If you have leaking struts or ones with a broken coil spring, find out why it’s best to replace them in pairs and how to replace them yourself with these tips.
Symptoms of Bad Struts
Broken Coil Spring
If the coil spring on the strut is split or cracked and broken, it could throw off your car’s alignment and wear out the tires.
Rattling Noise Over Bumps
Clanging Sound at the Front of the Car
While driving, you may hear a clanging sensation from the area of the struts, which is usually the front of the car, if the strut is in bad condition.
Binding when Turning or Steering
You may feel like the steering wheel is binding and releasing tension when turning if the struts are bad. If the strut has a broken coil spring, that can cause a binding issue.
When driving over bumps or coming to a stop, you may notice your car excessively bouncing up and down if the struts are worn. You may notice your car feels bumpier while driving.
Abnormal Tire Wear
Abnormal tire wear, like one side of the tire wearing out faster than the other, is a common sign of worn struts or a misaligned car.
If you drive with worn struts, your can can eventually need a new alignment as it misaligns over time.
If the struts are damaged, like taking a dent from a rock, or if they’re worn and broken they can leak. Leaking struts are a sign of bad strut and means they need to be replaced.
Problems with Vehicle Height Adjustment
If the struts are worn, this can throw the height of your car off, and you may find it sagging to one side or another.
What Causes a Strut or Coil Spring to Fail?
Worn Coating, Rust, or Use
Sometimes a strut will have a broken coil spring because a weak part on the spring causes it to crack.
There is a coating along the outside of the coil spring. If the coating wears away, it can rust, crack, and break over time. The spring can also break from the struts wearing over time. Struts are a wear item and will fail at some point. Extra stress on the springs will cause a weak spot and it will eventually break.
How to Fix Struts That Are Damaged, Leaking or Broken
Replace the Struts in Pairs as an Assembly
If your strut has a broken coil spring, you can replace just the spring, but this will take a lot of time and this repair requires extra precaution. You’ll also need special tools to replace a broken spring. Once the spring has been replaced, the worn strut will still have more mileage on it than a new one. If you drive often, this will give you less use out of the strut than if you replaced the entire strut assembly with a new one.
Replacing the strut with a whole new assembly will save you time. There will be less steps to replace the strut and you won’t have to worry about the strut failing soon than if you replace only the broken coil spring.
More on how to inspect the struts
When replacing a damaged strut, we recommend you replace the strut on the opposite side of the same end you’re working on. This will improve your ride quality, and the struts will wear at a similar rate than if you replace only one.
If you only replace one strut, that can cause drivability or height adjustment issues. It can sag the car and also cause alignment problems and tire wear.
Diagnose with Caution
If you find the spring is broken we recommend taking precaution. There’s a lot of tension on the spring, and if one is potentially broken, you don’t want to just grab the coil spring and wiggle it since you could loosen something and hurt yourself.
Use Our How-to Videos to Replace Your Car Parts
Find out how to replace suspension parts like the struts, coil spring, and more with our how-to videos. Our step-by-step instructions from expert mechanics can help you replace bad struts yourself. Find a video for your specific model or one similar to it in our how-to video library.