Are your Struts done Struttin’

February 1, 2012

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.

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

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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+.

131 Responses to “Are your Struts done Struttin’”

  1. Mike, my son and I will be replacing all 4 struts on his 95 impreza. He has the struts new springs and mounts. I am having trouble locating the rubber insulators and spring caps.Any ideas where I can purchase them online? Do you sell parts online? I want to assemble the new struts and install as a unit with new parts.
    Thanks
    Michael Garrity

  2. Hi Michael,

    We sell a few fast moving parts online but for what you’re after you’ll need to go to a Subaru dealer. You may find something similar in the aftarmarket but to get the best fit I’d use a Subaru dealer. (you may find one online that sells at a discount).

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independend Subaru in Seattle

  3. Hello Mike,
    So, I had my 2008 Subaru Outback in the shop today (in Connecticut) oil change; inspection; they tell me my struts are leaking – I have 51,000 miles on the car! They ordered the struts and will install them in the car April 24…but I’ve cancelled the order! The car runs fine! I usually trust this dealership – I’ve bought 2 Subarus from them; if the drive feels fine, I just cannot believe I need to replace the struts at 51,000 miles. Just wanted to vent to someone who seems to know what he’s doing.
    Trish

  4. Hi Trish,

    It sounds like you just saved yourself quite a bit of money that you don’t need to spend.

    Putting it gently, it sounds like they don’t have your best interest in mind. Unless you’ve been off beating the tar out of the car offroad they’re probably fine. All struts may have a little oil residue around the shaft that goes in and out of the strut housing. It’s normal and does not indicate failure. IF there is substantial oil coming out and dripping down the side of the strut then you may want to replace just the one that’s leaking (in your case the car has so few miles that I’d only do one.)

    Happy motoring,

    Mike Corbin
    Independent Subaru Repair in Western Washington

  5. 2002 Forester 158K miles:

    Mike,

    I suspect my struts are not performing that well. I do the bounce test and it passes that. However, my last two sets of tires have not been wearing well. I’ve had the wheels aligned regularly and I rotate/balance regularly. The tires still seem to scallop after a bit and the slightest drop in tire pressure accentuates a vibration felt in the steering wheel. I’ve had Subaru check the suspension and that checks out, but they still suggest changing the struts since nothing else seems obvious. I don’t hear clicks in turns, but could it be CV axles?

    David

  6. Hi David,

    I would start with checking at another alignment shop to see if they come up with the same information. The struts aren’t going to do much for better or worse on the scalloping. (if a strut were so bad the tire was bouncing off of the ground then it could exhibit erratic wear)

    Installing struts will be a nice improvement in ride but I don’t believe it will solve the tire wear issue.

    Good luck,
    Mike

  7. Hey Mike,

    Thanks for the info. I’ve been offered a full set of used springs and struts from an STi for $300. The catch is, they have 100k miles on them already. My WRX is a daily driver, so the mileage is a concern. Is it a good deal? Can the struts be rebuilt or reconditioned? What’s your advice?

    Thanks again.

    -Andy

  8. Hi Andy,

    At 100k miles, you’re buying some worn parts. Basically the value is in the springs and mounting hardware. AT 100k, I would install new struts before installing them on your Subie.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Subaru Repair in Seattle
    http://www.smart-service.com

  9. Hi Mike,

    My son is insisting that we replace all 4 struts with aftermarket struts and springs. The car does make an awful noise and the bounce test makes all kinds of noise in the front and some on the back. He also claims he and his friend can install them – that it is quite easy. Am I being scammed – call has about 130,000. Thanks

    Mom!

  10. Hi Linda,

    I’m not sure which model Subaru your son your son is insisting on replacing the struts on but it may or may not solve the noise problem.

    Many times the creak,crunch noise is actually coming from the front or rear sway bar bushings. Usually they need removal and lubrication.

    Usually at 130k the struts are still in fair condition. Be careful on aftermarket struts. Some of them end up making the ride too stiff and harsh. If you like the way it rode when it was newer, stick with genuine Subaru struts and re-use the springs. They should be fine.

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

  11. Thanks – it is a 2003 WRX. Would the sway bar make the front left side make a loud sounds when you push down on it?

    I think he wants the aftermarket struts so that he can control the height – would replacing the struts and springs do that? Thanks again

  12. Mike, my son needs to replace a front control arm and knuckle on a 95 impreza. Are all models the same?

  13. Hi Mike,
    Yes, the RF control arm is the same on all 93-01 Imprezas as well as 95-99 Legacys.

    As far as the knuckle goes, it’s the same as above too with the only difference being vehicles with ABS will have a spot for the ABS sensor, vehicles without wont.

    Cheers,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Care in Seattle
    http://www.smart-service.com

  14. Hi Linda,

    Yes the sway bar can make noise when you push down and up on the car. It can certainly be something else but that’s a likely source.

    As far as changing the springs and struts, it’s not uncommon for some of our WRX owners that want their cars to go faster and handle better to start replacing factory parts with aftermarket performance parts. The factory parts will work fine but some people want to push their cars harder than the factory designed so they start adding upgrades. By replacing the struts with a performance strut and replacing the springs with a stiffer shorter spring, the car will corner better and have a lower center of gravity. The trade off is you will feel all the bumps and potholes in the road and the car may bottom out from time to time depending on how much it’s lowered.

    Cheers,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Care
    206-417-0880

  15. “As far as the knuckle goes, it’s the same as above too with the only difference being vehicles with ABS will have a spot for the ABS sensor, vehicles without wont”

    Thanks for the swift reply Mike.
    Can an ABS knuckle be installed to replaced a non ABS knuckle?
    My son’s impreza is December 1994 model[95]. Mike

  16. My 2009 Forester XT (61K miles ) was in the shop yesterday having its 60,000 mile service and new brakes ( front and rear ). I was complaining about my stearing wheel shaking pretty good when I traveled on some not so smooth road surfaces on the highway. They checked the balance and one of my wheels was off balance but they also noted that my front right strut was leaking.

    They said it would hold for now but it would be something to keep in mind for the future. They also noted that the part was back order for 3 weeks so they couldn’t replace it today if they wanted to.

    My question is if I find an factory strut myself ( online ) is this a job a normally handy person could do themselves? I know I’d need a spring compressor but other than that is there any “gotcha’s” in doing the replacement? Would my car need a front end alighnment afterwards?

    Thanks,

    jt

  17. Should be fine.

    Mike

  18. Hi James,

    Due to the size of the springs on the front struts and the distance between the coils it may be a bit of a challenge depending on what kind of spring compressor you have access to. As far as alignment goes, it’s recommended that you get it aligned but if you mark the old strut/knuckle bolts before removing you can get it pretty darn close with the new strut.

    Good luck and proceed with caution if you decided to take it on yourself. With the right equipment and knowledge it can be completely safe but if done improperly with equipment that’s not up to the task, a loaded spring that slips out can do some serious harm and injury.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Expert

  19. Hey Mike,
    My ’08 Outback has been making a lot of bumping/thumping noises at low speed over uneven road, and after some replaced parts (linkages and bushings) not helping, the dealer tells me the struts are bad. This car only has 68K /Kilometers/ (42K Miles) on it. Doesn’t that seem early for them to wear out? I don’t drive off road so I’m surprised that these would fail so early. This isn’t covered under the warranty and I’ve been quoted $700 + an alignment to fix it. Any advice?

