When To Replace Shocks and Struts

when to replace strutsI have a Nissan Pathfinder with approximately 203,000 miles. How do you know when it is time to replace the struts and/or shocks? What are the symptoms? I hear thumping and thudding sounds near my front tires. Can this also be a symptom?

I have a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder with approximately 203,000 miles. Approximately one month ago, I had a brake job done. My front pads were changed and the “original” rotors had to be replaced because they could not be “turned” or “resurfaced” because of thinness. I have never had a brake job done on my rear brakes. However, they were cleaned and aligned.

Prior to this, I heard a loud thudding, shifting, noise which also caused my vehicle to nose-dive from the rear when the brakes were applied. The mechanic assured me that cleaning the rear brakes would not eliminate the “nose-diving” from the rear, but it would make it better once they are cleaned and aligned.

Is there anything that could be done to eliminate this nose-diving sensation and thudding sound from the rear when applying my brakes? This has been occurring for years. Other Pathfinders do not “nose-dive.” What else could this be?

Thank you for your attention and assistance. I look forward to your reply.

Hello there,

Most manufactures recommend inspecting and or replacing shocks and struts around the 60K interval. A worn out strut or shock will cause a bumpy ride and can cause some thumping noises like you describe.

They really don’t cause any other real structural damage to the vehicle, just mostly a ride/comfort issue more than anything else. Should you run out and replace your struts and shocks at 60K miles? NOOOOOOO, I have seen many struts last twice that mileage and still perform their job correctly. The keyword here is “inspect”.

If you hear this thumping noise when you go over a bump or train tracks it could be due to worn out struts or strut mount bearings which are at the top of the strut and hold the strut to the vehicle.

When these parts wear out over time they can cause a rattle or a thump noise because the strut is coming in contact with the body of the vehicle since this supporting mount has disintegrated and is not cushioning the strut anymore.

I would ask your mechanic (preferably 2 or 3 mechanics at different shops to compare opinions and price quotes) to take a test drive with you and perform a “bounce test” to see if the struts warrant replacing.

This simple bounce test is just that, bouncing on the front of the vehicle and watching to see how many times the vehicle bounces up and down before the bouncing stops. Too much bouncing indicates worn struts and shocks.

Make sure they take a test drive with you and hear the same noise you do. You want to make sure the work order you sign states the complaint properly not just “replace struts”. You do this in case the noise is still present after the repairs you have it in writing what your original complaint was.

I like to get specific and say write on the work order exactly the noise I hear…”noise on bumps or train tracks on passenger front area and is worse at 40MPH, MIKE J. rode with me and heard the noise I am referring to”

Get someone to be accountable! I see this all the time. A customer spends $1200 to solve a noise issue and the noise that was bugging them is STILL making noise.

Unfortunately the work order they signed did not specify exactly what the problem was, just “noise when going over bumps, replace struts”. You want to give them the complaint and make them determine what the proper repair is to be.

Please share this with your friends,
Austin Davis

Posted in: Front End Problems

9 Comments on "When To Replace Shocks and Struts"

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  1. Rita says:

    Great information Austin, I really appreciate everything you do for us “know nothing” car owners 🙂

  2. Tania says:

    I took my car in for an oil change yesterday and the mechanic said “its about time to replace your struts”. I had to go home and Google when to replace struts and found your article. It seems he was just trying to sell me on the repair as you talked about. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Austin Davis says:

      Yes, funny how “mechanics” can recommend strut repairs without even driving the vehicle to really determine if they are needed. Some struts are oil filled and will leak oil when they are bad, and you can see the oil leak on the strut during the oil change, but many mechanics just like to “sell them” based on age and mileage of the vehicle.

  3. Joan E. says:

    Love your site Austin!

  4. Ruthie says:

    I was told my front struts are worn out and need to be replaced in my Kia Sedona with 60,000 miles for $590. I don’t feel anything really wrong with the way the vehicle drives, do I need to do this?

    • By Austin Davis says:

      I have the same vehicle with 97,000 miles and still have the original struts, and no issues. In some cases the strut bearings and bushings will wear out and you will hear a bumping noise when you drive over train tracks and large pot holes.

      In that case, I would replace the struts but if you don’t hear any noises or feel any uncontrollable bouncing in the vehicle over bumpy roads you can probably pass on this repair for now.

      Every mechanic likes to sell struts and sometimes they their reasoning is just based on mileage and not any actual complaints or problems….which is not a good reason to me.

  5. adidas soccer cleats says:

    I hear thumping and thudding sounds near my front tires. Can this also be a symptom?

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