Struts: Brand X vs Monroe

Monroe shocks are OK. I think Bilstein, KYB and Koni are better.

Any medium quality shocks will do fine but while you’re there plan on replacing any rubber or plastic bushings (like the sway bar bushings) too.

Where does dealer ac delco strut come from? Who makes it. And you can buy identical ac delco at rock auto?

Interesting question, considering @WesternRoadtripper1 was talking about his Toyota Sienna

If the bearing is making noise, that is not part of the strut, even not part of the quick strut kits. That is the upper strut mount and the issue might be that the rubber part of the mount has separated all the way around the bearing. That will have to be replaced as the only thing holding the strut in place now is gravity and the lower control arm bolts.

No, the quick strut includes the strut, spring, and upper mount all assembled ready to go. Unbolt the old and bolt in the new and head to the alignment shop. If like mine though where the stabilizer links are also connected, buy new and cut the old ones off.

Well then I stand corrected. IIRC when quick struts first came out, I was looking at them for my 86 Tercel 4wd wagon. They did not show the upper mount in the picture. I saw a lot of bad reviews for the Monroes in a T4wd forum so I opted for the KYB cartridges and did it myself.

When I remove the bolts from the steering knuckle, both struts just fell out as the rubber had separated all the way around on both of the upper strut mounts. The car at the time was about 19 years old and had over 250k on it.

On all that I have worked on, the shaft of the strut itself is bolted to the upper mount. That’s what holds the spring on.

Well not on the terc. There was a cap that held the top of the spring in place. And that was not unique to the Tercel either. All struts of that era were that way.

You are right that the shaft goes through the upper mount and the nut holds the whole assembly together. As I recall though, there was a nut that held the cap on as for a normal strut replacement, you removed the top nut above the bearing and the two bolts on the bottom of the strut and it dropped out leaving the upper strut mount in place.

What it seemed like a lot of mechanic didn’t know was that while the springs were compressed, you had to slip a thin wrench between the coils near the top onto a pair of flats to keep the rod from turning while tightening the nut at the top of the strut rod. The cap had two flats to keep it from turning. Seen a few reassembled with the flats on the cap not lined up with the strut shaft and when through normal bouncing around while driving, the cap would suddenly line up and then things got loose.

BTW, the rubber around the rear upper mount bushing also gave way on my FIL’s Buick, but in his case, the shaft and the bushing went into the top of the trunk. That made a lot of noise. The whole independent rear suspension had to be removed to replace the rear strut mounts.

BTW this was many years ago and at the time, I took a lot of pictures and posted a how to on that forum. I don’t know if the forum even exists anymore or that it would go back 15 years so I could refresh my memory.

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All struts have a bearing of some kind if the strut is required to rotate as the steering wheel is being turned.



OK, my bad. I did find the tutorial that I did. You do have to remove the upper strut mount to get the struts out, except I didn’t because the rubber had cracked all the way around the bearing and they just dropped out.

I was wrong about the flats for a wrench, instead it was a hole in the top cap that I put a screw drive through to hold the cap for the spring while tightening the nut on top of the new strut mount. But the top cap for the spring is not part of the upper mount and that makes assembly difficult if you don’t use a screwdriver through the hole in the cap. BTW, this was not even in the FSM.

Over the years, my tutorial, which I did in several sections was combined together along with comments by other members and comment that were meant for other posts so it can be a little confusing in parts.

There is a youtube video on these struts too but they guy in the video was doing an obvious second rebuild. The struts did not originally come with cartridges and were not considered repairable, but Toyota no longer had replacements in stock so KYB made a cartridge that fit inside the original housing. Since he pulled out old cartridges, it had been done before. Also he commented about the spring cap not being aligned to the shaft but turned around and made the same mistake. When he was tightening down the nut, the cap spun about a quarter turn.

Struts in the 1970’s and 1980’s on Japanese cars had replaceable cartages. The guy in the video thought there was water in the strut housing, there should be 8 to 12 ounces of shock oil for heat transfer.

