How to Replace Struts on Your Car

Classic car in a garage

Source I Clem Onojeghuo

Struts are an integral component of your vehicle’s suspension system, and kind of important if things like handling, stopping, and riding in comfort matter to you. An easy way to define or think about the function of a strut is to picture a shock absorber and coil spring combination, working together to smooth out bumps in the road.

Struts are wear items, since they're the ones absorbing countless bumps in the road. That's why most experts recommend replacing struts on a car every 50,000 miles. Improved handling, shorter stopping distances, and a smoother ride are the benefits you realize from changing struts.

Vehicle System
Steering & Suspension Systems
Skill Level

This is a project that needs some know-how

Time to Complete
3 hours, if replacing with quick struts
    Pro Tip

    We recommend quick struts, especially if you're new to this type of repair. They're easier and safer to install when changing struts.

  1. Check the struts’ condition by taking the vehicle for a test drive. You're looking for:

    • Excessive bounce after encountering a bump in the road
    • Swaying from side to side
    • The front end diving downward when braking
    • Fluid leaking from the strut when parked. A strut that’s leaking fluid leaves no doubt as to when to replace struts on a car.
  2. Remember that when changing struts, like headlights, they should be replaced in pairs.
    If your vehicle’s struts and springs are integrated and you’re going to reuse the old spring from the strut, you’ll need a spring compressor. An easier option is to replace the old strut with a quick strut that already has the spring installed.

  3. Loosen, but don’t remove, the front tire’s lug nuts.

  4. Jack up one side of the vehicle and place a jack stand underneath to secure it.

  5. Remove the lug nuts and wheel.

  6. Locate the stud and look for any brake lines that may be fastened to it. If there are, carefully remove the brake line and its fasteners without damaging them.

  7. Unscrew the bolts that are on the bottom of the strut connecting it to the wheel/steering components. You may need to use spray-on penetrating oil, a socket and breaker bar, and box wrench to remove stubborn bolts if they’re rusted.

  8. Depending on your vehicle, there may also be a sway, anti-roll or stabilizer bar that needs to be removed.

    Open the hood and locate the top of the stud where it’s attached to the vehicle. On many vehicles, it will appear as three bolts in a circular pattern around a center bolt. Do not remove the center bolt as the strut is compressed under high pressure and loosening the center bolt will allow it to fly loose, damaging anything in its path. Remove the three bolts surrounding the center bolt.

  9. Remove old strut assembly, avoiding contact with the CV axle or drive axle so you don’t damage them.

  10. Install the quick strut following the manufacturer’s directions.

  11. Repeat the procedure for changing struts on the vehicle’s other side.

  12. Take the vehicle for a low-speed test drive.

  13. Pro Tip

    Now's the time to check the vehicle’s alignment too, since replacing struts on a car usually affects alignment.

Last updated June 6, 2018