Saturday, December 16, 2017 Detailed Auto Topics
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Detailed Topics

The Vehicle Questions section, of our website, allows folks to search an archive of past problems, with short answers. Often, the answers needed are found here. If not, we invite our users to contact us for advice. This often helps to avoid very costly mistakes. The following example is typical of questions we receive.

Question: 
"While getting new tires, the salesperson told me they had difficulty aligning the vehicle because struts were going out. I feel a bit uneasy about the recommendation. They told me that it would cost roughly $### and if done within six months they would not charge again for the alignment. Is this a good deal and what should I do?"
 
Answer
 I find it unusual for a vehicle with 66,000 miles to need struts. This is more suspicious, with no symptoms of a problem. Worn struts will normally cause a bouncy ride, noise on bumps or some noticeable symptom. They do not cause difficulty in alignment, generally. The offer to wave the alignment charge also sounds very suspect. Often the cost is simply hidden, in the price. I would definitely seek a professional opinion from a trustworthy shop.

Vehicles come with struts that are often much higher quality than aftermarket replacements

They design high-quality struts to last much more than the mileage mentioned. When they fail early, it is usually due to poor quality tires, or bad strut shaft covers.

It is also important to note that the meaning of "replacing struts" can vary considerably. For example, struts come in many price and quality levels. Some are not as good when new as the originals are with 120,000 miles. The part installed, may not be as good as the one removed. Cheap struts cost a fraction of the originals and produce a substantial profit for the shops that use them.

When replacing struts, consider these factors

Are the upper strut mounts, jounce bumpers and strut shaft covers, included in the estimate? Omitting these items appears to give a lower estimate.

These items have higher failure rates than the struts themselves. Often, they produce the symptoms mistaken as bad struts. Replacement requires no additional labor, when the struts are out. Leaving worn parts will result in the job having to be done over, in a short while.





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