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Front struts replacement--help!

Hi, I was told by my dealer yesterday during a 60,000 mile tune up that the right front strut is leaking and needs to be replaced “sometime soon.” I’ve been calling around this morning to compare prices on this job, and have gotten rather muddled due to conflicting advice. Any opinions out there as to the following would be SO appreciated!



1)Do I need to replace both front struts, if only one is leaking?

2)Is an alignment necessary after replacing the strut(s)?

3)Are Napa parts okay, or should I stick with Honda parts?



Thanks so much!

cbieman

  1. Struts should always be replaced in pairs, front or rear. If one front strut is leaking you need two new front struts.

  2. In my opinion you should always have the wheel alignment checked after any suspension work is done.

  3. You can use Honda parts or NAPA. It shouldn’t make any difference.

Thanks–the dealer said I only need to replace the bad one, but that doesn’t quite sound right to me. Also, one of the shops I talked to doesn’t have the equipment to align the front. Don’t know if that’s a strike against them right there or not.

mcparadise is correct…

Only thing I’ll add…There are a lot of other shock companies out there…KYB, Koni, Monroe all make struts for your vehicle.

If they can’t do an alignment, then I’d look elsewhere, no reason to make this a multi-stop big deal. And yes, you have to have the front alignment done, replacing struts requires taking the front suspension apart, it has to be re-aligned.

Struts Leaking At 60,000 Miles Is Unusual. A Certain Amount Of “Seepage” (dampness) Is Normal, Leakage (wet, dripping), Is Not.

The seals need a bit of seepage in order to work properly.

You would think that a dealer technician would know what is normal and what is not. I would be tempted to keep an eye on it and have it checked again at the next service. The technician did say, “sometime soon.”

I’m not saying that the technician is incompetent or dishonest, but it may not be an urgent situation. Ideally, you’d want perfect struts on your car and they’d like to sell parts and labor.

I’d ask to be shown other struts on your car and on other vehicles in their shop and have them enlighten you as to what they’re looking at.

An alignment would be necessary and at 60,000 miles should be considered anyway.

CSA

Get a few quotes and opinions on needing actual replacement including independent shops.

Aftermarket is fine, realize one of the aftermarket parts makers makes the struts that are branded Honda.

Alignment is required.

Pair should be replaced.

The dealer I see always recommends things that my independents says wait and see.

I disagree that dampers should always be replaced in pairs. If one has failed prematurely, it can be replaced alone as long as the replacement is the same as what is in the car. It used to be that shocks wore out pretty quickly. Now that can last in the hundreds of thousands of miles. If an alignment is necessary after strut installation, I would probably do both since it adds a lot to the cost. If not, I probably would only do one.

At 60k miles, I’d do both. At 10k, one would be fine.

I agree that both do not need to be replaced; just do the bad one. There is no critical need for both struts to operate identically to avoid some kind of imagined handling imbalance that will make the vehicle steer or handle oddly. It is safe to say that there are vehicles running around that have one partially failed shock or strut and the owner does not know it.

Your struts operate independently as when you almost always hit a bump on one side of the car and not the other, no undue handling sensation is felt. Do you feel unsafe when one tire is low? The vehicle might pull to one side but is otherwise predictable.

I’m going to agree with Texases. The idea that both struts MUST be replaced is probably wrong. But at 60,000 miles, I’d consider replacing both if I could afford it because the age mismatch will probably affect handling a bit. And we are talking about front struts. Rear struts shouldn’t affect handling as much and probably don’t need to be replaced in pairs ever.

I think the correct answer on alignment is “maybe”. On many vehicles, strut replacement is just a matter of removing a dozen nuts (which may take hours on bad days), compressing a spring, then putting everything back together with no real play in any of the joins. I’m pretty sure that alignment won’t be significantly altered with that set up. But I’ve seen at least one vehicle where the bottom strut bracket hole was a slot and camber was adjusted by moving the bottom of the strut in and out. That one would need alignment.

I got struts replaced in for front pair and monroe struts costed around $150 for both. Labor costed $100 (from craiglist). Guys were hardworking, finished the job in 1.5 hrs. Wheel alignment still pending. will get it done today.

Mcparadise is correct with the proper repair being both sides. Doing one side only would be the equivalent of replacing worn brakes on one side and leaving the other side in place because they’re still good. It should not happen.
Don’t read too much into the fact that a shop does not have an alignment rack.
Alignment racks are expensive, space consuming, and it takes a lot of alignments to pay for that rack and maintain it. The business model may not justify having that rack in place.

You can always have the struts done by one facility and ferry it to another for an alignment; within reasonable driving distance of course.
There’s a difference between leakage and weepage in my opinion. Leakage denotes wet oil and weepage denotes a slight oil stained dirt blotch. The latter is not terribly critical but should be monitored ever so often.

In this case, I’d do the bounce test on both sides of the front of the car. If both sides feel the same and stop the bouncing the same; then I’d just keep an eye on things for a few thousand miles. If the “leaking” strut is still doing its job then leave it alone for now.

If the OP were to change just one strut, it would have to be with the Honda part. That is the best way to get both shocks working with same or similar damping effects. The NAPA strut or any other strut might be mismatched meaning either more or less dampening. Mismatched strut dampening would cause handling issues in emergency situations.

Therefore, if a new strut is needed now. The OP could get one Honda strut from the dealer, or a pair of struts from anywhere else they choose. After any new strut(s) the front end should be aligned. Theoretically a new strut shouldn’t affect alignment. But, in the process of getting the old one out and the new one installed the alignment can be affected and therefore should be reset correctly after the work is done.

If the dealer price for one strut is equal to or more than a 2 strut replacement somewhere else, I’d get both done meaning the dealer won’t get the business.