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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Outback Strut Advice?

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7 replies to this topic

#1 antiqueken


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Posted 23 November 2003 - 01:27 PM

I own a 98 Legacy Outback with just over 80k miles on it. The struts are original, and was wondering when most folks replace them (there is no mention of replacing them in the owner's manual that I can find). I haven't owned a car with struts before, but understand that most foks replace them in the 60-75k mile area. The car still handles fine, and I haven't noticed any unusal tire wear. Pep Boys quoted me $150/strut, plus $50 labor/strut, and an alignment...over $800 out the door.
So here are my questions:

1. When are most folks replacing their struts?

2. How much should a strut cost?

3. Which manufacturer makes the best strut?

4. Can I install them myself as a "shade tree mechanic" or is this a job best left to the pros?

5. What should the total out the door price be?

Thanks in advance for the help.


#2 frag


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Posted 23 November 2003 - 03:00 PM

1)Costs: go to this adress and find what they're asking for OEM struts for your car. This will give you a price for comparison.
2) Doable by a shade tree mechanic? I think so, I'm one myself and I'm ready to do them on my Legacy the minute they give any sign of failing. If you have access to a good spring compressor (look for a thread on this page titled «borrow tools for free) and at least to a Haynes manual, it's not a very difficult repair.
3) I would wait for the struts to show some signs of wear before replacing them. They give advance warning and this give you time to order the parts and prepare. My car is a 96 (200,000 kilometers) with what I was told are the original struts and they are still working perfectly.
My 2 cents.

#3 mtsmiths


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Posted 23 November 2003 - 04:15 PM

Unless you have a real floor mounted caged spring compressor. I wqould find a good local tire/suspension shop and deal. Forget the nationals like Pep boys and AutoZone.

That said, we have almost 150,000 miles on our '00 Legacy wagon, and I just had our struts looked over by my local tire guy when they had the car up swapping the winter wheels/tires on. He said no signs of wear yet, so I ddon't think you need worry for a long-long time.

#4 frag


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Posted 23 November 2003 - 04:51 PM

One of my fellow worker did it successfully on his son's Mazda with a substandard spring compressor (told me he did'nt like ithe feeling at all) and he's more of a carpenter than a mechanic. I think that with a safe spring compressor ( the one loaned by C Tire seems to be of that kind: two different parts safely hooking the top and bottom coils of the spring on each side) and with reasonnable care, this is not something foolhardy to do by a competent do-it-yourselfer.
But I guess that's subjective.

#5 alias20035


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Posted 23 November 2003 - 06:12 PM

As Gilles noted spring compressors are not for the faint of heart, as if the spring comes loose it can easily kill you. The Canadian Tire one Gilles mention uses two U bolts around the springs and is much safer that the ones that use a simple hook over the spring.

It is always required to use two spring compressors (one on each side of the spring) so that the spring will compress straight.

Your struts might be perfectly fine with only 80k, my 93 Legacy went well past 140,000 miles (~230,000km) before I changed the struts.

Try to bounce each of the four corners of the car. If the car rebounds just once and not bounce excessively, the struts are ok. Do you notice that the car feels "skittish" on rough roads when turning, if not your struts are fine. Also inspect the struts for signs that the oil has leaked out.

#6 Strakes


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Posted 23 November 2003 - 06:32 PM

Our 1993 Legacy's struts croaked at roughly 115,000 miles. They started to fail slowly. When the car sat for a while and the strut was cool, the "jump off the bumper to see if it bounces" method told us the strut was working. However, after things warmed up, the strut wouldn't work. The car would bounce up and down, also if you drove next to the moving car in another car and looked at a couple of the wheels, you could see the tires hit a road imperfection and bounce around. We replaced them with KYB-GR2's and my wife loves them. I shopped around the net and at that time found the best deal at tirerack.com . Prices change, so I'm sure there maybe other places that offer good prices.

P.S. I think KYB makes the OEM strut.

#7 99obw


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Posted 23 November 2003 - 07:41 PM

I have heard the bounce the car trick for years, but I don't think it works. You really need to observe how the cars behaves when driven. If it bounces more than once after hitting a big bump on the road it may need struts. I had a car that was almost undrivable the struts were so bad, but I could bounce the car and it would only bounce once.

Car springs are certainly dangerous. I do struts routinely myself, but it isn't necessarily something I recommend that people do. You need to be pretty experienced in the shop before trying it IMHO. I have seen cars where the compressor doesn't seem to fit in a way that seems safe, and cars where it works great.

The struts on our 99 at ~145k miles are pretty much toast.

KYB does make the OEM strut on our 99.

#8 antiqueken


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Posted 23 November 2003 - 11:16 PM

Thanks for all of the replies. My wife drives this one most times, and says she doesn't really feel any change in the handling from when we bout it at 30k miles. The "push the corner down" test has shown "normal" results as well. I think I'll start getting worried about this again at over 120k miles!
Thanks again for the inputs.

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