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.

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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.


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+.

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