  20. Hi Josh, It is strange that the struts are making noise at that low of mileage but sometimes that happens. Maybe a pothole or something caused internal damage to one of the struts. (they probably all aren’t making noise but you should replace them in pairs). The price quote sounds in the range if it were a dealer and you’re using genuine Subaru struts.

    All you can do is ask if you can either get a refund or have the money you spent replacing linkages/bushings that didn’t solve the noise applied toward the strut replacement.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    Shoreline, WA

  21. Hi mike, I have had 3 foresters. two 2000′s and a 01. I regularly overload them… Sometimes like a small truck, loading the top and inside the vehicle. In doing so I feel as if I am shortening the life span of my struts. As well as had them go in 2 of the 3 foresters I have owned. I want to replace the bad ones in the rear with a much higher rated strut that can take the abuse. What are the stock ones rated at? Do they make a higher rated strut… I heard rally parts, maybe? Any ideas?
    Thank you.
    Tim Z.

  22. Hi Tim,

    I think what you need will be higer rated springs. A higher rated strut may help for a while but if you’re loading it that much all the time you need to get some beefier rear springs. I don’t have a resource off hand but there are companys that custom make coil springs to your specs.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert.

  23. Mike, I just replaced my rear struts due to a crunching noise when hitting bumps and turning right, it does it way more and harsher with someone in the back seat behind me, I bounced the car and couldn’t get it to crunch, but it does it when turning going somewhat fast. I drive a 99 impreza outback sport..

  24. Hi Chris, I would suggest you inspect your sway bar bushings and sway bar links. It is common to have the inner sway bar bushings dry up and creak. Removing them and coating them with a high pressure grease like white lithium grease will usually do the trick. This can occur on the front also.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    206-417-0880
    Subaru Repair in Seattle

  25. Hi Mike!
    My fiance has a 2008 Impresa. She was experiencing a decent vibration in the wheel at speeds generally over 35mph. I just replaced her tires 2 days ago, and they were decently scalloped. The garage told me I needed to replace all 4 struts. The car has 100k miles on it. She is the 2nd owner. Opinions/ Recommendations? Much appreciated!

    Adam

  26. Hi Mike! I have a 2009 Forester XT. I only have 45k miles on it, but I have never been happy with the suspension on it, espciall the rear. I think it is too soft and bouncy compared to all of the other Subarus I have owned, inluding my 2001 Forester S+. Would the KYB exels solve this issue, do you think? I personally prefer a tighter and more firm ride that let’s me feel the road.

  27. I have a ’99 Subaru Outback,with 126000 miles.
    I repalced all 4 tires n Jan 2007 with 82600 miles, so new tires have 43400 miles. The tread is still good but I have been told that the tires are cupped and I should replace all four struts.I keep tires properly inflated.
    Your opinion,please.
    Bob

  28. Hi Mike,
    We have a 2007 Forester with 130,000 miles and we have been hearing a “clunking” sound over rough surfaces at low speeds. Our Subaru dealership told us today that the struts/shocks look fine. (front & rear both are original). The service manager said the sound was just an annoyance and there is nothing wrong with them and they don’t need to be replaced.
    Is it possible that clunking means nothing? Your article above says that clunking can mean that struts are failing internally. Can this be what’s happening here and the mechanic can’t see it?
    Thanks,
    Kristin

  29. Hi Adam,

    Give the struts a bounce test and see how they react. If they stop bouncing after about one and a half times, they’re probably fair to good. I’d be more inclined to request an alignment. If a strut is completely blown, a tire can skip off of the road and have erratic wear patterns but not all 4.

    I hope this helps,

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

  30. Hi Ron,

    The Exels would be a step in the right direction. They will feel much crisper overall without being bone jarring. There are further options beyond that but then you take away some of the comfort of having it as a daily driver also.

    Let me know how you like them.

    Mike

  31. Hi Bob,

    If the struts pass the “Bounce test” then they aren’t the cause of the cupping. It’s possible if they were bent or misaligned they can cause it. My guess is that the car is either out of alignment or consistently is carrying a heavy load.

    If they do recommend struts, have them show you why they are bad beyond the tires. If you get each corner of the car bouncing up and down as high as you physically can and the car stops within one to one and a half times, they are still doing at least a fair job and you will still have tire problems. (of course, when they install new struts they’ll suggest an alignment anyway)

    Let me know how it works out,

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair in Shoreline.

  32. Hi Kristin,

    There are multiple things that can cause a clunking like worn ball joints, sway bar links, strut tops etc. The strut can still itself make a clunking noise internally yet still operate normally.

    We’ve had a few Subarus that would rattle and clunk over light washboard type roads. They worked fine but the sound was eliminated once we replaced them. I am not sure what wears out or comes loose inside the strut that causes it since we’ve never cut one open, but I’ve never seen it cause an issue, just an annoyance.

    If you verify it is actually coming from the strut there’s no reason you can’t replace it if you are tired of the noise.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru in Seattle

  33. Hi Mike, I have a 99 Legacy GT, with only 99K as it’s driven only from May-Oct. Dealer’s insisting on new front struts but bounce test passed well and it handles like a charm. THat said, I do drive it aggressively as it’s such a fun car to drive. Yur thoughts?
    Thanx, George

  34. Hello George,

    Sounds like quite a nice Legacy GT. I think the stock struts are still in reasonable condition based on the dealers assessment but if you drive agressively and are ok with a bit stiffer ride, I suggest equipping it with KYB Excel-G Struts. They are formerly known as KYB GR2′s. The firmer ride will feel much more stable in the turns as well as just give the car a tighter feeling overall.

    Let me know how you like it once you do the upgrade.

    Thanks,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    206-417-0880
    Independent Subaru Expert in Seattle

  35. Hi Mike!
    Have you ever thought about charging for advice?! You just saved me $1,450 on new struts I didn’t need for my Subara Forester – thanks so much!!

  36. Hi Stacey,
    Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad you’ll be able to put that money to something more important.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert

  37. Hello Mike,

    First off thanks for the insight you share through your site! Lets say I am a long time listener for time caller. My pride and joy is my 08 WRX, it’s my daily driver and I took delivery of my DD with 6kms on the clock. I am now at 85000 kms and now noticing harsh intermittent crunching sound from the front when at low speed, over speed bumps, man covers etc. I brought it in to my local tech, who had noticed my end links had play in them where they tied into the sway bar. It look as though the nut loosened and ovaled out the sway bar. Long story short, new end links, front and rear new rear sway bar and still harsh crunching!!!! Although there is no obvious play, and I can’t seem to replicate the sound through the aforementioned bounce test. I read earlier post that described similar sounds which may not be harmful although a pestilence to us proud Suby owners. My tech also mentioned that my rear brakes also have to be bled to get my rear struts out, looking closer to a four hour job, new struts, bleed/disconnect brakes, replace fluid as apparently the rear brake lines are in the way???. I guess the question is after all that am I better off going to a aftermarket coil over system to avoid problems down the road or simply spending nearly the same to replace struts? Thanks in advance for your insight, it is appreciated!

