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1998 Corolla Le-Replacing Front And Rear Struts?



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reneerose

I have 98 Corolla LE with NO ABS/anti-lock brakes, the car when it is wet skids when I stop at stop signs...again when it is raining.

Is this just a natural occurrence with having NO anti-lock brakes? Or is this a symptom of a front strut problem?

I took it to a mechanic today that I have not used before but who had good Yelp reviews and they stated that my front struts were TOAST. The car has about 131,000 miles. All 4 tires were last changed at the same time in 2009 to Michelins.

Estimate for front struts is: $418 for both front and $200 labor. $406 for both rear struts and $200 labor.

Changing all 4 tires for $413 including labor.

And replacement of serpentine belt $59.95 belt; $60.00 labor.

Had experience in parking lot where turned into a driveway and tried to quickly correct/turn the steering wheel right to avoid a car coming headon from opposite direction....and it felt slightly loose, though the steering wheel does not seem to have any problems and I have no obvious symptoms of misalignment.....

The 125,000 mile service was done about 3-4 months ago at a non-dealer garage and they did not notice the struts problem then.

Am I getting ripped off? I have been doing a lot of long distance driving lately though.

jeff88

I am not surprised if your shocks are bad that you have skidding issues. When my rear struts were toast, whenever I was doing a high speed turn, especially downhill, the car would fishtail a little. Fixed the struts, fixed the problem. So skidding is no surprise. The easiest way to tell if they are shot is to push down on each corner of the car. Push down on the hood near the headlight and if you hear a scraping sound, you know that side is bad. If they have the swoosh type sound that a new strut has, then they are probably good, but remember 'trust but verify'. Do the same on the other side and then again on each side of the trunk/rear bumper.

Are you sure that you don't have ABS? It was an option in that year, just not common. You do have an LE though, so it is more likely.

According to repairpal.com, it's $800+ for the rear struts labor and $400+ for front struts labor. $200+ for parts is standard according to them.

Tire price seems about right, just from my personal experience.

You can get a serpentine belt on Amazon for about $20. (Confirm this is the right one for the '98, but it should be about the same price no matter what.) I wouldn't spend $60 on a serp, shop around. But I also wouldn't spend $60 for labor for such an easy job. You just need a socket wrench.

Honestly, if you can do any of your own work, you can do everything except mount tires (and the associated procedures - for safety reasons). Save yourself a lot of money and do it yourself in less than a day.

dom

You can order your own parts for much less... It will need an alignment after front strut replacement. It is most likely due for 4 new struts if they're the originals. Check also for worn front wheel bearings, inner and outer tie-rod ends, ball joints, control arm bushings, etc, before an alignment.

How much mileage and wear are on your ~4.5 year old tires?! They are the main cause for your lack of traction.

Struts: http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1432910,parttype,7584,a,www.google.com%2BSearch%2Bfor%2B2004%2BTOYOTA%2BCOROLLA%2B1.8L%2BL4%2BDOHC

and bellows (boots): http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1432910,parttype,7592,a,www.google.com%2BSearch%2Bfor%2B2004%2BTOYOTA%2BCOROLLA%2B1.8L%2BL4%2BDOHC

Strut mounts should still be good. I usually clean and grease the bearing in front mounts when replacing struts:

http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1432910,parttype,7600,a,www.google.com%2BSearch%2Bfor%2B2004%2BTOYOTA%2BCOROLLA%2B1.8L%2BL4%2BDOHC

Or complete pre-assembled new strut, mount, and coil spring (also save on labor)... jeff88 is quite satisfied with his low-cost FCS units. Included new coil springs help restore original ride height and suspension support:

http://www.rockauto.com/catalog/x,carcode,1432910,parttype,15174,a,www.google.com%2BSearch%2Bfor%2B2004%2BTOYOTA%2BCOROLLA%2B1.8L%2BL4%2BDOHC

Bad_dude

I have read quite good things about the Sensen brand. Better than Monroe or Gabriel. How is Sensen compares to KYB?

reneerose

Thanks all! Am not a mechanic; so cannot do my own work:( Am guessing maybe almost 45,000miles for these 5 yr old tires...I do see uneven wear and they look like they need changing. Can I get away with only changing the front struts? I am thinking of buying another car but not sure how soon as I have chemical allergies and cannot buy a brand new car. Happy Holidays! Probably gonna get a second opinion. Would not changing the front struts and only changing the tires cause safety issues? Also am pretty sure these are original struts.

