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Leaking strut?

My mechanic told me today that one of my struts on my 2006 Mazda3 (with 110k miles) is leaking and that the strut needs to be replaced. Is this something that has an impact on safety, or is it something I can stretch for a while longer? Is the strut going to break if it is leaking? Also, wouldn’t I have to replace both of them?

A leaking strut is either no longer functioning or will stop functioning soon. It is a safety and handling issue. Struts should be replaced by pairs and at 110K miles the best bet would be to do new struts and/or shocks on all 4 wheels.

If money is the issue, you can stretch this but don’t go for a track day at your local racetrack. Keep you speeds below posted limits and keep an eye on tires for uneven wear. The struts job is to keep the tire on the road, especially in corners, and when stopping on uneven pavement. Your car will not performing up to specs so don’t push it too hard until you can afford a fix.

I agree with Uncle Turbo.

I’d just mention, however, that “leaking strut” is one of those commonly heard things when shops are trying to drum up some extra business. If this is your regular mechanic with whom you have history and if it is someone you completely trust then you can probably trust it.

If not, ask someone else to do a basic check of your suspension/front end to get a second opinion. Don’t tell them anything about leaking struts - just tell them you want a basic check up.

Thanks for your quick reply. Car is running fine so far, but my mazda dealer mentioned about this leak today. He is usually fine in dealing with this kind of stuff, but always have ways to recommend or convince me to get some extra things done. I’ll definitely take a second opinion on this though.

How much do you think a basic suspension/front end check could cost? I talked to him again after posting this question and he told me that the car could easily go for 4-5K more miles, which makes me wonder if I actually need this replacement? He is quoting me close to $ 400 to change one of the struts, which is towards the higher end according to

“mazda dealer”

Say no more. If the car isn’t under warranty or in for recall service you don’t have to use a dealer. A Mazda is just a car and any good independent mechanic can deal with it.

I am especially skeptical of any place that would even imply that you could replace only one strut. That is really poor practice - just plain nuts.

Lots of shops will do a basic suspension system check as a courtesy. Get a second look from someone else.

Thanks again! Yes, I’ll take a second opinion on this for sure.
When I asked him why they don’t recommend both changes at one time, then he mentioned about this big expense could be hard on some of his customers. Plus, why would he say that the strut would be ok for 4-5K extra miles - either it is bad or just not?

Sometimes struts will show signs of leaking a very small amount, but will be OK for many more thousands of miles without replacement. Struts have a seal where the strut rod runs though and can leak minimal amounts of oil around the seal without being dangerous. My guess would be 75%+ of the cars on the road will show some signs of leakage. If the strut is very oily then it probably does need replacing, but if it’s only a slight amount there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

FordMan’s on the money. Seems like every Chevy Cobalt I work on has a damp strut, usually the right front, why, I don’t know, but the bounce factor seems OK.

So, is there I should feel in the car while driving if the strut is really bad and needs replacement asap? Or should I just get them replaced keeping in mind that the car has 110K miles and it is wear & tear? What would be a good price to replace both the front struts? Thanks a lot for your replies.

It’s OK For Struts To Weep A Little. It’s Not OK For Them To Leak.

The dust and dirt near the top of the strut (where the seal is and the rod comes out) can be damp with oil and yet the strut does not require replacement. What you don’t want is for the oil to be visibly leaking or actually dripping from the strut. That is a strut that should probably be replaced soon.

Did you have a look ? Did you compare it with the other strut(s) ?


Most likely if the struts need to be replaced when you hit a bump or dip in the road the strut will bottom out making a clunking sound or when you hit a bump or dip the car will continue to bounce instead leveling back out very quickly.

I agree with common sense answer and prior comments about it being wrong to replace 1 strut.
Struts and shocks, front or rear, are replaced in pairs. The ONLY exception to this would be if for some fluke reason a strut failed on your Mazda when it was almost new (say 5-10k miles on it) and it was a warranty issue.

