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Old 01-17-2011, 07:35 AM   #1
nogoer
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How to tell front struts are worn

I know, i know this has probably been discussed a hundred times but my multiple searches didn't come up with any posts directly related to determining whether my front struts are worn.

I don't know if this is right or not but i have heard that front struts aren't bad until they start leaking? Mine are not but i am dealing with some sensitive steering issues and the struts and tie rods are about the only things that aren't brand new up front. I can push on the front quarter panel and the car squishes pretty good, but it doesn't bounce if i push hard once and let go. It's not stiff but it's not bouncy either.

Any ideas?

Thanks
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:49 AM   #2
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Uneven tire wear or cupping on the tires is also used as an indication of bad shocks. What makes you think you have bad shocks? Sensitive steering "issues" could mean a number of things, one being the type of tires and tire condition.
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:50 AM   #3
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If one side is higher than the other side, the lower side could be gone. The only sure way to find out is disassemble the strut and see. If the struts are quite old and with lots of miles, replacing them would probably make you feel better even if they are not broken. But to save money, you'll just have to do the disassembly.
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:02 AM   #4
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GN, why do you respond to things that you don't know about? Just delete your account. Please.

OP, struts do not affect ride height--especially OE. If you have 50k or above on your struts, they're toast.

Do the following:

Pull a rear shock. If you have to ask how, you shouldn't be doing this. Push the piston in by hand. If you're able to push this in by hand and it doesn't fully re-extend itself then it's blown and so are your fronts.

The simpler method is though by looking at the mileage on your cluster. Above 50k--toast. Guaranteed.

And to all the 'tards who'll chime in and say that their OE shocks/struts are fine at 80k miles bla bla bla--no, they're not. Stop kidding yourself. The stock equipment simply does not last that long. I've pulled many BMW suspensions at 50k and above and they're always deader than SH*.
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:35 AM   #5
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Pull a rear shock.
Go get a clue. What has the rear shock got to do with the OP's front strut ? Idit.
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:40 AM   #6
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I'm just over 82k now and am starting to notice some bounce in my ride on the highway. Granted, most of the highways in Atlanta are beat to hell, but the bouncing seems excessive at times.

OP - Think of what happens when you compress a small spring and let go. It bounces up and down a few times then settles back to normal. Now imagine that spring is 500x stiffer, and you smack it with a 100lb hammer (the estimated weight of your wheel, tire, hub and brake assembly). Bottom line is your shocks are there to absorb all the energy created when your springs compress. When your shocks wear out, you will probably notice a little extra bounce in your ride!
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:43 AM   #7
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For a really quick check...You can always apply weight to each corner (bounce each corner) and see how quickly it settles back down
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:43 AM   #8
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Go get a clue. What has the rear shock got to do with the OP's front strut ? Idit.
I haven't done shocks on mine or any BMW, but I have on my old Acura. I'm guessing its much easier to pull a rear shock. If the rears are worn out then its likely the fronts are as well.
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:48 AM   #9
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I haven't done shocks on mine or any BMW, but I have on my old Acura. I'm guessing its much easier to pull a rear shock. If the rears are worn out then its likely the fronts are as well.
So shocks on accura are linked in that if 1 blows, the rest are gone ? With this kind of advanced tech, I am definitely right to tell people to buy hondas.

Last edited by GoingNuts; 01-17-2011 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:03 PM   #10
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Hey guys i wasn't trying to start a post war..let's all settle down please.

@Lemonsqr - I have brand new tires, they're only a few days old. That's why i'm starting to look at other possible wear items.

@LeMansteve - Thinking about it i guess i could say what i feel is close to a floating feeling. Driving the highway at around 70 i sometimes get that boat feeling when i go over extended rise/lowers in the road surface. Things usually settle out quickly though so i never really considered it.

The car has over 115K miles, i bought it with ~80K. When i replaced the rear shocks over this past summer they were so bad they couldn't even hold themselves up. Since all the suspension parts i have replaced so far were original i would have to bet that the front struts also are original. The question is would these being toast have a side effect of making the steering feel light?

Thanks for the responses so far. Going through it with help makes it easier to see whats going on. Im really starting to think the struts are most if not all of my problem.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:12 PM   #11
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Light steering is either normal for your car or it has the wrong power steering pump. If the front has toe out, the steering would be too sensitive and might give the impression the steering is light.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:23 PM   #12
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The car has over 115K miles, i bought it with ~80K. When i replaced the rear shocks over this past summer they were so bad they couldn't even hold themselves up. Since all the suspension parts i have replaced so far were original i would have to bet that the front struts also are original. The question is would these being toast have a side effect of making the steering feel light?

