Is your ride taking longer than usual to stop? Is it oddly bumpier? Well, I think it’s time to change your struts because the symptoms clearly mean they have gone bad. Luckily, you can replace them on your own or get professional help.
So, how long does it take to replace struts?
Typically, it takes around one to two hours to change struts, according to most professional mechanics. Even if you decide to replace them on your own, the estimated time is the same as long as you have previous mechanical skills and follow the process correctly.
If you don’t replace struts on time, it can compromise your ability to handle and control the vehicle.
How Long Does It Take To Replace Struts?
Struts replacement isn’t a complex process. Most brands manufacture easy-to-install struts so that car owners don’t have to pay extra to professional mechanics.
As a result, you can likely replace your old struts with new ones in your garage. All you need are the right tools and basic strut knowledge to follow the installation guide.
If you think it’s a bit complex for you, or if your particular struts model is a bit difficult to install, I recommend getting professional help.
Generally, a professional mechanic can do the same job in less time. For instance, if it takes you 3 hours to replace struts, chances are the mechanic will be able to get this done in 2 hours.
The Strut Replacement Process in 10 Simple Steps
Struts and shocks are what hold the suspension together. Driving around with worn-out struts means you are riding nothing less than a ticking time bomb.
Old struts in poor condition are unsafe for you and the vehicle. They can potentially damage expensive suspension parts such as stabilizer bar, ball joints, links, and control arm bushings.
It is much better to replace struts on time than having to spend extra on other damaged components. Not only does this save money but also your time in the long run.
Usually, an intermediate to an expert mechanic can complete the installation process in around 2 hours. If you think you also fall in this category with enough suspension knowledge, it might take you a bit more than about 3 hours, given that you have the essential parts and tools to go through the process.
Let’s see how you can go about it in ten simple steps:
Step 1: Strut Assessment
The first thing you need to do is assess your struts. It is quite simple, so you can do it on your own as well.
Start with visual inspection and if you feel something is off, take your ride for a test drive and actively check for the following symptoms:
- Extreme sway or bounce on the front end
- Fluid leakage on the strut side
- Difficulty controlling the vehicle, especially on bumpy roads and curves
- Dents or damage to the strut boot
- Worn out tires showing shallow craters due to excessive bouncing
Any of the above signs clearly indicate something is wrong with the suspension, and it is mostly old struts that cause these.
Step 2: Getting the replacement parts and necessary tools
Worn-out struts either have to be fully replaced or need replacement parts in case only a specific part is causing issues.
As a result, in case of a full replacement, you should buy the best aftermarket struts, including the strut itself, strut boot, strut mount, spring, spring seat insulator, jounce bumper, and bearing plate.
Replacing strut assembly is relatively easier and saves a lot of time and money. On the other hand, you can get individual parts if you need to replace any specific part. However, this can take more time since you would have to unpack the assembly, replace the part, and repack the assembly.
Step 3: Measure The Camber Angle
Measuring the camber angle is the next step in the strut replacement process. For this, you have to put your vehicle on jack stands before beginning the strut disassembling process. You are recommended to do this one side at a time.
Make sure to put rust penetrant on the strut flange bolts and nuts and leave them to soak. While they are soaking, you must attach an angle gauge to the rotor top and note down the angle so that tires are at the same angle when you put the whole thing together.
Step 4: Remove The End Link
Now it is time to remove the end link of the stabilizer bar. You can do so with the help of the right wrench. Once the end link is out of the strut hole, you can disconnect and remove the wheel speed sensor as well.
Step 5: Remove The Nuts & Bolts
By this time, the rust penetrant must have done its job so you can remove the strut bolts and nuts. To make this a bit easier, apply some elbow grease. However, it will still take some strength.
Step 6: Separate The Knuckle From The Strut
You can separate the knuckle from the strut by using a pry bar. Simply pull it towards yourself until it pops out.
Step 7: Remove The Mount Nuts
I would recommend you use a soft rag or plywood as a precaution before carrying out this step. Once done, remove three out of the four mount nuts.
Step 8: Remove The Old Strut
Once three mount nuts are removed, you must get under the wheel and remove the fourth nut. Once all of them are out, slowly lower the strut onto the soft rag or plywood, you had put underneath.
Step 9: Install The New Strut
To install the new strut, you have to reverse all the steps mentioned above. It is as simple as that. Once everything has been put in place and screwed, check the camber angle to ensure it is right.
Step 10: Align Your Wheels
Getting your wheels aligned after strut replacement is a must.
You or the mechanic you hire can easily carry out all the ten steps somewhere between 2 to 3 hours!
Struts or shocks tend to wear out over time as they are regularly working to help improve your control over the vehicle. On average, you should consider replacing struts after driving them for about 80,000 miles.
A huge factor that impacts the longevity of your struts is whether they are hydraulic or gas-pressurized struts. However, this can be more or less dependent on your driving style, conditions, and maintenance habits.
As a result, you should be actively checking the integrity of struts. The simplest way to do this is by bouncing your vehicle and analyzing the response. If the car doesn’t bounce back, your ride needs a strut replacement.
The car driving down upon applying the breaks is also an indication for worn-out struts. You could also check the struts for any leaking fluid. It is also a bad strut symptom that requires a replacement.