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Front wheel struts

Ok… so where I live (and I suspect this may be the case other other locals), cars have to pass safety check in order to get it registered, etc… I took it into local chain repair shop that mostly specializes in tires, but of course does other minor repairs. They passed my car, but the service guy told me he should not have because my front struts were leaking badly. He gave me an estimate of $1,300 to repair. In the last three years I sank a lot of money into this car on some pretty major repairs. Up till then (I bought new back when) it has done well for me. I guess I am just tired of the major repair bills and the hassles involved (without a car for sometimes up to two days). So should I just “crap” on this repair and shop around for new wheels. Two caveats of info 1) It is a 1998 and has some serious milage on it 2) I did as a few have put a $99 (refundable) deposit on a Nissan Leaf. I just wish the name was different, and then again, I hate gas stations. Suggestions?

Get some estimates from an independent shop specializing in shock/strut replacement, and the price may go down substantially. If you need a full quick strut replacement (kind of worst case), parts cost is about $225 per side. Lifetime warranted part. The rest of labor. It is possible that replacing only the struts(if all other items are OK), then the parts price goes down substantially. Without knowing what was in the $1300 estimate, the price sounds a bit high.

What is the condition of the Camry, otherwise? If good, then go for the repairs. If not, or if you really want a new car, go for the new car.

Sounds like “State Inspections” haven’t changed much…Good luck getting your “refundable” deposit back…

Sounds like you’re near the fix or sell line. How many miles does it have? If it needs front struts, it probably needs back ones, too.

to you last point first… I mean it runs fine and nothing has been so major that I had to stop on the side of the road. I religiously did (and continue to do) all the regular maintenance. It is just that I would say in the last two years I have put in about $5K of work for various reasons (all of which really needed to be done, check engine light, timing belt, etc.), or better $200/mo average. With the car being 12 year old and over a 150K miles, I am just wonder what is next and is it worth it. I have alway lived by driving what you have is always cheaper than what the sales person will sell you off the lot, but I wonder how far to take that strategy. I am also thinking gas will only go up where I am (currently $3.39/gallon).

The break down was essentially $393 for 2 F gas charged and $302 for 2 R Gas Charged struts… $544 for labor and $87 for wheel alignment. Now he said only my front struts were leaking. Could I get away with just doing the front?

Well, he actually did pass my car, so I don’t think this is so much an issue in my case, but it did happen before with a previous car that did not pass and I still had to pay. When I called the state office, I could hear them shrugging their shoulders. With some of the cars I see on the road, this is obviously an added tax.

actually I looked at the estimate again, and it is for all four struts, front and back. I have about 150K, but it is 12 years old, I looked it up and have put in about $5K into this car in the last two years (check engine light, timing belt, etc.)… gas where I am at is about $3.39/gallon and only going up. I prefer to drive cars till they short of the wheels falling off, but now I am beginning to rethink that strategy.

If all 4 are original, you’ll want to do them all. I’m about at that point on my '96, 140k. Still cheap compared to a few months of car payments. This is normal maintenance. When something big goes (engin, transmission) then it’s not worth the $$.

I see three question marks here.

  1. Two struts will most likely not fail at exactly the same time.

  2. If the car steers well, you might want to get under and look for the “bad leaks” to see for yourself.

  3. 150,000 miles to strut failure seems a little early to me unless you have been driving this car on really bad roads or if Toyota had a bad strut year.

Ask another shop to inspect your struts. Don’t give them a heads up, just ask for your struts to be inspected.

The car steers fine… we do have bad roads. I am due for some regular maintenance and may just let them check it out. I figure when they put it on the lift they should notice it and make me aware of it. To address your 1 statement, so it would be fine to just change a single strut, if only one is bad? Three years ago, I would have never given it a second thought and just replaced all four strut like a “good” and probably gullible car owner, but at this stage, I don’t know. A few people on this discussion list have talked me off the ledge and I may just go ahead, but need to hear enough to know that this probably worth it. MInd you if I were to replace it it would be to get a completely electric car like the Nissan Leaf. Of course my problem is will I be able to fit my double bass (contrabass) into this vehicle. It is already a hassle for my Toyota.

From my experience 100K will wear out the struts. Boy the shocks were so easy to change…Buy a spring clamp and do it yourself. Once you learn you’ll save lots of money ( even change your friends struts) It’s not that difficult, just takes some time. I found on the Camry front that the flare hole (which the strut shaft goes thru ) allows a bit of play with the bearing ring - it’s the lower half of the mount which I believe it is the reason for so many people having rattling sounds… then they go spend $300 on mounts. I took the curved handle end of a med/large cressant wrench and reamed The hole larger so the bearing ring doesn’t have so much play.Of course the flaring must be uniform - the best would be a large plumbob or something tapered. The sound then went away. Maybe the bearings should be in a race with a more precise ( and solid) center. Don’t let the brake caliper hang by/pull on… the brake line… Nothing ventured, nothing gained…Mike

150k is pretty good in my experience, and I drive on pretty normal roads. If you are a good mechanic, you could do it yourself, but I don’t like the risks with spring compressors.

As indicated below, strut replacement is not all that difficult. Shop for pricing and warranty. In the past, I had Sears do my struts and alignments, and they did a good job. Many times their prices were better than the local independents, based on the promotions available at the time. This is also basically a one time replacement cost in the life of the car, so it is less of a “big deal” than other repairs.

Your Camry should last 200K+ easily, with reasonable and proper maintenance. As a car gets older, more money is required to keep them up, but you can generally get your extra miles out of the car economically, as compared to a car payment. Don’t be hasty in getting the Leaf, if you have issues with your musical instrument. Make sure it fits in any car you choose.

Regarding the Leaf, would this be your only car? I can see it being one of two for a two car family, but not the only car, unless your driving needs are extremely limited, and will be for years to come.

150,000 miles is actually a LONG life for struts on a 1998 Camry. They were known for particularly bad wear on strut mounts on that generation.

I used Quickstruts on my 1998 Camry and it is a breeze to swap them if the sway bar link isn’t seized in place. It blows through mounts so often I can now easily swap the assemblies out in 45 minutes or less per side with handtools only, depending on the sway bar link.

That said, I wonder what your impression is of this general design of strut spring compressor (I’d look to get it somewhere else):

Seems like a much safer design to me - and I would never touch a normal spring compressor…

Quickstruts are great, I’d have no problem if the OP wants to install them. I’ve not used one like you posted, but it seems folks have had some problems with it.

Right - but I discount many of those complaints because it is, after all, a harbor freight tool. I’ve seen other stores selling tools of similar design for a bit more with much higher ratings. The beauty of a single action compressor like this is that you can make it impossible for the two sides of the compressor to compress unevenly or to slip relative to each other - which takes most of the danger out of the equation. Only a fancy $$$$ shop-quality compressor would be safer, it would seem.