Click & Clack Talk Cars
By Tom & Ray Magliozzi
Dear Tom and Ray:
My 91 Buick LeSabre
Custom needs replacement struts, and I am
stumped. I went to the mechanic the other day,
and he asked me what type of struts I wanted. I
had no idea what he meant. So he asked me if I
wanted gas-charged struts, quick struts, or the
Monroe Matics or Monroe Sensa-Trac. My question:
What is the difference between these, and which
is better? -Gregory
TOM: Good question, Gregory.
The term "strut" and "shock
absorber" often are used interchangeably.
But technically, a McPherson Strut is a shock
absorber surrounded by a coil spring.
RAY: And a "quick
strut" is the whole package. It includes a
shock absorber, a coil spring and the strut
mount, which houses the bearing. Thats a
complete McPherson strut, and it gets bolted
right in and replaces all at once.
TOM: A quick strut is
expensive. Youd pay around $400 each for
them on this car, just for the parts. So, you
dont want that unless you need it - if, for
example, your springs are also shot, or one of
your springs is broken.
RAY: Since your mechanic
didnt tell you that you needed springs,
eliminate the quick strut.
TOM: So then its a
question of whether you want gas shocks. The
Monroe Sensa-Tracs are gas-filled, the Monroe
Matics are not.
RAY: All shocks use oil to
dampen the bouncing motion of your springs. Gas
shocks normally fill the "air
space" where the oil expands into,
with nitrogen. Why? Manufactures claim that
nitrogen reduces foaming and bubbling of the oil
during harder driving, and therefore leads to
better overall handling.
TOM: Is it true? We dont
know. But it sounds good!
RAY: And since the difference
between the gas shocks and the non-gas shocks is
about 10 bucks in your case, wed suggest
that you opt for the gas shocks. The nitrogen
industry will thank you. Good luck, Gregory.