Are your Struts done Struttin’

Are they worn out yet?

 

Has your Subaru ever been diagnosed with bad struts? How many of you have ever been in one of those chain tire stores getting a set of tires only to be told that you need new struts and that your worn out struts will wear out your new tires prematurely?

It’s a question I hear from my customers all the time…”Mike, I just got my new tires you recommended but the tire store says my struts are bad also… how come you guys didn’t notice that?”

Since we started back in 1999 I’ve probably heard that same question over 100 times. Out of those 100 questions, upon checking out the vehicle very few ever really needed strut replacement.

The reality is that Subaru struts just happen to last a really long time under normal use. Sure… after 100,000 miles they may only work 85-90% as good as they once did but rarely are they ever “bad” at that point. Replacing your struts can be more of a decision based on your own preferences of how you want the car to ride vs. a decesion based on a mechanical failure.

If you’re unsure whether or not you need struts here are a couple of guidelines.

  • Perform a bounce test. Go to each corner of the car and get that corner bouncing up and down as high as you can and then let go… the car should stop after about 1 1/2 gyrations. If it bounces more, that strut is wearing out.
  • Inspect for hydraulic fluid leaking out of the strut. A small residual amount is normal as the piston goes up and down in the cylinder it wipes off some oil. If it’s more than just residual and trailing down the side of the strut, that strut may not be long for this world.
  • Listen for clunking or popping over speed bumps. This noise may indicate a strut is coming apart internally.

If you’d like a second opinion you can always drop in and I’ll check them for you. If your struts are getting worn, there’s no better feeling than driving a car with new struts. It will bring back the quickness and firmness in the handling as well as add a degree of safety in case of a quick avoidance maneuver.

As far as which struts to replace them with, if you’ve always liked the feel of the ride in your Subaru, use Genuine Subaru struts. If you want to try something a bit more “crisp” than what Subaru originally installed, I suggest the KYB GR2 line (also referred to as KYB Excel). It offers about a 20% more firm ride. Handling is more responsive but the downside is you do feel more of the bumps and irregularities in the road.

Click here to discover the services our experienced and certified technicians can perform on your Subaru

One other point is that sometimes Subaru’s tend to wear out the rear struts sooner than the front. Although it’s optimum to replace all 4 at the same time, it’s acceptable to do just the rears if the front’s are still performing well.

Cheers,

Mike Corbin

Independent Subaru Expert, Seattle WA

Mike Corbin

About Mike Corbin

Smart Service is a Subaru service repair and maintenance shop operated independently of Subaru of America or Fuji Heavy Industries. We are a family run business that combine high quality Subaru care, personal friendly atmosphere and a cost savings over the Subaru dealer. We have been supporting the Subaru community since 1999. Follow Mike on Google+.

197 thoughts on “Are your Struts done Struttin’

  1. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Elle,

    As far as what they did it’s merely speculation but I guess there’s a chance that the rear struts were so worn that once they work good as new, it just rides stiffer. Also there’s always a slight chance that the wrong struts were installed or improperly installed. Sorry to hear about the scratches, I hope they take care of them for you.

    Take care

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    http://www.smart-service.com
    Your Independent Subaru Expert

  2. Kider Roman

    i have a 1997 Subaru Legacy L Wagon with 157M showing and am the second owner. my problem is that all the Subies i have seen have a nose down rake to the body. mine has a slightly nose high rake. is this unusual and could it be related to the struts/springs? /s/Kider

  3. John

    Hi Mike,
    I have a 2000 Outback ltd with 145,000mi. I recently started pulling an enclosed trailer around just for local driving (Charleston, SC so it’s all flat) and it was fine at first but I’m hearing a clunking when I drive now that I think is coming from the read driver side strut. I think it was probably on it’s way out and the trailer finished it off.
    I’ll have a mechanic look at it but in the meantime, is it safe to drive locally with a bad strut with or without the trailer? It’s a clunking noise mostly over bumps but the car seems to drive ok.
    Thanks,
    John

  4. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hello Kider,

    Usually the 1997 Legacy will sit fairly level. You can actually find specs in the repair manual that state the ground clearance at different points on the vehicle. If you have the back end sagging it would more likely be the springs unless someone before you has installed the wrong struts.

    I hope this helps you solve things,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  5. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi John,
    I can’t speak for your Subaru specifically without seeing it but so far in all the cases I’ve seen, the car will remain drivable although it won’t handle as well is the strut is failing. If something with the strut has become detached that could be unsafe. It’s just tough to tell from a description only.

