How to Replace Struts on Your Car or Truck

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Strut Replacement Step By Step

Ernesto Andrade/Flickr

Do you need new struts? If your ride has gotten a little bouncy, or your car is bottoming out with a nice thump over speed bumps or potholes, it may be time for a strut replacement. Most cars have struts in the front, but many cars these days have rear struts, too. It's easy to install new struts, and you can save a ton of money by doing it yourself. If you're not sure what's causing your suspension issues, it's time to do some serious suspension troubleshooting to get to the root of the problem before you pull out your wallet and decide to get greasy. 

Before you even pick up a wrench, do a quick comparison to be sure you bought the right part. If what you bought at the parts store doesn't match the strut on your car or truck, you'll be glad you still have a working car to drive back to the parts store to get your new struts!

Be sure your car is securely supported by jack stands, and then remove the wheel. Never work on a car supported only by a jack!

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Remove the Brake Line Support

Brake line removal for strut replacement.
Remove the bracket that supports the brake line. John Lake

The first real step toward strut replacement is to remove the brake line support if your car has one. Not all cars will have the brake line supported on the strut assembly. This is an easy one to get off usually. Sometimes it's even just a rubber grommet.

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Remove the Pinch Bolt

This pinch bolt holds the strut in place at the bottom.
Remove the pinch bolt that holds the strut in place at the bottom. John Lake

The strut is held on at the bottom by a pinch bolt. This might be a bit of a pain in the neck to get loose, but use a breaker bar if you need a little extra pull on it. Or better yet, get yourself some air tools!

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Drop the Sway Bar

Remove the sway bar mount.
The sway bar mount must be removed and the sway bar dropped to release the link to the strut. John Lake

The next step in strut replacement involves dropping the sway bar. You need to do this in order to expose the bar link that connects the sway bar to the strut. It's really just another support for the sway bar, but it connects to the strut so it's gotta come off.

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Remove the Top Strut Bolts

The interior strut bolts.
Remove the strut bolts in the interior. John Lake

Isn't strut replacement getting fun? It gets a little cleaner at this step at least.

Before you loosen the bolts at the top of the strut housing, you need to put a jack under your ​brake disc or drum and relieve a little of the pressure on the strut. Don't jack it way up, just enough to support a lot of the strut's (not the whole car's) weight.

The interior bolts will usually be accessible through the trunk. Sometimes you have to remove some access panels to get to them, but if you take a look at where the top of the strut attaches to the car while you're on the outside, you'll be able to figure out where to get to the bolts on the inside. Remove all of them.

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Replace that Link!

Replace the sway bar to strut link.
That gold link looks nice and new! It attaches to the strut at the top and the sway bar at the bottom. John Lake

Remove the link that joins the strut and the sway bar, and replace it with the new one. Add a little grease to the joints to keep things lubed. Replacing this link can help you avoid an expensive repair later when the link breaks on its own.

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Reattach and Tighten it Up

The sway bar link being tightened.
Replace, tighten, and you're done!. John Lake

Reinstall the mounting and attachment points, in the same manner, they were removed. Tighten them to spec and you are ready for some smooth driving! And you saved big money!