According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately two percent of all motor vehicle crashes are caused by faulty or degraded vehicular components like shocks and struts. These are vital components of your car's suspension system crucial for steering and alignment. To avoid any one of over 30,000 yearly fatal car crashes in the US, find a good car shocks and struts service shop near you to help check for signs of wear and tear regularly. It is a standard to replace old shocks and struts at every 50,000 miles. Before settling for any shocks and struts replacement mechanic near you, ask the following questions to be sure of their expertise:
Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?
Several states mandatorily require the state-level licensing, registration, or certification of car shocks and struts replacement shops or technicians that operate within their geographical boundaries. However, the specific requirements for this licensing, registration, or certification vary by location. For example, Michigan requires the mandatory certification of any person that performs any type of auto repair in exchange for compensation, while Connecticut and Hawaii require licensing for auto repair shops and mechanics. Similarly, in New York, California, and Florida, all individuals and businesses that are involved in auto repairs are required to register with relevant state authorities. Before you hire any car shocks and struts replacement technician, it is advisable to contact your state's consumer protection agency to find out the specific requirements for auto repair shops and technicians near you. Note that some municipalities may have additional requirements for these individuals or facilities so you should also inquire about this.
Always make sure that any car shocks and struts shop or technician that you intend to hire meets every licensing, registration, or certification requirement for your state of residence. You can do this by requesting proof of this licensing, registration, or certification from the technician or shop and verifying it with the relevant government authority. In addition, you should strongly consider working with a technician that belongs to an automotive-related trade association and has also been certified by a reputable professional body. Membership in these associations usually means that the technician is bound by a strict code of conduct and standards, and has to act professionally at all times or face disciplinary action from the association. Likewise, professional certification also means that the technician has attained a certain level of experience and expertise in automotive repairs and maintenance. The most commonly known and well-reputed professional body in the automotive repair industry that issues certifications to car shocks and struts replacement technicians is the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Some common trade associations that car shocks and struts replacement technicians may also belong to include the Automotive Service Association and the Automotive Repair and Maintenance Association.
How Much Does Car Shocks and Struts Replacement Cost?
You should expect to pay an average of $400 - $900 to replace the shocks and struts of your car. This amount, which includes the cost of parts required for the job as well as the labor costs for the technician, is mostly dependent on the make and model of your vehicle. An individual shock absorber generally costs around $50 - $150 while an individual strut assembly will cost you anywhere between $150 and $300. Labor costs alone typically range from $150 to $300. Note that while it is possible to replace a single shock absorber or strut assembly, it is recommended that you replace these car parts in pairs, even if just one is bad. Replacing a single shock or strut on an axle can lead to stability problems with your car.
One way that you can save on car shocks and struts replacement costs is by purchasing aftermarket parts for your replacement. Auto repair shops generally have mark-ups on the parts that they use for jobs, and you can avoid these extra costs by purchasing the required parts by yourself. This way, you only pay for the car shock and struts replacement technician's labor and expertise. Note that you should always find out from your insurance company whether doing this may affect your vehicle's insurance coverage. Beyond this, it is also a good idea to carry out regular maintenance on your car and replace any defective parts, including shocks and struts, when needed. Doing this saves you the cost of carrying out much bigger and expensive repairs down the line.
What Are Common Car Shocks and Struts Replacement Expenses?
After replacing your shocks and struts, you may be required to carry out other actions to ensure that your vehicle drives smoothly. The most common of these are wheel alignments. Shock and strut replacements generally alter your car's alignment and leaving this unattended can result in uneven tire wear and even lead to tire failure. Wheel alignments cost an average of $100 - $200 and it is recommended that you do this after any shock and strut replacement. Note that you should always confirm whether your car shocks and struts technician will include this service as part of their overall charges or if you will have to pay a separate fee for this.
Similarly, you may also be required to replace certain parts of your car's suspension system during or after a shocks and struts replacement job. These include coil springs and sway or stabilizer bar links. The costs of these parts vary, ranging from less than $40 to more than $100, and in many cases, you will not have to pay any additional labor costs to replace them. Nevertheless, you should always confirm this with your car shocks and struts replacement technician.
Who Will Do the Work?
Auto repair shops typically employ several technicians and it is imperative that you know which of these individuals will be personally responsible for replacing your shocks and struts. This makes it easier to verify the technician's credentials, build a rapport with this technician, and also have a specific point of contact in case you have any problems with the work that was done. However, sometimes an auto repair shop may assign more than one technician to a job, and in many cases, these additional technicians are new employees that are still undergoing on-the-job training. Always find out if this will happen with your replacement job, and make sure that any work done by these technicians will be directly supervised by a certified car shocks and struts replacement technician. One way you can ensure this is by dropping your car off at an auto repair shop that is a part of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence's Blue Seal Program.
For an auto repair shop to qualify for this program, at least 75% of the repair shop's technicians and mechanics must be ASE certified and each area of service that the repair shop offers must be overseen by at least one of these certified technicians or mechanics. Therefore, when you drop your car off at an ASE Blue Seal auto repair shop, it is very likely that your car's shocks and struts replacement job will be directly handled by a qualified technician. Note that you should still always verify any certifications and other mandatory state requirements before hiring any particular car shocks and struts replacement shop or technician.
