What Does a Car Strut Do When It Goes Bad?

by Jason Medina
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Car struts, like shock absorbers, support and stabilize a vehicle's frame and body. When struts fail, they exhibit a wide range of common symptoms that are easily noticed and identified. A bad car strut reduces a vehicle's suspension strength and function considerably.


A car strut, which is basically a shock absorber with slightly more structural support, typically starts to sag and droop as it goes bad and loses its natural tension properties. The area of a car that a bad strut supports will start to droop and become less stable.


A bad strut usually makes a sound--normally, a rattling, loose sound--that's especially noticeable when driving over bumps or rough patches in the road. This type of rattling is caused by the inner strut assembly smacking against the outer strut assembly as overall strut tension reduces and the bad strut starts to shift and move.


Like standard shock absorbers, struts often leak when they go bad. Most struts use various types of hydraulic-type fluid to produce the necessary tension and force required to provide adequate vehicle suspension. A bad strut often develops cracks in its body or around the strut seals that enable its inner hydraulic fluid to leak out.


A bad strut often shakes uncontrollably in response to severely bumpy or uneven terrain. Because of a bad strut's loss of tension and support capabilities, rough terrain causes a bad or weakened strut to bounce and shake uncontrollably as vehicle's weight is forced up and down in response to road conditions, conditions a bad strut can no longer handle.


In severe cases, a bad strut can break, leaving that area of a vehicle with virtually no structural support. Broken struts tend to happen to severely depleted or neglected struts that have shown several warning signs of impending failure or dysfunction.

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