At the dealer you were probably talking with a service writer. Very very few of these people are mechanics and you should never put much faith into what they tell you because quite often any advice they give is wrong. In some cases it’s flat ludicrous; such as the one who told my youngest son a few years ago that fresh automatic transmission fluid has to be driven for a couple of hundred miles to break it in. Jeez.

Car has 110 K miles on it, but is not showing anything different whenever it goes over the bumps or the corners. Suspension response still seems to be pretty good, but I don’t want it to be a road hazard if struts are too weak. I also showed it to a merchant tire shop close to my house and the service manager told me that I need to get the front struts(and rear shocks) changed without even lifting the car. Now, I am going to get one more opinion at least and see what he says.

I have Merchants shops in my area & I wouldn’t ask them to change a light bulb for me. Don’t take the car to those chain operations. You want a basic, local, “neighborhood” type mechanic.

There are a lot of people would would just say to replace shocks/struts at certain intervals. I.e. a Merchants shop would probably tell you to replace them every 60-80K miles or so just on principle. As such, they’d tell you that at 110K you’re overdue regardless of anything else (like leaking or handling…)

Note the advice above about fluid seepage. You can find plenty of cars on the road with damp struts. Seep isn’t leak.

As for the ride/handling, one of the things about shocks & struts is that they do tend to slowly degrade over time. (They don’t tend to catastrophically fail though they can). Since that is the case ride/handling can get worse very gradually so that it always feels “normal” to the car’s regular driver. Some issues you’d only notice were issues after you have new shocks/struts.

Anyway, at 110K if you were to have someone install new shocks & struts I wouldn’t say that this is getting “taken.” Its not a bad idea since new, quality replacements will ride & handle better. However, whether or not this is wise depends on the current cndition of the suspension, your budget and your long term plans for the car.

Find your best local, “neighborhood” type mechanic & use them to help you make decisions about this.

Look for a good independent shop here:

One of my cars has 517K miles on it now and has had all 4 struts replaced 2 times since new. The rear struts were just replaced in the last 5K miles for the second time. The front struts were probably replaced about 100K miles ago, but I checked them when I replaced the rears and they were still in good condition. You can tell in the handling/ noise when going over bumps and turning if they are dangerous. If you decide to replace them, I know you can get Gabriel struts at Auto Zone with a lifetime warranty so if they ever go bad again all you have to do is return the old ones for a new set free of charge. Some other manufactures may also offer lifetime warranty. I’d recommend taking the car to a local mechanic that you trust and ask him to check the condition of the front end. Don’t specifically ask them to check the struts, they will check them with the other front end components. Many years ago I was on a trip and took my car in to a chain store have the tires rotated and they tried to tell me the tie rod ends on my car were worn out. I had just checked the front end shortly before this and everything was fine. I told them not to replace them and drove the car for about another 100K miles before selling it and never did replace them. Finding a mechanic you trust it the key keeping your car maintained properly if you can’t do it yourself.

Ok, I showed my Mazda to one of the local mechanics highly recommended on the car talk from his reviews. He came, confirmed and showed me that one of the struts is slightly leaking by the amount of dust settled on it. He also told me that it is recommended but not necessary to change both the struts and the car would run fine if I just change one of the struts. So, I am in dilemma here and would like to know the experts opinion about just changing one front passenger strut. He gave me a quote of $ 245 including parts to change one of the struts and I would like to save money, but not to the expense of ride quality or any other problem in the future like uneven wear on the tire, continuous off-alignment etc.

“So, I am in dilemma here and would like to know the experts opinion about just changing one front passenger strut.”

Djvjain, They Gave It To You. Please Reread All The Previous Comments.

It’s highly recommended to change both front or both back struts at the same time. I personally would never change only one strut on either end of the car. If the other strut has weakened over the years/mileage it could cause handling/safety concerns.

You should find another mechanic because a mechanic who reccomends changing only 1 strut on a 110k miles vehicle should not be relied upon.

You should also not rely upon recommendations on a website because those are often skimpy, may be biased in some way, and may even be posted there by the mechanic’s wife. Who knows.
One mechanic near me is recommended on this site and you will have a difficult time having him repair any problem. He died in a wreck about 10 years ago.