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replace shocks/struts?

Discussion in 'Generation 1 Prius Discussion' started by jhknight, Mar 28, 2012.

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  1. jhknight

    jhknight Junior Member

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    Has anyone replaced shocks and/or struts in a 1st gen Prius??? I had asked the dealer at 90,000miles if I should plan on replacing struts soon because I noticed the boots were torn on the struts. The Toyota man said he had never replaced struts on a Prius. ????WTH?? Oh, really?
    Tire man said I had cupping on the rear tires which indicates worn shocks.
  2. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Yes, I have replaced the front struts and rear shocks on my 2001 and 2004. At 90K miles it is quite likely that your car is past-due for that service.
  3. jhknight

    jhknight Junior Member

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    hmmmm... why would Toyota tech lie about it???
  4. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Maybe the Toyota guy is new. Regardless, struts/shocks are a wear item and start to signs of degradation between 60k and 100k. I replaced mine a little after 120k and they were definitely worn. I used the direct replacement KYB GR2 struts. They are not great but only have two choices. :(
  5. tposs001

    tposs001 Junior Member

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    Any better replacement shocks/struts that are better ride quality?
  6. PriusTech

    PriusTech Member

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    Look at your VIN #, it starts with a "J" right? That means it's built in Japan. All Gen 2 Prius are built in Japan. That means it has Japanese struts and shocks from the factory. That means the struts and shocks are lifetime units. They typically NEVER need to be changed for the practical life of the vehicle.

    Aftermarket shops that try to sell brake calipers, struts, shocks, master cylinders, etc on "J" build vehicles are either ignorant or thieves. They will take off your lifetime front brake calipers or struts (sometimes they are still in warranty!!!) and put on their 60K to 90K garbage parts that WILL need to be replaced again and again. So they are ripping you off two or even three ways at once. 1. you didn't need it. 2. it's still in warranty. 3. they sell you a junk part. (this is just an example, your struts are out of warranty)

    Case in point, my '91 Civic wagon, "J" vin. 285,000 miles, ORIGINAL front brake calipers, struts and shocks. Very possibly the same vendor as the Prius, maybe Tokiko.

    cupping tire wear can be caused by alignment issues. If your strut boot is torn it's possible the car has been wrecked. Sort of unusual for the boot to be torn but not unheard of. It does not mean the strut is near failure either. The only thing that indicates failure on a Japanese strut is large fluid leakage (more than a seep).

    Now when you start talking Japanese cars built in America it's a different story, then it becomes nuance with some of these parts being lifetime and some being earlier failure, it depends mostly on the vendor source.

    my bona-fides

    all dealer tech career.

    Datsun/Nissan 8 years
    Acura 1.5 years
    Honda 15 years
    Mitsubishi 1.5 years
    Toyota 2 years.
  7. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    I have owned three Prius. The 2001 and 2004 both needed new front struts and rear shocks after 60K miles or so.

    In the case of the 2001, the parts did not leak noticeably. However, after the coil springs were removed it was obvious that very little effort was required to compress the struts/shocks as compared to new parts.

    In the case of the 2004, the right front strut leaked substantial fluid, coating the entire strut body so it was nice and shiny. However, I then started an extended business trip and could not work on the car for a couple of months. After that time, the very thin strut fluid had all evaporated (likely due to the hot Arizona ambient summer temps.) Hence, although substantial fluid leakage proves the strut is bad, the lack of visible fluid is not proof that the strut is good.

    The front strut pleated rubber covers tend to rot and fall apart after a while. The car does not need to be in an accident for this to happen.

    I can accept that many Japanese-built cars have high-quality struts and shocks that will last a very long time. However, being made in Japan is not a 100% assurance of suspension part quality.

    KYB is the original equipment supplier to Toyota for Prius struts and shocks. Unfortunately the quality of those parts is nowhere at a "lifetime" level unless your idea of lifetime is 60K miles. It appears that you have not worked on Prius suspensions if you are not aware of the supplier's identity - since "KYB" is prominently stamped into the parts along with a Toyota part number.
    4 people like this.
  8. PriusTech

    PriusTech Member

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    I've been working at a large Toyota dealer (25 techs) for two years. I've replaced about 2 pairs of struts and have maybe seen another 8 to 10 pairs replaced by other techs. None of them on a Prius.

    On any given day I work on at least 1 Prius, usually 3 or 4 of them. Lot's of them with high miles, like Taxis with 300K

    It's possible your problem is a locality issue due to the heat. We don't have that kind of heat in Seattle.

    I'm also suspect of who is working on your car if it's not yourself. I've never seen shock oil "evaporate" even in extreme heat. (used to work in NM) The brake places have a trick of squirting some oil on the strut to make it look like there's a leak. I have seen cars come in from a recent rain or car wash and the area around the strut is the last place to dry and the water looks like oil.

    It may be problematic to check a strut by hand, unless there is obvious zero resistance when you pull or push. A new strut may "feel" different from a good used one out of the car. The best test is a bounce test under vehicle weight. You push the bumper real hard up and down a couple of times, two people is better. The car should not continue to bounce when you stop pushing. It should rebound to ride height and that is all.
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  9. PriusTech

    PriusTech Member

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    Just talked with one of the parts guys, he has over 15 years at this dealer. He says Prius struts and shocks are a non stocking item, so that means that there are no more than 2 pair sold per year. He says they have always been a non-stocking item and he's only ever ordered about 1 individual or 1 pair per year.
  10. hiljak

    hiljak Junior Member

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    Great info, PriusTech. I have a recently incurred some "cupping" on my rear tirer (the tire place actually called it "chopping") and they say my rear shocks are likely the culprit, hence, they don't cover it under warranty. I'll admit that I put 50k miles on the tires without ever rotating them :whistle: and the tire place found that both the rear tires were also out of balance. Anyway, I haven't noticed any change in the ride or any obvious signs of warn shocks. I'll try your bounce method tomorrow. Is it possible for "cupping/chopping" to happen to the rear tires only from nothing more than never rotating them for 50k miles?

