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Struts.. which ones are good, and not so good?

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  • #581238

      Hi guys,

      My lady’s 94 prizm has suffered the roads of Camden nj and the rear struts are DONE (I can bounce it with one hand, and he bounces like 3 times)

      I’m looking around for new struts, OEM would run about 145 a piece shipped.
      Also saw on ebay a brand called Sensen, they say they have a lifetime warranty, 61 bucks for the PAIR. Made in and for China though….

      I’m not normally one to cheap out on parts but the OEM’s lasted 20 years, I don’t need the next set to last that long, 5 to 10 would be quite sufficient, the car is closing in on 200k and we will start having kids in the next 5 years so she wants a full size sedan when that happens. (But she’s not all about getting an SUV so I think I can deal with just a bigger sedan)

      I know eric’s got a video up on compressing the spring to transfer it over, the tools he uses, they available for rent?

    Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)
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    • #581319
      EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

        You might consider quick struts from Monroe. This would completely renew the suspension and you’d be done with it. I don’t know for sure, but they may be less than OE and they come complete with no need to compress the spring. Just remove one strut and install the new. Easy really.

        Good luck and keep us posted.


          You say completely renew. The implication I’m reading from that is that the springs also degrade with time. Am I interpreting that correctly?
          I know its largely subjective but typically how much of a difference would new springs make — and what difference?

          I am upset with myself for grabbing a spring compressor from amazon (40 bucks) before checking back here. At this moment I’m looking at Monroe’s OE … but only because I’ve heard of that name and you suggested a product from them. KYB? never heard of them, ACdelco… heard of but no idea if any good, MOOG, I’ve heard they are good but…thats it… (good as in for enthusiasts who don’t mind a bumpier ride for snappier handling or good as in the other side of the spectrum?)

          At any rate, the Monroe’s, rock auto has them for 65 a piece, and I know advance sells them too so I can have them price match it through advance website(I got a hella deal on a radiator that way!)
          But if its wise to replace the spring too I’ll investigate that.
          Should I also replace the strut mounts? (assuming it isn’t obvious that they need it)

          I see on rock auto they got all kinds of options… economy, OE, premium. My wife drives like an old lady for the most part so premium products superior handing would be wasted on her but OE vs economy has me scratching my head. Economy is such a general term… what would a cheap strut be? jelly like? stiff? (I have no idea what they would cheap out on and how it would impact the performance of the part– beyond probably failing sooner)

          I’m flabbergasted at how it took such a short amount of time for them both to go bad! I drove the car merely 2 months ago, the suspension was good. I don’t know if it was the extreme cold that hit around here or what but the struts went from 8/9 out of 10 to 1/10.



            Good product? This price looks pretty good for all thats included… question is will I likely need all that is included

            Pat CalhounPat Calhoun

              I used Monroe Economatic (the cheaper version of the quick struts) and they’ve been great so far. Very inexpensive and seem pretty well built and theres no compressing springs involved.

              Ken DeFilippoKen DeFilippo

                Look into for the Monroe Quick Strut. You get the complete assembly in one package, ready to install: Strut frame, shock, coil spring, dust boot, top plate, mounting nuts.
                The shock and coil spring are engineered to work together to support both the load of the car and the engine as well as reacting to road irregularities. I would avoid attempting to change out the spring. Unless your a pro, and have the proper equipment, that could be a very dangerous job. Yes, the top plate needs to be changed out; do not attempt to re-use the existing top plate or hardware. Make certain that your vehicle is on the “Exact Fit” list when shopping.


                  ugh WHY DO I ALWAYS FORGET TO CHECK THEM!?!

                  They bought out the local warehouse last year and I STILL forget to check them!

                  Thanks for the intel, from what I read there was 0 consensus on if the springs lasted forever or not (looked like 60% said they do and 40% said they don’t.. but who knows what the actual split is) so I’ll bite it, and grab quick fits to be safe.

                  One last question, the front shocks seem to act fine, i need to put my whole 175lbs on the hood to make them move and then when I get off it rebounds back gently (no bounce) — the opposite of the rear (which was boing boing boing!) This isn’t going to make it have a longer stopping distance right? (trying to envision it… back pushes up, and leverages onto front… so should be fine right?)