I should also add that I was slightly rear ended at a stop sign recently (other driver's fault) but I had the skidding problem before. Rear did not show any visible damage. And all the clear coat is wearing off so car is ugly. Was mainly worried about safety driving for one more year if I just change the tires.

Bad_dude

Let's do it in steps:

1) Replace the tires. Your skidding could be caused by worn out tires. I had this problem on an older 87 Corolla before.

2) Replace the struts. Take care of the struts with the way you drive. Slow, real slow on big speed bumps. I have a 1990 and still on original struts and still track really well and I am the 2nd owner.

3) Most Corolla if not all, if you don't take care of the paint from beginning, you will get clear coat damage and peel.

Bad_dude

Dom. The guy had those struts for 120K miles. However, the problem is at the strut mount and not the shock itself.

dom

Thanks all! Am not a mechanic; so cannot do my own work:( Am guessing maybe almost 45,000miles for these 5 yr old tires...I do see uneven wear and they look like they need changing. Can I get away with only changing the front struts? I am thinking of buying another car but not sure how soon as I have chemical allergies and cannot buy a brand new car. Happy Holidays! Probably gonna get a second opinion. Would not changing the front struts and only changing the tires cause safety issues? Also am pretty sure these are original struts.

I should also add that I was slightly rear ended at a stop sign recently (other driver's fault) but I had the skidding problem before. Rear did not show any visible damage. And all the clear coat is wearing off so car is ugly. Was mainly worried about safety driving for one more year if I just change the tires.

I wonder how bad your front struts really are... If they're not clunky, and if you don't see oily residue down top of strut if you look above the tire and raise the rubber boot (if it's still intact) to inspect, you could start with just new tires and see how it goes until you know when you'll replace your car. How are your winter driving conditions? Any snow and ice?

reneerose

 

I wonder how bad your front struts really are... If they're not clunky, and if you don't see oily residue down top of strut if you look above the tire and raise the rubber boot (if it's still intact) to inspect, you could start with just new tires and see how it goes until you know when you'll replace your car. How are your winter driving conditions? Any snow and ice?

Mostly rainy weather (in California). I guess I should have a second opinion and have the mechanic look for oily residue down the top of the strut which would mean it is leaking or cracked? Would the leaky strut odor make its way into the car cabin/inside? I have hypersensitive smell and some really really faint odor from the foot vent area has also been bothering me for the last 9 months.....Do struts have fluid within them?

 

Sorry...i'm not a mechanic so I don't know too much about cars.

When you say clunky...what exactly do you mean?

Also I did try pushing down on both corners and the mechanic that test drove with me also did that and he again said the front struts were bad.

Am gonna get a second opinion and then decide. I don't know how long it will be before I get another car and I don't want to cause myself or other people problems by driving an unsafe car.

dom

There is oil in the struts that tends to leak at the seal when they're worn out, leading to loss of hydraulic shock damping (suspension motion control). The bad front struts diagnosis probably comes from an obviously rough and undampened (bouncy and unstable) ride quality. Such worn out struts can be audibly clunky at that point... Just have your other suspension and steering components which I mentioned checked also, before having your struts replaced and alignment done.

You would not be able to smell the practically odorless and slight amount of leaking strut fluid.... Are there any visible engine oil leak, or audible exhaust leak near the engine? Does it run and idle properly, and is the check engine warning lamp ever on?

reneerose

There is oil in the struts that tends to leak at the seal when they're worn out, leading to loss of hydraulic shock damping (suspension motion control). The bad front struts diagnosis probably comes from an obviously rough and undampened (bouncy and unstable) ride quality. Such worn out struts can be audibly clunky at that point... Just have your other suspension and steering components which I mentioned checked also, before having your struts replaced and alignment done.

You would not be able to smell the practically odorless and slight amount of leaking strut fluid.... Are there any visible engine oil leak, or audible exhaust leak near the engine? Does it run and idle properly, and is the check engine warning lamp ever on?

Maybe there is a small leak at the seal. The check engine light has never gone on. The ride has been pretty stable...except sometimes when I'm on a curvy freeway entrance or as mentioned in a parking lot trying to swerve to the right side after turning into the parking lot driveway.