  38. Hello there,

    First of all, after reading your post I would advise that you look at the inner sway bar bushings. Remove them, clean them out then lubricate them with a white lithium grease. This should eliminate the creaking sound.

    As far as replacing the struts, there is a nice shortcut that can be done to cut the bracket that the brake line is mounted in to save bleeding the brakes. It has to be done very carefully as to not damage the brake line. It’s explained fairly well in this link at the Legacy Central forum.

    http://bbs.legacycentral.org/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=32233&start=0

    Take care,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    206-417-0880
    Seattle, WA

  39. 1999 Impreza Outback Sport

    Hi, I’m looking at replacing my rear struts – I can tell they are shot because the tires chatter a little when hitting bumps at highway speeds (kind of scary!) and they solidly fail the bounce test. In the case of KYB, does their “crisper” ride increase road noise at all? This being an alaska car (I drive hard in the snow and sometimes dirt roads/occasional off-road) Do you think it’s worthwhile to go with AGXs over GR-2s? What other parts generally need to be replaced in this job that don’t come in the strut package? I’m not going for high performance, but definitely like quality, durability, and good handling.

    Thanks a lot, I’m loving your forum so far!

  40. Hi Logan,

    I think that although they offer the crisper ride the road noise should remain the same. For the price and performance I’d stay with the GR2′s myself (also called Exels). If you were going into autocross with the Impreza then I may opt for the AGX version.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    http://www.smart-service.com
    Subaru in Seattle

  41. Hi Mike,

    I live in Australia but i thought this might still be valid.
    I too was told recently at only 72,000 km that the front struts had gone on the car. It is a my08 subaru liberty 2.5 Heritage sedan. I got two independant quotes and they both told me the same thing and even that the front struts , especially the drivers side strut was the main issue.

    As these cars come standard with Gas shocks though i was confused by people asking about oil leaks too?

    i tried for a while to get Koni without having to import and ended up settling on KYB with the stock springs and the ride is alot harsher than the OEM . It feels at least twice as rigid. I think it will take a bit of time to get used to but i did notice the handling is exceptional compared to stock.

    The only other modification i have to the car is 225/40/ZR18 Conti Sport 3 tyres with Enkei SC22 wheels.
    Would 45 series be a better preference with these shocks for next time?

    Would this be normal behaviour for KYB to be rather harsh with 40 series tyres?

    My preference was Koni but it was very expensive and would it actually give a softer ride than the KYB anyway, which by the way are extremely quiet shocks even over bad bumps.
    i would say although they are firmer they appear to be quieter than stock shocks.

    Sorry for the long letter too.

    Thanks and Regards,

    Allan
    Sydney Australia.

  42. Hi Allan,

    For the most part, if you upgrade to any thing other than a Genuine Subaru strut/shock you will experience a harsher, firmer ride. If you went with the Koni inserts it will even be more harsh than the KYB. I agree it is unusual for your front struts to fail so early but if you want the pleasant ride you had before, go back to stock struts. Whether the tires are 45′s or 40′s it won’t be much difference. The ride revolves around the strut.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service

    http://www.smart-service.com

  43. Thanks Mike,

    I gather the stock struts don’t handle nearly so well though if it is giving a softer ride? so it is more or less a tradeoff of either comfort or handling?

    Thanks, i appreciate the advice. It is very expensive here to get stock struts from Subaru though. I think they were asking about 400 each shock.

    I’ll keep it in mind. I did notice the steering is so amazing now though . The feedback through the wheel with the KYB’s is so crisp and instant.

    I guess unfortunately you can’t have it both ways hey :)

  44. 97 Outback just turned 200K mi. Tire wear is uneven and I was told that alignment was off but couldn’t be adjusted without additional shim. Struts seem soft, all around, but especially on the passenger side. This is reasonable, as the car has a lot of miles and I frequently haul a lot of – probably too much – weight, frequently on the roof of the passenger side.

    Would struts likely help the tire wear / alignment issue?
    Is there any strut that you would recommend given that I tend to use / abuse the car like a truck?

    Thanks.

  45. Unless they are bent or one is horribly blown out, new struts won’t improve the alignment issue. As far as a good choice for a firm ride I would opt for the KYB Excel (aka GR2). Then just tell them to align the car best as possible. If the tires lasted for a reasonable amount of miles then it may not be an issue. Just stay on top of rotations (every 7500 miles)

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

  46. I Have a 2009 subaru legacy 2.5i. It has just over 60k on it and I had it into the local subaru dealer and they say the front driver side strut has leaked out. I know that they need to be replaced in pairs. I am wondering if the subarus are common to have the rear shocks go out earlier, should I just replace all four now? Also I have been researching and I am seeing alot of people like koni struts over the KYB. What are your thoughts? Right now I can get the Konis for around 40-50 bucks more that the KYB’s

  47. Hello Matt,
    Strut failure on your 2009 Legacy is a bit out of the ordinary. It can happen but normally I see Subaru struts well over 100k with still fairly good life in them. It’s possible a jolt from a pothole or something may have caused it to fail prematurely but we may never know. Depending on what you prefer for ride quality, stock is the best bet if you like the way it rides now. If you’re looking for a crisper,firmer ride then either KYB or Koni is a nice upgrade. KYB should be a simple bolt in where sometimes the Koni’s take a bit of extra work to install since you have to cut apart and gut your front strut housings to install the KYB insert cartridge. Not a great design in my opinion but until they come out with a complete strut it’s all there is. The Koni should be superior in performance to the KYB.

    Good luck in your decision,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Providing Expert Subaru Care since 1999
    http://www.smart-service.com

  48. Hi Mike,
    I have a 2010 Subaru Legacy with 59K miles. It was my fleet car from day 1 and was maintained per manufacturer’s guidance. I purchased the car from my company last fall at 50K to “save” it for my 15 yr old son. However,it is on it’s 3rd set of tires, has had a very bumpy loud ride since about 20K miles, and has required frequent R&B and alignments.

    After purchasing the car last fall, I took it to a Midas dealer (out of convenience) for a R&B, oil change, coolant flush. They told me that my struts were bad and explained that the bad struts had caused the tires to cup and would wear out tires more quickly until the struts were replaced. This seemed to explain the rough ride (IDK exactly when it started but it seemed to develop) and the tires wearing out.

    Not needing to spend an extra $600 on a car that wasn’t really going to be driven, I put it off until this summer before my son turns 16. But I had my older son take it to the subaru dealer with a full explanation of it’s issues. They told him that Subarus never need their struts replaced and sold him a rotate and balance (it was R&B 7K miles earlier). Of course, it still is loud and bumpy, but they told him that would correct when I put another set of new tires on it.

    Is it possible that it is the struts and do I need to demand them to actually look at them?

  49. I’m inclined to believe the Subaru dealer in this case. Strip mall car shops are notorious for pushing struts long before they’re needed. I agree with the dealer that your struts are probably still in great shape and they will stay that way well over 100k in most cases.

    I hope that answers your question and saves you some of your hard earned money.

