Struts - do you replace two or four

Is it safe to replace just two struts on a car, as long as they’re on the same axle? The rear struts on my Subaru needed replacement at 200,000 km on my last car and now on this one. The front (original) struts on both cars have seemed OK - no leaks and the front end doesn’t bounce. Would I be wasting my money to replace the front struts? Is there a safety issue involved? Is it important for any reason to replace all four struts at the same time?

My thinking is that as long as struts are replaced in pairs, either the front or the back, it’s ok. It’s probably better to have all four replaced but two at a time is the norm I would say.

IU agree that it’s okay to do in pairs and commonly done that way. But if you really want to restore the handling, all four corners is the way to go. Even if the old ones are still “good”, they’ll not dampen the bumps like the new ones will.

I agree with TSMB - safe to do 2? Yes, but at 200k km you’ll notice the improvement if you do all 4. Of course, if you’re only going to keep it for a year, then save your money.

What year is this car? Are you sure it actually has 4 struts. Or are you talking about shocks/struts?

You can replace them in pairs, but I would replace all four with struts that have a lifetime warranty. This way, you won’t have to pay for the next set. Mine have a lifetime warranty on parts only, so if they ever wear out, I will only have to pay for labor.

Let me answer your question by asking a question:

Would you have a shoemaker replace just one heel on a pair of your shoes, or would you have him replace both of them at the same time?

While this is an imperfect analogy, it serves–somewhat–to illustrate my point.
If you replaced just one heel on a pair of shoes, your gait would be affected, as would your balance. In a somewhat similar fashion, replacing just 2 struts will give you uneven handling characteristics.

While replacing two struts is clearly better than not replacing any struts, replacing all four is far preferable in terms of handling and road-holding. And, since handling/roadholding is a major safety-related issue, you should give this some consideration.

Different vehicles will wear the fronts and rears differently. If you carry heavy loads in the rear a lot, you could well wear out the rears before the fronts. Every case is different.

You will get a lot of different opinions here, but the fact is that a competent mechanic with eyes/hands on your vehicle can give you the best advice for your vehicle.

I vote with the majority. Struts are normally replaced in pairs because that is the way they wear out. Fronts and rears rarely have the same life span.

That being said, at 200k miles, all four of them have their best bumps behind them.

You would notice the difference if you put good quality struts on all the way around, but if you are like most of us, you probably have more pressing places to spend that money.

I liked the analogy. A lot. Enough to hope to remember it for future occasions.

Nice work.

Thanks, MB.

I don’t call it unsafe to just replace one strut, much less when thinking about 2 or 4. This is what the Dealer would do if some issue called for replacing just one (like a dent from an accident).

Now on a higher mileage car and as a maintiance item it is just not getting your moneys worth to just replace one strut, but it is not unsafe.

"Unsafe’ is so subjective,some whould say driving by your ex’s house is unsafe, and I guess at times it could be.

It’s always better to change struts in pairs,not just one. I have an 1994 Oldsmoble Cutlass Supreme S and after my inspeaction was told that ALL 4 struts had to be replaced.The back was done over 6-9 years ago,but the fronts were never changed when I brought it back in 2003,so were they right?