 

The technician did say the fronts seemed "gooey"....so maybe there is no healthy firm traction between my front tires and the ground. Getting a second opinion soon. Also had engine steamed cleaned about a year ago and no leaks were detected then.

dom

I also have a highly sensitive sense of smell... Have you ever checked your cabin air filter, accessible from behind glove compartment? I was able to wash my original one a few times before having to replace it.

I hated the exhaust smell (and reduced low end tractability) when I tried regular 10% ethanol gasoline, then went back to ethanol-free premium gas. Engine crankcase fumes also bothered me when I had the common 9th gen Corolla intake manifold gasket leak, rectified with revised gasket... Your 8th gen Corolla may also have a moderate and elusive vacuum leak somewhere on the intake.

reneerose

I also have a highly sensitive sense of smell... Have you ever checked your cabin air filter, accessible from behind glove compartment? I was able to wash my original one a few times before having to replace it.

I hated the exhaust smell (and reduced low end tractability) when I tried regular 10% ethanol gasoline, then went back to ethanol-free premium gas. Engine crankcase fumes also bothered me when I had the common 9th gen Corolla intake manifold gasket leak, rectified with revised gasket... Your 8th gen Corolla may also have a moderate and elusive vacuum leak somewhere on the intake.

I don't have a cabin filter on this car. You're right...could be an elusive vacuum leak! Thanks very much! Happy Holidays!

 

 

reneerose

The second opinion mechanic stated that he thought I need just new front struts so he is putting them on my car today; they are KYB front struts. He did not think the back struts needed replacing.

I am getting an alignment tomorrow.

The second opinion mechanic stated that he thinks my tires could last 1 more year (I couldn't believe him).

This mechanic has serviced my sister's and friend's vehicles and they trust him. So I guess I should too?

Anyway....I guess I'll see how it goes. He isn't doing the alignment, but referred me to Wheelworks to have an alignment.

The tires have not been rotated regularly because the left back wheel rim was very very slightly bent and the left rear tire has been pinched slightly for the last 3 years (but has not lost any air that I could tell). A previous tire shop i went to the

previous week unbent the tire flange rim...it is a steel tire original rim...and he said that I did not need to get a new rim (I was also shocked at that comment).

I do want to get another car, but I need time to decide what to upgrade to next.

Also the clear coat has pretty much failed all over the car and it looks ugly....one estimate stated that it would be $7000 total for a stripping and repaint job.

I hope I survive the rainy season....

You can change struts in axle pairs - though it is preferred to change them in sets. If you don't plan on holding onto the car - just change the axle set that is leaking. Note that depending on how the strut is replaced - you may need to get another alignment.

The one mechanic (one that says the tires will last another year) is probably judging it by the tread depth. Most Michelins are well know to be long wearing tires. The tire will actually get gets and loose its traction ability well before the tire wears down enough to be considered "too worn".

Not uncommon to straighten out a bent steel wheel - if the wheel isn't that far off. Usually have to dismount the tire before you try and straighten it. Sounds weird - but you can straighten alloys ones as well - some wheels that look too bad to be salvaged can be heated, straighted out, have metal added to them, and still be dynamically balance. Though I doubt most local shops have the expertise or equipment to make that sort of repair. But for steel wheels - a ball peen hammer, some dollys - most shops will be able to straighten a steelie.

Even brand new OEM steelies will not be 100% perfect - some manufactuers say they can have a runout of 3/16" and still be acceptable. My personal limit would be 0.050" runout. For cast alloys - 0.030" would be my limit. For better alloys - 0.003". Tire runout could be significant as well - not unheard of to see 0.050" runout on even a high performance tire. The key is that they have to checked together after the tire is mounted. Sometimes you have to switch tire/whel pairs to find ones that yield the lowest runout. Though not all shops take the time to do so.

Clear coat is just paint without the pigment. Car may look bad - but as long as you take care of the finish - you'll be fine. $7K cost is possible - depends on what work they will do. If they will strip all the lamp assemblies, and parts of the interior to paint the door jambs, under the hood and trunk - strip to bare metal, metal prep, correct body defects, prime, hand sand, use a multi-step urethane paint - $7K might be amount right. I used to paint custom cars - even with a pretty simple finish - if the owner wanted to fix defects with metal (I use lead to fill in defects) and a hand rubbed finish - $25K+ is not out of the question.

But if they are just going to mask off the car, scuff up the paint and shoot topcoat + clear coat. That could be just a couple of hundred to several hundred. Won't look perfect - but won't be terrible either. Good enough for reselling the car later down the road.