    Cheers,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert

  50. Hi Mike,

    Own a 97 forester that is dearly loved, but gets a bit of a hsrd run sometimes. Live on dirt roads in outback Australia & even our tar is not the best. Currently has around 320 000k on he clock, recently had clutch replaced & some other minor work.

    Have had a few things going on lately, first is clunking over pot holes & rough surfaces- have been advised to replace rear struts (front done around 8 months ago). Lookjng for best recommendations considering dirt roads, but keeping relatively good comfort levels & good handling.

    Second is a whining noise in low gears, sops when clutch is in, could his be the thrust bearing? Will it affect the cars performance dramatically?

    Thirdly, in first or second gear, at low speeds, I feel a dramaic vibration though steering wheel when turning hard (ie paking or round-a-bouts) could this be the cv joints?

    Of course, everything starts to happen a month out from a registration inspection! I am concerned that any of these problems may stop the car being registered, so want to fix them all asap…

    Please help me give my old girl a litle more (well informed & advised) love

    Cheers,
    Meg

  51. Hi Meg,

    I would inspect your sway bar link bushings before installing another set of struts. Sometimes they are the culprit.

    As far as the whining noise, it sounds like an internal bearing noise that will slowly get worse over time. The vibration that you feel may be torque bind due to the center differential locking up when it shouldn’t (viscous coupler). Between both of those complaints, it may be time to remove/disassemble the transmission before it gets worse.

    Good luck down there!

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    Seattle, WA

  52. Hi there, I recently purchased a 2007 subaru 2.5i. The previous owner had recently replaced the springs with tein lowering springs and koni yellow shocks that are adjustable. The car is also sitting on 18″ rims with newer Hercules tires. The previous owner gave me the receipt for the alignment after the shocks were put in (about 6 weeks ago) The car has 120000 Kms I have put 3000kms on the car since I bought it. When I bought it there was no tire noise what so ever. Now, after putting some miles on it I am getting a lot of tire noise and the tires up front seem to be cupping. Do you have any ideas what would be all of a sudden causing this? Also the tire pressure is good so it’s not an over or under inflation problem. Cheers

  53. Once all thos mods are done it’s a bit of an unknown. The cupping is certainly an alignment issue. As far as the noise goes, that’s hard to tell what it could be. When all those suspension parts are replaced there’s a question if something isn’t tight from the install or could something be failing internally in a strut.

    I would check the suspension over thoroughly. Every nut/bolt etc especially the top of the strut. If everything is tight it may be internal.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert

  54. Hello Mike,

    Great information. I have a 2010 Forester that has 81,000 miles and feels like the rear end is unstable when hitting a bump at highway speed. I did the bounce test and they passed. Tires have 40,000 miles and are about ready for changing. Do you think the worn tires are the problem?

  55. Mike..i have a 99 subaru forester.i just changed both cv axles.popping is worse than before and not only when wheel is turned but now when going forward and backwards.any idea what it could be?

  56. Most likely faulty axles. We only use new ones at our shop due to the high frequency of problem remanufactured units we used to run in to.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert in Seattle

  57. Hello Andre,

    I would be surprised if your Forester had worn struts at that mileage although it’s possible. I would recommend changing the tires and then having an alignment performed to make sure everything is tracking correctly.

    Also if you have your tire pressures to high it can make the back end skip around over bumps too.

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

  58. My 2001 subaru legacy just hit 157,000 miles,i notice when stopping on a bumpy road the car goes left or right,it stops fine but also groans when turning slow?could it be the struts and how much is a ballpark figure to replace?

  59. I have a 2009 Legacy 2.5i with 47k. I just had new tires put on it and noticed that the driver side rear wheel well was only an inch at most off the tire, other 3 are almost 2 inches. I took it to my mechanic and he said that the spring had a stress mark and recommended replacing both rear springs. After getting the car back there is no change to gap, on either side. Mechanic said he checked the complete suspension and nothing stuck out. What is wrong with it? Any help would be great, the lean is killing me.

    Thanks

  60. Hi Larry,

    If the struts are contributing it may be $550-$700 depending on where you have them done. It can also be related to a brake caliper not working properly on one side or the other of the car.

    Let me know what you end up finding.

    Thanks,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Experts in Seattle
    http://www.smart-service.com

  61. Hi Chad,

    Has it ever been hit? It could be related to a body damage incident. Since you’ve measured the car unloaded on flat ground and have a difference that is excessive, I am curious what would happen if you suspend the car on a hoist and retake the measurement. If all 4 hang the same distance from the wheel well then it’s probably shock or spring related on that particular strut. If you find that it hangs down less, there may be an issue with the suspension or subframe.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    206-417-0880
    http://www.smart-service.com
    Independent Subaru Experts

  62. Hey Mike.

    I have an 2002 Outback Wagon with about 83,000 miles. After reading some of the comments here, I don’t know now if I even need to replace the struts. You remember those “old” cars that felt like you were driving a boat over rolling waves? Or, see a car go through a dip in the road and it just kept on bouncing? That’s about what I feel like my subie is doing. Now I’m thinking it may not be the struts? I have givin it the “bounce” test and it does the 1 & 1/2. But it sure feels like they are bottoming out on almost any size bump and the handling, well let’s just say it’s bad. I wouldn’t think a bad swaybar, which could accout for handling issues, would feel like the struts bottom out. I’m kind of old school. I have replaced timing/sepentine belts and front axels myself on my other 2 subies, but I haven’t delt with struts before.

    Thanks

  63. Hey, Mike, just wanted to say many thanks for the helpful strut info and especially how to test. Just about to have the front struts replaced in my ’97 OB. Rears done previously. After 250,000 miles, looks like the fronts are pretty much toast too.

    Thanks!
    Vinny in BC, Canada

  64. Hi Teresa,

    If the struts are truly bottoming out, then by all means replace them. There are other sounds that can make it sound like they bottom out like the sway bar end links being worn out.

    You’re right that the sway bar won’t affect the “wallowing” feel and that you may actually need struts.

    Take care,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Care in Seattle
    206-417-0880
    http://www.smart-service.com

  65. Hi Mike,

    The back left rear tire on our 2012 outback has erratic wear almost down to the threads at 41k miles. The other three tires are worn but look okay. We took it into a local Goodyear shop and they recommended replacing the tires which makes sense and also the shocks, quoting $1400 on top of the tire replacement.

    Is 41k miles too early to have a completely blown shock/strut? Do we have to replace all 4 and is the quote reasonable?

    Your forum has been a life saver for us in the past. Thanks for the help!

    -Scott

  66. Mike,

    I recently had my 2010 Outback in the dealership for a routine oil change. They told me the tires needed replacing (I already planned to do that soon) and also told me my rear struts were leaking and needed replacing. I have never noticed a problem with the ride and don’t see a leak in my garage. They want over $700 (parts & labor) to replace. The Outback has only 53,000 miles on it. To me, this sounds ridiculous. What do you think? Should I take it to an independent mechanic?

    Paul
    Houston, TX

  67. Hello Scott, At 41k miles your Outback struts should normally be in very good condition. I know it’s possible that one has failed but it would be rare compared to what we’ve seen. If you ever hit a huge pothole and blew out the strut it could be an issue but further inspection is needed before condemning it.

