Strut/Shock Issue Honda Civic

Can anyone shed some light on this issue please. I have my mom’s 2002 Civic EX with original miles at 13,050. That is not a typo. I now have to have the front combination strut/shock absorber replaced which is rather expensive. Reason is that apparently the seal was degraded by the abrasiveness of the dust that accumulated on the shaft and created a leak of fluid. The steering wheel shook every time the right front tire went over a bump in the road. Is this a common occurrence for these cars? Am I to expect to have to replace the other front strut? Remember, this car has only 13K mikes on it.

I have an '03 Civic EX. I had a front strut replaced under warranty when the car was fairly new. It was making a clunking noise. The mileage was about 10,000 at that time, Summer of '03. Now has 82K miles and no other problems since then.

It sounds like the reason for your strut failing and mine are very different. My car was driven a lot the first year. Your car has been driven very little ever, only 2,000 miles a year. Do you drive the car on dirt roads, or live in an especially “dusty” area?

Dirt sitting on metal can attract and hold moisture. The moisture can create "pits"in the metal. If the strut’s shaft is pitted it will chew up the rubber seal quickly and kill the strut. Pitted metal is like sand paper rubbing on the rubber seal as the strut moves up and down.

If one is gone, others are likely to fail if “pitting” due to dirt is really the cause. If the other struts seem OK have the shop clean and wipe the dirt off the strut shafts with WD 40 or some other cleaner. Maybe they will last a while considering the low number of miles the car is driven.

If you don’t trust the diagnosis, perhaps you should get a second opinion. After seven years this type of thing doesn’t shock me, especially if the car was stored outside. If it was parked in a garage, a second opinion is definitely in order.

Thanks all for your replies. I have only been driving this car for 4 weeks. It is my mother’s car. Never any driving on dirt roads I can assure you on that issue. The car has always been parked outside, never garaged. My mechanic said there was a dirt, dust.etc on the shaft probably from just driving on the roads here in south Florida which seems to verify Uncle Turbo’s response. My apprehension is what’s going to happen next, if anything.

Can you tell that the one strut has failed, while the other is good? Do a bounce test on each fender, see if the bad side bounces with much less control.

The bad side bounces and I get a bad shake in the steering wheel every time I go over some bump in the road. Does not happen on the fron left side, only the right front which is the problem strut.

Have the strut replaced. Don’t worry about the other strut(s) unless they go bad. If the seal leaks you have to replace the strut, regardless of the mileage. If there is sand where your mother lives I can see this happening quite easily.

Then I’d just replace the problem strut, as long as you get a matching (original equipment) part. If you can’t, then I’d replace both. As for ‘what’s going to happen next’, it could be the other strut failing, but this is a 7-year-old car, things like this happen. Save up some money for a repair fund, accept it as part of the cost of owning a used car.

Thanks for all replies. I am going to replace that strut and be done with it.

Parked outside in South Florida. Here are some clues. If this is near the ocean you have salt mist in the air, and sand on the roads.

Likely that you got sandy, salty, grit on the strut shaft which caused the problem. You probably drive the car faster than mom did and therefore the strut is moving more, compressing more. That will drive some of the dirty grit into the seal. The other struts may go too. Clean the shafts of the other struts and keep driving if they fail you know the symptoms.

Those of us who own motorcycles know to keep the front fork tubes clean so as to not blow out the seals on the forks. This is same situation you are facing in a different application. Cleaning the fork shafts on a motorcycle is easy, they are right there. Not so on a car.

On another topic, meaning spending more money. The tires on the car have lots of tread, but are old. They are due for replacement due to age, not milaage. You should replace the tires. They will not have the traction that a new set of tires will have.

I think I would replace both struts. Unless things have changed, even new replacement OEM struts are not the same as the original equipment struts. Them make the replacement struts a little tighter to help make up for looseness in the other suspension parts. For comfort and for safety sake I would want them matched, which they will not be no matter what unless you replace the pair.

If the abrasive dust theory is correct, the other strut is going to have had the same excessive wear and it will be due for replacement anyway.

Since struts wear and get old, you likely will end up replacing the second strut anyway sooner than you might be thinking.

With that kind of low mileage, you should watch your tyres as well. Look for cracks on the sidewalls. Tyres wear out and they also get old. You may need to replace them even when they have plenty of tread left. Old tyres tend to have less traction and when they get cracks on the sidewall (as opposed to the tread) they are more likely to blowout.

Since your saying this is expensive…I take it…it’s NOT under warranty.

Who did the replacement last time??? Dealer??? Did they give you a warranty???

If not…DO NOT go back to where it was done last time. Find a good reputable mechanic and have them replace it for you. I don’t know of anyone who DOESN’T offer a life-time warranty on Shocks/Struts.

You got a great little car; so I would keep it that way by investing in TWO new struts and enjoy may happy years of ownership. Replacing only one will make the car behave unbalanced.

Isn’t the lifetime warranty just on parts? So you still have to pay the labor charges involved where the part is a smaller portion of the cost + the usual alignment required.

I don’t know I have never replaced a strut but have needed to and usually dump the vehicle at that point.