Vehicles are prone to go out of alignment over time. But while attempting to fix your car alignment, you may end up discovering bad front or rear strut mounts. It may keep you wondering, can I get an alignment with bad struts? Instead, should you get an alignment after changing struts?
You can get an alignment with bad struts. However, it is advised not to and should get an alignment with new strut mounts. But why is an alignment necessary after replacing struts only?
Continue reading to get the correct answers to all of the questions that may arise in such a situation.
Can I Get My Car Aligned If It Has Bad Struts?
It is possible, but experts do not recommend getting the wheel or tire alignment with bad struts. They suggest getting the alignment when defective struts or shocks are replaced correctly.
That means if you know that the struts are in bad condition, you should first replace them and perform the alignment only when the struts are new or good in condition.
However, Do You Know What Struts Are?
Struts are the key functional components of the suspension assembly. They oversee bearing the vehicle’s weight while absorbing surface impacts to offer a smooth ride.
Struts offer structural support for the car suspension and springs to keep the tire aligned.
How Struts Function in Vehicles?
Suspension struts function as dampers or shock absorbers to provide a comfortable even driving experience under any given circumstances.
Strut mounts play a key role in damping shock and noise transmission. Not only that, but they are also essential for front alignment.
Each strut tube is filled with hydraulic fluid, which is pushed through a number of small holes orifices within by a piston. These orifices only allow so much fluid to travel through them at a given rate which is how you get your dampening. That is what controls the movement of the vehicle’s body.
Why Should You Get an Alignment with New Struts?
If you go to the local mechanic shops to fix your out-of-alignment car, the mechanic will most likely refuse to do the alignment first after discovering bad struts on your vehicle. They will mostly suggest getting rid of the faulty struts before doing that. But why?
Because if your appointed technician performs the wheel or tire alignment on your vehicle without taking care of the bad struts, it will force the person to make adjustments to compensate for the bad struts. Surely the end result will fall short of the standard you expect.
That’s why you should get the damaged struts replaced by yourself (only if you’re capable of it) or a mobile mechanic for that first. Then get an accurate alignment with the new struts.
Can Bad Struts Cause Bad Alignment?
Yes, it can. When the shocks and struts of your vehicle are declining or weak, they will not respond or support your car as they should.
This interruption can cause your car’s rear suspension to droop and the alignment to be out of specification.
Gradually, the tires and wheels will wear out and when the rear side tires of your vehicle will start losing contact with the road, you will notice several operating and performance issues.
Do You Need to Get an Alignment After Replacing Bad Struts?
Yes. You may need to get an alignment after removing the old and installing the new struts. But why?
During the whole process, they can also potentially change the position of the tire alignment. That will cause the misalignment issue on your car sooner or later.
Rear struts on some vehicle models even have adjustment slots to perform alignment every time they are replaced. It’s more necessary to get an alignment as soon as you have replaced the struts if you had to replace the springs too.
Bad front shocks or rear struts on your car can cause bad alignment and further issues, such as:
- Instability while driving,
- Fluid leaks, Clunking noises or excess vibration,
- Hampers the ability to navigate across the dips and bumps
- Premature tire wear,
- Poor handling and Steering difficulty.
Do All Cars Need Alignment After Replacing Struts?
It is not always mandatory to perform the alignment after replacing the bad shocks & struts if they are in good shape.
Also, you may not have to reperform the alignment after replacing the bad strut mounts if the alignment wasn’t affected during the process.
If you or your hired mechanic can confirm that replacement struts are put in the same place and with the same adjustments as the originals, there’s no need for an alignment.
But not all vehicle models require this action after each scheduled replacement. Therefore, it will highly depend on the specific circumstances, such as:
- your vehicle model & internal design,
- the condition of the tires, and
- the extent of the strut replacement.
However, keep in mind that it is nearly impossible to not affect the original alignment while replacing those parts.
Even the slightest changes in placement or adjustment will lead the suspension geometry to shift, affecting handling and tire wear to a greater extent.
How To Inspect and Replace Your Car’s Struts?
This easy five-step to step tutorial will help you to inspect and replace the struts on your vehicle when they are bad or worn:
What Else Do I Need to Replace with Struts?
While repairing or replacing damaged struts, search for two more things to add to the repair order:
- Sway Bar Link: Most vehicles have two of these links connecting to the struts. So, while installing new struts on your vehicle ensure that the link that will be joined to them is not too rusty or worn. If the links are damaged, replace them too.
- Alignment components and kits: When you have just added the brand-new loaded struts, it is the perfect opportunity to install the alignment components and kits to make the camber caster adjustable, especially for the front suspension.
But if you are installing new rear struts, you could also add a special toe length that will add more adjustability to your vehicle.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
Is there any temporary fix for bad struts?
While there are some temporary fixes for bad struts, such as: using strut spacers or lubricant spray, it is strongly advised that they be replaced as soon as feasible.
How long can I drive with bad struts?
Remember that it is not advised to drive with bad struts, but you may drive for another 200 to 500 miles before the struts fail completely and start leaking oil.
Can I get a Wheel alignment with bad struts?
You may, but it is not recommended to get an alignment with bad shocks as they can affect the handling and stability of your vehicle.
Bad shocks can also cause excessive tire wear and damage to the suspension system, affecting wheel alignment.
Does changing struts affect alignment?
Yes, changing struts might influence your vehicle’s alignment since the new struts may change the camber (vertical) angle of the tires.
In some exceptional cases, changing shocks and struts do not change alignment unless the spring has lost some of its force. Still, it is good to have an alignment check to confirm that everything is within the manufacturer’s specs.
Can bad struts cause alignment problems?
Yes, they can.