    First of all, I’d have the new set of tires put on. Secondly, I’d have them inspect the struts for any hydraulic oil leakage. If one has failed that badly, it should have lots of oil running out of it. If the visual inspection looks ok, I would then suggest doing the bounce test. If the struts do ok on the bounce test the tire probably wore out for a different reason.

    Either the tire was constantly lower on air or the alignment of that wheel is significantly off.

    Also, if you do find that a rear strut is bad, I would only do the rear only and recommend using Genuine Subaru units for the best ride.

    I hope this saves you some money.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    206-417-0880 and 425-315-9999
    Independent Subaru Experts in Seattle

  68. Hi Paul, If I were you, I would request that the dealer shows me the leak, in person, that they are speaking of on the rear strut. Sometimes a slight bit of residue can be oversold as a blown strut. If it’s just a bit of residue, no worries. If it is more than that and it’s draining down the side of the strut, even though it may still have dampening qualities, it will eventually fail when all the oil runs out. If the latter is the case then I’d replace the pair. Let me know how it works out. Remember, most technicians are and service advisors are paid on some sort of comission scale or flat rate pay which gives a pretty strong incentive to sell work even if it isn’t needed at times.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    206-417-0880 and 425-315-9999
    Independent Subaru Experts in Seattle

  69. Hello, had a quick question. 2002 forester 165,000 miles. Car pulls to the right hard some times. Went to 2 different mechanics to get an alignment. Both said my struts were the culprit? They pass the bounce test fine. I don’t understand how a strut can effect the alignment. Thanks.

  70. Hi Jay,
    It depends on when it pulls. If it just pulls driving down the road or only when you brake. Also, part of what is left out is what did they find with the alignment or did they even perform it. A bent strut can certainly cause a pull or once in a while a strut will stick in the up or down position causing one corner of the car to be higher. If one strut were worn more than the other, then when you hit the brakes one corner would dive more causing it to pull that direction. I guess I have more questions than answers but I think other ideas need to be explored other than just the struts. Sticking brake calipers can also contribute to the symptom.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    http://www.smart-service.com
    Independent Subaru Experts in Seattle.

  71. Hey Mike thanks for the quick response. The last mechanic I went to went ahead and did the alignment best he could. He seemed sincere enough and told me the car would still pull “at times.” Said some thing along the lines that the lower part of the strut has been adjusted as much as it can so it might stick cuasing the car to pull.
    Anyways. Only when i’m driving do I feel the pull. I know there are other problems on the front end. Pretty sure my front rotors are warped and my rack and pinion has a small leak. The car does travel straight when braking just shakes when I really get on the brakes.
    So when I do get in there to replace rotors et al. was really wondering if I should go ahead and replace my struts as well. And how would you test for a sticking caliper?
    Thanks Again.
    Jay
    St. Augustine
    Florida

  72. Hey, one other idea… swap the front tires from side to side to see if the pull changes or goes away. Sometimes radial belts can cause that symptom.

    As far as checking for sticky caliper, raise car on hoist so all 4 wheels are suspended. Car in neutral/no brake. Turn each wheel by hand, there should be minimal drivetrain drag but no binding.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert
    Seattle, Shoreline, Everett and Mukilteo
    http://www.smart-service.com

  73. Thanks again, will try those my next day off……

  74. I have a 2010 Forester with 67,000 miles on it. I purchased new tires about a month ago, and I was told I have oil on my struts and needed to replace them but could probably wait another 5,000 miles before doing it. I am trying to decide if I actually need new struts.

    I have not noticed any change in control or bouncing over speed bumps or anything. Actually, after buying new tires, I noticed a much better ride. However, having been a teenager who ignored signs of needing repairs, I am now an adult who is overly concerned about every little issue that could impact my car’s performance and life.

    This is my first Subaru, though my husband has several. He has never had to replace struts this soon, so he thinks the repair shop isn’t knowledgeable about Subarus (“They’re a specialty car.”) Any advice? Based on what I read here, it seems like perhaps my husband is right, and the oil is normal.

  75. Hi Kristina,

    My answer would be probably not. It’s rare for a Subaru to need any struts before 100,000 miles and even after that pretty infrequent. They just seem to be very well designed and really last.

    On occasion we see a strut that was damaged from a car hitting a large pothole but it’s rare.

    I hope this saves you some money.

    Take care,

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

  76. Hi Mike,
    I found out yest at firestone my front struts have a good amount of buildup on the shaft (excuse my ignorance on terms) and was told my my previous technician in a previous town i used to live in, that they were going bad. They said we should replace all 4 and at a cost of $1,800. Looking through your post/comments and prices online this seems very very steep. Is it wise to simply replace the failing struts and keep an eye on the others over time?

  77. Hi Preston,

    If you do indeed have bad struts, you should be able to have them done on most Subarus from $1200-1300 unless it’s an STi or Spec-B Legacy.

    I’d get a second opinion as well as a second price quote before proceeding. You’ll probably get a better quote at a Subaru dealer than what you got there.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair in Seattle
    206-417-0880
    http://www.smart-service.com

  78. I have been reading several comments online that the KYB excels (made in USA) are not the same shock as the GR-2′s(made in Japan) ; and that the excels are inferior to the GR-2 . KYB states it is the same shock and only the name and color has changed. what is your opinion?

  79. From what I’ve seen, the Excel is just a rebranding. As far as Japanese GR2 vs the US Excel, I have no information to prove or disprove that thought.

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

  80. hey mike i just bought an 02 wrx wagon recently and am only trying to keep it in good condition. i was under the car recently and noticed a broken sway bar end link on the passenger side up front. i’m wondering if i should look into replacing the sway bar as well as new end links on both sides or what exactly i should be prepeared for while fixing this one broken stock end link. thank you

    noah dewitt

  81. I think new links is appropriate but the sway bar will probably be fine for quite some time. (Make sure you remove the inner mount bushings and lube them up with some lithium grease or something similar)

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Expert in Seatte
    http://www.smart-service.com
    206-417-0880

  82. I have a 2009 Forester and the shop says I may need new struts, but their waiting to see what their best guy says. He’s off today.

    My symptom is that the car feels like it is swaying a bit. Almost like being on a boat.

    Could it be something cheaper? It seems to pass the bounce test.

  83. Hi John,
    It could be something as as simple as overlooked tire pressures. If it seems to be having trouble swaying without recovering it may be related but the fact it passes the bounce test might make me think otherwise.

    I’m glad they’re waiting for their top guy to give you an opinion before doing anything. Also, if they say the new struts will cure the sway issue, put them on the spot and see if they guarantee it or your money back. This will tell you how sure they are.

    Take care,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Your Independent Subaru Experts
    Seattle, Wa http://www.smart-service.com

  84. Thank you.

    They replaced the struts and it is no longer swaying. Not what I wanted to be buying this month, but oh well.

    Thanks for your help.

