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Tuesday, November 30, 2010



To the Doctor:
My 1990 Buick LeSabre with 88,000 miles rocks a slow bounce when going over mild humps and moderate braking. It's not at all uncomfortable. Probably struts, though the front struts were relaced at 50,000 miles. Is this a condition that can affect wear/damage to any other parts or systems of the car?

The Doc Says:
Worn struts can affect a car's front-end alignment and tire wear, but generally not in a critical manner. Typically, worn struts are seen as a ride quality issue more than as a performance issue. Many automotive experts recommend the "bounce" test to determine if struts need to be replaced. That is, when you go over a bump, if the vehicle bounces more than once, the struts are likely worn and need to be replaced.

However, the Motorist Assurance Program (MAP), a consumer group, notes in its Uniform Inspection Guidelines that shock or strut replacement should not depend on a vehicle's mileage or whether the shock absorbers or struts fail a bounce test. Rather, MAP notes, "replacement is required only if a shock or strut piston rod is bent or damaged, if (the shock or strut) has broken, damaged or missing mounting hardware, is binding or seized, is severely corroded to the point where it is weakened (for struts only), is missing, or has oil running down the body."

Bottom line: If your car still passes the bounce test and the struts don't appear to have any physical damage, you probably don't need to replace them for the time being. However, periodically check the front tires to make sure they are wearing evenly, and if you encounter any steering alignment issues (i.e. front-end shimmy), it might be worth the investment to replace the struts.

Hope this info helps!

The advice described above is for informational purposes only. It cannot and should not be used in lieu of an actual, physical inspection and diagnosis by a trained mechanic or automotive technician. The opinions and advice offered herein are not intended to diagnose automotive problems or component failures; they are simply intended to provide information on what could be transpiring. VehicleMD accepts no liability resulting from actions taken as a result of this advice.

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