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Is the hydraulic suspension on your Lexus LX 470 failing?

Maybe your handling has been a little soft recently, or it’s taken longer to stop than before. Perhaps you’re experiencing a bit of a “nose dive” when you come to a complete stop. While there are other possible reasons for these experiences, the most likely is that you are experiencing a failing hydraulic suspension on your LX 470.

Chances are, if you’ve put more than 100,000 miles on that Lexus, one or more of the suspension components is starting to wear out.

Why does this happen?


The hydraulic suspension on your Lexus LX 470 is made up of moving parts. Like all moving parts, they will wear down over their lifetime, lose efficiency and eventually stop functioning properly.

Like the legs on an athlete, there is a limited amount of stress that any suspension can take. Active suspensions, like the hydraulic suspension in your Lexus, are made of complex systems of moving parts. More moving parts means more chances for something to wear out.

Can I just repair my suspension?


Sure you can! The hydraulic suspension in the LX 470 is certainly well-engineered and comfortable. Your Lexus dealership or mechanic can repair or replace your busted suspension components no problem. For a price, anyway.

The big downside to these complex suspensions is that once one part starts to go, the rest of the (already weakened) components will have to pick up the extra slack. This will cause them to wear down even more quickly. What this means is that once one component goes, you can be sure that more of them are soon to follow.

Active suspensions are also very expensive. Replacing just one of the bad struts on your LX 470 will run you into the thousands of dollars.

What are my alternatives?


You could look for salvage parts, but chances are anything you find will have just as much, if not more, wear and tear than your current suspension.

An increasingly popular option is to do away with that troublesome suspension and convert to good old coilover struts. It’s a simple, inexpensive solution that’s been time-tested for decades and preferred by people who need absolute performance.

What’s the difference?


Other than a few thousand dollars, you mean?

The original hydraulic suspension in your Lexus LX 470 is made up of a series of components that all depend on a series of sensors to operate properly. You have a series of sensors, pumps, and valves in addition to the struts themselves that all need to be in sync. If one part fails it affects the rest of the suspension.

Coilover struts, however, use simple but effective springs over high-quality struts to do the same job. No sensors, no computers, just mechanical resistance. It’s a system that’s worked for race car drivers and highway warriors for decades.

Should I convert?


Before you click “buy” on a Strutmasters conversion kit, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I want to repair it all at once, without having to keep going back to the dealership?

Do I want to be able to replace and repair it myself?

Do I want like-new handling?

Do I want to save a few thousand dollars?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, go ahead and place your order. You’ll have your Lexus LX 470 riding like new in no time.

See our conversion kit here, or simply give us a call at (866) 676-4457 and let us sort it for you!

Clay Speaks About the NHRA “Countdown to the Championship” Format

Clay Millican is no stranger to championship level racing. The fan favorite won six IHRA titles before moving over to the NHRA as part of the Stringer Performance racing team, sponsored by Strutmasters.

“The biggest difference [between the IHRA and the NHRA],” said Millican, “was the IHRA were season-long runs, where we got on a roll. The (NHRA) Countdown changes all that, because under the old format Stevie (Torrence) would already be the champion. Those guys have won 40 or 50 races this year, or it seems like…he just keeps winning! This gives us another chance.”

Torrance, who has won seven national events this season, is currently sitting in first place heading into the championships. He has already put himself out in front of the pack by winning not only leading the “regular season” in points but also in winning the first three Countdown to the Championship playoff races. Millican finished second overall in points during the 2018 “regular season.”

Millican lead all four qualifying sessions this weekend and claiming 11 bonus points before falling just short in Sunday’s final eliminations at  the 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals. But Clay being Clay, he’s not at all phased by the uphill battle in front of him.

 

“This is the ultimate playoffs for the fans,” said Clay with the infectious enthusiasm that has come to define him, “with the cars running like that in this kind of heat and humidity. It’s awesome.”

A three-time winner this season, Millican has had one of his best seasons of racing in his career. While an NHRA Championship is the ultimate goal, there has certainly been lots to celebrate and build on during the 2018 season.

