My daughter has a 05 Dodge Stratus with just over 100k miles. Shocks/Struts are all original so as expected due for replacement. This is now noticeable as she has “feathering” on the rear tires. I know that if I replace the rear struts it will need alignment and it will need new tires before next winter. So the long and the short is this – I will replace all 4 tires and shocks/struts (front/rear) before next winter but I want to be smart about the order.
Can I go ahead and replace REAR struts/tires, get an alignment, and be ok for a month or two then do the fronts? Or should I go ahead and do the whole suspension front/back FIRST before changing tires? I Just don’t want to have to pay for alignment over and over and/or wear new tires wrong. I will do all the suspension swap work myself and only have shop do tires/alignment…
I would complete one axle at a time.
Are the struts leaking? If they aren’t, why do you think they are bad? Feathering tires is an alignment issue, not worn struts but if you insist on replacing them…
The struts don’t actually have alignment adjustments built in. They are net-build from the factory so just swapping them for new ones won’t change things very much. You only set toe at each axle unless something has been bent. Change the rears first but don’t do a the 4-wheel alignment until all 4 are changed, it would be a waste of money because you’d have to have another alignment when the fronts were done. The rears won’t wear very much in the short term if the alignment is a little off.
If there are no leaking struts or broken springs and the car doesn’t bounce all over the road, I’d get new tires, an alignment and send her on her way.
If you’re planning to replace the four tires and struts it’s best to do everything all at once.
The vehicle has rear independent suspension. And because of this, there’s a provision to adjust the rear toe of the rear tires. So if you just replace the rear struts/tires and have the rear toe adjustment done, and then later replace the front struts/tires, the alignment shop is going to go back and recheck the rear toe adjustment prior to performing the front end alignment. And this is going to cost more.
When purchasing all four tires, sometimes you can find sales where when you buy three tires you get the forth one for a dollar or something along those lines. Or you get a debit card for a certain amount of dollars when purchasing all four tires. Tire Rack has such deals.
But the most important part is, the longer you run the vehicle with worn struts, the longer accelerated wear is put on other suspension/steering components.
These include ball joints, both in the front and rear, tie rod ends, stabilizer bar end links/bushings, and lateral links/control arm bushings.
So in the long run, it’s usually cheaper to do everything all at once, instead trying to piece meal the required maintenance.