Struts are part of a car or truck’s suspension, which is the system of parts that connects the wheels to the rest of the car. The job of the struts is to keep the vehicle balanced and absorb impacts from potholes, bumps, and general unevenness in the road. Here’s what you need to know about struts, signs they need replacing, and why it’s important to replace them
What Are Struts?
Struts are composed of two main parts: a spring and a shock absorber. The spring is usually a coil spring, which supports the weight of the vehicle and absorbs the impact of bumps. The shock absorber also helps to support the vehicle’s weight, but its main job is to dampen vibrations. The shock absorber is located either above, below, or down the middle of the soil spring. Despite the name, the shock absorber doesn’t absorb bumps directly. That’s the job of the coil spring. Because a strut is weight-bearing, it has to be stronger than a regular shock absorber. Struts are what help to keep your vehicle on the ground.
Is Something Wrong?
When your vehicle’s struts wear out, your car’s handling and turning ability will be affected. An indication something is wrong with your struts is if your car tips to one side and feels wobbly when turning. The car will noticeably bounce around when the struts are worn out. If your car bottoms out (dips close to the ground or touches the ground) after hitting a bump, you need new struts. Tire wear, especially uneven tire wear, is a warning something is wrong with your struts. Tire cupping is what causes this wear.
A tell-tale sign that tire cupping is occurring is that your rear tires will sound like a dribbling basketball when you drive. Bad struts can also affect the quality of your braking. If you are in a situation where you need to brake quickly and your struts are worn, this will cause your vehicle to nose-dive. If your vehicle seems unstable in windy conditions, such as when a large truck passes by, this could be a sign your struts aren’t providing adequate stability to your vehicle.
Recommendations about when to replace struts varies depending on who you ask, but between 60,000 to 100,000 miles is average. If you have regular maintenance done on your car, your struts can be checked and replaced when the first signs of wear and tear are noticed. If you’re not someone who has your car regularly maintained, it’s a good idea to be aware of the signs something is wrong with your struts. Struts play an important role in not only the handling, stability, and stopping distance of your car, but safety as well.
Struts are one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to maintenance because wear happens gradually and drivers often adjust the way they drive to compensate. It’s important to know the signs of struts wear as failing to replace them when needed can lead to more costly repairs.