Shocks and Struts Replacement Cost: What You Need to Know

shocks and struts replacement cost

Do you feel like your car is bouncing more than usual lately over bumps in the road? Or maybe you’ve noticed some clunking noises coming from the wheels when driving around turns? These could be signs that your vehicle’s shocks and struts are wearing out. But how much does it actually cost to replace shocks and struts? The prices can really vary, but typically fall anywhere from $400 to $1500 depending on the make and model of vehicle.

Replacing worn shocks and struts is important preventative maintenance to keep your car’s suspension system operating safely. We’ll discuss all the factors that determine replacement costs so you know what to expect. Read on to learn the average prices, ways to save, DIY tips, and everything else you need to know about shocks and struts replacement costs for your vehicle.

When Do Shocks and Struts Need Replacement?

Before we dive into the replacement costs, let’s first go over when it’s time to replace your shocks and struts in the first place. These components are a critical part of your vehicle’s suspension system.

Shocks absorb impact from bumps and dips in the road surface, damping the up and down motion of the springs. Struts perform a similar function, but are also structural components that hold the top and bottom of the suspension together.

Here are some common signs that your shocks or struts need replacing:

  • Excessive bouncing – The front end continues bouncing after hitting a bump
  • Bottoming out – A heavy thud is heard when the suspension compresses fully
  • Nose diving – The front dips significantly when braking
  • Wheel shimmy – Steering wheel shakes going over bumps
  • Uneven tire wear – Inner or outer tread wears faster indicating misalignment

Most manufacturers recommend inspecting shocks and struts around 50,000 to 100,000 miles and replacing as needed. However, it really depends on your driving conditions and habits. Heavily loaded vehicles, rough roads, and aggressive driving can wear them out faster.

It’s important to replace shocks and struts before they get too worn. Driving with compromised suspension can negatively affect handling, braking performance, and tire wear. It also becomes a safety concern when emergency maneuvers are required.

Now that you know what signs to look for, what factors determine the actual replacement costs? There are several elements that impact the overall prices.

What Impacts the Cost to Replace Shocks and Struts?

Estimating the total replacement costs involves both parts and labor. Here are the key factors that determine the final prices:

  • Vehicle make, model, and year – Luxury and heavy duty vehicles are more expensive
  • Type of parts used – OEM vs aftermarket, quick struts vs components
  • Labor time and shop rates – More complex jobs take longer
  • Location of shop – Prices higher in major metro areas
  • Additional repairs needed – Worn mounts, bellows, bushings can add cost

To give you an idea, here are the average replacement costs by vehicle type:

  • Small or compact car: $400 – $800
  • Midsize sedan: $600 – $1000
  • Large SUV or truck: $800 – $1500

But the exact prices for your specific vehicle can vary quite a bit. Let’s look closer at the factors that influence the total replacement costs.

Vehicle Make, Model, and Year

Like most car repairs, shock and strut replacement costs will be higher for luxury vehicles and large trucks. The OEM parts used on high-end brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Land Rover are just more expensive. Higher-end performance suspension components also demand a price premium over more basic economy car parts.

Larger and heavier vehicles like pickups, SUVs, and vans also tend to have more substantial shocks and struts to support the extra weight. They cost more than smaller lightweight components on compact cars.

Older vehicles can be more affordable if there are aftermarket or salvage yard parts available. But finding parts for newer models often means paying the dealership price.

When estimating costs for your specific vehicle, look up parts pricing online for the exact make, model and year. This can give you a ballpark idea before getting quotes.

OEM vs Aftermarket Replacement Parts

Another huge factor is whether original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or aftermarket replacement parts are used.

OEM shocks and struts come directly from the vehicle manufacturer. They are identical to the original components used on the assembly line. OEM parts are tailored specifically to your vehicle and ensure the proper fit and performance. However, they are the most expensive option.

Aftermarket parts are made by third party companies as lower cost alternatives. They are reverse engineered to function like OEM, but lack the factory branding. Aftermarket components can work well, although fit and ride quality may be slightly lower. For more affordable repairs, aftermarket is the way to go.

