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how hard is it to change struts? #5387589 03/28/20 07:05 AM
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CincyDavid Offline OP
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The $750 Saturn L200 that I bought recently really needs front struts. My friendly indy mechanic quoted $750 installed for front struts, which sounds like a lot of money to me. Is this a job that a semi-talented amateur should/could undertake? Should I do rear shocks too? My main issue is that it doesn't like expansion joints and frost heaves in the road, and gets a porpoising motion on dips in the road. I don't want to sink a fortune into the dumb car but if I can get several years of use out of it, it's worth spenidng a couple of nickels to make a nicer ride.


03 Saturn L-200, silver
06 Kia Sportage EX greenish gold(ugliest color ever)
11 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited HEMI Mineral Gray
14 Honda Accord LX metallic black
19 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn Pyrite Silver
Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387591 03/28/20 07:08 AM
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You can get quickstruts for it, easy to change, and if your even more frugal, you can get the Chinese specials on eBay that include rear shocks as well for way less than 750.


2014 Hyundai Elantra
2014 Hyundai Elantra GT
Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387595 03/28/20 07:14 AM
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atikovi Offline
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Rock Auto has Gabriel Ultras as wholesaler discounts for $29. They might have been on the shelf 10 or 15 years but that means they were made in the USA or at least Mexico. Just put a pair on my Escort and they are fine.

Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387597 03/28/20 07:17 AM
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Olas Offline
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Do you know if it’s the spring or the damper that is faulty? Or both? Quickstruts are quick but an individual spring and a pair of threaded spring compressors is considerably cheaper - if you want to keep the car going cheaply and you don’t mind doing a little more physical work then this could be a good option for you.

One benefit is that you could specify a higher quality spring or damper than what is included in a Quickstrut assembly, and the overall cost would still be less.

The principle of ‘bangernomics’ is very interesting if you like saving rather than spending wink

Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387606 03/28/20 07:24 AM
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I bought a set of "Sen Sen brand" Chinese struts off Ebay for my Explorer. They were $60 a piece If I remember correctly, and had a better warranty then any others I could find at the time, 10 years. Jacked up the car unbolted the old ones and bolted in the new ones. Might possibly have to remove somethings in the way, but not the end of the world. I had a couple broken springs on the old ones I didn't know about until then. You might be able to get the ones where you can reuse the old springs, but then the hassle of changing the springs will take longer, and the ride won't be as good as a new spring. My devalued 2 cents.,,,

Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387609 03/28/20 07:27 AM
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shouldn't ne to much of a problem...if need be take pictures to remember how everything goes back together … the worst part could be rusted bolts/nuts

Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387619 03/28/20 07:42 AM
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Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387624 03/28/20 07:43 AM
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Kira Offline
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Small speech: Shocks and struts are a simple wear item. If you have enough oomph to deal with larger bolts and possible rust, you can change 'em.
Do you have jack, stands, wheel chock and other tools?

If a car is aged enough one can "smartly assume" the struts ancillary parts (the spring, it's seats and the bearing plate) are gone or near gone too.
Here quick struts can be a boon.
However, "Quick Struts", while offering the user a time + safety savings on installation of LARGE proportion, have a uniformly bad rep for being cheap.

This might not matter in this application. If you can tighten down both sides of a spring compressor to disassemble your struts, you can save money and likely select better components.
NOTE: If Saturns have no history of cheap springs breaking, you can smartly replace the strut only. Just thoroughly inspect (and lube) the bearing plate while disassembled. Replace if rusty and rough feeling.

I'd avoid real cheap stuff as they can and do fail right out of the box. A glance at RockAuto showed KYB and Monroe quicks for the front.
There were crappo rear shocks for $20. Monroe and Delco rears were $40 and $46 respectively.

Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387627 03/28/20 07:46 AM
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CincyDavid Offline OP
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I'm inclined to buy loaded struts and just change out the whole shebang. I presume it'll need an alignment when I'm done?


03 Saturn L-200, silver
06 Kia Sportage EX greenish gold(ugliest color ever)
11 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited HEMI Mineral Gray
14 Honda Accord LX metallic black
19 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn Pyrite Silver
Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: Kira] #5387629 03/28/20 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Kira
Small speech: Shocks and struts are a simple wear item. If you have enough oomph to deal with larger bolts and possible rust, you can change 'em.
Do you have jack, stands, wheel chock and other tools?


