How to tell you need new struts

I have a 2002 Toyota Prius. Replaced the struts at 75k. Am now at 120K, and the mechanics showed me that my tires are getting “bumpy,” with undulations in the tread. I think I could feel what they were talking about – but is that how you really tell that the struts are going? Seems a little early for this to be happening, but they blame “New England roads” (eg., potholes). Am I being taken? They want $480 to replace the front struts.

Tire wear is one way but you may have tires prone to this “bumpiness”. I conclude no (or minimal) leaks no detectable ride change,an inconclusive “bounce” test,just nothing but tire wear.

About the “New England roads”, when I worked in Milwaukee it was WI roads,here in Tucson it “AZ roads” in Seattle it was “WA roads” I think you can conclude I feel the “roads” explaination is just a way mechanics were taught to sell shocks, they saw it work for another guy and the method just got passed down.

check and see if you can get aftermarket struts with a lifetime warranty, and get them installed from an independent garage. this would minimize the parts cost if you are going to have issues like this.

I was thinking the same thing. Actually, I was thinking dariavan should have gotten his first set of struts with a lifetime warranty. Monroe struts come with a lifetime warranty on the parts. If you get them, you will only have to pay for labor next time.

I am also surprised the Toyota OEM struts didn’t last longer. When we owned Toyotas, we would get nearly 100K miles before replacement was recommended. The second OEM set is considerably short of my personal experiences with Toyota struts. Generally, my replacements are Monroe lifteime warranty for all of our cars. We have had very good experiences with them.

My ex-husband handled the first strut replacement – had it done by a mechanic buddy of his in his spare time. I have no idea what quality struts the buddy installed, bug we definitely don’t have a warranty… The current mechanics say they don’t see any leaks on the current struts; their argument is that if I wait until I see leakage, the tires will have worn so badly that then I will be stuck not only replacing the struts but also replacing prematurely worn-out tires.

The mechanic is correct that if you wait until you see external leaks from the struts, you are WAY past ‘optimum performance’ and are close to ‘dangerous’.

That being said, I have never replaced a strut unless it was leaking, but I am a cheapskate who is not overly picky about handling. Besides, if you wait until they are really bad, it is really gratifying to feel the dramatic difference in how much better the car holds the road with the new struts.

Remember that out of balance tires/rims/brakes or out of round tires can cause premature failure of the struts, which in turn cause lumps and cups in tires. If you shop has the capability to spin balance the wheels on the car (rare these days) and it won’t hurt your drive train, (I don’t know on a Prius) you might want to try that and see if anything is out of balance.

Thanks for this. I had the tires balance and alignment done at the proper time, although they are due again in a few thousand miles. My tires aren’t the cheapest, but they aren’t the most expensive either, so I guess it could be any number of factors in play.

Given that winter is setting in in New England, handling becomes a bit more important to me, so I will probably just go ahead and have the struts replaced…and then also take it back to the tire place and have them take a look. The treads look fine to my untrained eye, but it might be worth having the balance done a bit earlier than needed to make sure nothing is out of whack there. I haven’t felt any unusual pulling recently.

Manilito, was this you?

Bouncing Car - Celebrity bloopers here

I’m equally surprised at the rapid wearout. We have 125,000 miles on our Nissan and it still has the original struts. Our mechanic says they don’t leak and the shocks still work fine. There is also no looseness in the steering.

Your ex may have had a poor quality strut installed.

The most readily apparent bad strut symptom for me with front wheel drive cars is wheel hop on rough pavement especially during acceleration. I always see this first and never <100,000 miles, but I’m on good roads.