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Locked struts

I took my car in for an oil change - I was then told that when they brought the car down the struts locked and now I have no shock absorbers in the front. The mechanic said this “sometimes happens” does this happen or did the do something wrong - in either case it will cost $500+ to fix.

They apparently used a chassis lift, rather than a lift that keeps the car’s weight on its tires. When struts have a lot of wear on them, full extension of the struts–such as what takes place when lifted on a chassis lift–can cause struts to be damaged.

You did not tell us how old the vehicle is, or how many miles are on the odometer, but I would suspect that your rear struts are also worn at this point. I would advise replacing both front and rear struts at the same time.

How old are the struts? Are they the originals? What are the model year and odometer reading?

the car is a 1997 Honda CRV - 109,195 miles

Anything is possible, but having been a tech for decades, I can honestly say that in spite of raising countless cars on a lift I’ve never seen, nor even heard of, struts locking due to the car being raised off the ground.

Have you tried pushing down on the top of each front corner of the vehicle to see if the suspension will move?
If the struts are truly “locked” this means that while driving home you should have felt every single crack and tiny bump in the pavement. In a nutshell, this vehicle should have beaten you to pieces on the way home.

Try bouncing the front end of the vehicle up and down first. If it bounces a bit then advise this shop (?) that you’re through with them.

I must agree,I have lifted many thousands of cars on 'chassis lifts" and never had such a problem. Watch out for Lincons with rear air ride suspensions