What Qualifications Should a Car Shocks and Struts Replacement Technician Have?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently more than 620,000 employed automotive service technicians and mechanics in the United States. About 226,000 of these technicians are employed in the automotive repair and maintenance industry, and this number includes car shocks and struts replacement technicians. While it is not mandatory, many employers expect car shocks and struts replacement technicians to have completed an automotive service-related program at a post-secondary institution before they get employed.
When employed, some car shocks and struts replacement technicians join trade associations like the Automotive Repair and Maintenance Association and the Automotive Service Association. Car shock and struts replacement technicians can also obtain professional certifications from organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Note that these certifications are usually only obtained after an auto repair technician has attained the required on-the-job years of experience and passed a written examination.
Will You Provide References?
When you need to hire a car shocks and struts replacement shop near you, you can get referrals from several sources including:
- Friends, family, and colleagues that may have done similar replacements
- Reputable trade associations and organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and the Automotive Service Association
- Online, through search engines like Google by keying in the phrase good car shocks and struts replacement shops near me
However, regardless of the referral method that you use, it is important to always ask for references from any potential repair shop or technician that you are considering. Never hire any auto repair shop or technician that cannot provide you with the contact details of at least three past clients that can vouch for them. Reach out to these past clients and get their opinions on the repair shop, technician, or both. If you are not satisfied with their reviews, or you feel that they may be biased, then you can also get reviews on these technicians and repair shops online via websites like Better Business Bureau and Yelp. Finally, you can also find out if any official complaints or reports have been made against the car shocks and struts replacement shop or technician near you that you intend to hire by contacting your state's Attorney General's Office.
Quick Facts about Car Shocks and Struts Replacement Technicians
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Car Shocks and Struts Replacement Services
What Is the Difference Between Struts and Shocks? Which Is Better, Shocks or Struts?
Although shocks and struts serve similar functions, they are both different car parts. The key difference between them is that struts are a structural part of your car's suspension system and also serve as a pivot point for its steering system. On the other hand, shocks are not a structural part of a car's suspension system and their basic function is to absorb shock from the road and keep the car from bouncing whilst driving. As such, even though the terms shocks and struts are often erroneously used interchangeably, these parts cannot be replaced with one another. However, neither is generally better than the other and some cars even utilize both struts and shocks.
How Many Miles Do Shocks and Struts Last?
It is generally recommended that you replace your shocks and struts after every 50,000 miles. Note that the specific timeframe for doing this is dependent on the make and model of your car as well as how you use and maintain it. As such, you should consider having your shocks and struts inspected at a reputable auto repair shop near you either once a year or after every 12,000 miles to determine whether these car parts are due for replacement.
Should I Replace My Strut Alone or the Strut Assembly?
While it costs more to purchase and install a fully loaded strut assembly instead of a single strut, it is always a good idea to do this when you have to replace a faulty strut. Replacing a single strut can lead to stability problems for your car. Also, many professional auto repair technicians generally recommend that you equally replace your strut mount after replacing a faulty strut. When the cost of doing this is factored into your bill, the price difference between replacing a single faulty strut and installing a fully loaded strut assembly considerably reduces. Finally, installing a complete strut assembly restores your car to its original ride height, making your driving experience quieter and smoother.
What Is Included in a Strut Assembly?
A complete strut assembly typically consists of two main parts. These parts are a coil spring that supports the weight, height, and stability of the car and also absorbs large bumps and a shock absorber that dampens vibrations and prevents the car from bouncing up and down after hitting a bump on the road. Other components of strut assemblies include strut mounts, strut mount bearings, spring seats, spring isolators, isolator pads, and jounce bumpers. Note that the specific components of a strut assembly generally depend on its manufacturer.
Does My Vehicle Need to Be Aligned after I Have My Struts Replaced?
Yes. Strut replacements generally affect a vehicle's alignment in some way and it is recommended that you align your car whenever you replace your struts.
Can You Replace Air Suspension with Regular Shocks? My Vehicle Is Equipped with Electronic or Air Suspension. Can It Be Converted to Use Standard Gas Shock/Struts?
Yes, many professional car shocks and struts replacement shops offer shock and struts substitution or conversion services and can convert electronic or air suspensions to standard shocks and struts. Nevertheless, you should always verify this with your auto repair technician and make sure that the auto repair shop is equipped to handle conversions for the make and model of your vehicle.
How Does Air Suspension Work?
Air suspensions are a type of vehicle suspension system that utilizes an electric pump or compressor to pump air into flexible bellows airbags made of textile-reinforced rubber or polyurethane. In this system, the bellows airbags replace the coil springs that are typically found in standard vehicle suspension systems, and the airbags are inflated to a certain pressure so that they can mimic these coil springs when driving. Air suspension has several advantages, which include less wear and tear in your vehicle's suspension system, improved ride height, higher corner speeds, and more driver comfort. However, they also have certain disadvantages, such as vulnerability to air leaks, higher purchasing and installation costs, and less fuel efficiency than coil spring suspensions.
How Does Electronic Suspension Work?
Electronic suspensions are computer-controlled suspensions that adjust the performance and ride characteristics of your car by electronically modifying your shocks and struts to ensure a smooth ride. There are two basic types of electronic suspensions and these are adaptive electronic suspensions and active electronic suspensions. Adaptive electronic suspensions work by adjusting your shocks and struts and controlling their vibration dampening performance to provide a smooth riding experience. On the other hand, active electronic suspensions work by using hydraulics and electromagnets to change the ride height of your car and improve its performance and towing capabilities.