Struts are one of the suspension components that make it possible for your car to have a comfortable ride and good handling. But not everyone realizes that they must also check their car struts frequently.
When your shocks and struts go bad, you’ll feel it. Do you ever ask yourself how long can you drive with bad struts? But how bad can it be to let you drive around with bad struts or shocks? How unsafe is it for you and your family? Let’s find out.
- Driving with bad struts
- How do struts work?
- How long can you drive with bad struts?
- How to tell if struts are bad while driving?
- Can I get an alignment with bad struts?
Driving with bad struts
Usually, struts should last about 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers) or more, depending on how well you care for them. However, if you drive over uneven roads all day long, this could shorten their lifespan significantly.
Can you still drive with bad struts? It usually depends on how bad the struts are. If it is weak or not fully controlling the spring, you can still drive, but it may cause uneven tire wear.
If the struts are blown and completely lost in dampening, they should not be driven because it affects handling. Bent struts should also not be driven because it severely affects handling. A car with broken struts is not safe to be driven.
Related: How Long Can You Drive a Car With a Bad Speed Sensor?
How do struts work?
Struts are a component of your car’s suspension system. The strut keeps your tires in contact with the road surface. It also provides structural support by connecting the upper strut bearing to the lower ball joint.
The struts on your car move as your tires turn, providing a smooth ride and keeping your tires in contact with the road surface. Without struts, you would experience a lot of bouncing and bumpiness while driving.
Struts also act as a dampening device, helping absorb vibrations transferred through the chassis. Strut failure can cause poor handling, excessive tire wear, and blowouts, which can lead to an accident or rollover accident if not addressed quickly by an auto mechanic.
How long can you drive with bad struts?
Depending on your struts condition, you can drive indefinitely, but it is dangerous because it will impact your handling. Bad struts could also cause uneven tire wear or damage other suspension components like ball joints, tie rods, and control arms.
How to tell if struts are bad while driving?
You may not notice the problem of driving a car with bad struts. It’s only when you take the car for a test drive and have another person give it a once-over that you realize something is wrong.
Here are some of the most common signs that your car’s struts are on their way out:
Instability at highway speeds
A car with bad struts will feel like it rolls around on its wheels when you hit 70 mph or more. The vehicle may also vibrate more than usual while traveling at high speed.
Car tips on one side
If one side of your car drops lower when you take a turn, it could be due to poor shock absorbers, worn springs, or both! An experienced mechanic can tell by looking at your tires and suspension parts whether they need replacing or rebuilding before they fail.
The front end dives when braking.
If your front end suddenly drops when you apply the brakes at high speeds, this could be another symptom of worn shock absorbers or springs.
Rear-end squat during acceleration.
The rear end of your car will sink when you accelerate due to faulty struts. This is because the suspension no longer has enough dampening ability to control the rebound effect of the tires.
A sinking rear end could also indicate other problems such as worn or broken springs or worn-out shock absorbers that aren’t supplying enough support.
Tires bouncing excessively.
Bad struts will bounce the vehicle excessively when it comes to a stop, especially if you’re driving on uneven roads or potholed streets. This is because the shocks cannot absorb road bumps and vibrations as well as they should. Hence, they pass all that energy through your chassis and your body into your seat cushions.
Uneven tire wear
If you notice uneven wear patterns in your tires, it could mean a problem with one or more of your struts/shocks/strut mounts/coil springs/wheel bearings/etc. The rubber bushings inside each strut assembly can deteriorate over time due to UV damage and exposure.
Bad struts noise
If you hear a rattling, clunking, or squeaking sound when you go over bumps, it could be that your struts are bad. You may also notice a bouncy feeling in the steering wheel, or the car pulls to one side when you go over bumps.
Can I get an alignment with bad struts?
Generally, you can get an alignment with bad struts. However, the mechanic will keep adjusting until he finds a set of tire specs that works with your car’s current alignment.
So if you get an alignment with bad struts, the mechanic will adjust to compensate for the bad struts.
The best way to fix this is to replace your struts before having an alignment. Then, once you have new struts installed and your tire pressure appropriately adjusted, take it back to the mechanic for an alignment.
If you’re asking yourself, “How long can I drive on bad struts?” remember that the answer will depend on how bad the struts are. If they are only slightly bad, you can still drive your car; however, this may cause uneven tire wear, which is not good.
But going with bad struts can be dangerous, and you risk losing control of your car’s handling is out of balance. Whether it’s time for new struts, it is essential to give them regular checkups continually.
Don’t ignore the condition of your vehicle’s suspension system. Neglecting these systems can lead to accidents because your car is out of control, and you are driving it with no power.