    I hope this helps,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  6. Bill

    I know you have heard it, but just want to post up. I went to get an alignment check today, and they said my bushing have wear, and that I have the original Struts on my car with 191K on them. they recommend replacing the struts, and they said they would do all four and an alignment for $620 out the door. I can get the back bouncing pretty good standing on the bumper but it stops bouncing quick, the front hardly bounces at all and stops immediately. what do you recommend?

  7. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Bill,
    Well first of all $620 out the door for all 4 struts and a 4 way alignment sounds like a great price. If only the back are bouncing though you can just have them replace the year and see how it drives. If the fronts have 191k on them they’ll benefit from replacement too but considering the age and value of the vehicle they may still be adequate.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    Shoreline, WA
    http://www.smart-service.com

  8. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Hans,
    It can be caused by the struts themselves but also the sway bar and end links in the front or rear can also cause a similar noise. Also the power steering rack inner mount bushings if worn can cause similar sounds also.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  9. sharon

    I have a 2010 Subaru outback with 82k miles on it. It went in for an oil change and my mechanic said I need struts they are leaking. I called the dealership where I bought the car certified and he said warranty doesn’t cover struts but he does not think the car should need struts this soon. He also said the warranty on a certified car would need struts. Question: How much would struts and labor cost? If I purchased certified and used should it be covered under warranty? Any advice?

  10. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Sharon, First I’d take the car to the dealership and have them evaluate the struts. I agree it probably doesn’t need them at this mileage and possibly one is just failing prematurely. I would be curious how they do in a “bounce” test to see if they are functioning properly. Also curious if only one strut is leaking, therefore they recommended all four? In most cases if one is leaking you can replace them in pairs (either both fronts or both rears). After they evaluate them and if they are needed expect to pay somewhere between $400-600 for the rear pair and $500-700 for the front pair.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  11. sharon

    Mike,
    Thank you. He said front struts. I bought a warranty with the car last year.. The dealer said warranty doesn’t cover struts. I will have dealer re-evaluate.

  12. Daniel Mackay

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for all your knowledge base you provide!

    I drive a 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i with 90k miles and no aftermarket mods. I recently took my car to my mechanic in Austin, Tx before taking a road trip to Colorado. He told me a couple things on my car need attention but could wait until I returned (transmission fluid was very dirty, drivers side CV axle has leak, oil cooler hose leak, and front struts leaking more than “normal”). I am posting on this forum to get some expert advice about replacing my struts. My car smoothly and quietly on flat roads without bumps but is fairly rough going over anything bumpy, especially speed bumps. It has a lot of lean/rock when making a turn on a steep slope. It basically does not drive like it did when i bought the car with 45k on it despite driving on rough colorado mountain roads and doing some off roading to boot. I plan on keeping my car until it dies and really want a more fun driving/handling car. I realize you can’t make something out of nothing and i do drive a station wagon.

    Here is my plan as of now without hearing your advice. I want to replace all four struts with KYB excel struts and replace the mounts but keep the dust boots because they look fine. I want to add whiteline thick rear and front stabilizer bars using my factory end links since i will not be tracking this car or racing. Ive been told ill notice more difference from the sway/stabilizer bars than replacing the struts especially the rear stabilizer bar if I’m only able to replace one. I was also considering replacing all four springs with some performance springs but realize it will drop my outback a little bit and wasn’t sure how i feel about that…(i would say I’m somewhat neutral since i don’t live in colorado where i need clearance from the snow but i do love how high the outback sits currently) what would you think about adding performance springs to this specific Subaru? Im really looking to enhance my suspension to make my car a more fun and responsive daily driver. My car has continental contipro tires on all four wheels. Can you recommend anything else or is what I’m doing overkill for my car? I really appreciate any feedback! Labor for the struts will cost 300$ plus a 120$ alignment and the performance mechanic will install the rear sway bar for free….front will cost about 45$ labor. Also, any recommendations on transmission flushes? it is a automatic and have hear horror stories about people who do a full flush and their transmission ends of being worse than before? Thanks again Mike

  13. Sherry

    I have a 2010 Subaru Legacy and I have been told by a mechanic my front struts need replaced. The driver’s side is leaking and the passenger side is weak. Is it recommended both struts be replaced at the same time? The dealership told me the extended warranty will only cover the leaking strut. I thought both struts should be replaced because one will be brand new and one will be worn. This could cause imbalance while driving. The bad thing is the dealership said my car was completely fine and I told them I had it to a mechanic so they checked again and then found the leaking strut.

