Steering & Suspension
Struts are used on the front end of almost all front-wheel-drive vehicles. Technically known as MacPherson struts, they’re much more than a shock absorber with a different name. A strut integrates numerous suspension parts into one compact assembly, including the coil spring, spring seats, shock absorber, strut bearing, and steering knuckle. The shock absorber portion of the strut is the most commonly serviced portion of the strut assembly.
Because it integrates different components into one assembly, a strut serves multiple purposes. With its spring, it can support the weight of the vehicle, while moving to adapt to road irregularities. The internal shock absorber dampens movement of the spring as it compresses and rebounds during vehicle travel. The strut housing serves as a structural part of the suspension system and connects the upper strut bearing to the lower ball joint so that the entire assembly can pivot when the steering wheel is turned.
Your vehicle’s struts should be checked once a year, usually in conjunction with a wheel alignment. Under normal conditions, the shock absorber portion -- the strut cartridge -- wears out gradually and you may not notice incremental losses in ride quality, handling and control. Some signs that your vehicle may have worn struts include bottoming out, excessive bouncing, rocking back and forth, drifting or nose-diving while braking, swaying, or cupping wear on the tires.
If your car needs MacPherson strut service, it may also be a good time to replace the coil springs. Since they usually need to be removed when changing struts, you can save labour costs by installing new springs at the same time. For a complete check of your vehicle’s suspension system, have it thoroughly inspected by a qualified service technician.