Strutmasters is very proud sponsor of Clay Millican and the Stringer Performance racing team.

The Joy of Drag Racing | Five Reasons You’ll Love the NHRA

When it comes to auto racing, Formula 1 is king worldwide and NASCAR reigns supreme here at home. That is, if you’re only going by the money and TV ratings. When it comes to pure racing, however, we’re convinced that NHRA drag racing can’t be beat.

Here are just a few reasons why we think the NHRA is the best game in town:

Heart-Stopping Action

 

How much action can you pack into 3.64 seconds? If you’re the NHRA, it turns out it’s quite a bit. That’s how much time the average Top Fuel race lasts.

F1 and NASCAR are long, slow burns lasting a few hours. NHRA races, on the other hand, start and finish before you can take a sip of your drink.

Given the short length, nearly every race results in a nail-biting photo finish, with merely a few feet between victory and defeat. Add to that the constant mix of flames, smoke and chrome and you have yourself something special.


Up Close and Personal


At an NHRA event, every single ticket is a Pit Pass.

People can watch the pit action from as close as five or 10 feet, meaning fans at these races have direct access to drivers and some of the most highly-skilled mechanics on Earth. Drivers more often than not will hang around after the race to personally sign autographs and take pictures with their fans.


Mechanical Greatness


NHRA dragsters are feats of engineering. Here’s a little math:

A top fuel dragster accelerates from a standstill to 100 mph (160 km/h) in as little as 0.8 seconds (less than one third the time required by a production Porsche 911 Turbo to reach 60 mph (100 km/h))[1] and can exceed 280 mph (450 km/h) in just 660 feet (200 m). This subjects the driver to an average acceleration of about 4.0 g0 (39 m/s2) over the duration of the race and with a peak of over 5.6 g0 (55 m/s2).

At maximum throttle and RPM, the exhaust gases escaping from a dragster’s open headers produce about 900–1,100 pounds-force (4.0–4.9 kN) of downforce. The huge airfoil over and behind the rear wheels produces much more, peaking at around 12,000 pounds-force (53 kN) when the car reaches a speed of about 330 mph (530 km/h).

If math isn’t your thing, here’s the short version:

Top Fuel cars go faster than any car you’ve likely ever driven, by a lot. To do this, they need to be very light. However, because they are light, all that force can lift them right off the ground. In addition, all that downforce and g force can literally tear the car apart.

Therefore, Top Fuel cars need to be incredibly well-engineered to hit all their marks on speed, safety and durability.

 

An All-Day Affair


Most sporting events last a few hours, meaning you’ll often spend more time getting to and from the event than at the actual event. Not so at a day at the NHRA races.

NHRA events are an all-day family affair, or even an all-weekend one for the dedicated. With lots of downtime between events, there is always plenty to see and do around the stadium.

 

 

Fun For The Whole Family


Most sports have pretty limited demographics. Not so with the NHRA.

Those unfamiliar with the NHRA might not know that women are well-represented in the sport and compete right alongside the men.

One great example of this is the Force family. NHRA legend John Force is 16-time Funny Car winner and one of the most dominant racers of all time. At 69 years old he still participates in nearly every major event of the season. Three of his daughters, Ashley, Brittany and Courtney, are major players in the sport as well.

This is reflected in the stands, too. NHRA races are multi-generational and popular among both men and women. This means everyone has fun at the events, not just Dad.


At Strutmasters, we love any and all auto racing, but the NHRA will always have our hearts. That’s why we sponsor.

Go Clay! Stomp that loud pedal!

Strutmasters is a proud sponsor of Clay Millican and the Stringer Performance Racing Team.

Why We Love Clay | The Man Behind the Wheel

Earlier this month, we at Strutmasters decided to up our sponsorship of Clay Millican and the Stringer Performance Racing Team. While it was a very easy decision for us, we wanted to share some of the reasons why we decided to “go all in” on our favorite Top Fuel driver and team.


His Incredible Story


By all accounts Millican has had a love for drag racing his entire life. From the time he was 16, Clay raced cars as a hobby throughout his adult life.