  85. Glad to hear it was an accurate diagnosis!

  86. Hi Mike! I have 2004 Subaru Outback and it is making an axle clicking noise from the passenger side when driving up and over a small hill or whenever the suspension is stretched out. Also, I can get It to make the noise if i am fully stopped and the jam the gas. Again when the suspension expands. My wonderful Dad who has 30 yrs auto expierence, has replaced the axel 4 times in about a week, thinking he was getting a faulty remanufactured axel from the parts store. He even went to a different parts store thinking it was a bad batch of re-mans. He also replaced the wheel bearing and the noise is still there. He has checked over the brakes very carefully and cleaned up the enitre area. The drivers side axel was not making any noise so he swapped the axels and still no luck. Can this be a bad strut that is hyper extending and stretching the axel so far that it clicks? I also don’t know if this could be the beginning of a transmission problem. I appreciate your time and knowledge. Thanks in advance!!

  87. Mike,
    The front right strut is shot on my 1999 Subaru Outback. My oldest daughter has it at college and she sent me a photo showing the spring sitting on the right front tire. The mileage on the car is about 240,000 miles. The front struts have never been replaced. The shop where she brought the car gave her an estimate of $708 to replace the front struts. Is that a fair price?
    Thanks much

  88. Hi Bill,
    That is within reason for the front struts. I’d assume somewhere between $600-$800 depending on their labor rate and which brand shock they are using.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair
    Seattle, Washington
    http://www.smart-service.com

  89. Hi Jamie,

    Well I must say that I’m puzzled on that complaint. If you can get it to do it when you’re fully stopped then that should eliminate the axle. It may be worth checking all the engine and transmission mounts. It’s possible that there is some contact that shouldn’t be happening due to a torn mount.

    I hope this helps get to the bottom of things.

    Take care,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Care
    Seattle to Everett
    http://www.smart-service.com

  90. Hi, I have a 2001 Subaru legacy outback. I’ve had to three different shops and now a private mechanic. To pulled(yanked) to the right especially when traveling in and out of those grooves in our poor streets. Sometimes it pulls to the left. I’ve had rotors, left inner tie rod, rack & pinion steering replaced, aligned now for the 2nd time after engine was taken out to replace gasket and seals water pump, catalytic converts . Now ( after he did the engine work)the mechanic said I need struts all around costing 699.00 just for parts but he’s leaving the springs( if I do it in the future)and now he says I need a tranny mount. How can so many different mechanics come up with different stories? 4 grand later on a rebuilt ( did I mention that lol) makes me mad I still have a bumpy ride and pulling with all the cash dumped ..

  91. Hi Mike,
    I’ve a 04 XT Foz. I had a leaking rear strut so swapped them with some 2nd hand factory ones, but now I have bum-sag in the rear so am thinking of upgrading the suspension. The fronts seem fine.
    I’m looking to retain close to stock height in the assumption that lowering the height will increase my likelihood of bottoming out on my driveway, it is short, but gets steep quickly.
    I’m considering WRX wagon springs, KYB GR2′s and Teins coilovers. Would you suggest one over another? and should I change all 4?
    Thanks mate.
    PS: I’m in Oz if that makes any difference.

  92. Hi Ben,

    It all depends on how you want the car to handle when you’re done. The Teins offer you a big increase in dampening as well as the luxury of adjustable height. Beyond that, if you just want it stock height I might go with the GR2′s and the stock springs.

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

  93. Hi Mike,
    I took my 07 Impreza Outback Sport in for an oil change. I went to drive away and every bump in the road caused a weird sound. Not like struts because I know what that sounded and felt like. It sounded like rubber on metal, squeaky. I immediately took it back to the shop. They did the bounce test in front of me and it was perfect. They told me the struts are probable shot. This car just hit 40000 miles. Does that sound even remotely correct?

    Thank you,
    Alecia

  94. Mike,

    I have a 2005 Outback with 109K miles. I just replaced the rear wheel bearings, sadly 9K miles after the extended warranty ended. It got rid of the awful noise in the car when at highway speeds. I’m also getting new tires due to the bad wear pattern the bad wheel bearings caused.

    Now I am thinking of replacing the shock as preventive maintenance. Do I need to replace the struts as well? My understanding is that at least two of the struts are a combo shock/strut, thus replacing them is required.

    It’s a family vehicle so comfort and safety is the important. Is OE parts the best, in your opinion?

    Andy

  95. Hi Alecia,

    Well for the struts to be shot at 40k would be very unusual unless it was used in extreme circumstances like off road rally etc. The bounce test they performed seems to also confirm that they are probably fine. I would suggest looking at the inner front sway bar bushings. They will tend to creak if you go over a speed bump. The may just need lubrication. Why it occurred immediately after the dealer worked on it is a mystery but certainly is worth investigating further.

    Good luck,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair
    Seattle, Washington
    http://www.smart-service.com

  96. Hi Andy,

    At 109k the shocks and struts may still be in good condition but putting brand new ones in will certainly make it ride slightly crisper. I would suggest giving the struts/shocks a good “bounce” test prior to making the decision to replace them. Go to each corner of the car and get it bouncing up and down as much as you can then let go and see how quickly it settles back to level. If it stops before 1 to 1 1/2 bounces they’re still in reasonably good condition. You should also inspect them for leaky seals. A little oil up around the seal is normal but if it’s pouring down the side of the strut or shock it will need replacement soon.

    I wouldn’t replace them as a solution to tire wear but instead would make sure a 4 way alignment is performed.

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

  97. Hi Mike

    I have a 2002 forester with about 55000km (+-33000 miles) on the clock. I live in Papua New Guinea and the roads are not quite like first world ones! Anyway as you can imagine trying to find anyone here with the knowledge that you seem to have is impossible.

    My car seems to jump down the road over 80km/h, its an up and down motion that gets extremely bad the faster you go. I have put on 4 brand new tires, done the balancing, wheel alignment, tire pressure, bounce test and looked at all the bushes(seem to be in good condition). I have been so desperate that I bought the car manual online and tried to decipher the issue on my own…… no joy is the result! same issue.

    I dont know what else to do. Any ideas? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much and great blog really helpful
    Regards
    Brett

  98. Hi Mike,

    I just had all 4 struts replaced on my 1996 Impreza Outback with 172K miles. The originals were in bad condition, the rear ones were fully compressed with no hydraulic fluid left in them! With 4 adults in the car, it would make a scraping/dragging sound when hitting dips in the roads and while cornering highway onramps. After having the 4 struts replaced and loading the car for a test drive, I was shocked to hear the same noise from the rear when hitting dips and cornering. Any ideas?

    Matthew

  99. Hi Matthew,

    There are some other things that can cause clunks back there. Exhaust may be hitting on the sway bar, sway bar endlinks may have excessive play and possibly strut top mounts may be worn out.

    Give those items a check and hope this helps you pinpoint things.

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair in Seattle
    http://www.smart-service.com

  100. Hi Brett,

    On your particular roads you may think of upgrading to the KYB Excel struts. Other than the road itself, I can’t see any other reason it may have the up and down movement you’re describing other than the struts can’t keep up with the poor condition of the road.

    For most roads a bounce test can tell you enough about the strut but if your roads are extremely poor, your struts may not have to be completely worn out to have lost enough performance to keep up on that type of surface.

    Please let me know how it works out.

    Take care,

    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    Independent Subaru Repair in Seattle
    http://www.smart-service.com

  101. Thanks Mike! I will take a closer look at the condition of the sway bar end links and strut mounts.

  102. Hello again

    The car up and down movement is happening on a sealed road that is in good condition, I was saying that the roads are most definitely not all that way.