                  Ken DeFilippoKen DeFilippo


                    Re-reading your posts regarding work on your suspension system leads me to provide you with the following additional info for your consideration:

                    First, I do not believe you indicated the current mileage for your vehicle, nor, did you state that earlier suspension work had been performed. Point being that shocks and/or strut assemblies have an average life span of approx. 40K miles, depending on the road conditions and driving habits. At that duration, the ability of the shock to hold it’s hydraulic fluid may be compromised; the resistance rate for the coil springs would have changed as the molecular structure of the steel has fatigued over the duration as well.

                    This holds true for both the front and rear ends of the vehicle. Remember, the suspension system works in tandem, designed to provide as stiff a platform as possible which results in favorable tire ware, acceptable wheel alignment, and, as you pointed out, shortest possible stopping distances, with
                    ride comfort notwithstanding. With respect to the split of opinions, metal fatigue and seal leakage are issues that occur over a prolonged period of time and are difficult, at best, to confirm simply by performing a survey of drivers.

                    Regarding the makers of strut assemblies and shocks, one sees a relatively nice paint job on the strut. Not visible, or made known, may be inferior materials such as the steel frame, coil spring, top bracket and nuts which may not meet ASME standards. These components can, in fact, be fabricated using inferior steel which will not perform as well as OEM components. This is not to say that aftermarket parts are inferior, one must be prudent when investigating the Seller and their product.

                    As far as the rear is concerned, you might be better off installing Monroe Heavy Duty shocks without the coil. I suggest you look into this for your vehicle. A much easier installation as well. As for the front end, your body weight and bounce test may not suffice to simulate strut fatigue. Again, look at the mileage, have the vehicle on the lift to inspect the seals. Remember, having new, stiff suspension parts on one end combined with not too new on the other end is not recommended. A good analogy is placing new tires in the rear and riding with worn ones in the front, a recipe for trouble. I hope all of this helps.



                      190k mileage. They were good up til about a month ago… went to hell quickly!

                      I know struts die, springs were the question mark. One thing I saw said that once the part lasts longer than X its considered good forever (but what if the vehicle exceeds X? THAT is the issue)

                      Help me out here:

                      it shows a spring in the photo, but I’m not 100% sure it actually comes with one. I can’t find a difference between the OE spectrum and quickstruts if they both come with a spring (monroe’s website has a one question quiz and 2 of the 3 answers said get oe — none said quick strut… lol guess they don’t want people buying the top end)

                      Ken DeFilippoKen DeFilippo


                        I viewed the website you provided. Clearly, the Monroe Econo-Matic Struts include the coil springs; the detailed listing confirms as much. The Spectrum strut does not show a coil spring; I would presume then, that it’s not a part of the strut, it’s simply a shock absorber.

                        With 190K miles on the Geo, I would opt for the Monroe Quick Strut if you intend to keep the vehicle longer. The better strut will also reduce wear on the front end steering and drive axle components. If budget is an issue, then go with the Econo-Matics all around:


                        If you fully read my previous post, it would seem that I am, in fact, helping you out significantly.

                        EricTheCarGuy 1EricTheCarGuy

                          Yes the springs get old and they do get tired over time. My point is that if you’re going to have them out of the vehicle to begin with, why not replace them? With quick struts you must also consider they come with new upper bearing plates as well. In short, it completely renews the suspension.

                          Based on your description, I would say you also need to replace the dampers in the rear as well.

                          Good luck and keep us posted.


                            copy that,
                            We don’t intend to have the car a whole lot longer and just couldn’t sink 260 bucks into it.
                            Grabbed some economatic struts, look like they come with all the same parts just, i imagine, a cheaper strut. Of course if it rides a whole lot different than she is used to I’ll never hear the end of it! so, Holding my breath on that one lol

                            Planning on throwing them in today or Sunday. I might do a quick before and after video.


                              can I sell the old units for cores or something or are they just scrap metal?

