Sensen "Quick Strut" Review

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So I picked up all 4 of the Sensen complete "quick struts" for my 2005 Outback since it was still riding on the originals after 14+ years and 128k miles. I was doing this on a budget, and was just looking for something that actually had a "name" brand and their own "real" website, which Sensen seems to check the boxes. Cost was a fraction of the cost of the comparable Monroe quick struts; I did some careful Amazon shopping and got all 4 complete struts (top hats and all) for $325 delivered. I believe when I checked, the Monroes were about $170 each, so essentially less than half price. So the fun part... as I said these were original struts and the car has been an Ohio/Indiana car since new, so the suspension bolts were ON THERE. I used my 1/2" impact first, then some MAPP gas, then a 3' breaker bar... rear strut lower bolts still not coming off. Here comes the rain storms of this spring... and so the car went back together. Dropped the car and struts off at my local indie who obviously has better tools, and 3 hours and $175 labor later the car is all back together. $500 total investment at this point and a 1500+ mile road trip starting the same day to break them in. Quick background: 05-09 Outbacks are notoriously soft in the rear and a common "cheater" trick is to order 2000-2004 Outback springs/shocks because they are a hair stiffer and help eliminate bottoming and "ghost walking" (Google Outback ghost walk if interested). Spoiler alert: Sensen 2004 Outback replacement struts are still not stiff enough, so I'm terrified at how bad the "correct" struts would have been if Sensen actually sprung these correctly (it is a different part # from the 05-09 fitment). "Empty" driving with just me and the wife: Front sits noticeably higher than old OEM, probably 1/2" or so. Rear sits about where it did with old OEM. On smooth surfaces, ride is very nice and controlled, rear end wallowing over gentle undulations is gone. Handling seems slightly improved, but still hampered by OEM 17mm sway bars on a 3500lb car. I have a Whiteline rear bar waiting to go on to help some more, hopefully will be on by the end of this week. Quick dips with rebound seem to overwhelm the rear struts and the car will "whomp" down in the rear but not pogo. Hopefully as the struts wear in a little things will improve? "Loaded" driving with me, the wife, and about 700lbs of cargo inside the car: Front end seems unfazed by additional load and is actually pitched up from what's going on "out back" smile . Rear is begging for mercy sitting still, with what was nearly 5 fingers of wheelgap unloaded shrinking to maybe 2 full fingers (and I've got sausages). Ride is actually impressively smooth on flat roads, expansion joints and cracks are swallowed up nicely. Dips with quick rebounds have the car feeling like it's twurking while driving on US-35 thru Ohio. I know I was probably about 300lbs over the "normal" rating, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say the Sensen still isn't stiff enough for a "lived in" 2005-2009 Outback. I'm trying to decide to "band aid" it with some saggy butt spacers, or do it right by sticking some increased rate, 0.5" taller King springs in the back. Anyways, summary of this review: if you're looking to replace all your struts cheaply, these Sensen will get the job done. If you're expecting improved handling performance for pennies on the dollar, you will be disappointed. 1500 mile experience ratings: Ride: 7 of 10 Springs: 7 of 10 front, 4 of 10 rear Damping: 5 (meh, it gets the job done with no pogo) Value:8 of 10 (half the price of Monroe, mileage will tell if this rating is too high) Overall: 6.5 of 10 (If you expect "sporty" performance keep shopping past these)
 
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Champlain/Hudson Valley
How many "Quick Struts" were available? How many component struts were available? Did you feel you had to use Quick Struts due to other parts being fatigued or were you motivated by the convenience or safety? I thank you for the review as well.
 