While he was campaigning an IHRA Modified eliminator entry, Clay worked as a forklift driver for Kroger supermarkets. It was at this time that he caught the eye of Peter Lehman, an investor who chose him to drive his Top Fuel Dragster car.

Not being one to waste an opportunity, Clay started winning immediately. His love and enthusiasm for the sport was contagious. He quickly became a fan favorite and one of the sport’s rising stars. The rest is history.

 

Triumph Over Tragedy


The Tennessee-born driver’s passion for racing extends into his family. Dalton, one of Clay and his wife Donna Millican’s sons, was already establishing himself in the racing world at a young age. He raced ATVs and was the owner/driver of Blue Thunder truck in the Monster Jam series.

In August, 2015, Dalton passed away at the age of 22 in a motorcycle accident. His passing sent shockwaves throughout the sport. NHRA president Peter Clifford saying, “Clay is a well-liked and well-respected racer with all the competitors in the NHRA. This loss will be felt by everyone in our sport.”

Since that time, Clay and Donna have dedicated much of their off time to improving the lives of young people around the country.

A little more than a year after Dalton’s death, Millican announced the creation of the Dalton Millican Scholarship. The scholarship awards $2,500 to two students each year towards tuition at the University of Northwestern Ohio’s College of Applied Technologies, Automotive/ High Performance Degree Program.

Millican has also been a major proponent of the safe teen driving program known as BRAKES.

The NHRA world was brought to tears when Clay won his first ever national NHRA event at the Thunder Valley Nationals on Father’s Day, June 18th, 2017.


Forever Fearless


As much of a good guy as he is off the track, one might be hard-pressed to find someone as ferocious and fearless as Clay Millican on it.

Adorned on Clay’s t-shirts and other merchandise is the motto, “Stomp that loud pedal!” Ask anyone who’s followed the sport for any amount of time and they will tell you that that motto has been well-earned.

Brian Lohnes, part of the NHRA’s Mello Yello Series broadcast team said of Millican, “Clay is as kind and fiercely competitive a man as you’ll ever meet. You don’t go from being a forklift operator to a Top Fuel racer on luck. You do it on guts, heart, and ability.”

 

A True Fan Favorite


Every once in a while, a sport has an athlete that completely captivates the fan base. Through some magical combination of charisma, skill, and success, fan favorites often go beyond the scope of the sport.

In the world of the NHRA, where many fans feel a close connection to the athletes, none are as beloved as Clay Millican.

Maybe it’s his story. Maybe it’s that smile. Maybe it’s that he wins and wins and wins. Whatever “it” is, Millican has it in spades.


We’ve been fans for a long time and now we get to part of the team. It’s more than just an honor, it’s a dream come true. Here’s to even more success in the future! STOMP THAT LOUD PEDAL!!

Catch Clay Millican and the Strutmasters-sponsored car  this weekend at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Strutmasters Ups Sponsorship of Clay Millican, Stringer Performance, to Become Co-Sponsor

Roxboro, NC

North Carolina-based suspension manufacturer Strutmasters.com is increasing its sponsorship of the NHRA Top Fuel racing team Stringer Performance. The move makes Strutmasters a co-primary sponsor. They will join longtime Stringer Performance partner Parts Plus.

The company has continually increased its marketing since it began its partnership with Stringer Performance in 2017. What was at first an associate sponsor relationship has grown in 2018. Strutmasters was the co-primary sponsor for five separate events during the 2018 season.

Clay stomps that loud pedal in the Strutmasters.com-sponsored race car all the way to another victory.

 

“An Exhilarating Ride”

 

Founded in 1999 by Chip Lofton, Strutmasters.com has emerged as one of the industry’s leading air-to-non-air suspension conversion kit manufacturers and suppliers. The company produces affordable solutions to problems caused by air, magnetic, hydraulic and electronic suspension systems. The company started when Lofton needed to repair his family’s only vehicle. It was then he realized he could help others with the simple, yet innovative solution he had found. Since that time, Strutmasters has grown from a small regional operation to delivering suspension conversion kits all around the globe, earning the moniker “The Suspension Experts.”