  14. marcus

    After the last winter spent battling car swallowing holes on the NJ Turnpike and around NYC we noticed a clunking up front at any speed for our 2004 Forester with 190K. Was quoted $600 for front strut replacement from (the best) Scubie dealer in NJ. The prescription and price seem reasonable given the comments above. Thanks for writing this article, it helped.

  15. Neeru

    Hi Mike,

    I have a 2010 Subaru Forester with 46K miles on it. Had transmission flush done in March and after that as soon as the temp started going above 55 deg. (I’m in IL and the car stays out all year long), started hearing a clunking noise while reversing out of the parking spot and also when turning. Only hear the sounds when the temp is warmer, no noise when it goes back to below 50, especially in the lower 40s. Took it to a local shop. They recommend having both the front sway bar links and bushings replaced. Should this problem already be occurring? Could something else be going on and anything else needs to be checked as well? I’ve noted your recommendation for struts and power steering rack inner mount bushings to ask the mechanic to look at those well. Just want to make sure the problem is fixed right the first time. Thanks for your input!

  16. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Daniel,
    I think for what you are trying to accomplish the KYB struts along with the front and rear sway bars will make a significant difference. Also, on the automatic transmission flush, we do them all the time and have yet to see any negative issues arise because of one.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  17. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Sherry,
    We usually replace the struts in pairs but if one strut is still in good shape and the car has low miles on it, you can probably get away with just replacing the one bad one without any negative effects.

    Take care,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  18. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hello Neeru,
    Hmm… that one is a bit odd and I really don’t have any initial idea for you. It is possible that the wrong transmission fluid was used and that you are hearing torque bind in which the 4wd locks up too much and causes the car to bind and clunk in a sharp turn at low speeds. If it feels like it is binding and fighting you it may be a fluid issue. If not, I’m not sure where to direct you without seeing the car.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  19. Pat

    hi mike I just purchased a 2010 Forrester. I was very unhappy with the handling of the car. I took it to an independent repair shop and they balanced the tires did a front wheel alignment and layed one of the rotors. Now the steering is much better, but it bounces from side to side when turning and over the slightest bumps. I don’t think it would handle well performing quick Manuevers. Do you think this is a shock or strut issue.
    Thanks
    Pat.

  20. Jonathan Albert

    Hi Mike,

    I am hearing a lot of clunking noise coming from rear of my 2001 Forester with 180K and original struts.

    I made this video to capture the noise, and wonder if you can comment as to whether you think the noise is actually coming from Strut or Strut Mount.

    https://youtu.be/gLlEn6fKxgg

    Thanks for any help!

    Jon

  21. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Jonathan,
    That’s a great video. Unfortunately I can’t tell by listening to it what the noise is. It is likely coming from the strut. Sometimes you can have a person hold onto the spring while the other person bounces the car. If it is the strut, you’ll usually feel the pop/clunk in your hand.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    http://www.smart-service.com
    Your Independent Subaru Expert

  22. ben

    hi i have a subaru forester xt 2002 ex-Japan i replaced my rear shocks with KYB type. the ones i replaced were the sls type now the car lost clearance significantly and is bumping its undersides at every speed hump and ridge. some hv suggested tht i should hv replaced the springs as well. any suggestions on wat i can do

  23. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Ben,
    It just sounds like the struts may be the improper application. If they were correct the old springs would swap over and without any noticable difference except a better ride.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin

    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  24. mike

    Hi Mike
    Thanks for your posts & info!
    I just put new tires on my 2004 Forester (142K) and the tire guy recommended allignment, so I said go ahead. He then told me the buahings were worn so the allignment would be true but the steering wheel would be slightly off center. He didn’t try to sell me anything additional , however. Just wondering if this is common and if it means I should expect to need new struts etc soon.
    Thank you!

  25. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Mike,
    My thought is that if the steering wheel was centered before the alignment it should be possible to center it after. It is possible that a worn suspension bushing could make it more difficult to align but most of the time centering the steering wheel just has to do with adjusting the toe.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  26. Tassey

    Hi, I’m looking at purchasing a 2010 Subaru outback with 29k miles. I took my mechanic to come look at it and he said one rear strut is leaking and three tires are slightly cracking (although the tread is still good) . I’m not sure if I should keep looking (I’ve already really looked around a lot, saw everything that is already there in my price range) or swallow the repairs for a used 6 yrs of vehicle. I’m at a loss. What are your thoughts? Btw I was told that a car with so few miles should not have this problem, and possibly it was in an accident . I question that logic as the carfax was clean. Any insight would be appreciated!!
    Thanks
    Tassey

  27. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Tassey,

    If the car is priced right I don’t think I’d let the strut and tires concern me. If it was sitting in the sun it could explain the tires and although not common the rear strut may have just failed. (also although the strut is leaking if it’s only a slight seep it may still be functional so make sure you qualify that with the shop). The mileage is the only thing in question and carfax is usually accurate, although just like everything, some people have found ways around it too.