You can research both OEM and aftermarket parts pricing online to understand the difference. There will likely be major savings going with aftermarket components.

Quick Struts vs Assembling Separate Components

Modern quick struts integrate the coil spring and upper mount into a pre-assembled unit. They allow for faster installation since the spring is already compressed and mounted. However, quick struts cost significantly more than purchasing individual replacement components.

If your goal is to save money, have a shop or DIYer assemble the strut, spring, upper mount, and other individual parts separately. This takes more labor time, but adds up to major savings on parts cost. Just be sure to use a reputable spring compressor so the spring can be removed and installed safely.

The tradeoff is convenience vs cost. Quick struts are simpler but more expensive. Assembling separate components takes longer but costs much less in parts.

Labor Time and Shop Hourly Rates

While parts make up a significant portion, labor is the other major aspect that determines overall replacement costs. Jobs that require more time translate to bigger repair bills.

Shocks and struts replacement can take between 2-4 hours for the average sedan depending on the difficulty. Compact cars on the shorter end, while trucks and SUVs often run longer. Some high-end imports can take upwards of 5+ hours requiring removal of wheels, components and extensive disassembly to access the shock towers.

You’ll want to get price quotes from a few different shops as labor rates also vary significantly. Independents and smaller town garages often charge $70-$90 per hour. Dealerships and high-end specialty shops can be $125 per hour or more. The per hour rate makes a big difference when the job takes 4+ hours.

Ask upfront how much estimated labor time your vehicle will require. Then compare shop rates to find the best deal.

Additional Repairs Can Add Cost

When replacing shocks and struts, worn out bushings, mounts, and other suspension components will add to the total costs. Many mechanics recommend inspecting the entire suspension system while in there.

It’s tempting to just replace the shocks and struts to keep prices down. But if other worn parts are reinstalled, the suspension won’t operate properly even with new shocks.

Be prepared that inspecting related components might reveal additional recommended repairs that add cost. But this ensures you end up with a fully functional suspension after spending money on new shocks and struts.

Now that you know the major factors impacting replacement costs, let’s look at some ways to help reduce the prices.

How To Save Money When Replacing Shocks and Struts

Here are some smart tips to get the job done while keeping costs under control:

  • Shop around for quotes – Prices can vary greatly between shops.
  • Use aftermarket parts – Major savings over OEM components.
  • Purchase quick struts/shocks – More expensive parts but faster installation time.
  • Ask about coupons and specials – Negotiate a package deal with other maintenance.
  • Only replace what is needed – Fix worn parts but don’t over-repair.
  • DIY labor – Substantial savings doing it yourself if you’re able.

Getting multiple quotes rather than just going to the dealership is one of the simplest ways to save. An independent shop can often do it for much less even with OEM parts.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the biggest factors influencing the final replacement costs.

5 Key Factors That Impact Replacement Costs

These major items make up the bulk of the prices when budgeting for shocks and struts replacement.

1. Vehicle Make and Model

As discussed earlier, higher-end brands and trucks with heavy duty suspensions cost more. Luxury models like a BMW 7-Series or Cadillac Escalade will easily be $1000 or higher for premium OEM parts. Basic economy cars like a Nissan Versa can be $400-$600 with aftermarket components.

2. Type of Replacement Parts

Genuine OEM parts bought at the dealer often run 2-3x higher than aftermarket components. This alone can save hundreds going with a quality aftermarket brand. However, some vehicles like high-end European imports may require OEM parts to avoid fit or performance issues.

3. Labor Time and Shop Rates

Simple small cars can run 2-3 hours while big luxury SUVs can be 4-6 for the same job. And professional shop rates vary wildly from $70 per hour locally to $150 at high-end dealers. More complex jobs and expensive shop rates result in higher overall costs.

4. Location of Repair Shop

Overall pricing is driven up in major metro areas with higher overhead costs. Small local garages and rural shops have much lower labor rates and remain competitive. If possible, avoid city dealerships and chains for cost savings.