+1, You can do it yourself but you'll need some bigger tools to get the larger bolts out. If you just have basic wrenches and sockets, this may be a larger pain to do this job. If you have to compress the springs and remove, you can get a spring compressor from Harbor Freight or maybe the loan a tool at the local auto parts store may have this.


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Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387631 03/28/20 07:51 AM
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They are very easy to change, use Monroe quick struts up front and Monroe OE spectrum for the rears. $118 ea for the front and under $40 ea for the rear.
No spring compressor or assy required, the strut is all assembled with all the parts it needs. The strut mount for these cars is pricey almost $50ea alone so $118 is a deal.
For not much more than $300 and a few hours of easy work you can all 4, they will last a few years easy may be longer.

Edit: even if you have to buy a $10 HF breaker bar, $10 extension and a cheap set of their cheap 1/2 drive impact sockets its still under $50 for the tools and you get to keep those. Other than that a few basic tools are all that is needed. Get a front end alignment when its done.
Don't forget the 5% Rock discount code. 133458596122328187

Last edited by Trav; 03/28/20 07:56 AM.

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Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387636 03/28/20 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by CincyDavid
I'm inclined to buy loaded struts and just change out the whole shebang. I presume it'll need an alignment when I'm done?


But the tone of your post implies you want save money over time. Probably won't need an alignment if it drives straight and if there isn't any adjustment for castor and camber.

Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387642 03/28/20 08:00 AM
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I want to minimize my outlay on this car but I also don't want to chew up tires or cause myself other grief. I'm not afraid of paying for an alignment. I'm touchy about how a vehicle tracks anyway.


03 Saturn L-200, silver
06 Kia Sportage EX greenish gold(ugliest color ever)
11 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited HEMI Mineral Gray
14 Honda Accord LX metallic black
19 VW Jetta GLI Autobahn Pyrite Silver
Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387644 03/28/20 08:07 AM
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Kira Offline
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Here's where you can find disagreement.

In all 6 strut replacement jobs I've done the stampings of the base of the strut body were Identical to the original.
I just matched the look before tightening down and never needed an alignment...never had anything but straight tire wear.

Others will instantly scream 'You gotta get an alignment or you'll die". If you're so strapped for cash....the decision will be yours.
Sometimes these are the same people who claim that the spring compressor tool is absolutely dangerous and should not be used.
While it's true there's risk involved, working smart is all you need do.

Here's a seemingly long winded scenario.....but it's not.
It helps to have an impact wrench to crack the center nut loose AFTER THE SPRINGS ARE COMPRESSED. Electric or air will do.
However, with the availability of impact tools many have decided to run the spring compressor's tightening nuts down with 'em
Here's where a bimbo beginner leans on the trigger, overcompresses one side such that the spring bends then twangs out of its seat with great force and danger.
Don't be a dippy-doo. Use only hand tools to EVENLY compress both compressor's sides.

Now that it has come up, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if auto parts stores DIDN'T have these compressors for loan due to people's mechanical inadequacies. <<That's much nicer to say than, "...because people are stupid." Which often they are.

edit: As usual, Trav is right. Get the stuff he suggested and you'll get it done fast and easy and safer. It's true that gathering the parts together can take more money and time.

NOTE: The discount code goes into the "How did you hear about us?" box in the ordering process.

Re: how hard is it to change struts? [Re: CincyDavid] #5387646 03/28/20 08:10 AM
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If your sway bar end links connect to the struts these can be a rusty hassle. I like to take a cutting wheel and cut off the stud poking through the nut, and about a millimeter of the top surface of the nut. Then I cut a thin slit in what's left of the stud, stick a flat screwdriver in it, and then the nut comes free with an open-end wrench. Do it while it's still hot.

If your new struts have an elongated hole at the knuckle for camber adjustment, you'll need an alignment. A little off-camber usually leads to a lot of toe problems, and those will eat tires. But since you didn't mess with toe, fixing camber should bring it back.

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