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ROCHESTER, NY
IDK if the Subaru is an all strut design or F: struts/R: shocks. Our Lexus RX was an all strut design and most of our other cars are F: strut/R: shock. Have you ever considered two different brands of dampers? I mean, I have done this in the past on older cars that had for example, shocks both F&R. Where I would use one brand on the front for better steering response(or whatever I was looking for at that time), and another brand on the rear to eliminate or increase something entirely different... for just that little bit better result. Sometimes(through research) it worked as well as I would have hoped for and other times, not as well as I would have liked. _____________________________________________________ I have also done this with tires be it brand or model differences however, I don't do this anymore. If I were looking for something different in reaction or grip or stability, I'd get 2 tires for the front and 2 different tires entirely for the rear depending on the sophistication(mainly lack thereof) of the suspension. Or even the brake system, especially if I though the front or rear didn't match each other well. Too much bite in the front & not enough in the rear, or visa-versa. I tried(sometimes successfully) to stabilize the vehicle is emergency situations(pre-ABS/Stab.Cont.) and with older vehicles that used terrible F: disk/R: drum setup. Today's F: disk/R: drum setup are fine and I wouldn't mess with'em. Keep in mind that the vehicles I speak of were old RWD, bench seat, column shifter w/disk/drum and lots of engine torque and sloppy brakes & suspensions on their best day. Yes, I would actually try to out think the engineers.
 
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^^^When it was fun to do this mixing/matching of products to achieve your personal desires & goals. And sometimes it was absolutely necessary to do without having to drive white knuckled in bad weather. I'm not a bad weather guy. I hate driving in it. So, I have done things to make my life better/easier.
 
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Deep in the heart of Jersey
I bought a set of 4 for my '02 Ford Explorer about 4 years ago. The sensen brand off the interweb. The reason I went with them was they had the best warrenty, 10 years, the rest was 90 days to a year. I never had any experience with the brand, but then I don't change struts for a living so they're all the same to me. Installation was pretty straight forward, when I set the truck on the ground, the difference was very noticeable. It sat higher front and rear which was fine with me. The ride was firmer but very balanced. Maybe a bit on the stiff side. When I pulled my trailer , the ride with the weight of my friends Harley on it was just about perfect. Some have said the only way to get the factory ride is to use factory struts. That might be true, but when I jacked up my Explorer to change the struts, both rears had broken springs that fell apart when removed from the truck.There have been a few things thru the years that haven't convinced me factory oem parts are the best choice for replacement. I've had aftermarket parts last longer then the original parts did. Needless to say, you won't see me at any dealership for replacement parts unless I absolutely can't get it somewhere else.,,
 
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The land of USA-made Subies!
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Originally Posted by Kira
How many "Quick Struts" were available? How many component struts were available? Did you feel you had to use Quick Struts due to other parts being fatigued or were you motivated by the convenience or safety? I thank you for the review as well.
Well, there were the Monroe's, the Sensen, and what seemed like 50 "different" Chinese no-names that were likely all identical. I wanted the quick struts for two reasons: 1. Ease of my effort... already assembled and less likely to risk being maimed or worse, and 2. Cost- nobody other than Subaru offers a stock-height spring at about $92 per times 4, plus whatever strut I went with (most were $400 for all 4 or more), plus about $240 for Subaru Group N top hats or similar money for the KYB ones. So, if I assembled my "dream" struts, springs, and top hats, it would total around $1k or maybe a little more, just in parts. The Sensen route was $500 for all 4, professionally installed since my personal tools were not up to the task. Since this is not an XT and does not see towing and only some back-road tossing around, I figured something intended to be a stock replacement plus some stiffer Whiteline sway bars & metal, greaseable (vs factory plastic LEGO links) Moog end links would be nearly ideal because this is my wife's daily driver and what we drive on the weekends together. I'm thinking that either the 3/8" strut spacer in the rear only (since it installs with no hardware changes needed) or some polyurethane "spring wedges" will probably do well enough at least until the initial cost is recouped (maybe a year or two). Like I hope I've implied so far, these Sensens so far seem to be a good value for the money- just do not expect any improvement other than "at best" getting back to factory characteristics. If you need to replace one or both ends on your vehicle they're definitely convenient and in my case less than half of the next cheapest, reputable replacement. One other good thing to note was the indie said they went right in just like an OEM, so it appears their measurements and tolerances are controlled well enough to match the factory.
 