    A local mechanic has told me that the cause could be tyre pressure or rolling diameter of the wheel because of the diffs, hence the change of tyres, could it be a diff issue or gearbox or brakes.

    I guess what I would like from you is some things you recommend I should check and see if that helps. I will replace the shocks with KYB Excel and let you know.

    Thanks again for the advice

  103. One last point, the gentleman that said the rolling circumference could be an issue may be correct. If the front and rear tires are not matched, they could turn at different speeds causing the awd system to bind/drag.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service

  104. My 2001 Subaru Forester has 99,685 easy-road miles, with those occasional potholes on roads. I just replaced the rear struts ($450.00 parts & labor)and was told I “should” replace the front struts and front axles and pinon wheels. At 84,476 miles in 2011, they replaced front axles and front struts!
    How long should struts and axles last with easy driving? These guys are independent ‘Subie’ Repair Secialists.

    Thanks Mike and your web site providing good information.

  105. Hi Elaine,

    Well, I think your front struts and axles are probably fine at this point. The struts tend to go just fine until well over 100000 under most driving conditions. The fact that they’re recommending the fronts just 15000 miles later would make me lean toward getting a second opinion and then discussing your findings with the shop that tried to sell you the front struts. (if the second opinion reveals they’re still good which is highly likely).

    Take care and enjoy your Subaru!

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

  106. Hi Mike,
    I need to replace the struts in my 2002 Subaru Forester. I have been looking online for a strut kit..Do you know if these kits generally include the hardware and pieces needed? Also, if I change my struts, do I have to change my springs? One last question…I got a quote from a well know mechanic chain and they said it would cost $750. Is this a fair price? Thanks for your time.

  107. Hello Meghann,

    Most strut kits are going to just include the struts themselves which is still ok. You will be able to reuse the rest of the components including the springs in most cases. A quote of $750 to do all 4 is a great deal. I’d make sure to find out what the quality of the shocks are. We prefer to use the genuine Subaru struts so the car ride remains the same. Aftermarket struts can ride stiffer.

    Goodluck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service Independent Subaru Experts
    http://www.smart-service.com

  108. Mike,

    2004 Outback VIN states LATE 04. I’ve had the (Driver Front) strut replaced due to damage from an accident by the Insurance company (among other work) with a Genuine Subaru part. Knowing that they should be replaced in pairs. I was checking on the Subaru part numbers for the Passenger Front strut and the rears as I would like to do all 4 as a proactive measure. Car has 87,000 miles. They put on part #20310AE43A and my car requires #20311AE43A, “311″ because its a LATE 04 I refused the car until I find out the difference (why) etc. Plus if I replace with the correct OEM part I would have the Passenger Side “20311AE43A” and the DR Side with “3010″ should I just put on the “3010″ or require them to do it all over with the correct “3011″ part. I know this really depends on what the difference is? I know it could be very minor but it could be significant like different valving? Do you know what the difference is? other than the part number. (there must be a good reason) I need to support the fact they need to put on the correct part. But they don’t see the difference or know LATE 04 is a different part number. Thank you.

  109. Hi Norm,

    Well on this one I think you have really stumped me. I honestly have no idea what the difference is. In many cases, if there is an improvement to a part, Subaru will supercede the old part number to the newer one. I’m not sure if that is what happened in your case or not. I think the best route will be to discuss it with a knowledgeable Subaru parts department person (maybe different from the one you were dealing with) to see if they can come up with a logical answer.

    If you come up with an answer, please let us all know by posting it.

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

  110. Mike

    Thank you for getting back with me. Well the good news is even though the repair order had part #20310AE43A on it, they showed me the actual invoice from the part ordered and it shows the correct part #20311AE43A. So, the car has the correct part# installed according to my Vin#. So my dilemma is no longer and we don’t really have an answer to what the difference is other than the slight difference in part#. I think MOST importantly one is for my car and one is not based on my Vin# by all Subaru dealers. I asked the dealer to inquire with his mechanics and none had come across this before, cant say why they would because if they need a part, they request it by Vin# and they get what the need. So can the parts interchange? Most likely they say but they can not give a definitive answer what is different or changed for the Late 2004 production (6/2003 or after) to warrant the different part# All said and done if Subaru states a part number I suggest one uses it. Wish you guys were in the Phoenix area. Thanks again.

  111. Dear Mike, I have a Japanese import, right hand drive, legacy 250T wagon. It’s basically a 2.5 twin cam GT wagon. (BH9) I have rather loud clunk in the right front on full extension.Not on compression. I replaced the sway bar bushings and end links with factory parts and both inner tie-rod ends along with 2 inner & 1 otter cv boots. Also had rack boots replaced. Both front strut tops as well. Just dropped the control arm and both the front and the rear stop bushings appear worn but OK. Ball joint appears and tests OK(I tried the compression test with large pliers and the long bar test from under the tire. Noise appears to be from movement applied to the wheel as a sudden stop or if the strut is allowed full extension (over a pot-hole). Acts like a bad strut top or really bad ball joint. Questioning the strut itself, but the car rides great, handles fairly well and passes a bounce test. Certain braking conditions with tire loaded I can feel the chattering in the suspension on that side. Would you be suspect of the strut or more so the lower control arm bushings? The car was shipped over-seas on a cargo boat but only has 104K km on it. Thanks for your input, it’s very much appreciated.

  112. Hey Mike,
    I recently replaced the struts and shocks on my 2009 Subaru impreza 2.5i. I didn’t do the mounts or any other part incorporated in the suspension. Since replacing them, my car’s suspension had almost no improvement and has actually gotten progressively worse. There is a knocking every time I hit a bump from the front under my feet, I can feel every ripple in the road especially every crack and pot hole, and my car has now starting to shift and displace if I hit a large bump. I’ve been trying to research what pieces I should replace and cannot pinpoint which is the problem(s). My brother in law suggested that my car may be stuck in sport mode since my check engine light is on from a failed O2 sensor. But the sport suspension should be in that condition either.
    Thanks in advance for any insight.

  113. Your welcome, I’m happy it all worked out.

    Mike

  114. Hi AJ,

    From your description it sounds very similar to what we hear on the rear of STi’s on a somewhat regular basis. A knock from one corner of the car yet the strut shows no signs of leaking or loss of dampening. We went through the same scenarios originally replacing suspension components not believing it could be the strut but when all else failed, replacing the strut solved the problem. There are some pretty high tech noise tracing devices out there that you can mount on different suspension components then test drive the car until you pinpoint where the noise is coming from. You may want to search out a shop that has that equipment or just replace the strut as a most probable item based on your description.

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

  115. Hi Julie,

    With the info you provided it’s hard to tell what it could be. I have a few questions first. Was the symptom there before you installed the struts? Did you install Genuine Subaru struts? Does it have stock springs?

    Also, have you had anyone inspect the suspension, cross member, and other frame and suspension components that could be worn or loose?

    As far as sport mode, that has no effect on the suspension.

    Hope we can get to the bottom of it.