“I am honored to come on board as sponsor of Clay Millican and Stringer Performance,” said Lofton. “It’s been an exhilarating ride this season and I’m looking forward to more during the finals and next season as Strutmasters.com takes a more predominant role with the team. Clay and this entire team are incredible ambassadors for our brand, both on the track and off and we have seen immense value from this relationship. I am excited to see this partnership grow into the future.”

“A True Partnership”

 

Doug Stringer, Stringer Performance owner, says he is delighted to see Strutmasters take a larger role in the team.

“Strutmasters.com has been a great partner of our team over the course of the last two seasons,” said Stringer. “The NHRA is an excellent marketing platform for them. I’m excited for them to step into a major partner role in 2019. It’s a good opportunity to capitalize on the marketing value associated with primary sponsorship. Chip Lofton is a very involved partner and his excitement is contagious.  It’s a true partnership and we look forward to doing everything on our end to assist Strutmasters.com reach their marketing goals.”

How to Stop Worrying and Love Your High Mileage Car

You may not know the name Irv Gordon, but you will certainly want to listen to some of his advice. The retired schoolteacher was driving in Alaska in 2013 when his 1966 Volvo P1800s hit the 3 million mile mark. Yes, in case you were wondering if you read that wrong, that’s 3 million.

Gordon’s number one piece of advice? Read the manual.

 

“Do what the manual calls for, not what the dealer calls for,” Gordon said in an interview. “People who built the car wrote the manual.”

That’s some pretty sound logic. It’s also something we harp on constantly. Cars are not designed to be disposable. They are an investment and something you want to protect.

If you’re driving a high mileage vehicle, you’ll want to pay attention to Gordon’s advice. You may not be trying to push your car to 3 million miles, but if you’re like us, you’d love to keep that old friend running as long as possible.

Here are some of the steps recommended to keeping your car running well well into its golden years.



1. Stay on schedule



Your owner’s manual recommends having different services performed at specific intervals. These are decided on by your car’s engineers. Regular service will keep everything in tip-top shape and allow your mechanic to spot small problems before they become big ones.

2. Love your tires



If we’ve said it once we’ve said it a thousand times: your tires are (hopefully) your car’s only point of contact with the road. They are incredibly important.

Your owner’s manual and the driver’s side door jamb will tell you the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. Keeping your tires at the recommended pressure ensures you will get optimal gas mileage and steering response from your car.

In contrast, driving on underinflated tires especially puts unnecessary strain on everything in your car from the suspension to the engine.

3. Change that oil



You will find loads of competing information about how often to change your car’s oil. Disregard anything anyone but the manual tells you when it comes to your car.
While advancements in fluid and engine technology have improved oil longevity, the old standby advice of “every 3,000 miles” still holds true. In fact, Gordon said that changing your oil at that interval is still, “your best insurance policy.”

Rest assured that you cannot possibly change your car’s oil too often. Once you’ve gone over the 75,000 mile mark make sure you change that oil every 3,000 or less!

 

4. Clean it regularly



While this might seem more visual than functional, keeping your car clean without a doubt will increase its longevity.

Dirt and grime work their way into paint and will eventually cause the car to rust. This makes the body of the car fragile and what’s inside a lot more susceptible to damage.

Particles on the inside of your car can get into the seats and dash materials and create holes and tears in fabrics, vinyl and leather alike.

Chances are, if you keep the outside of your car looking nice you’ll be paying attention to the inside as well.


5. Drive responsibly


We all know some driver who loves to stomp the pedals. While that can be great for a race car driver, it is absolutely devastating on your car.

Driving a car is a big game of physics. Your car can use only use and withstand so much energy over its lifetime. It takes a lot of energy to get a car up to speed, and lots to slow it down.

Maintaining a steady, consistent pace keeps your car running efficiently. Newer cars have gas mileage information on the dash screen that lets you see this in real time.

That fuel efficiency translates into how often your car is purring along and how often it has to grunt and strain to get the job done.