Thanks for the responses so far. Going through it with help makes it easier to see whats going on. Im really starting to think the struts are most if not all of my problem.
I would say that at that many miles, they are for sure gone too. Shocks are there to dampen out the bouncyness of the springs. Google mass-spring-damper systems for more info. I would also look into front control arms, that steering coupler, and front control arm bushings if you haven't replaced any or all of those yet. But replacing the shocks won't hurt. Do the springs too while you're at it. And do all 4 corners too.

Last edited by SamDoe1; 01-17-2011 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:24 PM   #13
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if the shocks are blown or worn, then they will not dampen the rebound.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nogoer View Post
Hey guys i wasn't trying to start a post war..let's all settle down please.

@Lemonsqr - I have brand new tires, they're only a few days old. That's why i'm starting to look at other possible wear items.

@LeMansteve - Thinking about it i guess i could say what i feel is close to a floating feeling. Driving the highway at around 70 i sometimes get that boat feeling when i go over extended rise/lowers in the road surface. Things usually settle out quickly though so i never really considered it.

The car has over 115K miles, i bought it with ~80K. When i replaced the rear shocks over this past summer they were so bad they couldn't even hold themselves up. Since all the suspension parts i have replaced so far were original i would have to bet that the front struts also are original. The question is would these being toast have a side effect of making the steering feel light?

Thanks for the responses so far. Going through it with help makes it easier to see whats going on. Im really starting to think the struts are most if not all of my problem.
Definitely sounds like the shocks then.....

Last edited by Lemonsqr; 01-17-2011 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:34 PM   #14
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Light steering is either normal for your car or it has the wrong power steering pump. If the front has toe out, the steering would be too sensitive and might give the impression the steering is light.
The car you show as yours should be fairly similar to mine, does yours feel like it has light steering? I doubt the power steering pump is wrong.


@SamDoe1 - Control arms, bushings, sway bar links, and ball joints are all brand new. As are the rear shocks and all four tires. The only direct suspension components that aren't new are the tie rods, front struts, and rear springs. The rear springs are also both broken and already on the warm weather repair list. Luckily both rear springs broke in almost exactly the same place on the lower first loop and have in effect resulted in a poor man's lowering job. They're certainly getting replaced, but i like the more level stance my Xi now has.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:26 PM   #15
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@SamDoe1 - Control arms, bushings, sway bar links, and ball joints are all brand new. As are the rear shocks and all four tires. The only direct suspension components that aren't new are the tie rods, front struts, and rear springs. The rear springs are also both broken and already on the warm weather repair list. Luckily both rear springs broke in almost exactly the same place on the lower first loop and have in effect resulted in a poor man's lowering job. They're certainly getting replaced, but i like the more level stance my Xi now has.
Awesome. Swap the front struts and rear springs, you should be good to go.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:30 PM   #16
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GN, why do you respond to things that you don't know about? Just delete your account. Please.

OP, struts do not affect ride height--especially OE. If you have 50k or above on your struts, they're toast.

Do the following:

Pull a rear shock. If you have to ask how, you shouldn't be doing this. Push the piston in by hand. If you're able to push this in by hand and it doesn't fully re-extend itself then it's blown and so are your fronts.

The simpler method is though by looking at the mileage on your cluster. Above 50k--toast. Guaranteed.

And to all the 'tards who'll chime in and say that their OE shocks/struts are fine at 80k miles bla bla bla--no, they're not. Stop kidding yourself. The stock equipment simply does not last that long. I've pulled many BMW suspensions at 50k and above and they're always deader than SH*.
This is the most correct post in this thread.

Also, GoingNuts, are you serious or just trolling??

ADD: People who say their struts are fine above 50k dont know what a car should drive like.

Last edited by dimazz; 01-17-2011 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:40 PM   #17
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While the bits about the shock's being blown has pretty much been covered thoroughly, I would also check any bushings to see if they're worn. On certain cars that don't use spherical bearings in the upper mounts for instance, can have bushings go bad over time.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:41 PM   #18
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I have one factory front strut and one factory rear shock. Both are going great at 120k. So, no, E46Mango has no clue. When my broken front strut was replaced, it made no detectible difference to the ride quality. But it did correct the lower height on that side. I reckon it's very hard to detect a broken front shock without disassembling the strut.

Last edited by GoingNuts; 01-17-2011 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:59 PM   #19
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I have one factory front strut and one factory rear shock. Both are going great at 120k. So, no, E46Mango has no clue. When my broken front strut was replaced, it made no detectible difference to the ride quality. But it did correct the lower height on that side. I reckon it's very hard to detect a broken front shock without disassembling the strut.
So are you saying you only have the suspension in half of your car?
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:01 PM   #20
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So are you saying you only have the suspension in half of your car?
One front strut was replaced because it was broken. Although I didn't know it was broken until I took it apart to fix the lower height issue. One rear shock was randomly and unnecessarily replaced after reading some BS here. That was way back when I was noob. So my car's suspension is half factory and half 2 year old.

Last edited by GoingNuts; 01-17-2011 at 02:06 PM.
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