1997 Honda CRV Front & Rear Struts

  • 1997 HONDA CRV
  • 4 CYL
  • 4WD
  • 170,000 MILES

I bought 4 struts for the car at Advance Auto on a Monday and had a reputable car repair place (Kwik Kar) install them on the following Saturday. They quoted me about $400.00 to install the struts. On Saturday at the end of the day they said the back rear right strut was defective so Advance Auto traded out the part on Monday. Kwik Kar charged me an extra 100 to install the defective part and reinstall the good part plus Kwik Kar said the car didn't need an alignment after all because the struts are so good. I thought all cars needed an alignment after struts are installed. I'm upset I had to pay the extra 100.00 when I was going to use that money for an alignment. What should I do?

Do you
have the same problem?
Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 AT 8:37 AM

1 Reply


Yes, you're upset at having to pay twice, and that is exactly why most repair shops won't even allow you to supply your own parts. We warn people about this all the time. So what have you saved in the long run?

This is like bringing your own food to a restaurant and asking them to cook it for you. On the slim chance you could find one willing to do that, who are you going to blame if you don't like what you're eating? Would you expect them to cook you a second meal for free? Would YOU be happy doing a job for someone a second time when the first job was unsuccessful, and it wasn't your fault? The mechanic didn't do anything wrong, so of course you can be expected to pay for his labor the second time.

Normally when you have parts replaced at a shop, they mark them up a little, just like Walmart, a jewelry store, or any other business. That small profit on the parts is what pays for the mechanic to do the job a second time when one of those parts is defective or fails in a few weeks. No shop will charge you the second time when the parts are still under warranty. The mechanic though, still deserves to be paid since the failure was not his fault, and the shop owner knows that. This is where the parts profit goes. Also, we sometimes break a new part but we don't expect you to pay for the replacement too. The shop covers that.

When you supply the parts, you are taking on the responsibility for buying a replacement if one gets broken. You are responsible for taking a defective part back to the parts store while you car is torn apart on the hoist and preventing the mechanic from working on someone elses car. You are responsible for arguing whether that part should even be replaced under warranty or if you're going to have to buy another one. You took all that responsibility away from the mechanic and that shop. As such, it is up to you to get the defective strut replaced. If the shop did that for you, they did that for you as a courtesy.

The exception to this is every shop has people who do nothing but order needed parts all day long and figure out how to get them there. On rare occasions they may be presented with an uncommon car, an old car, or one in which the needed parts are no longer available. Since it would take up a real lot of that person's time locating the needed parts and getting them delivered, they may ask you to do that. In that case you still have the responsibility to get parts that aren't defective, but the shop will still assume the responsibility for the mechanic causing accidental damage to them.

You are correct about the alignment issue, ... Bit not on your car. Most cars have struts that are attached on the bottom with two large bolts. One of the holes is oblong to allow for adjustment of "camber". That is the inward or outward tilt of the wheel. Your car uses a design that Ford used for many years. The front ones just have the tube slide into a pocket in the spindle. There is no camber adjustment, and the alignment will be exactly where it was with the old strut. If the alignment is off now, it was before too. If the alignment was correct before, it still is. When you have no camber adjustment, you have what you got. The engineers at Ford had their camber set REAL high to give a better ride quality than that of their competitors, so they sold a pile of cars, but they didn't tell you the tires would be shredded on the outer edges after 15,000 miles. Your car calls for normal camber settings, but if one is wrong, you look for bent parts, weakened body sheet metal, or sagged coil springs.

The rear struts on your car are totally uninvolved with the alignment. They are just a giant shock absorber with the coil spring holding up that corner of the car. Camber and toe are adjusted by other means.

What you might consider is $400.00 is a lot to install four struts, even if that included an alignment. I was the suspension and alignment specialist at a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership for ten years, so I replaced a lot of struts on those cars. I could do two front struts in about 20 minutes if I worked efficiently; 30 minutes if I had to stop to tell a joke to someone. At that rate they charged you $400.00 for an hour of labor. $100.00 to do the replacement strut is also a real lot. It sounds like they were making up for the lost profit on the parts, which would have been perhaps a total of $60.00. Typically there are other things included I'm not aware of, so I wouldn't run screaming that you paid too much until I know all the details. Still, pointing out the high labor charge might give you a little leverage in negotiating something less than $100.00 for that defective strut.

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 AT 10:48 PM

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