How To Tell If Struts Are Bad On Your Car?

In a car with a strut suspension, the struts are the shock absorbers of the car. In a vehicle that uses a shock suspension, shocks are used to dampen the vibrations and keep a smooth ride.

In this type of suspension, struts replace the shock absorbs, controlling the bouncing amount in your car and preventing sudden stops from jerking your vehicle. Although shocks are standard, when looking at the average cost to replace shocks and struts, you might find that more car owners choose struts, as they are cheaper to add to your vehicle.

Follow the below symptoms to know how to tell if struts are bad.

How Do Shocks And Struts work?

Shocks and struts help stabilize your vehicle’s movements, enhancing control when you turn, brake, accelerate or encounter uneven road surfaces. Today’s vehicles use shocks, struts, or a combination of the two.

The basic difference is that a shock is an independent component, while the strut combines the shock and other features in a single structural unit. Both help to stabilize the vehicle and keep the tires in contact with the pavement. Without shocks, your vehicle would bounce down the road.

Driving on rough or unpaved roads, towing a trailer, or carrying heavy loads, can shorten their functional life. With heavy use, you could be looking to replace them at 40,000 or 50,000 miles or sooner. Under normal conditions, 75,000 to 90,000 miles might be reasonable.

How To Tell If Struts Are Bad Of Your Car?

Below there are some symptoms from where you can know how to tell if struts are bad.

1. Sounds

One big indicator of bad struts is noise. Usually, you’ll hear banging or clunking types of noises when you’re driving over any sort of obstacle in the road. Creaking sounds when turning the steering wheel which occurs when the strut mount has gone bad.

2. Bouncing

When the struts are stuck, loose, or damaged your vehicle will bounce excessively. This will affect the tires the most which will result in an uncomfortable ride even when driving in normal road conditions. When driving through uneven roads the bouncing will be more severe. This calls for an urgent struts replacement. This is the way you will going to know how to tell if struts are bad.

3. Diving And Squatting

Since struts keep the vehicle stable if they were to go bad the front end of the vehicle would start to dive and the rear would squat. This happens while accelerating and braking. The rear end will squat during acceleration whereas the front end dives when you apply the brakes.

4. Tire Wear

While tire wear is normal with every vehicle, uneven tire wear is a big no-no. This happens when your struts are worn out and thus they can keep your tires on the road as well as they used to.

5. Performance

The ability to control your vehicle is reduced as well as your vehicle’s braking performance when the struts have been worn out. This usually results in a notchy steering wheel. This leads to reduced performance both when handling your vehicle and when braking.

6. Ride

The overall ride will become less enjoyable as the struts provide less support for your vehicle. This will result in a rough ride even when driving on a perfectly fine road.

The struts can wear out to the point where your vehicle bottoms out which is what happens when the spring has reached the end of its lifespan.

7. Body Roll

Similar to your vehicle squatting and diving, body roll occurs when cornering. If the struts have just started to go bad and it makes your vehicle lean when turning. Even if you’re taking a slight turn you’ll notice your vehicle lean.

8. Vibration

Something that you’ll feel on the steering wheel is vibration. Vibrations are a strong indicator of a serious issue with your struts. Usually, your steering wheel will vibrate when driving on an uneven road but if the vibrations continue even after you’re past the uneven area it is usually a sign of concern.

These vibrations can cause handling issues when traveling at higher speeds making your vehicle completely unsafe.

9. Affected Braking

The brakes can also get affected by a faulty strut or struts. A worn-out strut can easily increase braking distance up to 20%. A delay in braking or longer stopping distances is easily going to bring you one step closer to an accident. When you experience this immediately visit the nearest mechanic.

How Long Can You Drive With Bad Struts?

In theory, you can continue to drive with bad struts. But worn-out struts not only make your car uncomfortable, but they can also harm vehicle safety. There are instances where worn struts can cause accelerated wear to other parts of your vehicle.

For these reasons, you should address the issue as soon as possible. If you have the know-how to tell if struts are bad you can attempt to replace the struts yourself. Keep in mind, however, that you will need to compress the coil spring if you’re replacing just the strut cartridge. Compressing the spring is extremely dangerous, so you need to be certain that you have the tools and knowledge to do the job right. Always follow a repair manual for the recommended replacement procedure.

Of course, you can avoid having to compress the spring by installing a “quick strut” assembly, with the spring, bearing, and mount pre-assembled. However, the job can still be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, which is why it’s best to have a professional replace the struts if you’re uncertain of your abilities.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Struts?

The average cost for a strut replacement generally runs between 450$ and 900$ to replace a pair. If you are just replacing a single strut, the repair price will come to between 130$ and 300$, while labor will cost you between 150$ and 300$ for the pair.

The parts included in the repair for the struts replacement’s average cost include the springs, shock absorbers, and the anti-sway bars. Usually,  these suspension systems are replaced in tandem to prevent any uneven breakdown or wear and tear on just one side of your steering system.


You may not notice your ride control has been compromised when these parts are wearing out, because it happens gradually. But shock absorber or strut failures aren’t just bad for comfort. Replacing them when it’s time keeps your auto’s electronic systems and suspension working as they should, extending your vehicle’s life and keeping you safer on the road.

Leave a Comment