How to Test for Worn Struts

by Traci Bridges

The struts on your vehicle act as shock absorbers and help control the suspension in the tires, steering, frame and body. Struts and shocks perform the same duties, but struts are at the front of the vehicle. Age as well as wear and tear weaken those struts and lessen their effectiveness. If your ride is bumpier than usual or your vehicle bounces a little too much when you dip through an intersection or pothole, it might be time to replace your struts.

1

Perform a "bounce" test. Put your foot or knee on your front bumper and push down with all of your weight as low as you can push it toward the ground. Take your foot or knee off. A car with good struts should rebound quickly. Perform the same test on the back bumper. If your vehicle bounces up and down more than twice, your struts could be worn.

2

Perform a driving test. Drive through an intersection or dip in the road. If your car makes strange noises or thumps or bounces three or more times, your struts might be worn.

3

Visually inspect the struts. Touch the towers of the struts, and look for signs of damage including the presence of a leaking oily liquid and caked-on dirt from the road. If your struts are leaking, they are damaged. The only remedy is replacement.

4

Take your vehicle to a mechanic if you still have doubts. Ask the mechanic to perform a visual inspection and drop test. A drop tester drops the vehicle one axel at a time from about 10 inches up in the air. It then plots a graph of the vehicle's suspension reaction. This should determine whether your struts are worn.

Tip

  • check Most mechanics say struts have a lifespan of 50,000 to 60,000 miles, but you should have your struts checked yearly.

About the Author

Traci Bridges is a veteran newspaper editor and reporter. She earned her bachelor's degree in political science with a minor in print journalism from The University of Alabama. She began writing for the "Morning News," a daily newspaper in South Carolina, in 1998. Since then, her work has appeared in several other publications including the "Winston-Salem Journal," "Tampa Tribune" and "AARP Magazine."

Photo Credits

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