Piston Slap: Strutin' Around a Loaded Question?
My daily driver is a ’99 Honda CR-V two-wheel drive I took over from my kid when she went to work overseas. It has been in the family since 2007 and has always been economical on gas, reliable and needed only regular service. It is fine for the 20 mile drive to work in suburbia — but we take our Pilot on trips because my wife refuses to ride in the CR-V.
At the last regular service my mechanic told me the ride is terrible because at 237k the struts/shocks are completely toast and it would be north of a grand to replace them. I checked online and the shocks are about 75 each but a complete strut assembly is about 225. All the sites I checked say degree of difficulty in replacing is high so I won’t be doing this myself.
My questions are:
- Does the labor to pull apart the struts to replace the shocks wipe out the savings in parts cost?
- Are there other parts that should be changed like bushings, spring rubbers and the like since we are already in there?
- Will not doing the struts cause the springs to fail?
I plan on keeping the vehicle until I retire in four years, approximately 40k miles from now. What does the B&B say?
Damn near any vehicle with that kinda mileage is likely to have terrible struts/shocks and (coil in this case) springs. Why? Because, as we’ve mentioned before, these are wear items that are neglected even more than worn out headlight bulb filaments. I wouldn’t be too surprised if you’re running on the original bits. Odds are your mechanic is right and they are making a pigs ear of your CR-V’s ride.
Question 1: With the advent of aftermarket damper+spring combo replacements (Monroe and Gabriel, for example) for MacPherson Strut configured vehicles, you always replace both the spring and the damper together. Even if they aren’t clearly bad, odds are the springs have fatigued to the point that replacement is a good idea. Factor in the labor involved to replace a strut damper (in a MacPherson strut) by removing and re-using the spring, and just throwing away the whole assembly for a new one is often cheaper. Considering the benefit of new springs and shocks, this is a no brainer. Always get the combo. Get new springs when renewing MacPherson struts.
Question 2: Maybe. Only your mechanic’s eyeballs will know for sure. I wouldn’t go digging around to replace control arm bushings as that’s more labor to remove, but if they are bad, I assume you trust this person enough to be fair with you. I wouldn’t be surprised if the end links for the anti-sway bars could be bad, but again, that’s for the mechanic to judge.
Question 3: In theory, a bad strut causes the spring to cycle up/down more frequently. In theory, every moving part has a finite number of cycles it can handle before it breaks or distorts to the point you (or your wife?) finds the ride to be unbearable. In practice? A bad strut doesn’t directly cause a spring to fail. Usually abuse (big potholes) or rust will do that instead.
Since you are keeping it for a while and I see replacement Gabriel “Readymount” spring and damper assemblies for your vehicle are $190 for the rear and $153 for the front, replacing the dampers and springs are a total no brainer. Hell, this place I’ve never heard of before has the whole set for much, much less!
[Image: Shuttertstock user patruflo]
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.
Join the conversation
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Brandon What is a "city crossover"?
- Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
- Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
- MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
- Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
Thanks to all the B&B I guess it was foolish of me to expect consensus but I am better informed. The body is in very good condition, but I am looking at a timing belt change in the near future. I think I will wait until then to decide on the suspension upgrade. The comment about paying a few thousand a year to keep a usable vehicle serviceable as an alternative to buying newer or newer used struck a chord with me thanks again Harry in NE Georgia where cars don't rust out
I've always swapped just the strut itself, never the spring. This whole talk about the spring "wearing out"...ok maybe if you tow or offroad, or possibly from rust, but other than that I'd doubt it. My original Made in Japan springs that still perform 100% but have 200k on them are way better than some iffy Chinese units that were built on guesswork and inferior metal. There is lots of discussion online about the quick strut assys having the wrong spring rate for a specific model (usually too softly sprung), and causing safety issues. Not always, but out there. I would prefer to swap parts of known origin, (Japan for my KYBs, and OEM for the new strut mount/bearing where needed) Oh and if concerned about safety, here's a trick. Go and rent from the part store TWO (2) compressor kits, use one pair to actually do the work across from one another, and the other pair as your safety pair, tightening by hand as you go to offer back up in case of failure. I have had no issues doing it this way. In some cases, such as my 1998 Toyota, I actually need 4 compressors (90 deg apart) to properly, evenly, and safely compress the spring.