other hand, the design of the suspension system in some cars uses separate spring and shock absorbers. There is a difference between these two parts.
If you have a car with built-in shocks, you will get a possibility of better handling. The other components allow holding the full weight of the vehicle.
If your car has struts, they will be a part of both the suspension and the steering system since they are a base the wheels pivot around. They affect the handling and comfort of riding, but will also help you to have full control over the vehicle.
Additionally, struts have an impact on braking, wheel alignment, steering, and wear on the tires. Keep in mind that they are highly velocity-sensitive and allow increasing or decreasing the amount of resistance depending on the speed of the suspension moves.
What does strut consist of?
Struts are a combination of two primary parts:
- Coil spring – It helps in supporting the weight of your car and absorbing large bumps during the driving.
- Shock absorber – It can be positioned above, right down the middle, or below the coil spring. Its main functions are to dampen the vibrations the vehicle suffers while driving and help in supporting its weight.
Basically, this piece will limit the bounce and oscillation of your car while you are on the road. Because of its specific weight-bearing design, struts are always stronger than standard shock absorbers.
How to maintain your struts?
Don’t forget that you need to go to a mechanic to get the struts inspected from time to time. It is crucial to notice the existence of any damages or potential leakage.
For example, depending on the climate in the region where you live, you may face the problem with rust affecting these parts of your car negatively. Damaged or rusty dampers can’t perform their primary function and can pose a potential hazard while driving.
Replacing the struts after every 50,000 miles (80,500 km) is recommended. However, if you regularly drive your vehicle with heavy loads, you should consider replacing them sooner.
In general, you can drive with worn and bad struts, but you need to be highly cautious, especially if you drive on bad and bumpy roads. Here is some useful advice when you find yourself in such a situation:
- Drive your car slowly and accelerate carefully without a rush
- Since worn struts cause the rising of the rear end of the vehicle when braking, never brake sharply to avoid turning the vehicle over
- Try to avoid driving on bad side roads
- Avoid significant potholes and bumps on the road to make the ride at least tolerable if it can’t be comfortable already
Why clunking and knocking noises under your car mean?
There are a few reasons that cause a clunking or knocking sound coming from the front wheel on the driver’s side. It is probably connected to an issue with the brakes, suspension, steering, or loose pads.
Usually, that noise is the result of worn supporting components, including tie rods, sway, or control arms, as well as bushings or inner shock absorber inside the struts.
On the other hand, when you hear clunking noise even though your struts are new, the probable cause is a poor mounting. In such a case, your mechanic should check the components connecting the shocks and struts to the car body.
Signs of worn out or bad struts
If you assume it is time to replace the struts or shocks in your vehicle, you should check for the occurrence of the following signs:
- Mileage limit after which it is necessary to replace these parts
- If your ride has become bumpy
- When problems with steering and braking occur
- When you notice fluid leaks
- In a situation when tire tread wear unusually fast or inadequately
- In a case when you feel noticeable wheel wobble, tire shaking or drifting of the car when braking hard
- When strong vibration appears after hitting bumps in the road
- If you notice swaying or rocking of the car body when turning or when the strong crosswind blows
How much does strut replacement cost?
Keep in mind that you always need to change struts and shock absorbers in pairs. Struts usually cost from $700 to $750 for a set, including the installation. Typically, the mechanic needs about two to three hours for a replacement.
Can you change struts by yourself?
If you are skillful enough, you can also change struts by yourself. Since you can buy a complete strut assembly nowadays, there is no need for eliminating, mounting, and disassembling of struts and spring. You will need approximately two hours to replace the front struts in your car after purchasing these assemblies.
The struts allow the car body to remain level while the suspension comes up and down over the bumps. When struts are new, they will help you in braking control and handling the car. Consequently, the stopping distance will be shorter, which may save your life on the highway.