5. Additional Repairs Needed

Replacing related components like sway bar links, control arm bushings and ball joints due to wear will drive the total bill up. Look out for unneeded upsells though and only repair what is absolutely required. Get a detailed inspection of the full suspension before approving additional work.

As you can see, prices can range quite a bit based on these major factors. Being aware of them allows you to make informed decisions when budgeting for shocks and struts replacement.

DIY vs Professional Replacement

For maximum savings, you can consider replacing shocks and struts yourself. This avoids paying for 4+ hours of shop labor. But DIY does require some mechanical skill and auto repair know-how.

Here’s a quick comparison of DIY vs having it done professionally:

DIYProfessional Shop
Lower cost – avoids labor feesMore expensive – shop supplies parts and labor
Can take full day or weekendCompleted in a day usually
Advanced mechanical skills neededNo experience required
Potential safety issues if improperly doneProper tools and training to do safely
Aftermarket parts onlyCan get OEM components
No warranty on workWarranty on parts and labor

As you can see, DIY provides significant cost savings if you have the skills, time and tools to take it on. But paying a professional shop adds convenience and assurance it’s done properly.

6 Tips To Save Money Replacing Shocks and Struts

To recap, here are 6 great ways to get new shocks and struts without overspending:

  1. Shop around for quotes – Avoid dealerships and ask independents for best pricing.
  2. Use aftermarket parts – OEM is premium priced. Aftermarket saves 40-60%.
  3. Buy quick struts – More expensive parts but faster installation to reduce labor time.
  4. Ask for coupons and specials – Take advantage of current deals and bundle services.
  5. Only replace what is needed – Be wary of unneeded upsells and excessive repairs.
  6. DIY labor – Substantial savings doing it yourself if you have required skills.

Getting multiple quotes and using aftermarket parts are two of the easiest ways to realize major savings on parts and labor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some questions about shocks and struts replacement costs? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

How can I tell if my shocks or struts need replacing?

Look for excessive bouncing, bottoming out, nose diving when braking, wheel shimmy, and uneven tire wear. If you notice these symptoms, have your suspension inspected to determine if shock or strut replacement is needed.

Is it safe to drive with bad shocks and struts?

No, worn out shocks and struts are a safety hazard and negatively affect braking, handling, tire wear. Have them replaced as soon as issues are noticed.

How much does it cost to replace shocks?

Just replacing shocks averages $350-$700 depending on the vehicle. Small cars around $350-500. Large trucks $600-700. Aftermarket parts and independent shops offer savings.

How much does it cost to replace struts?

For just struts, expect to pay $450-$850 on average. Compacts around $450-600. Full-size SUVs up to $850. OEM parts and dealerships are most expensive.

When should you replace shocks?

Manufacturers recommend inspecting shocks around 50,000-70,000 miles and replacing as needed. Aggressive driving can require replacement sooner.

When should you replace struts?

Struts typically last around 70,000-100,000 miles before needing replacement. If you see common signs of wear, have them inspected for replacement need regardless of mileage.

Can I replace just one strut or shock?

It’s recommended to always replace in pairs to prevent uneven ride heights side-to-side. And prevent accelerated wear of new component.

The Bottom Line On Replacement Cost

There are quite a few factors that determine the final cost of shocks and struts replacement, but prices typically range from $400 to $1500 depending on the vehicle. More complex jobs, premium OEM parts, and dealership labor rates result in the highest totals.

There are ways to save by using aftermarket components, shopping quotes from independent garages, and only repairing what is absolutely needed. Replacing shocks and struts yourself can provide the biggest cost savings, if you have the ability.

While the prices can add up, it’s an important service to prioritize for ride comfort, handling, and to keep your vehicle’s suspension performing safely. With proper maintenance and repairs, your shocks and struts should continue smoothly absorbing impacts for tens of thousands of miles.

Hopefully this overview gives you a better understanding of replacement costs as well as tips and tricks to get it done affordably. Let us know if you have any other questions!

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