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Texas, USA
My '09 Mazda 3 (130,000 miles) seems to handle well and I'm not feeling any floating or excessive bouncing, but the front end does make a strange noise when I drive over a crest in a cross street at too high a speed and the suspension unloads. I'm unsure if the previous owner ever replaced struts or shocks. It seems like I'd see some bad handling in a car this age if they were factory originals. One of my concerns is how a new set of quick struts (KYB) will affect ride height. Not really liking the prospect of the front end riding higher than the rear. Is your Outback settling down in the front at all, that you can see with the naked eye? Trying to figure out if the ride height increase is necessarily permanent.
 
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I never measured the car prior to replacing the struts (D'oh!), so I don't have a point of reference other than memory, which we all know can be flawed. I did measure today, and to the top of the wheelwell the front is 5/8" higher than the rear. However, other than the visual gap, the rake of the roof also plays into the profile view of the car since it tapers down a bit from the windshield to the backlight. Like I said above, the BL/BP gen Outbacks are known to never have had enough spring height nor rate from the factory, so this very well may be "standard". If I find one nearby I may jump out and measure, but the town I live in I own 66% of the known to me Subarus, and the other one is a slammed bugeye WRX, so that's an invalid reference. Tonight is my routine trip to northern Indiana on roads I've driven over 70,000 miles on in the past 7 years and there are plenty of elevation changes, turns, and switchbacks. That will give me a better "upgrade" reference rather than the once-yearly trip down I-64, which this car never made prior to the Sensens.
 
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New England
20mm OEM sway can be had for $100. I have the Crosstrek sway on my Legacy and the difference is low to moderate, based on my driving habits; by that, I mean it's noticeable and welcome...and fits perfectly.
 
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I splurged and got the 3-position adjustable, 22mm rear bar for my Outback. I figured what the heck; I can set it to softest when the wife is driving and ratchet it up if I'm driving distance or if the car will be heavily loaded. If I do a front bar it will either be an XT front bar or a non-adjustable Whiteline most likely. Finished the "up" leg of the road trip and body roll is nicely damped on the Sensens. The worn OEMs kinda resembled flinging the helm to starboard on an aircraft carrier going 30 knots. So far so good, so happy smile
 
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A couple times a year, Monroe (and also KYB and Gabriel) run a rebate promo for like $1009 off a set of 4 of the quick struts. This makes the price more competitive with SenSen and the other Chinese smile The Sensen is supposedly a Chinese copy of KYB
 
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MA
Originally Posted by BigCahuna
I bought a set of 4 for my '02 Ford Explorer about 4 years ago. The sensen brand off the interweb. The reason I went with them was they had the best warrenty, 10 years, the rest was 90 days to a year. I never had any experience with the brand, but then I don't change struts for a living so they're all the same to me. Installation was pretty straight forward, when I set the truck on the ground, the difference was very noticeable. It sat higher front and rear which was fine with me. The ride was firmer but very balanced. Maybe a bit on the stiff side. When I pulled my trailer , the ride with the weight of my friends Harley on it was just about perfect. Some have said the only way to get the factory ride is to use factory struts. That might be true, but when I jacked up my Explorer to change the struts, both rears had broken springs that fell apart when removed from the truck.There have been a few things thru the years that haven't convinced me factory oem parts are the best choice for replacement. I've had aftermarket parts last longer then the original parts did. Needless to say, you won't see me at any dealership for replacement parts unless I absolutely can't get it somewhere else.,,
Well the warranty on Monroe is lifetime which I think beats your 10 year warranty. I always felt Sensen was a 3rd tier brand. It's basically Monroe and KYB out there. Gabriel too. On Rockauto, the rears are cheaper than the fronts. And as someone mentioned, they do a $100 rebate in April and in September for a set of 4 struts so it would have been a bit competitive. I had a 2001 Ford Taurus, the springs also cracked on me. The rear broke first so I replaced the rear springs and before I got around to doing the front, a front spring cracked too. I replaced them with Monroe, the Monroe ones looked like they were thicker. Ford had a recall on it. Their fix was just to cover the spring in a cover so that if/when the spring snapped, it wouldn't puncture a tire. Luckily both times it happened to me while parked so didn't have the issue while driving although one time it did puncture the tire, but I got it replaced under a road hazard warranty.
 
