Strut Job – Brands, Tools & Techniques

J-dawg shares his thoughts on products, tools and techniques for working on his Volvo's suspension.

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MVS Contributor j-dawg shares his thoughts on products, tools and techniques for working on his Volvo’s suspension:

I swapped my struts at all corners out today. I haven’t yet driven the car waiting on brake components in the mail but here’s a brain dump:

  • My Gabriel Ultra struts petered out very suddenly over the last ~15,000 miles, with the car bounding up and down for a few seconds after each bump. This is not a fun experience, and it’s certainly not what I would hope for after like 30,000 miles (installed by previous owner 45k miles ago). Kind of a bummer. Don’t buy those struts. They were always kinda squishy anyway (paired with Eibach Pro-Kit springs).
  • On the other hand, the IPD HD spring seats were in good shape after the same mileage. There was a little cracking of rubber, but I could detect no breakage of the steel underneath, so I reinstalled them.
  • OEM strut bearings are also felt fine after 45k, though they were a little crustier-looking than I’d expect. I reinstalled them too.
  • The replacement struts are Koni STR.Ts. Once I get some miles in, I’ll provide my opinions, since they don’t seem to be well-known on Volvo sites. Koni claims they’re the equivalent of their yellow Sport struts set at the softest setting, which is a popular recommendation for a daily driver. At $320 for all four (Tire Rack), it’s hard to justify buying a cheaper strut. I should mention that the orange paint on the STR.Ts seems very soft, so maybe build quality isn’t quite as good as the yellows, but it’s half the cost.
  • Koni provides a little booklet with instructions on how to reassemble the struts. This means the way things came off, and the hardware used, may not necessarily be something you can refer to when reassembling.
  • If you don’t have a impact wrench….buy one immediately. This was my first time doing struts on any car. I bought a cordless Ryobi yesterday and got all four struts swapped out in maybe three and a half hours. I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours, over the course of my life, I could have saved with one of these. Entirely worth the money.
  • Even if I hadn’t had the impact, it’s a much easier job than I expected. The only iffy bit is using spring compressors on the front struts: not a difficult task, but I read horror stories on the internet and got a little spooked. I think next time I’ll take my struts into Pep Boys and have them rebuild the units for me. Besides that, it was pretty plug-and-play stuff. I didn’t even have to take the wheels off the rear. If you’re thinking of getting new struts but are put off by the work….just do it.

Strut mount or spring seat? Here's how to know.

Some thoughts on a strut job

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