Shock absorbers and strut assemblies are the workhorses of any suspension. They dampen the oscillations from the suspension springs to provide a smoother ride. Front struts also contribute to the vehicle’s handling by providing a pivot point for the steering system.
Because they operate constantly and often endure rough use, both shocks and struts can wear out earlier than their expected average lifespan of 50,000 to 100,000 miles. While it’s possible to drive with old or damaged shocks and strut assemblies, it won’t feel pleasant. Furthermore, extreme wear on these parts can reduce a vehicle’s handling and braking performance, ultimately compromising vehicle ride quality and even tire life, and safety, to a certain extent.
Strut suspension carries the weight of the vehicle higher in the car body and renders the vehicle more stable and less likely to roll.
Some drivers may feel reluctant to replace worn or damaged shocks and struts simply because of the cost. After all, replacement assemblies can cost a pretty penny. There’s also the expense of hiring a trained mechanic to install the new parts.
If you’re in need of new shocks and struts, read on to learn more about how much you can expect to pay.
How Much Would It Cost to Replace Your Shocks and Struts?
A typical shock and strut replacement can set you back anywhere between $450 and $1,100. However, keep in mind that this can vary depending on the type of vehicle suspension you have and your location.
To begin with, shocks come in several grades, and you get what you pay for. But heavy duty shocks can sometimes cause a harsh ride much different from the OEM shock absorbers. Most shocks now are nitrogen-charged and actually help support the weight of the vehicle; older oil-only shocks didn’t do that.
When a strut cartridge is purchased, it’s more affordable than buying the entire assembly because much of the old hardware (the spring, strut mount, etc.) are all re-used. But there’s extra labor in the breaking down of the shock. It requires a special spring compressor (don’t try it at home) and reassembling it, then reinstalling the assembly. Sometimes a wheel alignment may be necessary after strut replacement, depending on the suspension configuration, so that cost will need to be factored in (or not) depending on the vehicle.
The total cost of a replacement job can be divided between labor and parts. Drivers should also anticipate additional costs, such as wheel alignment.
Mechanics charge for their technical expertise and the effort they expend in maintaining or repairing a vehicle. Estimated labor costs for replacing a shock and strut assembly can range anywhere from $150 to $300 per assembly.
Auto repair shops charge higher labor costs to help cover the greater overhead of running a physical facility. Dealerships may charge even more because of their affiliation with the vehicle’s manufacturer.
Drivers with extensive experience in DIY auto repair may save on labor costs by removing the old shocks and struts and installing the new ones themselves. However, if you lack the knowledge and tools for the job, it’s better to leave it to a professional. Note that the springs on a set of struts can cause severe injury when mishandled, so don’t try disassembling struts yourself unless you know how to do it right.
Purchasing replacement shocks and struts will take up a large chunk of your overall expense. An individual shock and strut assembly can cost anywhere between $150 and $900.
Because it’s recommended to replace the shocks and struts in pairs, this cost can easily multiply.
Auto repair shops often have markups on the replacement parts they offer, while official dealerships use original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts that cost even more. To save on costs, consider purchasing an aftermarket replacement online. They typically offer the same performance as the factory-issued parts, but for a more competitive price.
Wheel Alignment Cost
Installing new shocks and struts can alter vehicle alignment. This results in uneven tire wear, which may contribute to early tire failure.
To prevent this, mechanics almost always recommend a wheel alignment after a strut replacement. Depending on the type of suspension on your vehicle, an alignment may also be required after the shocks are replaced.
An alignment will return the wheels to manufacturer-specified positions, restoring normal tire wear patterns and extending tire lifespan.
The cost of a wheel alignment can vary between $150 and $200. Meanwhile, the supplies for the job will set you back by about $20.
Is It Possible to Replace Just the Shocks or the Strut Assembly?
Shock absorbers and struts are different components. While both dampers are part of the vehicle’s suspension, front struts are also part of the steering system.
It’s possible to remove either the shocks or the struts if your vehicle has struts in the front and shocks in the rear. However, operating the vehicle with a mix of old and new dampers may produce unpleasant results.
Symptoms of Failing Shocks and Struts
No automotive part is immune to wear. A shock absorber and strut assembly typically endures more wear than most, especially if the vehicle is frequently driven on rough roads.
- Knocking, thumping, or rattling sounds
- Bumpy ride
- The vehicle’s front or rear end dips when accelerating or braking hard
- The vehicle’s body rolls during turns
- “Cupped” tire wear pattern
- Hydraulic fluid leakage
If these symptoms present themselves, check the shock absorbers and strut assemblies to confirm which part has reached the end of its service life.
Selecting the Right Shock Absorber and Strut Assembly
It’s important to make sure the new shock absorber and strut assembly is compatible with your vehicle. Take advantage of our website’s vehicle selector and search filters to find a wide selection of suspension components that are guaranteed to fit your vehicle.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.
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