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When To Replace Struts?

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by The Critic, Apr 8, 2011.

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  1. The Critic

    The Critic Resident Critic

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    I took my buddy's 2006 Prius w/85k to the local shop this morning for an alignment. During the pre-alignment inspection, they found that the front struts are starting to seep.

    I would describe the seepage to be moderate and to only cover the area above the spring seat. The "Grade 4" shown in this TSB best describes the condition of the front struts:

    http://www.etimago.com/yaris/TSB/TS-SU007-06(Shock Absorber Replacement ).pdf

    According to this bulletin, moderate seepage from the struts is normal. The tech personally showed me the seepage, so I know the shop isn't lying to me and is trying to upsell struts. The seepage is not the typical light film of oil that you see on struts-- it is definitely a heavier layer of oil that has escaped.

    I was taught that struts should be replaced at the first sign of leakage, but this bulletin is saying otherwise. I am not sure if the purpose of this bulletin was to help Toyota reduce warranty expense by forcing owners to wait until they are dangerously bad (and hopefully by then, they will be out of warranty), or is it actually pointless to replace struts until they have are leaking profusely.

    What do you guys think?
  2. don_chuwish

    don_chuwish Well Seasoned Member

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    How much $$ do they want to replace them? I suppose it's not critical to replace at this point, but with that many miles and years of service I'd be tempted - depending on the cost.

    - D
  3. The Critic

    The Critic Resident Critic

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    Flat rate time for the front strut replacement is 2.4 and rear strut replacement is 2.9. They made me a deal and would do the job for $435 including alignment if I provided the parts.

    So far I have priced out a full set (F&R) of KYB struts and front strut mounts for $340 and genuine Toyota struts for $430. Both the KYB and Toyota struts carry a lifetime warranty.
  4. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    As long as it's mild seepage and there is no noticeable performance problem it's not an urgent fix.

    Are you sure the tech didn't add some oil to the outside of the shock? I've seen a lot of Japanese shocks and struts last well beyond 85 kmiles. I've also replaced shocks on some cars with less than 5k miles because they were crap from the factory,so my standards are relatively high.
  5. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    When it starts bouncing like a lowrider with hydrolics everytime you go over a bump is a good time to replace them. :D

    Like stated above, if the seepage is very mild and the case still handles and rides well them I wouldn't worry about it but do monitor them closely. If the guy is rich then replace them anyway. Most struts are pretty worn by 60k anyway. :)
  6. macmaster05

    macmaster05 Senor Member

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    Nahhh man. Too expensive!! Go to SWAT Customs in Fremont CA. George will do it for $150. He installed my lowering springs for $150 so has experience with the Prius suspension. Yelp it. Best deal in the Bay Area.
  7. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    Seriously? My struts are going bad and I think my springs are starting to sag. I had a hard time getting the jack under the front of my car the other day. The only thing stopping me from replacing them was the labor charge. Hmm my buddy has a Corvette performance shop in Fremont too. Sounds like I need to visit the yea area.
  8. macmaster05

    macmaster05 Senor Member

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    Yeah seriously. George usually works on lifting big big pickup trucks so when an Asian kid with a Prius walked in I was pretty scared of getting my ass kicked. Lol don't ask why. But I'd talked on the phone with him before so it was all good. He's extremely nice in person and on the phone. I can't stress that enough. My only minor minor complaint was that I wanted to watch him do it but he doesn't let customers do that for insurance reasons (his single space garage is old looking like a giant shed). So he sends you down a couple blocks to hang out at Starbucks. I cheated and came back 30 minutes early though and got to watch him finish up. The place looks shabby and it's a little hard to find, but very professional.

    But yeah, it be cheap. Maybe its the cheap rent space in Fremont, maybe something else lol. But these are the gems to find - like the hole in the wall Mexican food. Others were quoting me $300 at least. I sort of regret not installing a strut bar at the same time. Something tells me he wouldntve charged me a penny more. I'd definitely come back for any other non-DIY suspesion or wheel needs, like installing new rims/tires.
  9. The Critic

    The Critic Resident Critic

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    Wow, that is very inexpensive. I will give him a call. Thanks!
  10. The Critic

    The Critic Resident Critic

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    No, I watched him drive it onto the alignment rack and watched him do the inspection. The oil seepage is not fresh since there is a thick layer of accumulated dirt.

