Niagara Gazette

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October 10, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: How often should shocks and struts be changed?

Niagara Gazette — RON FROM DELAWARE: I own a 2008 Toyota Solara. How often should the struts be changed? And are struts a lifetime part?

TOM: Strut life varies with the type of vehicle, how the vehicle is driven, and the environment in which the vehicle is driven. Have the struts inspected by a qualified shop to determine if they need replacement. Struts do not last the lifetime of the car. As a matter of fact, they are considered a wearable item (an item that wears with age).

Ron asks a couple of good questions. Let’s take a look at other questions I get related to shocks and struts.

What do shocks and struts do? Shocks and struts are designed to dampen spring oscillation and keep the tire on the road surface in order to prevent choppy (cupped) wear on the tires.

How to inspect struts and shocks: The proper way to inspect a shock or strut is to lift the vehicle in the air and directly inspect the shock or strut body. Evidence of oil leakage on the body of the shock or strut indicates the need for replacement. Another way to check them is to perform a bounce test. Place your knee on the bumper and start bouncing the vehicle. Once you get it going, step away and watch how the body reacts. It should bounce half a time and settle to a stop. If it keeps bouncing, the shocks or struts are bad a need replacing.

Are struts a lifetime item? No, shock and struts are wearable items and go bad with use. Some replacement shocks or struts come with a lifetime guarantee, but I’ve never seen one continue to deliver proper service the life of a vehicle.

What is the recommended replacement interval for shocks and struts? They should be replaced every 50-70K miles OR when the shocks & struts fail a visual inspection, a bounce test, or tires show choppy wear patterns.

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