The lifetime of your car is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you don’t overdo it when you don’t have to.


Stay tuned to the Strutmasters blog for more tips that save you time and money!

 

What’s Up With my A/C? Common Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Cool

a-c-strutmasters

With summer now in full swing, the A/C in your car is about as necessary as the brakes. In many parts of the country, heat waves aren’t just a comfort issue, they’re a health risk too.

So when you find that your A/C is no longer cooling your vehicle down, it is important to figure out why and then how to fix it. Here are a few tips on where to look for trouble.



A bad fuse or other electrical system problem



Your car’s A/C needs electrical power to get and keep the compressor running. Many things can lead to electrical failure. It can happen from corrosion of wires, a bad fuse or even from just being overloaded.

Use your owner’s manual to determine where the correct fuse for the A/C unit is. This video will demonstrate how to inspect a fuse to see if its blown.

If this is your only problem, consider yourself lucky. It’s a cheap and easy fix to do at home, or more accurately, in the parking lot of the auto parts store.



A broken compressor clutch



The compressor clutch is part of your A/C’s compressor assembly. It is responsible for pressurizing the air and keeping the refrigerant moving through the system.

Every time you use your A/C, the compressor clutch goes through on/off cycles. This means it is prone to wearing down eventually. When the compressor clutch is broken, you will notice warm air blowing from the vents.

Unless you are very handy with small mechanical repairs, this fix is best left to the pros.



A leak within the A/C system



This is, by far, the most common ailment of an A/C system.

Leaks in the air conditioning system are often caused by a mixture of the refrigerant used in your A/C and moisture. This reacts to create an acid that can corrode valves, hoses and seals within the system.

Therefore, this will cause warm air to come out of the vents in your car because there isn’t enough refrigerant going through the system.

If you’re handy with a wrench, follow this video to inspect your A/C system for leaks and replace any parts that have been corroded.

 

A weak expansion valve



The expansion valve in your A/C system is what regulates the amount of refrigerant that goes into the compressor. Too much or too little can cause problems with the entire unit.

If the flow of refrigerant is blocked going into the compressor it could cause parts of the assembly to get so cold that ice or frost can form around or even inside the system. This will cause further restriction of refrigerant and failure of the compressor.

Too much refrigerant passing through can flood your compressor and also prevent it from pushing out cool air.

 

Even if you can’t fix the problems with your A/C yourself, knowing specifically what is wrong will help your mechanic diagnose and understand the problem quickly. It will also demonstrate that you know a thing or two about cars and their air conditioners.

As always, knowledge is power and knowing your stuff will keep you from being overcharged or having unnecessary services performed.

For more money-saving and enlightening car care tips, stay tuned to the Strutmasters blog.

Why You Should Never Let Your Gas Tank Run Low

One of the many great car debates has to do with your gas tank. In short, is it better to let it run low or to always keep it full?

While there are points to be made on either side, there is a definitive answer on what the best strategy is.

The pros of letting your tank run low


Truthfully, there is one major advantage to letting your fuel tank run low. That is gas mileage. How does how much gas you have affect your gas mileage? The answer is weight.

A car with less fuel in it weighs less and thus will require less power from the engine to move it the same distance. However, while this is true there is something important to consider:

Gas weighs just over six pounds per gallon. That means the difference between a full tank and empty tank is somewhere between 70 and 95 pounds, less than the weight of an average person or a few travel bags.

The only other benefit of leaving your tank run low is some sort of thrill seeking. This was illustrated perfectly in the Seinfeld episode “The Dealership.” Suffice it to say there are better ways to get your kicks.

 


Why you shouldn’t let your tank run low


“Peace of mind” is the first reason to keep your tank on the full side. The road is already an anxious and stressful place. Therefore anything you can do to keep yourself calm and relaxed is a good thing. Not worrying about how much further you can drive before you need to gas up will help you focus on the road and enjoy your ride a little more.

But the main reason lies with the fuel pump. Your car’s fuel pump is located inside the gas tank. In order to function properly, it needs to be completely submerged in gasoline. Typically, this means you need at least ¼ of a tank to keep it submerged.