At 10 minutes in the video this guy used a locking jaw pliers on the strut shaft, I caught my young co-worked doing this last week, a guaranteed come-back.

(My internet is out all weekend thanks to dear old ATT failure. Just now using a neighbor’s wifi.)


Thanks for the heads up. From the youtube demo I watched for the same model Sienna, it’s pretty simple, and didn’t seem like what you described for your 86 Tercel. That said, I’ll be on alert, just in case it’s more complicated than I’m expecting. I have swapped struts on my '90 Caravan, that was easier since the tower bolts were completely unobstructed. The Sienna needs the cowl gutter system removed to get at the nuts, at least on driver side with air box etc.

I’ve already studied that, so it looks like no problem, but an extra few steps will add time. At least this is dry season in California, if I don’t get the gutter and wipers back in place for a few days, it won’t matter.

Not the Tercel. When I took mine apart, there was no cartridge. You can see the guts of it in my tutorial. It does not need oil added when inserting a cartridge, the cartridge was a very tight fit.

At any rate I finally looked at that video. Really the guy had the spring laying on the table pointing at him with the screw spring compressors on. Mine were always in a vice pointing at the ceiling if they gave way. I never found those compressors very satisfactory for my springs and never trusted them. Even using three of them could never get all the tension off the spring. I never would have pointed the things at my chest or head.

A1 has pretty good videos, not a hack in the garage. Plus Monroe also had their own videos accessed on the rock site. Even so, the instruction in the box did not fully match the videos, so you have to use your own judgement. Also on mine and many, the nut for the upper mount is recessed so only a socket works. To hold the shaft in place while tightening requires a special socket. Then you have to know what size or buy the whole set.

I really was surprised at the simplicity of using the loaded strut instead of the old way. So I have a couple sets of spring compressors for sale cheap. Slightly used.

Monroe is not really a high-end brand… They just advertise a lot, have a lot of fancy sounding names (Sensotrac, etc.) and sell at huge discounts to installers, so that’s why they sell a lot. Installer make a lot off them.
Koni, KYB, Bilsteins are the top of the line stuff.
Our mechanic convinced my wife to put Monroes on her Durango, and it floats all over. I hate how it handles.
I’ve got KYBs on my truck, and they ride great. Handles curves like a car, and doesn’t get jostled by potholes. I’m also very happy with the Bilstiens on our 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

If it comes down to cost, I’d get whatever is cheapest compared to Monroes…
I don’t like a bad riding or handling vehicle, so I’ve always stepped up and spent a little more on good brakes, shocks and tires. Makes driving a high mileage vehicle much more enjoyable compared to one that rides, handles and stops like crap.

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Monroe are the cheapest after market dampers I’d put on. I put HD offroad Monroes on 4WD Toyota van couple of years ago.
Worth checking Toyota dealership for genuine replacements. When I checked they were KYBs and a very good price but not in the country at the time.

KYB has a plant in Franklin, Indiana, USA. There may not have been any in inventory but the parts likely would have come from the US plant.

This was while at home in New Zealand. It was a Japanese Domestic Market van but I wouldn’t be surprised if the stock came from Indiana - the Toyota Highlander SUV we get here is manufactured in Indiana. Yes, in RHD.

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Rummaging through my library looking for my Hoffa book, I found my tqm book on total quality management. I alluded to this back in post 19 or so before I found my book again.

So if I promise to buy struts that exceed my requirements next time, can we change the subject? It really is getting old. I expect regardless that I will never need to buy new struts again but I’ll leave instruction for my heirs and some cash too.

30 years ago or so an army buddy managed an auto parts store and he sold me my first Monroe’s because they had a lifetime warranty. So I was led down the path. I should have said no no no, I want the other ones with no warranty. Stupid me but I’m learning every day.

Edit: might have been closer to 45 years ago. Time flies.