    Usually if a car only has 29000 miles it should be extremely clean underneath.

    I hope this helps,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  28. Mike

    Mike, I have a 2010 Subaru Forester with 282,000 on it. The original struts/shocks were replaced with KYB units in April 2014. The right rear is now leaking, and I have an appt to have it replaced under warranty, parts cost only of course, remove/reinstall labor not warrantied of course. My question is, is it necessary to have a 4 wheel alignment done when just the one unit is being replaced. Tire wear is fine, rotate every 7000 miles. A quick reply would be greatly appreciated, as appt is Monday 2-15 @ 10 a.m. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

  29. Bob

    I live in the Eugene, Or area. Do you have an independent Subaru shop you could recommend within a 30 mile radius?

  30. Jim Wilson

    Good Day Sir

    I have a 2000 Subaru legacy outback wagon with 2.5 auto transmission
    I live in Canada in the Arctic and just bought this car. found a few things that needed fixing and one of them was broken front spring on right (drivers side) so ordered new struts and springs. now to get them here a friend put them in his suitcase, to do that he unboxed them and I don’t know part numbers of springs but i do see one has a flat coil and one does not.which is left and right and does the flat go up or down on the strut.
    I am asking because the broken spring was missing a bit from the top and I don’t know if it was flat or round. the passengers side is round top and bottom so it must not go there but i want to make sure
    thank you for your time on this

  31. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Jim,
    What would be best is to have your friend call a Subaru dealer with your vin#. Their parts department can fax or email him a blow up of the front suspension and from there he can see how the L and R spring are installed in relation to their struts.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

  32. Dermot OD.

    Hi Mike,

    Great site and source for info. My 2005 Outback Wagon (95k miles) feels like it “bottom’s out” on the speed bumps/pillows in our neighborhood. I’ve been told by a local shop that the bushes in the strut and lateral control arms need replacing. Does this sound like it would help with the effect I’m sensing?

    thanks, Dermot

  33. latasha patterson

    My strut dropped down on top of my tired does this mean my strut is bad and needs to b replaced?

  34. Josh Anatta

    Dear Mike,

    Thank you for this wonderful resource on Subaru Struts!

    I have a 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5X. It makes a clunking noise when driving over rough roads that sounds like the compressor clunking in a refrigerator when you move it across the floor. My mechanic showed me that the front and rear passenger struts are leaking fluid, while the driver side struts are not.

    His shop and others would prefer to use quick strut/spring assemblies in the front and rear. Unfortunately, they are having difficulty finding assemblies for the rear. Are there any that you would recommend? I have only been able to find some on Ebay, but am not sure if they would really be compatible with my car. Do any of the following look like they would do the job?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MONO-RS-COILOVER-SUSPENSION-DAMPER-STRUT-KIT-FOR-SUBARU-FORESTER-08-13-SH-/172194205458?fits=Year%3A2008%7CMake%3ASubaru%7CModel%3AForester%7CSubmodel%3A2.5+X%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A2.5L&hash=item2817930f12:g:kHgAAOSwrXdXKpLx&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MONO-MAX-COILOVER-DAMPER-STRUT-SPRING-KIT-FRONT-REAR-For-Subaru-Forester-08-1-/172195011853?fits=Year%3A2008%7CMake%3ASubaru%7CModel%3AForester%7CSubmodel%3A2.5+X%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A2.5L&hash=item28179f5d0d:g:tsEAAOSwKfVXKpwV&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/For-02-07-Subaru-Impreza-WRX-STI-GDB-GDA-04-STI-Coilovers-Suspension-Kit-Struts-/222219795395?fits=Year%3A2008%7CMake%3ASubaru%7CModel%3AForester%7CSubmodel%3A2.5+X%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A2.5L&hash=item33bd54fbc3:g:0owAAOSw1DtXEKdl&vxp=mtr

