Some vehicles do not have struts. Some only have this component in the front wheels, and these are normally MacPherson struts. These struts (MacPherson) are part of the steering structure as the car wheels rotate around them.
Other cars use stun and springs. Shock absorbers of cars that do not have struts do not support the car’s weight. Are your vehicle struts bad, and you are wondering how long you can still drive the car before you get them fixed or replaced?
How Long Can You Drive with Bad Struts?
Generally speaking, you should not drive with bad struts for more than 2 days. Driving with bad struts will cause damage to other parts such as tires and brakes.
Is it safe to drive with bad struts?
It is not safe to drive with bad struts. The reason is, bad struts can weaken the suspension and cause you to lose control of the vehicle unexpectedly. They also weaken the entire suspension system. Below are steps that will help you move around with bad struts:
What is a Strut?
It is good to understand what a strut is. You may have heard people talk about struts and shocks when discussing cars and may be wondering whether a strut is a different name for shocks and if you need to attend to your vehicle’s strut.
Well, first of all, a strut is one part of a car suspension. Many other parts make up the vehicle suspension. And, the suspension is a combination of different parts joining the wheels to the car.
Back to the definition of a strut, what is it? In simple terms, a strut is a combination of a shock absorber and a spring.
Note that sometimes the word strut is used to mean the shock absorber, but most of the time, it means the whole combination, including the spring. The spring is spiral in form, absorbs huge bumps, and supports the vehicle’s weight.
On the other hand, the shock absorbers work to absorb vibrations, although it also supports the vehicle’s weight. Struts are stronger than the usual shock absorbers because of their support function.
Drivers are not mechanics. They may know some information about cars, but the truth is not all information. And, because of that, they may not know how how to identify bad struts.
Well, these are the signs and symptoms of bad struts:
Signs Your Car Has Bad Struts
- Steering requires a lot of energy to drive
- A rear end that is floating
- Unbalanced tires
- Hard ride
- Bump noises when driving
With that, you may still ask yourself whether you can drive with bad struts. Yes, you can, but how?
What happens If You don’t replace Your struts?
Bad Struts can damage the engine, transmission system, and tires. Therefore, it is necessary to have them inspected regularly to avoid further problems.
The entire car suspension can be damaged by bad struts. Broken struts or old struts feed the transmission system with stress and pressure.
Moreover, a misaligned suspension structure makes the engine lose its functionality gradually because it causes internal damage to it.
In case you drive a high-end car like the Mercedes or SUVs, driving it when its struts are broken can be very costly because spare parts for such vehicles are very expensive. In such a case, you should not consider driving with bad struts. You should have them replaced immediately.
How to Drive with Bad Struts
As earlier mentioned, you can drive with bad struts. If your car has bad struts, it can still move you from one place to another. But there are things you need to take into consideration, and you must be vigilant and cautious.
You can expect the ride to be bumpy, and you will have a bad experience that will make you decide to replace the struts instead of moving here and there with them.
1. Avoid Hard Debris and Bumps
While it may not be possible to evade all bumps and hard debris the road may have, do your best to avoid them. This means you drive through the sides when you come across hard debris and bumps to avoid a terrible tremor, which can be frightening and make you stop the car.
This would only worsen the situation. Therefore, it is important to be keen, especially if you are moving on uneven roads.
2. Accelerating Carefully
Who doesn’t like accelerating when driving on a straight road? Nobody. So when driving with bad struts, you would want to accelerate too, which is an important aspect.
If you carefully accelerate when you want to stop the car or while on the road, then you will not be frightened by the noises worn out struts make.
Taking this measure to smoothly and slowly move your car will save you some bad experiences. Your car rear and suspension structure can be damaged by fast wheel acceleration.
3.Been Gentle with the Braking System
Remember, car struts are located in the front part of your car and are a part of the car suspension.
Due to their breakdown, other components of the car suspension become weak and, as a result, start to produce some noise, particularly when you apply brakes in a fast and harsh manner.
If you avoid the rush when coming to a rest and gently apply brakes, you will avoid bothersome noises.
Rising of the rear part of the car is common with bad struts, and this is dangerous. To avoid the possibility of an accident, ensure you make no sudden brakes.
Bad Struts affect the braking system badly, and you should make sure they are corrected before the brakes stop altogether, meaning the car cannot be stopped once started, and this is very dangerous if it happens while driving.
It can get you into a ditch, and you do not want to lose your life because of failure to take action when you should have.
4.Be Careful When Driving Around Corners and on Steep Roads
Bad Struts are not something you should toy with. They can make the car lean on one side, which is a threat to your life when driving on a steep road.
Hence you need to be extra careful to avoid toppling over. When driving on a road with many corners, be sure to turn the car safely and not in a hurry.
Can you drive with leaking struts?
