Replacing suspension:what parts do I need?

While driving over bumps my front end makes horrible rattling sounds. The car also bounces somewhat wildly when i push down while it’s parked. I figure its time to replace the suspension as it’s got 125k miles on it. My question is exactly what parts do i need to buy? I am going to do both the front and back. I see names of parts thrown around all over. bushings, struts, springs, bearings etc… so what parts do i need to buy?

1997 pontiac sunfire 2.4L coupe

Are you going to do all of the work yourself? The bouncing is likely struts and/or shocks; the rattling could be sway bar end links, ball joints, tie rods or ends, etc, etc.

I hesitate to advise you on this because a laundry list like this is going to get very expensive even for a DIYer and sounds like a scorched Earth policy at the auto parts store…

The suspension needs to be INSPECTED to determine what is worn and needs to be replaced. If you want to have a totally frustrated weekend, you can blindly replace everything. Or, you can get the wheels up and check the soundness of the tie rod ends, ball joints, bushings, and struts. The struts have already failed the bounce test, so you know those are bad. Time to check the rest.

If you have to ask have a pro do it. Your life could depend on it.

I agree with Texases. If you have to ask what’s needed, you don’t want to try compressing struts yourself. It can be quite dangerous.

I’ve told this story before…but a co-worker came to word one Monday with a couple of black eyes. He was trying to replace the front struts on his car himself. The compression tool he rented let go…and the spring when flying and hit the wall that was 4’ away from him…then bounced into his face. If it hit him directly in his head…he’d probably wouldn’t be here today.

I won’t do struts. Everything else with suspension I’ve done over the years…But NOT struts.

Wow. Your buddy off easy, Mike. Those hook type tools scare me too.

To avoid compressing the springs and also fiddling with mounts and other stuff that might or might not need replacement, one could use quickstruts. But I also agree that the OP needs to jack the car up and see where the noise is coming from.

I’d agree. A general overhaul to me would be ball joints, outer tie rod ends, struts, strut mounts, and probably sway bar links. Of course as long as everything is apart, bearings? Brakes? Gets pretty expensive just as preventive maintenance, but you only have to do one alignment.

I’m not sure if I would do the strut springs again. I use two sets of those compressors and still don’t like it. Plus, the winding on the spring seemed to be just in the wrong place to get spring compressed enough to get the nut back on again. The full loaded struts are tempting, but a little expensive and not available for everything yet. Still I’ve never paid anyone to do it before so faced with the cost, maybe I’d just take the strut to the machine shop to replace the spring. Might just trade cars instead if it comes to that.

Have it checked to see what exactly is needed. If it is suspension parts then keep in mind your car is a 97 w/125000 miles.
Call your local salvage yard and see if they have a knee assembly. Strut, knuckle, hub. It will bolt right in and no need to compress the spring. You will have to get an alignment.

The compression tool he rented let go…and the spring when flying and hit the wall that was 4’ away from him…then bounced into his face. If it hit him directly in his head…he’d probably wouldn’t be here today. - See more at:

Holy crap. I guarantee he didn’t have the thing hooked on correctly.

Probably not. But they are just dangerous. There are GOOD compression tools that you can buy…but they are expensive. And NOT worth the cost for someone like me who changes a set of shocks/struts once every 5-8 years.

@UsedEconobox2UsedBMW, not necessarily. Those hooks really aren’t all that reliable because of the pitch of the coil: You have to tighten them exactly the same way so the coil stays relatively straight - that’s a fiddly job to begin with. They can slip and then they let go. I’ve done a fair bit of struts and always felt uneasy doing them this way.
When I had a chance to buy a real Branick compressor on craigslist, I jumped in it.

I had the same problem…had terrible clunking going over bumps…front and rear…after researching online I found and purchased rear econmy style quickstruts…brand name… total came to $150 for both…i paid my mechanic $100 to install although i believe i could have done it myself…theres a video on youtube where the guy removes the old and installs the new one in literally 5 mins! no spring compression needed bc the strut comes in one assembled piece…they have worked perfectly so far been driving on them for 2 weeks and the rear end is totally quiet over bumps…now im just waiting till i have the $ so i can order the fronts and ill probably try to do those myself…if you do all the work yourself your looking at around $300 for all 4 struts which is a steal compared to taking it to a garage…i was quoted $750…quick struts are the way to go

I had the tire shop inspect my system at time of rotation… Shocks & struts were all that were needed-- so a couple of quick struts did the job.

Shop around on-line. I bought mine at a local parts shop and later found exact same one for half the price online.

If you do keep the springs & just do the struts I would suggest new mounts. A local shop may be able to compress & assemble the pair fairly cheap (e.g., $40) in order to avoid a few potential black eyes (holy buckets!)!

Remember to get an alignment immediately after.

@meaneyedcatz; You think mu Quickstrut suggestion is off topic and your solution is a junkyard assembly?

On parts that are labor intensive, I have always tried to stay away from the salvage parts.