    BTW: 105k miles on the prius. Currently, the only things required for the vehicle during that time are wiper blades, tires, and oil. I had to replace the front dash 12v power port only because I blew the fusible link by powering a 280watt inverter so that doesn't really count as a failure or needed maintenance issue. Friggin car is solid.
  11. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    Failing Granpa's bounce test means the shocks are bad, passing doesn't necessarily mean they are good. The bounce test tests low speed damping in the shock, it doesn't test high speed damping. In simple terms, low speed damping is the ability to control the cars movement at it's natural jounce frequency of approximately 1 Hertz. High speed damping is the ability to control the tires reaction to road irregularities like Botts' Dots, washboard surfaces, potholes, out of balance wheel conditions, poor tire construction, etc.
  12. chaps

    chaps Junior Member

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    I changed both front and rear shocks and coil springs at around 57k miles.Monroe shock absorbers and Kings coil springs did the trick.Amazingly enough the ground clearance increased after the change over.
  13. magnabravo

    magnabravo Junior Member

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    I replaced the front one myself (really very easy to do) but I went to a local junkyard and picked up two off a Prius that looked to be in pretty good shape. I live on a pretty bumpy dirt road. I think the used ones cost me around $50 total. I recenty wrecked my Prius if your interesed in any parts.
    newcomb.larry@gmail.com
  14. PriusTech

    PriusTech Member

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    Could be an alignment issue. Also could be a inflation pressure issue. The high pressure some people run for good mileage is not necessarily the best for optimum wear. Rotating can help as it reduces the time any given tire is on the problem end if it is an alignment problem. A certain amount of cupping / feathering doesn't really hurt anything although it can cause a droning noise.

    So I've been at Toyota for 3-1/2 years now and still have yet to see a Prius strut replaced due to wear.
  15. PriusTech

    PriusTech Member

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    browser glitch, double post
  16. DaveGoodrich

    DaveGoodrich Member

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    My '01 Prius has 325k miles on it, and I have no record that the struts were ever changed. Based on how it handles over bumpy pavement, they definately need to be changed, and will be soon. So, even if they are supposed to be lifetime parts, I don't think that really means "lifetime." It means "longer than most folks drive a car."
  17. DaveGoodrich

    DaveGoodrich Member

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    Perhaps folks with Prii old enough to need new struts don't go to the dealer for that service. If not under warranty, I would never take my car to the dealer for simple (non-hybrid system related) service such as strut replacement. Also, struts are relatively expensive and bulky items, so I can see why a dealer parts department wouldn't stock them routinely. Its easy enough to say to the customer "not currently in stock, but we can get them from our warehouse in a couple days." Struts depend on rubber seals to maintain their functionality, so they can't last forever, just long enough that the original owner usually doesn't own the car by the time they fail.
    Wheelin1 likes this.
  18. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Here's another string which discusses this subject and also contains links to my "how to" replace the front struts and rear shocks. This is for 2G; Classic is similar except you have to deal with removing the trunk trim instead of the hatch trim. The rear seat cushion pulls up for access to the rear shocks top mounting hardware.
    Front & rear struts and shocks replacement | PriusChat

    Prior to deciding to DIY, I called my local Toyota dealer's service dept to find out what the price would be: around $1,000 for the front axle. That made it really easy for me to decide to DIY.
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  19. PriusTech

    PriusTech Member

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    Agree. My definition of "lifetime" is finite also. I would put it around 250K. After that you would look closer at replacing things like struts and shocks. However unless they are leaking they are generally still good. Like I've said before my '91 Civic is approaching 300K with the original front struts, rear shocks, and front calipers.

    I've dealt with this issue pretty much my entire career. The aftermarket shops almost always want to replace stuff that doesn't really need it. This is especially true with Japanese built vehicles. American vehicles especially pre 2000 do have 60k struts and calipers, they do need replacement. The AM shops get that mindset and push it on all brands. It gets to be an urban legend.
  20. PriusTech

    PriusTech Member

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    There's always customers that stick with the dealer. We would be seeing some struts if they were actually bad. It's an inspection item on every oil change. Some of the US sourced struts on other models do very occasionally leak, so it's not like we never see bad struts.

    Parts stock is based on one thing only, sales. No sales, no stock.

    So you would never go to the dealer for something like struts? Let's say a factory strut lasts 200K. They last longer but just for the discussion. So you go to Midas and pay 1/2 of the dealer for a strut that indeed only lasts 60K. They will give a "lifetime" guarantee but the vast majority will never be honored. Any industry insider will tell you they aren't, too many loopholes. So you replace those struts 3 times for every time you would replace a factory strut. Where does that end up dollar wise?

    You should hit the dealer at least once a year even if it's just an oil change. There's a lot of recalls and they are constantly being updated. Things like ECM flashes are lifetime and no charge. And I would always go to the dealer if you have a problem. They are much quicker and more accurate at diagnosis. Right now the 2nd gen Prius is having problems with intake manifolds and the warranty is extended on that problem to 80K.
    PanamaJim likes this.
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