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/for-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-Subaru-Impreza-Forester-GDB-GDA-coilover-Strut-/152055328284?fits=Year%3A2008%7CMake%3ASubaru%7CModel%3AForester%7CSubmodel%3A2.5+X%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A2.5L&hash=item2367342e1c:g:qecAAOSwdzVXvA8w&vxp=mtr#vi-ilComp

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Full-Coilover-Kit-for-Subaru-Impreza-WRX-GDA-GDB-Adj-Height-Camber-Plates-/400999332712?fits=Year%3A2008%7CMake%3ASubaru%7CModel%3AForester%7CSubmodel%3A2.5+X%7CEngine+-+Liter_Display%3A2.5L&hash=item5d5d6c3b68:g:efgAAOSw2x1XLCoB&vxp=mtr

    Thank you for any help you can offer and thanks again for this great resource!

    Josh

  35. Tabi

    Hello Mike,
    I have a 2008 Subaru Legacy with about 190,000 miles. For about half the year, I had been hearing wicked squeaking from the rear…my mechanic has replaced the rear struts and is scheduled to replace the right rear upper control arm. Problem is, now I am hearing a new noise… loud “clunk”/”thump” from the rear after the new struts were put on. What are your thoughts on what could be causing this? … I should also mention rear sway arm bushings have also been replaced months ago.

    Thanks.

  36. Steve

    Hey Mike, Great site, thanks for all the good info!
    I have a an 04 Forester with 206,000 miles. I have been hearing a faint clunking noise going over bumps (when the wheel would get a lot of travel). I don’t hear it during turns. My shop says the right strut mount is broken and recommends replacing both front struts (they are original) due to mileage. They use the KYB struts. Would you recommend these over OEM parts and do you think I have gotten my moneys worth out of the originals?
    Thanks!!
    Steve

  37. Kris

    I have a 2011 Impreza outback sport with 66k miles. My Subaru dealer said I needed to replace the
    right front and the left front lower control arm brushings…..Approx $400. I took it in today to have the brushings replaced and they called me to say my rear struts were leaking and should be replaced and the front ones were “worn.” $700 for front ($700 for rear). I can’t believe this car should need these EXPENSIVE repairs @$66,000 miles. About 3 months ago I had my 60,000 mile service which totaled
    $1245 (included front and rear brakes….replace pads and resurface rotors). I have taken very good care of this car w/ regular oil changes and maintenance. This is my third Subaru and could be my last. What do you think? I HAD been a big fan. It seems that each time I take my car to the dealer…they give me a print out of 5 or more additional problems that MAY happen.

  38. Pingback: Finally my big maintenance project is finished! - Page 2 - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums

  39. Sean KONG

    Hi
    I decided to go for Subaru Forester XT 2.00 (2014) with 11,0000 km (dealer demo car) a few months ago. When I have the driving test everything feel good but recently when I have noticed on the bouncy or country road. It is soft as other car and it is not responsive enough to this kind of road.
    I went to a garage for checking they suspect Spring, Shock and Struts but all original parts are in good condition. Do you have any advice please?
    My best,
    Sean

  40. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi Sean,
    I’m not sure how harsh the road is but with only 11000km on the car the struts should be in great condition. It may be just the way the car performs on that particular road. If you are not sure, take it to a Subaru dealer and explain the situation. It may be normal for that model but it is smart to a dealer and get their opinion. I’m not sure if the particular road is in driving distance of the dealer but I might suggest taking them on that particular road to see what they think.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

    Now also selling online at http://www.smartqualityparts.com

  41. David Sanchez

    I just purchased a 2016 Subaru STI base and two weeks into owning it. I noticed the car was hitting extremely hard on the passenger front end. I took the car to my nearest Subaru dealership and they advised me the front passenger strut was low on hydraulic fluid. They then advised I can pick it up and they had ordered the part (hydraulic fluid) and told me once the fluid arrived so they will fill my strut back to normal specs. I’ve never heard this before and wanted to get opinion on this. Wouldn’t it be wiser to either replace the strut as I’m still under warranty or replace the seals and then add hydraulic fluid?

  42. Mike CorbinMike Corbin Post author

    Hi David,

    Hmm, not sure why they would say that. If it’s a factory Subaru strut and is low on fluid, the whole strut would need replacement. They are a non servicable part. There are some aftermarket coil over struts that are rebuildable and if this was the case they may have a point but other than that I have no idea why they would state that.

    Take care,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert
    http://www.smart-service.com

    Also, for your Subaru parts needs visit http://www.smartqualityparts.com

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