Loaded Struts for Cars, Trucks, Vans, and SUVs
If you’re looking to replace the suspension on your vehicle, loaded struts—also known as complete strut assemblies—may be one of the options you’ve come across. This suspension solution has become increasingly popular and increasingly available as an option for the last several years. Once you learn a little more about loaded struts and what they offer, you’ll see why.
What is a loaded strut?
Rather than a collection of individual components, a loaded strut, also known as a complete strut assembly, is an entire strut and spring assembly that gets assembled at the factory. This assembly comes with the springs pre-compressed, or “pre-loaded,” hence the name.
What are the advantages of loaded struts?
Loaded struts have a few advantages compared to disassembled suspension kits. Here are a few of the main benefits of complete strut assemblies:
Pre-configured. Because loaded struts come assembled from the factory, they’re also pre-configured specifically for the vehicle they’re going on. That means they’re much more likely to offer the best possible ride for your car.
Guaranteed fit. Some suspension kit manufacturers cut corners (and costs) by piecing together kits from parts that may or may not have been intended for that particular vehicle. And while these usually mostly fit, anything less than a perfect fit is not what you want for one of your car’s most important safety systems. By contrast, every component in a loaded strut assembly is guaranteed to be the right one for your vehicle.
Arrives complete. Since loaded struts come already put together, there’s much less of a chance of it missing parts like washers, nuts, and bolts. There’s also less of a chance of you dropping or losing those parts even if they did come included in the kit.
Easier to install. You don’t need any special equipment to install complete strut assemblies. That means most people with a sturdy car jack, some basic tools, and a little mechanical know-how can do a DIY installation in just a few hours.
Faster to install. If you don’t feel comfortable DIYing the installation, a mechanic in a repair shop can install them much more quickly than a disassembled kit. And as you’re probably aware, your mechanic’s time doesn’t come cheap.
What does a complete strut assembly include?
A complete strut assembly includes all of the parts you need to replace your current suspension already put together. Here’s what you’ll find in a loaded strut assembly:
Top strut mount and bearing
When to replace your suspension
Your vehicle’s suspension components tend to wear out at about the same rate. So while you can keep going back to the shop for repairs here and there, you’ll eventually have to replace most of your suspension components.
That’s why the most cost-effective way to fully repair your suspension is to replace it when the problems start. You are going to need to do that over time anyway. Loaded struts allow you to replace your OEM suspension all at once, saving you multiple trips to the dealership for expensive repairs.
Common suspension problems
A bad suspension can mean a lot of different things. These systems bear the entire weight of your vehicle, so parts wearing out from normal use over time is to be expected. Here are some of the most common suspension problems you may find:
Worn out bushings
Poor wheel alignment
Failing control arms
Worn down ball joints
How can you tell if your suspension is bad?
While most cars have a suspension warning light that indicates a problem, these lights often only come on once the issue has become a big one. And as you’re probably aware, the bigger the problem, the more expensive it is to fix. Looking for early warning signs that your suspension is failing can help you catch a minor issue before it becomes a big one.
Early warning signs of a broken suspension
Finding a problem with a car's suspension system early can help you avoid major failure and a dangerous situation. Here are some things to look for:
Bouncing. One of the main jobs of your suspension is to provide a smooth, comfortable ride. If you and your passengers are being jostled around on the road, there’s a problem.
Pulling and swaying. If your car feels like it’s pulling away from the wheels as your turn or swaying, that’s an indication that your suspension isn’t working properly.
Stopping distance. Bad brakes or brake pads are usually the first place you look when you’re having issues stopping. But if you know your brakes are in good shape, and it’s still taking you a long time to stop, your suspension might be to blame.
Sagging. A common sign of a bad suspension is the car sagging down in the rear. But if you notice any corner of your vehicle sagging down, you probably have an issue with your suspension.
How do you use the bounce test to check for suspension problems?
You may have heard of the “bounce test” as a way to look for problems in your car’s suspension proactively. It might be a little old-school, but this is a great way to spot issues before they become unmanageable. Here’s how to perform the bounce test to look for suspension issues:
Go to one corner of your vehicle and push down hard on the bumper.
Observe how quickly the corner springs back into place and whether it bounces before settling.
Repeat the process at each corner of your car.
If your suspension is healthy, the corner of your vehicle will spring back into place and settle immediately. However, if you notice that it takes a long time to rise back or bounces up and down a lot before settling, this is an indication that the suspension is weak at that corner and requires further inspection from a mechanic.
What to look for in a loaded strut conversion kit
The popularity of loaded struts means more and more companies are getting into the market. While that competition has pushed some manufacturers to make better products, others may just be looking to make a quick buck.
Loaded struts made by a reputable manufacturer offer an incredible value. Complete strut assemblies made by companies that cut corners can leave you with uncomfortable results at best and unsafe at worst.
Here are a few things to look for in both a loaded strut kit and the company that makes it:
Material quality. Some manufacturers save money by using cheaper materials to make smaller components like nuts and bolts. Others even use cheaper alloys to make their struts and springs—not what you want for a product that supports the weight of your car. Be sure the loaded struts you buy use materials that are good enough to do the job correctly.
Precision engineering. There are companies that try to piece together struts from parts meant for other vehicles rather than designed for the specific vehicle they’re meant to be installed on. For them, “almost” is a good enough fit—leading to fitment and ride issues. A good strut manufacturer will design your strut assembly from the ground up specifically for your vehicle.
Quality control. While manufacturers overseas certainly produce high-quality products, it’s much harder for a company to watch their manufacturing practices and materials. Strutmasters produces its kits in the USA where it’s easy to ensure that all components are made using industry best practices and high-quality materials.
Quality assurance. If a company packages a warranty with its product, it’s a sign that they are confident that it won’t break easily. But the opposite is also true. Look out for products that don’t have a warranty or have one that comes with a lot of fine print and qualifiers.
Customer service. People run into issues sometimes with even the best-loaded struts. Hopefully, you won’t need after-sales assistance from your strut manufacturer. But when you need it, you need it to be responsive and professional. Make sure the company that makes your complete strut assembly will be there for you if you have problems.
Longevity and dependability are central to the Strutmasters mission. For over two decades, Strutmasters has helped people find affordable suspension solutions that they can count on.
That manufacturing knowledge and expertise have helped the company produce some of the best-loaded strut kits on the market today. Strutmasters makes its loaded strut kit right here in the USA, using cold-wound springs, robust monotube shocks, and even top-shelf hardware and mounts in each one.
Enter your information into the part finder tool to find the right complete strut assembly for your vehicle. Or, scroll down for links to some of our most popular kits. You can also always call 866-597-2397 or use our chat support to reach out to our Suspension Experts, who will gladly answer any questions you might have and set you up with exactly the right kit for your vehicle.