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The land of USA-made Subies!
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So my "standard" trip is complete for a good reference. The Sensens are definitely a noticeable improvement from the worn out OEMs, as expected. Tossing it into the curves today had me going 10-15mph faster than I could on the worn ones, and with the added benefit that my wife didn't even really fuss about the added speed, because she wasn't sliding into my lap or banging off the door because the cornering stance was MUCH flatter. I think I have to check my bump stops and end links as there is still a "whump" on quick compressions in the rear only. I'm interested to see what it sounds like after getting the plastic endlinks off and some new bushings. Oh and to the "lifetime vs 10-year" warranty argument, here's my take. If your car is in the market for replacement struts AND springs, the car is likely already at least 10 years old. Even the Sensen warranty will get you to 20 years old, by which the body and suspension parts themselves will most likely be shot to the point of sending the car to the scrapyard. What good is a lifetime warranty when it's not transferable nor worth the paper it's printed on if the car itself is junk? So... as of today, the 4 Sensens are totally worth the $325 I paid considering everything in the strut/spring/top hat is now brand new again. Are they perfect? Nope. Are they everything I dreamed of? Nope again. But on a 14-year old car that has no performance aspirations, they seem at least as good as how the car performed when new. They're a great way to ensure the vehicle stays controllable and rides decently while my wife is driving it. Now with these on, I can make a 1:1 comparison of the stock sway bar and the Whiteline 3-position replacement!
 
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MA
Originally Posted by SubieRubyRoo
Oh and to the "lifetime vs 10-year" warranty argument, here's my take. If your car is in the market for replacement struts AND springs, the car is likely already at least 10 years old. Even the Sensen warranty will get you to 20 years old, by which the body and suspension parts themselves will most likely be shot to the point of sending the car to the scrapyard. What good is a lifetime warranty when it's not transferable nor worth the paper it's printed on if the car itself is junk?
I actually went through 3 sets of struts in about 12 years so the lifetime actually meant something to me. Of course that was because at one point they weren't completely shot, had about 60k on them but weren't as great as when they were new so I just got another set because I had a cheap mechanic and he threw them in for $80. So totally worth it to get new struts for just $80 in labor.
 
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Fayetteville, NC
I had a set of 4 installed on the beater Elantra when it still had factory struts at around 150k miles; The ride with the Sensens were firmer (in a good way) compared to the factory struts and they're still doing well at 232k miles.
 
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Location
New England
Originally Posted by SubieRubyRoo
I splurged and got the 3-position adjustable, 22mm rear bar for my Outback. I figured what the heck; I can set it to softest when the wife is driving and ratchet it up if I'm driving distance or if the car will be heavily loaded. If I do a front bar it will either be an XT front bar or a non-adjustable Whiteline most likely. Finished the "up" leg of the road trip and body roll is nicely damped on the Sensens. The worn OEMs kinda resembled flinging the helm to starboard on an aircraft carrier going 30 knots. So far so good, so happy smile
More power to you, with that sway-bar, brother. When I had RCE, front and rear, on my '08 STI I kept them on the stiffest setting at all times. My butt dyno wasn't sophisticated enough to notice enough change from the softest setting on my daily to even bother changing them. Maybe a softer car with softer springs will have a different result. Well, I'd be money a softer-sprung vehicle, but I can't say whether it will be a good or bad.
 
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633
Location
sw ohio
Thanks for your thoughtful review. Its contrary to what has been posted here before, if I remember correctly. Ppl were posting they were of questionable quality. But that's human nature. Bad reviews are everywhere but very few take the time to post their good experiences with a product. Good experiences may far outnumber the bad but we will never know.
 
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