Upper strut mounts. If you're feeling that popping and releasing in the spring, the bearing in the upper mount is bad and the mount needs to be replaced. It's a plate about 5" in diameter that bolts to the inner fender, and the shaft of the strut bolts to the center hole. The center hole can also rust away and allow the shaft of the strut to wobble around. The shaft is what holds the wheel upright and keeps it in alignment. That damage can't be seen until the assembly is removed and disassembled to replace the struts, then the mechanic has to tell you more parts are needed. Some shops quote the cost to replace struts and include new upper mounts in case they're needed, then they can surprise you with a lower bill if they aren't needed.
Ride height is also important for proper handling and braking. Coil springs sag with age, and that changes the geometry of the suspension system. That greatly affects tire wear even when a car appears to be in perfect alignment on the alignment computer.
It takes about an hour to replace two front struts. It takes just as much work to replace just the upper mounts, so if you can live with the binding until new struts are needed, everything can be replaced at once. To address the time involved, the likelihood of finding weak springs, and the chance of finding a worn upper mount, some aftermarket companies are offering "quick struts". These are becoming popular because you get the entire assembly ready to install. There's new springs, new upper mounts, new struts, no need for a strut compressor, and it saves some time. As a suspension and alignment specialist, I'm very picky about correct ride height for the ride and handling qualities and the legal issues. These quick struts restore the ride height to where it should be, and they aren't much more expensive than just the struts.
Friday, January 31st, 2014 AT 12:25 AM