Replacement for front shocks/struts

  • 2002 INFINITI G20
  • 4.0L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • 180,000 MILES

I need a new suspension for the front of my car. Is there any complete quick struts for my car? If not, what do I need (exact) for all the components to make one? Thank you

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Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 AT 6:04 PM

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I do not show a "Quick Strut" available, but I did not look at every source or manufacturer. You can look up the parts on auto parts stores web sites.

If you have to replace struts with individual parts, this is not a worthwhile do-it-yourselfer job, both because of cost and for safety. You will need a strut compressor to get the coil spring off. The pair of threaded hooks work okay for light rear springs, but consider them toys when working with the really strong front springs. You can rent a clam shell compressor for the fronts, but those are just as dangerous. I saw a spring fly out of one and take out an 8' shop light, and I had one squirt out and sail all the way across the shop and out the door into the parking lot. It made so much noise, the office manager, who was sitting behind two closed doors, came running out to see what the commotion was all about. Either of those could easily have killed someone.

The upper spring plate has a center hole that can rust away and let the top pf the strut wobble around. That will let the wheel tip in and out on top and make it impossible to be held in proper alignment. There is rarely any way to know a new plate is needed until the assembly is taken apart and the parts can be inspected.

This is a good time to replace the upper bearings. They support the entire weight of the front of the car, and they allow the struts to turn with the steering system while holding that weight. If one should bind due to dirt, rust, or a cracked bearing, the entire assembly has to be pulled apart again to fix that. Most mechanics will want to replace them right away to avoid that future problem.

There is a bellows and bumper on the shaft of the strut. The bellows keeps dirt and water off the shaft to reduce wear to the upper seal. The bumper cushions the strut from bottoming out on hard bumps and turns. I forgot to transfer those once. Believe me, you do not want to drive a car with those missing. You can get away with reusing your old bumpers, as long as you understand if one comes apart and falls off, you get to do the job all over again.

The most important thing to look at before the job is started is ride height. Your alignment specialist will check that and will usually refuse to align the car if ride height is not correct. The suspension parts are held in a very strict geometry to cause the wheels to go through specific motions as the car moves up and down over bumps and while cornering. You can get poor tire wear and you will get less-than-ideal handling with incorrect ride height, even if the numbers from the alignment computer say the alignment is perfect. Those number only apply to a car that's standing still, on the hoist, not to one that is in motion on the road.

Every tire and alignment shop will have a large wall chart that lists the height specs for every car model, and where those measurements are to be taken. For most cars this just takes a minute or two. If the car is sagged, the springs must be replaced. This is the biggest advantage of using Quick Struts. You get the new springs to restore ride height, and all the other parts to avoid the problems they can cause.

I was an alignment specialist for over fifteen years, including ten years at a very nice family-owned Chrysler dealership. At the dealership, with the proper tools, I could replace two front struts, and have the car ready to align, in about twenty minutes. It was my fault and up to me to correct it if I did something wrong. Of course I did not get paid for my time to correct my mistakes. Years later I needed to replace the struts on my minivan, and while I had the experience and the proper tools, it still took me a couple of hours with the vehicle sitting on a granite driveway. The savings in terms of dollars is not a good value for most people.

When you do this job yourself, you take on the responsibility for correcting anything that was done incorrectly. You still have to take the car in for the alignment. You can expect to be charged for anything obvious they have to correct. For problems that show up later, you can also expect to have to pay for another alignment after the mistakes are fixed. All of those liabilities and responsibilities are borne by the person who did the work.

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Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 AT 6:55 PM

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