Even though the above discussion gives you the ‘how’ to drive with bad struts, there are dangers of doing so, and it is good to know them. Below are some of these:
1. Brocken Joints
Break down of car joints is one common danger of bad struts. When a car is vibrating, its joints are in danger and jolting and shaking is normal if a car has bad struts. These shaking breaks or weakens the car joints making your ride uneasy.
In the end, if the joints are broken as a result of bad struts, you now have two parts to replace, meaning more expenses.
The broken joints cause the engine to heat up or even explodes, causing the vehicle to stop on the road.
This is a painful experience; no driver would like to have. It will become even more expensive because you will have to call a car mechanic to help you get back on the road besides blocking other cars from passing your side.
2. Shattered Sway Bar
Bad Struts break down other parts of the suspension structure, including the sway bar. The purpose of the sway bar is to assist the car when taking a turn. When the sway bar is shattered, it will be difficult to turn a turn, and in the long run, the car may not take any turn.
Even though you can still drive when the sway bar is broken, it will require you to use a lot of energy. You will have to drive carefully and slowly, meaning in case of emergencies you will be late.
3. Bad Power Steering
Your car steering is either hydraulic or electric press. You can drive the car even with one broken press. However, the ride will be so hectic until you wish not to drive.
When you want to move the steering sideways, it will hang many times, and you will have to pressure it to work, which is a hard task. This will take away all your strength, and you will wish you replaced the struts when you realized they are broken.
4. Brocken Spring
The spring is connected to the strut. This is means; if the strut is broken, the spring won’t be in good condition too. Bad springs will make the car jolt throughout the drive making the ride rough.
Also, the wheels rotate around the spring, if the spring is broken, the wheels can get punctured, crashing the car somewhere. This is to say; bad struts should be replaced.
5. Damaged Shock Absorbers
If your car shock absorbers are damaged, you will experience vibrations all the way. Moreover, the damaged shock absorbers will cause jolting, and you will not control the vehicle afterward.
With continued driving without been concerned about the bad struts, the absorbers become completely damaged, which in turn damages the car.
In such a situation, you will drive slowly and turn slowly when passing corners, making sure you arrive late.
6. Broken Wheels
Bad Struts affect the wheels as wheels are part of the suspension structure. Flat tires or broken Wheels are causes of bad struts. If a tire becomes flat when you are driving at high speed, you will expect an accident.
You never know what a broken wheel can cause until it gets completely damaged. The situation can be chaotic if you do not thoroughly check the wheels to make sure they are fixed.
How to Fix Bad Struts (Correcting Bad Struts)
1. Identify the cause of worn out struts
2. Then, go to an auto shop and purchase a bearing plate, struts, springs, and spare parts you may require. Buying all these parts will be expensive than buying the struts only, but they are necessary.
3. Get the measurement of the camber angle. You will have to dismantle several parts to replace the struts. So, get working.
4. Detach the end link of the stabilizer and remove it from the strut hole. Detach the speed sensor of the wheel.
5. Remove the nuts and bolts.
6. The above step will separate the knuckle and the strut.
7. Unmount the strut. Make sure you do not hurt the CV boot when you are unmounting the strut.
8. You can take out the strut. Wiggle out the remaining nuts tightening the strut in its position, by taking hold of the good wheel. Tilt it outwards to clear the area then take out the strut.
9. It is time to replace the strut. It is a hard task, but it is doable. Get a good friend or a relative to assist you in holding things. Push the strut flange and the knuckle in when you start bolting the new strut.
Fix the bolts tightly to hold the strut in its position properly. Put back the angle gauze too. Then fix all the parts you dismantled.
10. It is unnecessary to get a mechanic to do the job for you unless you feel you are not sure what to do, although this article gives you the steps to follow.
If you do the replacement by yourself, get a specialist to check the car to ascertain it is okay to drive and that everything is in its place. The specialist will also align the car to ensure it does not break down soon.
Proper car alignment can only be done by a professional. You cannot do it by yourself. Moreover, the alignment should be done the same week you replace the strut, not after months.
From the above discussion, you realize it is possible to ride whenever you want with broken struts.
You have also known the dangers of driving with bad struts, how you should behave, and how to solve it. Most of your questions with regards to bad struts have been answered.
When you take care of your car, you take care of your safety and the safety of others. Ensure you have a tool kit with high-quality repair tools so that you are fully armed in case you have to repair the car yourself.
The suspension structure of your car can be completely damaged by bad struts.
Therefore, it is good to know how to fix them to avoid spending a fortune, the risk of losing your life and hurting others on the road, and completely breakdown your car.
Periodic car maintenance is also of high importance so that any sign of bad struts can be fixed early, increasing the life span of the car.
I’m William Guzenski, ASE certified master automobile technician & automotive expert. I love to attend race events and car shows throughout the country. I also loves to travel 40-foot motorhome, exploring abandoned mines and ghost towns. I’m currently building another car for Bonneville Salt Flats and will be campaigning a drag car at several events.