Advice on leaking shocks

I have a 2012 VW Golf 2.5L with 50k miles. I went to a local VW specialty shop today for an oil change and was told that the rear shocks showed leaks and should be replaced. They quoted $550 for the work.

They included a couple photos, which are attached here:


Is there something I should have done ?
What’s the level of urgency ?
Is the quote reasonable (S.F. Bay Area) ?
Anything else I should be aware of ?


If the shocks are gas charged, they’ll need to be replaced soon.

Because if the oil is leaking out, the gas charge is gone.



I’m not sure if it’s gas charged or not. This was the part number they put in the quote:

They need replaced if they leak. $141 is pretty steep for a single shock. $270 labor is pretty steep to replace a couple of shocks too, but I’m not in your area. Rock auto lists a KYB rear shock for your car for a little less than $50. It doesn’t have to be a vw specialty shop to replace the shocks, if the vw shop only wants to use vw parts. You might call a couple of other shops, tell them you need the rear shocks replaced on your 2012 golf, and see what they quote.

Level of urgency is really low.

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Neither of those shocks look that bad… and I’m a retired shock absorber engineer. I wouldn’t worry until there is oil running down the tube to the lower mounting point.

Even if the gas has leaked out, the shocks will still work. Just a little less well on cobblestone roads… so slow down.


I’d only replace them if they weren’t working, not because of the leaking. Does the rear of the car bounce too much over bumps?


If there is no excessive bouncing or odd tire wear I’d let it slide for now.
For what it’s worth, when shocks/struts have been addressed at any of the service schools I’ve attended (3 VW schools on suspension) they always said in cases like you have and if there are no obvious issues then it’s nothing to worry about.

As for the price, that may be about right for your area which is one of the higher priced areas in the country.


Thanks for the replies.

FYI, the quote had the two shocks (OEM I think) at $110 each and the rest as labor (2 hours). I asked a couple other shops for quotes and got $450 and $500.

I haven’t noticed any excessive bouncing over bumps.

Is there some reason why this issue would be more common on rear shocks? I’m surprised both rear shocks show it but they didn’t mention the front shocks.

I’m also wondering if maybe I should opt for something non-oem like Bilsteins in the hope that they’re more reliable? I’ve owned this car since new and have been very gentle with it. I don’t recall ever needing to replace shocks on any prior cars, despite higher mileage and far more years of service.

RockAuto has Bilsteins at $98 each, and KYB (a good brand) at $48.

Your OE is a reliable brand… they are made by Sachs, a German brand like Bilstein, but again, not really what I’d call “leaking”

The 2 hours they quote are “book hours” but any good mechanic can swap a pair of shocks on this car in 30 minutes… 2 hours pay for a 1/2 hours work is good pay which is why they will point out even the slightest amount of wetness on the shocks as “leaking.” Our local Midas would actually squirt motor oil on the tubes and then show them to you with a look of abject horror!

As for the fronts… they are struts… built more robust because they do triple duty; They are shock absorbers, they hold your springs and they act as control arms to keep your car from tipping over. They are more expensive to replace, too, because of that.


Other than agreeing with Mustangman on his points, I might add this about Bilsteins. My view of them is not very good as twice in my life I’ve had to listen to a couple of VW owners complain (curse) about Bilsteins.

These were installed at the VW dealer where I worked on near new cars. They wanted improved handling but we told them there was no parts warranty on non VW parts installed there. They insisted so we plowed ahead.

Over the next 3 months 4 of those Bilsteins failed and a 5th was dying. The car owners had suddenly forgotten “No warranty” in spite of it being notated on the repair orders.
The failure percentage was a bit high for my tastes and I’ve always found the factory VW units work best.

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Different experiences than @ok4450 … not to discount his at all.

I replaced my OE shocks on my truck at 60k because I could not stand the floaty ride. Installed a set of Bilsteins that now have run 82k miles. I love them.

A buddy of mine worked for Bilstein near Cincinnatti and I got them at 30% off list… even better.

Maybe we got a bad batch; who knows. On one of those VWs, both rears failed, catastrophically as in ping pong ball movement, within 3 weeks.

Who was the customer mad at? Us; not Bilstein although the issue was not related to the installation. We were also very surprised that Bilsteins went south that quickly also.

To Bilsteins credit they did agree to warranty those shocks for him after some back and forth but he refused to pay labor again; so adios…let Bilstein change them out. VW dealers generally do not warranty aftermarket parts. In this case the customer was advised up front; no warranty. He was fully agreeable with that until things went south.

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Thanks for the replies.

I found this page by the manufacturer of the OEM shocks (Sachs):

which seems to confirm the advice that it’s probably nothing to be concerned with at the moment, assuming I’m not experiencing any noticeable suspension issues.


Dont let the dealer do it . A look at rock auto and it shows all rears for this vehicle is less than $50 a PIECE . Usually the rears are the easy ones and should not take more than an hour to do both so it should be less than $300 to do both .

Thanks for the feedback. This wasn’t actually a dealer quote but rather a VW specialty shop. All the independent mechanics in the area I’ve asked quote labor based on what I’m guessing is a book time of 2 hours, even though the job might be much quicker. It’s an expensive area and the labor rates are $130/hour or more.

You could buy a basic mechanics tool set for $100-$150 (harbor freight), both shocks for $100 and you’re still saving a lot of money. Plus you own the tools. Rear shocks are usually a pretty straightforward repair.

The diagnosis and price for replacement seem reasonable. I assume this is a VW dealership. If it were my car and I didn’t want to do the job myself I’d just let the dealership do it. You might could save a little by taking it to a inde shop. In any event if you decide the shocks need replacement be sure to replace both. Worn suspension systems parts are almost always recommended replaced in pairs, both the right and left together.