Shocks and struts are an integral part of your vehicle’s suspension system. If the shocks smooth out the bumps and vibrations and ensure a comfortable ride then struts support the weight of the vehicle and control it in motion.
Driving with badly worn out struts and shocks can cause your vehicle to bounce and tires can fall flat while allowing you poor control over the vehicle.
However, these parts are long lasting and you may not have to replace them ever but they do wear out over time and requires replacement.
The most visible sign of worn shocks and struts are increased stopping distance, the rear end of the vehicle buckling upon acceleration, and the front end of the vehicle falling upon braking.
If you notice these signs altogether, it means, it’s time for shocks and struts replacement. But how much would it cost for the replacement. Let’s get to know everything.
Are Shocks and Struts Important
Do you know how important the shocks and struts are for the handling of your vehicle? Usually, we associate them with the comfort of the ride but they are more important for safety.
On one side, they minimize bumps, vibrations, and noise and ensure a smooth and comfortable ride. And on the other side, they keep the tires on the road and help with better steering control and braking response.
They also prevent the front of the vehicle from dipping down especially when your vehicle hits a pothole or bump. Therefore, it is essential to have your shocks and struts all the time in good condition.
When you have poor shocks and struts, your vehicle tends to take longer to come to a complete stop, and sometimes, the steering goes out of control that put your vehicle in an unsafe condition. If this happens, make sure you take your vehicle to a professional for an inspection.
When to Replace Shocks and Struts
First of all, you should know that all vehicles don’t have both struts and shocks. Some have struts while some have shocks. In some modern vehicles, you may find both, struts in the front suspension and shocks in the back. All vehicles have four struts/shock absorbers, one for each wheel.
Generally, the struts and shocks have quite a longer life-span. On average, they last for four to five years. If you drive only on smooth and plain roads, they may last for 10 years too.
Thus, it largely depends on the road conditions and how you drive. If you drive on potholes and bumps at quite high speed, you will probably cause the struts and shocks to wear out too early.
The most common sign that indicates the struts and shock absorbers need replacement is the oil leaking in the front strut and rear shocks. If you notice oil leaking in the strut or shocks, it needs replacement else it will stop working once the level of oil is extremely dropped.
Another indication is the knocking sound; if you hear the knocking sound coming out from the vehicle’s suspension system while driving over the uneven road, it means struts and shocks have gone bad and must be replaced.
When your vehicle has a bad strut or shock absorber, your vehicle continues bouncing up and down after driving over a bumpy road. To ensure which strut or shock absorber is faulty, you can perform an easy bounce test.
To execute this test you will push down each corner of the vehicle and release instantly. The corner which will keep bouncing for longer will have faulty strut or shock and the corner which will not bounce more than twice will have its strut or shock in good condition.
The most important thing to note here is that you should always replace the strut or shocks in pairs either both front strut or both shocks in the rear. You can replace only one strut or shock if the other one is in very good condition.
If you replace only one shock that is faulty and not the one that is too old, you may experience unevenness. Replacing them in pairs improves the quality of the ride.
Average Cost to Replace Shocks And Struts
1. Struts Replacement Cost
How much the strut replacement cost depends on the type of strut you install, the make and model of your vehicle, and the type of mechanic shop you choose.
Generally, the repair at the dealership is more expensive than an independently owned shop. But dealers use the original factory parts instead of the aftermarket parts that make your ride more comfortable and prove to be long-lasting.
But if you’re on a short budget, a local independently owned shop is the best choice for you. Their labor charges are much lesser than the dealers’ hourly rates and their aftermarket struts are far reliable.
On average, the cost to replace struts can go about $500 to $900 for a pair of struts where the part cost will run about $130 to $250 for an individual strut. If you replace the strut in pair, the cost will go up to $260 to $500.
The strut replacement is quite labor-intensive that involves the removal of coil springs which is under high tension. Overall, it takes about 1 and half hour for one side. The labor cost can vary a lot depending upon how complicated the replacement process was. Usually, the labor cost runs between $150 and $300 excluding the alignment charges.
When replacing the struts, in most cases, the wheel alignment gets affected. That’s why wheel alignment in considered mandatory whenever struts are replaced. The wheel alignment cost can vary between $80 and $100.
But remember that if you have a luxury car like Mercedes Benz, the cost can be higher than average as they have more advanced strut assembly that is more labor-intensive. And secondly, the parts of these luxurious cars are also way too expensive.
2. Shocks Replacement Cost
The cost to replace shock absorber is relatively lesser than struts. The shock absorbers are located separate from the coil spring and that’s why its replacement is not as complicated as struts. And the replacement of shock absorbers doesn’t affect other suspension parts. For this reason, in most cases, wheel alignment is not required when shocks are replaced.
The average cost to replace shock absorbers runs between $250 and $450. The parts alone will cost you about $50 to $100 for an individual shock whereas, for a pair of shock, the cost will go about $100 to $200.
When it comes to labor costs, usually, it takes around an hour to replace shocks. And labor cost runs between $150 and $250 depending on the region and type of mechanic shop.
How Often to Replace Shocks and Struts
According to the general recommendation, the shocks and struts should be replaced every 50,000 to 1,00,000 miles.
However, the lifespan of shocks and struts largely depends on the road condition and how you drive the vehicle. If you frequently drive over a road with bumps and potholes at a higher speed, these parts will wear out quicker and you will need to replace them quite often.
While those who mostly drive over a plain road and commute relatively shorter distance, the life of the shocks and struts will be longer.
The best thing you can do to get the idea about the time you need the shocks and struts to be replaced is getting your vehicle’s suspension parts inspected regularly.
With this, you will get to know about the condition of these parts time after time. This will help you get the parts replaced at the right time.
Can You Change Shocks and Struts Yourself?
The replacement of shocks is not as complicated as the struts, therefore, you can do it yourself. While doing so, you may have to deal with rusted bolts that are not easier to make loose.
You will need a couple of basic tools like jack and torque wrench to do the complete shock absorber replacement. With this, you will easily save hundreds of dollars.
The strut replacement is more complicated, it involves removal of coil spring that requires a spring compressor to remove the spring. Removing the spring is quite dangerous, if you don’t do it properly, the spring can pop off and cause serious injury.
But these days you can get a complete strut assembly that is much easier to replace as it doesn’t require removal of spring.
These strut assemblies easily allow you to replace both front struts in about two hours. However, you have to get the wheel-alignment done that costs you between $80 and $100. But you still save about $150 to $300 by doing the replacement yourself.
But if you have an individual strut where the spring is separate and you’re not sure whether you will be able to make the proper use of the spring compressor, it’s better you leave this job to a professional who have years of experience and practice for this job.
We hope this article has made you aware of all the facts and myths about the replacement of shocks and struts. And it would help you get the safest drive, by avoiding the risks and peril associated with the replacement of these parts. One thing you should always keep in mind that whenever you replace any part from the suspension system make sure you take a test drive.