We’ve all seen that vehicle bouncing down the road and realized, “Wow, they need struts bad!”– but there are some other things that we need to be on the look out for that may not be quite as obvious. Let’s diagnose some of the problems from the top to the bottom.
The bearing plate is what allows the strut assembly to turn while holding up the weight of the vehicle. In this plate is a roller bearing setup that’s designed to allow things to turn smoothly. With the vehicle parked, turn the wheel back and forth a few turns. While doing this, see if you feel any places where there’s resistance that’s greater than others or if it seems to “catch” in certain spots. Also, having someone turn the wheel while you listen to the top of the strut assembly can help to diagnose a bearing plate problem.
The spring can also be an aera of concern when it comes to the strut assembly. This is where any ride height issues would stem from. Check the vehicles ride height and compare that with the factory specification. If it’s out of spec, then it’s time to replace the assembly.
Lastly, take a look at the strut. You’ll want to look at where the shaft to see if there are any pitting on the chrome surface. Look at where the shaft goes into the body for any signs of damage. Farther down, you’ll want to look for any oil or other signs that the strut is leaking. Make sure that you examine the full body of the strut for any signs of damage. Any bends, dents, or punctures are a sure sign that it will need replaced.
Strut assemblies are not just for comfort, they’re also for safety as they help keep your tires planted on the road. Make sure that you know how to diagnose the issues with them properly.