Blown Strut Symptoms – How To Diagnose A Blown Strut?August 11, 2021
So, you have been noticing how your car is jumping up and down when you hit a pothole, and the ride simply doesn’t feel right. You shouldn’t worry because you are probably experiencing some blown strut symptoms.
- What Are Struts?
- Symptoms Of A Blown Strut
- How To Replace Struts DIY?
- Blown Strut Replacement Cost
- Can I Drive With Blown Struts?
- Install A Strut Bar?
The struts or shocks as we know them, have the ability to keep the balance on the car ideal, no matter the conditions on the road.
They are taking all the hits while you are driving at those bumpy backroads. And if you are driving on the backroads and your car simply is bouncing out every time. You are definitely having some blown struts.
These struts are having a certain lifespan that they are designed to last. And when they reach this lifespan, they tend to fail and develop leaks. Even though some struts are leaking even before they reach this goal. Most struts last 60,000 miles or less. Depending on the maker some of these struts tend to go far beyond this mark.
In this article, we are going to cover everything when it comes to struts. We will learn what are they and how they work. We will also see how they tend to fail and what are the blown strut symptoms. You need to know these symptoms in order to recognize if you are having an issue. Then we will see the strut replacement cost and how to replace these struts DIY at your garage. So, let’s dive into this topic.
What Are Struts And How Do They Work?
Struts or better known as coilover shocks, their main goal is to absorb all the impacts and prevent chassis damage. And also, to increase the comfort of the passengers in the vehicle.
The struts make your car level to the ground. For example, when you hit a bump, they retract and absorb the impact of the bump. All this helps the comfort of the passengers to increase.
The struts should not be confused with shocks, shocks are usually installed in the back. While struts are supporting the weight of the front end of your car.
They are mounted on each strut tower. And they are integral parts of the suspension system.
These struts are incorporating several suspension components. These parts are the strut, the front shock absorber, and the coil spring.
At the bottom, they are attached to the steering knuckle and at the top, they are attached to the strut tower.
During their lifetime, they are exposed to a lot of stress and they tend to give up after certain miles. They are recommended to be replaced every 60,000 miles. And when they start to give up, they tend to develop blown strut symptoms. These symptoms are easy to diagnose and we are going to cover them in the next chapter in great detail.
Blown Strut Symptoms
Struts unfortunately tend to fail after years and many miles of use and abuse under harsh conditions. When they fail, they are starting to develop blown strut symptoms. These symptoms are fairly easy to distinguish and you can notice a blown strut if you know all the possible symptoms. And we are going to uncover all the blown strut symptoms right in this chapter. So, let’s begin.
- Increased Car Bounce
- Hydraulic Fluid Leaks
- Increased Body Roll
- Tire Damage
- Strut Tower Damage
- Excessive Noise
- Increased Ride Height
1. Increased Bounce And Rebound Of The Vehicle
The first and the most obvious symptom of a blown shock or blown strut are the bounce and rebound that occur on cars that have blown struts. This is most notable when these cars with malfunctioned struts are going over bumps or potholes.
They have lost their ability to absorb the hits and the rebound is much more noticeable than before. This will result in a bouncy car. If your car rebounds more than one and a half times it means that the strut is damaged and needs to be changed.
You can address this problem and replace the malfunctioned strut with a new one. Later in this article, we are going to learn how you can do this practice by using common tools at your garage.
2. Squatting when Accelerating
If you accelerate fast, you will notice how the car is squatting and the weight is transferred at the back. The car is basically lying on its back while the front wheels are high.
This is a clear blown strut symptom. The car should not squat when you accelerate by any means even though this is quite normal for some high-performance dragsters, but not for an average vehicle.
3. Diving When Stopping
Another in the blown strut symptoms list is the diving when the vehicle is coming to a stop. The nose of the vehicle pitches down to the ground. It resembles diving and that’s why it is called that way.
This is a clear symptom of the vehicle’s inability to absorb hits. A small dive is normal under heavy braking. But if your car dives all the time when you are applying the brakes this is not normal and probably one of your struts or both are pretty much due to being replaced.
4. Hydraulic Fluid Leakage
If your struts are failing, then you will probably also going to experience some hydraulic fluid leakage. The shocks have hydraulic fluid inside of them and this fluid makes them work and deliver a good driving experience.
When the seals go bad, the struts tend to leak hydraulic fluid. This leakage occurs because the seals that are holding the hydraulic fluid inside of the strut are failing.
When a seal fails the strut is leaking fluid all over the place. If you notice a red leak on some of the wheels, then you can bet that this fluid is coming from your strut assembly.
This is a dead giveaway of a blown strut. You can also inspect your struts and see if there is hydraulic fluid on them. If there is fluid on them, you know that you need new struts.
5. Increased Body Roll
Another symptom is when the car is leaning when you are catching a corner at a higher speed. And even on slow corners if the damage to the struts is excessive the car will lean on the one side and the tires will start to squeak. Just like in the movies from the 80s.
When you have blown struts the body roll is going to be immensely high and your car will basically going to be undrivable at higher speeds.
Catching a corner with these blown struts can also get you into an accident. The body roll will cause a lot of understeer and you will go straight into the ditch.
That’s why replacing the struts is a must if you want to have a good drivable vehicle that will not going to take you in trouble.
6. Excessive Tire Damage
A blown strut can also damage your tires since the car bounces a lot on potholes. Over time a small number of deformities will start to form and the tire will lose its ability to hold grip.
If you are driving your car with damaged struts for a lot of time. You will be going through tires very often. So, in order to prevent this. The best thing to do is to replace the blown struts and stop experiencing blown strut symptoms.
You may spend some money on new struts and tires, but in the long run, you will benefit from the increased comfort and also the longevity of your strut towers. And that’s something that we are going to cover next.
