Replacing a Strut: Loaded or Bare?
A loaded strut is a complete, bolt-on replacement that can be easily installed at home to restore handling to factory settings. A bare strut reuses the original coil spring so it’s cheaper but will require tool rentals or shop time and usually additional replacement parts.
Strut replacement is generally recommended between 50-100k miles and can vary based on the conditions of miles being traveled. Coil springs usually last longer but can succumb to corrosion and rust if the protective coating is compromised. Deciding how to replace your strut is based on several factors such as cost, condition of other parts, and whether or not you want to tackle the project yourself.
In a MacPherson strut assembly the strut is basically an oversized shock absorber that runs down the middle of the coil spring and connects to the frame-to-strut mount and steering knuckle and aids the spring in damping vibrations.
A loaded strut, or complete strut assembly, is the entire MacPherson strut replacement unit that includes the coil spring, isolator pads, jounce bumper, top strut mount and bearing, and the strut itself.
Symptoms of a Worn Strut
If your vehicle has racked up a lot of miles, or the miles you’ve gone have been rough, you might notice:
- Increased Bumpiness
- Cupped Tire Wear
- Increased Body Roll
- Dives When Braking
- Acceleration Squat
- or Clunking Noise
These can all be signs that your struts or springs are beginning to wear out and needing replacement. When deciding between a bare strut replacement or a complete strut assembly (loaded strut, quick strut) there are a few issues you should consider.