Long-term exposure to air can lead to early deterioration of the fuel pump. This is not a cheap or easy fix. When properly used and maintained, a fuel pump should last at least 100,000 miles if not the lifetime of your vehicle.

Leaving it constantly exposed to air can cause the pump to suck in air and generate heat. This can reduce the working life of your fuel pump significantly.

Allowing your tank to run low can also make room for sediment to build up in your tank.

Think about coffee in a pot. There is always some sediment at the bottom. Your first few pours won’t pick up any of the sediment and transfer it to your cup, but that last cup usually does have a bit of sediment in it.

Your fuel tank works much the same way. The last ¼ of your tank may pick up sediment, which will be absorbed by the fuel filter and clog it. This can lead to reduced performance of your vehicle and require early replacement of the filter.

How to tell if you’ve got a bad fuel pump


So maybe you’re a daredevil like Kramer and you’ve been driving around on E for a while. That doesn’t guarantee that you’ve run your fuel pump into the ground, but it does mean it’s a possibility.

Here are a few trouble signs to look for with your fuel pump:

 

  • Your gas mileage is going down. This could be a sign that your fuel pump isn’t operating efficiently.
  • The engine starts to “sputter” at high speeds. This means your car is having trouble delivering fuel to the engine.
  • Fuel pressure is low. This is a common symptom of a failed fuel pump. Any fuel pressure warning light should be attended to immediately.
  • Temperature is high. This doesn’t always indicate something wrong with the fuel pump, but it certainly can be a sign it needs attention.
  • The car surges. This typically indicates that the fuel pump is functioning irregularly and needs to be serviced or replaced.

 

A fuel pump is an issue that should be looked at by a professional. If you notice any irregularities with your fuel pump, take care of it right away before it affects other components in your vehicle.


Stay on top of your maintenance and get more awesome tips with the Strutmasters blog.

Is Your A/C Ready for Summer? Hot Tips for a Cool Car

air-conditioner-strutmasters

This summer is on the books to be one of the hottest in recent memory, meaning you’ll be asking a lot of your car’s air conditioner.

There are many things that can go wrong with your air conditioner, but the effect is consistent. The car will not cool down as its supposed to.

Below is a readiness test that you can use at home to determine whether or not your air conditioner is up to the task this summer, or if it needs some service.


1. Road test the air conditioner in car

This, of course, may seem like a no-brainer, but it is an important step. Take your car out and take note of how the air conditioner behaves. Is it running but not cold? Is it not pushing out enough air? Try to be detailed in your notes.

2. Check the cabin filter

Sometimes there may simply be something stuck in the cabin filter, or it’s time to replace it. Like any air filter, your car’s air conditioner operates best when the filter is clean and free of obstructions. This is a cheap and easy fix so it’s good to check this first.

3. Check the hoses

The hoses which carry cold air into the car are often made of high-grade rubber. Under abnormal stress, these can tear or break and allow air to escape. This will prevent your air conditioner from operating effectively.

Make note of the leaks and use good, strong tape to cover them while you source some new ones or take it to the dealer.

4. Refresh the refrigerant

This is one of those things you can easily do at home that would cost you a fortune at a mechanic. A kit like this one will make the job easy.

Here’s a great video to demonstrate how to refresh your refrigerant using these products.

5. Check the compressor

Note: This step is a little more advanced. Use caution or take it to a pro if you’re not comfortable.

The air conditioner in your car uses a compressor to generate the air needed to cool your car. This compressor is a complex little motor that can have lots of little, hard-to-solve problems. Fortunately, troubleshooting those problems isn’t too difficult.

This video does a great job of explaining how to test your car’s A/C compressor.

 

Going through this checklist will eliminate any air conditioner issues that you may be able to solve yourself, saving your the money and trouble of going to a mechanic. One of the silver linings of A/C problems is that you will know immediately whether or not you’ve sufficiently repaired it.

Stay cool this summer and stay tuned to the Strutmasters blog for more great car care advice.