    Also, based on the search I did on this forum, leaking struts are not uncommon at all.
  11. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    I am inclined to agree with your suggestion that the purpose of the TSB is to reduce warranty expense. The criteria in the TSB is also easy to apply. The presence of significant strut oil per the TSB definitely means that the struts are bad.

    However the absence of strut oil does not mean that the struts are necessarily good.

    For example, if you live in an area with high ambient temperatures, the leaked strut oil will evaporate and no longer be easily visible. To be sure, you would have to remove the strut and compress it manually, and after going to that trouble you'd might as well replace it with a new part.

    When the right front strut of my 2004 failed, it was literally bathed in strut oil. However a couple of months later, the oil had evaporated so the strut visually looked fine. (I was traveling for an extended period and could not immediately replace the struts.)

    I would say if you are interested in maintaining your Prius at a high level, then the Prius front struts and rear shocks likely need to be replaced after 60K miles of service. However I do not advocate this as a general guideline for the Prius community because of the high replacement cost especially if dealer servicing is required.
    cwerdna likes this.
  12. ybnormal07

    ybnormal07 New Member

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    I've now got 150 K on the original factory struts. Although there has been been degradation in performance (There is more "porposing" on larger dips/bumps), it is by no means dangerous or even annoying. My struts appear clean with no leakage, and my alignments have been minimal in change. I'm still getting normal wear on tires, which I rotate every oil change (5K miles). I've thought about putting on new struts, and would likely tackle the job myself, but so far, I can live with what I have. FYI, I drive competitevly in SCCA and have competed in many team based road coarse events with professionaly prepared vehicles, so I have some experiance with handling. With only a mild degradation in handling aspects, I think my struts are still good to go.
  13. F8L

    F8L Protecting Habitat & AG Lands

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    At over 130,000 miles my struts were in remarkably good condition except for the minor porpoising over bumps or coming off a driveway. I replaced them anyway and swapped out the sagging OEM springs for a set of Eibachs since I would have the assembly apart anyway.
  14. striker308

    striker308 Prius owner

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    I did all four of mine in the driveway in about three hours. the spring compresor was a $35 harbor fright deal. the shocks I got (ripped off on) were Monro premiums for $289 each front and $45 each back. they ride nice but are a hair shorter than stock so you have to take the OEM bump stop out or it sounds like your hitting a foot deep hole every bump. you can get cheaper shocks but I can't remember changing them on any car that was this easy.
  15. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    I've had shocks/struts that were in good condition at 150k miles and I've had shocks/struts that were inadequate the day the car rolled out of the factory.
  16. gone2green

    gone2green grumpier than the grumpiest old man you know ;)

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    going to revive this thread... I am going to do the front struts myself I have 150k on the prius now and seems to hit every curb when we park the car now it scraps the plastic in the front never did before, so I figure I have some sag now., So should the strut support mounts be changed too? and the upper and lower rubbers the spring sits in/on? or would just replacing the struts be good enough? I found a pakg deal for kyb $219 for 2 fronts and 2 rears the support mounts and rubbers extra . any input is welcomed.
    thanks
  17. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Yes, the top mounts and the upper and lower rubber parts should be changed.

    Regarding sag, if this is a real concern then you should consider replacing the coil springs. New struts are not going to do much for body sag; holding the body up is primarily the job of the coil springs.
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  18. gone2green

    gone2green grumpier than the grumpiest old man you know ;)

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    thanks Patrick, I was thinking that the struts were too weak to keep it up. I will have to look into the coils maybe.
  19. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human - Animal Hybrid

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    My struts are still working good, no leakage or porpoising, but the rubber boots (the upper isolators) on the front struts are falling apart. I’m scheduled to get a four wheel alignment on Mar 28, but now thinking that I should wait and replace the front struts first.
  20. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Yes, that would make sense since camber is upset when the struts are removed and replaced.
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