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I have a 2003 honda crv, almost 80,000 miles. How do I know if my shocks need replacing?

Odds are they don’t.

If they are leaking they need replacement.

Assuming they are not leaking, there’s no reason to think the shocks on this vehicle need replacement, unless it is driven in extreme circumstances.

Do you drive off-road most of the time? Are you experiencing any handling abnormalities? If not, I’d say you should not worry about the shocks on your CR-V.

If someone is trying to sell you new shocks I’d suspect the profit motive. These days many vehicles go 150,000 to 200,000 miles on their original shocks.

I did some reasearch for another patron of this Forum. In Hawaii (mandantory vehicle safety inspection) 2 or more occilations of the carbody after a hand push will fail a vehicle.

In reality the shocks degrade over time so you don’t notice the ride change. I go by a visual defect or mileage and then there is rough road mileage and freeway mileage and there are OEM shocks and preminum shocks. It is a really tough call,I think it takes a very experienced driver with that paticular car, tire,conditions to make a shock time replacement call.

What is clear they will not last forever,they do have a limited lifespan.

150k - 200k is definitely possible however ride and handling degrade. The ride sometimes gets softer and handling gets worse but not noticeable due to the gradual decline.

I did manage 225k on original suspension on a 9 year old Civic. However around 150k I noticed a distinct roughness and lack of handling. I dumped the car as the cost of suspension replacement, timing belt and other neglected items exceeded my tolerance for ownership.

So changing them out earlier in the lifespan may make the vehicle more enjoyable and stay with an owner for a longer time.

Then again this is a CRV.

My impression is that the vehicle oscillation method of checking shocks hasn’t worked for decades. I’ve certainly never had any success with it. Maybe I’m doing it wrong.

And I have always had doubts about whether shocks that aren’t broken are a legitimate safety issue. And by broken, I do not mean a bit of seepage, I mean a broken shaft or hard rubber strut mount that has broken loose from the car. Does anyone have a link to a serious analysis by disinterested individuals that details the real dangers (if any) of driving with elderly shock absorbers?

That said, replacing shocks once or twice a decade can make for a dramatically more comfortable ride. Unfortunately, replacing MacPherson struts requires dealing with big mutha, usually rusted solid, bolts in the steering, and is not safe for the mechanic and those within range of flying pieces if the spring compressor breaks. Not a great job for the inexperienced or undertooled mechanic, and it’s therefore usually best done by professionals and is expensive.