    Mike

  116. Hello Mike, just came across your site and would like to ask your advice. I am in the United Kingdom. 18 months ago I noticed that the nearside of my 2004 Forester XT (SG model)was sitting about one inch lower than the offside, this was quite noticable from a distance. I also experienced increased wear on the outside of my nearside front tyre. The rear suspension was self-levelling. I had the rear springs and struts replaced with non-self levelling items from Pedders, and the car now sits level. The increased tyre wear on the outside of the front nearside tyre however, continues, although maybe not so bad. I have had all alignments checked, and everything is ok. I now suspect that the front nearside strut has maybe gone a bit soft. Would this account for the continued rapid tyre wear? I do feel that the car corners slightly flatter to the left than it does to the right, although it is hard to be sure about that.

    Many thanks, Peter

  117. Hi Peter,

    The first thing I would do is to get a 4 way alignment. I would also advise that to really get an accurate alignment, you add whatever weight that normally is carried around in the car. Even you sitting in the drivers seat while they do it (or sand bags if they have them). This will give the most accurate alignment.

    That should in theory get you the best tire wear. Don’t forget to keep the tires properly inflated too. Having them all at 32-36 psi (220-248 kpa)

    I hope this helps your situation.

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

  118. Hello Mike, thanks for the quick reply. I had my alignments checked again, and the shop said they were out by a large margin. After realignment I can actually feel the difference. I am now very puzzled as to why the first garage I went to said they were “spot on” when in fact they weren’t. Anyway, I live in hope that the tyre wear problem is now fixed, many thanks Mike.

  119. Sure thing Peter,

    I’m glad that a more professional shop was able to take care of you and solve the problem.

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

  120. Mike,

    I’ve been hearing a metal-on-metal knocking up front while I drive over bumpy roads. I have an ’08 Subaru Legacy with roughly 70,000 miles on it now. I don’t want to take it to the dealer since I don’t really trust them. I find it hard to imagine the suspension is blown at only 70k miles, but that’s why I came to this site to ask you. I may have a friend of mine take a look at it. I’m hoping it’s just a bad strut or lose bolt somewhere. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Also, the front noise seems to be coming from both sides (driver and passenger side) when I drive over a bumpy road or some pot holes. If my suspension is shot, what would a reasonable price be to get the work done?

    Thank you.

    Mike M

  121. Hi Mike,

    The first thing I would check on your Legacy would be the sway bar endlinks and the inner sway bar bushings. These alone will cause a knocking noise over speed bumps, potholes etc. If they look to be in good condition it’s possible that your struts are internally having issues. They may function fine and show no signs of leakage but I have had issues with them from time to time. I’d say that the sway bar components are the most likely though. Also it would be rare but have your friend take a look at the ball joints and all the rest of the suspension under the front end for abnormal wear. It would be rarer yet but you always want to eliminate all possibilities unless you find something obviusly worn out.

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

  122. My 2001 Legacy has 160k and and is my grocery getter. its been parked for a couple weeks waiting for muffler repairs in my home garage. Came home to a flat front tire and investigated to find a broken strut spring and a large hole in the side wall of my tire. Not sure if i should replace the whole strut and spring, or just the spring, or do both sides? happy I wasn’t cruzing down the freeway when she let go, but still bummed out. The struts never felt worn out and I never had any concern to inspect them. Anyone I tell this to says wow your lucky you didnt end up on your roof or in a head-on. What to do?? what to do??

  123. Hi Mike,
    THanks for sharing all your expertise here, this is a really great resource you make available! I am interested in putting Outback struts in a 2001 Legacy wagon. Wondering if that is possible and what that would do to the ride, and if any other components would need to be changed. Appreciate it!

  124. I picked up my 2002 wrx bugeye Wednesday and when I got it the guy said there was a noise in the back struct? For example if you hit a bump it’ll make a rattling noise. And I don’t want to buy new ones unless I have too and I’ve been researching and some say it just needs libercation. He said its not a major issue, just annoying sometimes any help?
    Thanks, Alberto

  125. Hi Alberto,
    I have seen a light clunk/rattle type of noise emitted from the inside of a strut on a WRX from time to time when going over washboard roads, potholes or speedbumps. If that’s the case with yours, I find that usually the strut is still functioning fine but it’s just an annoyance. Before condemning the strut, make sure you check the rear sway bar links also which can sometimes exhibit the same noise. If it’s the struts, there’s nothing I’ve found to repair them short of replacement.

    Good luck,
    Mike Corbin
    Smart Service
    206-417-0880
    http://www.smart-service.com

  126. Hi Colin,

    If you were to put just the Outback struts on your wagon, there would be an increase in ride height but there are a lot of other factors that it would complicate. The brake lines won’t be long enough to be safe for the suspension travel, the alignment camber will be an issue and may need modification just to get it into spec. The suspension angles will be wrong (unless you install the subframe parts that give the car the body lift).
    The only way to properly do it is to swap all the parts that are related to the lift on the outback to your car. After going through all of that it may be less expensive to just swap it out for an Outback.

    Good luck

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

  127. Hi Adam, that’s an unusual one but from your description I’d tend to do both rear struts and shocks at that mileage. Make sure to look closely at the upper strut mount too, those can deteriorate over the years also.

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

  128. Hi Mike,

    Awesome thread, great advice. I had a mechanic friend put KYB GR2s on the front of my 03 Legacy Wagon with 115K miles on it about 2 years ago. After he did it would make an odd kathunk noise when you back out of a parking space and then again when the weight transferred when you turn the wheel the other way and start to roll forward. It never makes the noise other than that. He put swaybar endlinks on it at the same time, I don’t think he replaced the top strut bushings though and I’m wondering if that accounts for the noise. Also over this last winter I believe the drivers side front strut was getting water into it and freezing, on very snowy slushy driving days, it would make a banging, clanking sound like metal on metal, if I parked it in the garage it would “thaw out” and would not do it. I’m thinking perhaps a bad seal on that one GR2, again it drives fine other than the freezing in winter and the odd clunk at very low speed wheel hard over as the weight transfers. Any ideas?

    Thanks again, Mike J

  129. Mike,

    I have an ’06 WRX limited I just bought at 99k miles 8 months ago. When I bought it I noticed they had STI pink springs on them. I just hit 108k and recently I have noticed this odd noise coming from the real wheel areas. It sounds like a creaking squeek that matches when I move slowly over lumpy or bumps in the road. Other times on smooth roads I will hear it between 20 and 40mph as if my suspension is picking up ever imperfection in the road. I have had a few vibrations in the car, not steering wheel, between those speeds under moderate acceleration. I have spoke with a couple subaru friends and they said it sounded like the rear struts needed to be replaced. Can you oiint me I. The right directions with where to start looking or things to try? It is pretty loud and obnoxious.

    Thanks!

  130. Hi Mike, your description has me a bit stumped. It’s tough to diagnose a sound without actually driving and hearing it. Your strut mount is a very good idea and also there have been situations where shops have installed the springs slightly off center or twisted and have caused similar noise.

    Either way if the noise wasn’t there before and it’s there now, I’d put the responsibility back on the shop that installed them.

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

  131. Hi Nicholas,

    I don’t think it will be related to the pink springs but I do agree with your friends that at times the struts will make that type of noise. It’s difficult to have a good idea without having the car here but it sounds like you’re on the right track.

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

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