                              I’m reading I should replace the mounts and will need to get an alignment.


                                Ok, i got the first one off. Had to grind a notch in the old strut to avoid tearing down the brake line. (That was fun…sweating bullets)

                                EDIT:please pardon the earlier idiocy.

                                Eveything is in except the …is it called an eyelit? The brake line mount is not naturally the same position as the old strut… its 90 degrees off (when all the reviews on amazon said that i thought they meant it needed to route the hose 90 turn that wasnt on the original.)

                                The other strut when i went to tear it down (reluctantly) it just twisted and lined up… this one isnt doing that…

                                EDIT 2:

                                Got it to loosen up… was afraid the line was in worse shape that it was.

                                Got em in, aside from monroe getting the eyelet for the brake lines a bit wrong I don’t see how people get charged so much for this job, IMHO it was easier than redoing drum brakes.

                                David NicholsDavid Nichols

                                  Current car:
                                  1999 Chevy Prizm LSI 165k miles – a keeper, any parts that go into this car must represent that mechanically it’s getting close to new – I’ve replaced more than is still original excepting big exceptions like the fine working engine and transmission.

                                  So….I’ve used up numerous hours on various forms. Every forum has a horror story about Moog, Monroe, and KYB. I’m not too interested in Monroe since I’ve experienced poor longevity on 4 out of 6 struts. The first 2 were in the rear and were replaced on warranty a few months later. The 2nd 2 for the front weren’t needed for 7 years from maybe 50k to 150k. (Sadly bought them on a buy 3 get one free with rebate and was too busy to turn it in on time. lol) Yes, the front 2 OE lasted a LONG time, lol. I was terrified to do my first struts, less for the new skill and more for, “Will they just fail again? The other half of the set did.”

                                  2 weeks of not bouncing on the road later and feeling my confidence high, my sharp, precise driving became, well, just good. They haven’t failed, but they stopped being amazing. A year and about 12k of driving “good” seems to be the norm.

                                  ETCG? Been loving your youtube videos for a while. Your comments above made me think about it all further.

                                  I was calling those first 2 monroe’s bad because my ride height was increased by them for a short period of weeks and that’s what I was considering as it would wear out my tires. The wrong ride height? Tires aren’t flat on the road….in support of the struts failure over it being “bad” because I didn’t do the shocks too, the struts I don’t think were fully extending. The warranty replacements held up for months before sinking to the same low level. (Just took 1 ride with a fat friend (no offense, just hard on the struts), and ride height was permanently lowered. Was still better than the first 2, then 3 fat friends, over 900 lbs. and ride height became equal to the last strut. Over the last 100k miles while the struts had no bounce in them the bad angle had me replacing tires twice as often – no cam adjustment on this car, and when I added one all that did was slowly break the notch that wasn’t meant for anything but a meatier bolt.)So Monroe, and the inability to afford replacing them probably cost me an extra $500 in tires over the years.

                                  So, now I’m going for ready mounts. They say if you go better than bottom end with Monroe then you’ll be saved, but on my car their bottom end is the only option so they’re out.

                                  KYB. They were looking good in every discussion but one so on second thought maybe they aren’t out. Suggestions? On the preferred which are highlighted?

                                  Moog. I hear a good history with them, but on another forum, when they bought it from both of their ready mounts had Moog boxes, but internally one of the parts had the same part no. as what RockAuto listed for Monroe. (They included photo graphic evidence.) RockAuto worked with him and he went with Monroe. Having it in his hands the bearings weren’t bad on 1 of the 2 mounts.

                                  Last option is AC Delco for $150, but I’m liking the Moog option for only $3 extra a ready mount at $114 each. Yeah, maybe I’m suckered in by some aftermarket promises of better than OE…but maybe I want to be flattered into spending almost $80 less. lol

                                  David NicholsDavid Nichols

                                    Read this to my wife and to be clear Monroe was $111 while Moog is $114. To be more accurate I want to be flattered for $90 less dollars as AC Delco is $150 . . . and KYB is either really expensive or scarily cheap out of Canada on Ebay a pair for $175, all other prices are each.

                                  Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)
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