7. Damage To The Strut Towers
Strut towers will get damaged eventually if you are experiencing blown strut symptoms for too long and you don’t try to fix this problem.
The bounces that your car gets on every pothole and the inability of your struts to tackle these hits will make your strut towers develop some serious cracking.
This is most pronounced on cars that ran on blown struts for a long time. These strut towers if get cracks are basically trashed. And have to be replaced.
In order to get them replaced you will need a donor car in order to harvest them and weld them to your vehicle. Also, the labor that this job is going to involve will be very big, and many hours will have to be spent in order to get this thing repaired.
Overall, it may be not worth it if it’s an older car. So, replace your struts on time before they make extensive damage to your chassis.
8. Excessive Noise
Since the struts are pretty much nonexistent if they are blown it means that you will also experience some road noise more than you previously did. Yes, that’s right. More noise.
This will be most pronounced when you go over potholes or back roads. If you want to hear some rattles and cracks you can drive the car as it is. But nobody wants that, so the best is to replace your struts with new ones and drive your car with pleasure.
9. Increased Ride Height
And the last in the list of blown strut symptoms is the increased ride height. Your car will look like you have installed a lift kit on it. It will basically go two or more inches in height.
This is because the springs are applying a lot of pressure and they are going to lift your car in the air. This is most pronounced in cars that have a lighter body and overall small curb weight.
How To Replace Struts DIY?
We have covered the blown strut symptoms and now it’s time to discuss something more interesting and fulfilling for us DIY guys, and that is installing brand-new struts on your vehicle.
A brand-new set of struts will get you back that comfort that you have lost and the ability to handle corners like a champ.
We car guys do not let anyone mess up with our cars and we take the things into our hands. And by this, we mean installing brand-new struts all by ourselves.
A strut install is a DIY-friendly job and does not require some special tooling that you will need in order to replace those old struts. For this job, you will need a new pair of struts, a spring compressor, a jack, and regular wrenches. The change when you are done with this job will be incredible. So, let’s start with the tutorial.
In order to get to the struts, you first have to jack up the car and remove the wheel. This is important because there is no other way to remove a strut if you don’t remove the wheel.
After you have removed the wheel now it’s time to compress the spring. This is mandatory. If you don’t have a spring compressor, don’t try to perform this work.
Assuming that you have one, now it’s time to compress the spring.
After you have compressed the spring. Now it’s time to remove the strut from the vehicle. In order to do this, you have to unbolt the bolts on the strut tower and the bolt on the knuckle. After this, you can remove the strut assembly from the vehicle.
After you have removed the strut assembly from the vehicle now it’s time to remove the spring from the strut. Do not decompress it. Just remove it as it is.
Now, place the compressed spring into the new strut assembly and leave it compressed.
Mount the new strut assembly to the vehicle and bolt on all of the bolts and make everything nice and tight.
Now it’s time to decompress the spring and you are good to go. You can move to the other side and repeat the process.
Note: If you dont want to mess up with removing the springs you can get a whole strut assembly with the spring. In this way you will not have to mess up and removing the springs. Just plug and play. Here is a video how to replace a whole strut assembly.
Note: If you are installing aftermarket coilovers you will not gonna need a spring compressor, since these aftermarket coilovers come with the spring already attached to them.
Blown Strut Replacement Cost
Strut cost depends much on the make and model of the vehicle that you want to install the struts on. For example, if you are driving a Chevy Cruze you can expect to pay around $170 for the front struts, or $320 if you want to replace all four.
This is relatively inexpensive and that’s why it is best to replace the struts on your car with factory OEM spec struts. Make sure that they are OEM and you are going to use them for a very long time.
The labor for this job it’s probably going to cost you between $150 to $400 depending on where you take your car to. Because some places are more expensive than others. Depending on your budget you can pick the right shop that is going to do this job quickly and effectively.
Can I Drive With Blown Struts?
Yes, you can drive with blown struts. But you are sacrificing a lot of comfort and also security for running a car with blown struts.
Remember that your can will not going to handle as it used to and you will have an increased body roll while cornering. All this body roll can get you in danger because your car will not handle well.
Also, your body is going to absorb every bump there is on the road and make your ride extremely uncomfortable and bumpy. And you don’t want that. Cars should be enjoyed and you also should enjoy your car. Don’t let such a simple thing ruin your driving experience.
Temporary Fix For Bad Struts
Unfortunately, there is not a temporary fix for blown struts. The best thing to do in this situation is to avoid making high-speed cornering and also avoid bumps as much as possible.
Don’t delay the replacing process and replace the struts with time. In the end, you are going to benefit and also your car as well.
Install A Strut Bar?
Installing a strut bar is a great idea. This mod, along with aftermarket coilovers is a win-win in my opinion. You will have all the adjustability and stiffness of the ride.
Coilovers will give you the freedom to customize your suspension in any way possible. Also, the strut bar is going to make your chassis a lot stiffer and stronger. The brace will also going to make your engine look ten times better than it used to.
If you are hungry for mods, sway bars are also another cool addition to the suspension mods. We wrote an in-depth article about strut bar vs sway bar, so you can check it out
In this article, we have covered everything you need to know when it comes to struts. We learned their role in the suspension and we also learned the blown strut symptoms.
And these symptoms have included an increase in bonce of the chassis, increased body roll, hydraulic fluid leakage, and more.
Then we have shared a detailed DIY tutorial on how to replace your struts at your garage. Then we have covered the costs when it comes to replace the struts and what can you expect when you go to a shop and ask for your struts to be replaced. And finally, we answered the question can you drive with blown struts.
When you are replacing your struts is also a good idea to check your wheel bearings and spot if you have a wheel bearing noise. If you are experiencing noise and play from the wheel then its the best to replace the wheel bearings as well.