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Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN

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Anonymous Poster

Jul 22, 2008, 7:13 PM

Post #1 of 8 (4454 views)
Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN Sign In

1996 Buick Regal 130,000 miles

First off, is it safe to drive the car without one rear strut attached? The strut literally broke through the top mount leaving it completely detached from the top end. The nut is clearly still attached. Does this look like something that can just be pulled up and attached with a new strut mount? How difficult would this be for someone who is mechanically inclined but has never worked with struts?
Also, the strut itself is completely compressed. Does that mean the strut is ruined and must be replaced?
I'm hoping to not need to invest much cash into a 12 year old car with 130,000 miles.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jul 23, 2008, 6:10 AM

Post #2 of 8 (4444 views)
Re: Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN [In reply to] Sign In

Quick look shows it's available with the upper mount! Must happen more than usual! "Is it safe to drive" Yes/No - right into the shop to replace it! Control of vehicle is compremised and it could whack and break something else and be additional trouble. It is a higher end DIY job - air wrenches will help and an alignment is required. I strongly suggest doing both sides with the identical replacement part,

Long retired now

New User

Jul 23, 2008, 7:26 AM

Post #3 of 8 (4440 views)
Re: Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN [In reply to] Sign In

Thanks for the info. In my effort to 'go cheap' I am hoping to only replace the mount and not the strut. After some quick elbow grease, the inner strut shaft will slide up and down with resistance, and will stay in any position, even with the weight of a vice grip attached. I'm guessing one the those 'whacks' you mentioned pounded the shaft down hard enough to make the strut stick completely compressed. Is it necessary for a strut to naturally expand to its full length if there is nothing attached to the top? I noticed the new one I bought will slowly push all the way up after I manually compress it. The old strut seems to perform adequately when comparing the resistance and motion to a new strut except the fact that the old one does not expand on its own.
I may be forced to use a new strut anyway. Just below the top nut that you can see in my picture there is a significant amount of the broken top mount rusted solid to the shaft, like a sleeve that has become one with the strut shaft. It may be impossible to remove without damaging the strut plus the fact that this is very likely a 12 year old, original equipment strut. I have only had the car since it had 93,000 miles so I cannot be sure.

My main questoin here is: Is it ok to use the old strut if I can make it fit with a new mount? I am not looking for high performance or the smoothest ride here. This car drives 1.5 in-town miles to work and back every day with the occasional trip across town.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jul 23, 2008, 8:31 AM

Post #4 of 8 (4438 views)
Re: Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN [In reply to] Sign In

Strut Mount - Rear Gabriel / Strut Mount - Rear for a 1996 Buick Regal

Related Parts Shock/Strut - Front Shock/Strut - Rear About this product: Part Number: 143067 Weight: 2.53 lbs. Warranty: LLT Note: Complete mount kit
Includes mount, bumper bellow and retainers Pricing: $34.99 Availability: Store: Visit your local store to special order. Online: Ships within 3-5 business days


Check that out! They do make a fix for just the mount. It might have to come out to install it as that nut will be stuck and shaft may just be an Allen head to the shaft - not sure.

A good gas strut would self extend under pressure. It doesn't have to to be safe but it should have it's shock effect which you think it does. The bottom two bolts are very HD and might give you a hard time. You kinda need to know what your'e doing as they are a serious part of the rear suspension. It's been a while but those are where you adjust the "camber" setting of the alignment as I recall. If you spray paint or scribe the exact position (indexing where it started) you can at least get it back close for a while to use car. This also means supporting the weight just so and if in doubt get help with this.

As I recall - some of these types to get to the top can be from trunk or maybe even from inside package shelf or back seat - memory gone - back in five minutesCrazy!

This sure appears like it was weakened by rust. Also take a good look at the other one! If it looks ok now I'd spray the heck out of it with something to stop rust now or just do both at once.

Note: Sometimes when taking the nut of a shock's shaft like this the thing is rendered useless as it's possible for the shaft to "come unscrewed" inside it if the shaft can't be held in position while undoing the nut - like by air wrench as heat is not really an option with shocks/struts.

The whole unit was about $82 bucks listed at AutoZone if it just can't be done separately. I know that's some bucks but as cars go it's pennies!

Long retired now

New User

Jul 24, 2008, 10:13 PM

Post #5 of 8 (4424 views)
Re: Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN [In reply to] Sign In

Thanks much for the insight. After working the old strut a bit it seems to want to expand on its own (very weak, and not all the way extended). But, alas, the shaft has too much of the old mount rusted solid to it to be cleaned off to fit through a new mount, and it may be nearly impossible to remove that top nut from the shaft without scoring up the shaft. I decided to follow your first suggestion of replacing the strut & mount. This makes the most sense anyway. $35 for the mount or $82 for the mount & strut. It isn't worth the trouble to save 45 bucks and fix it halfway.
The other side looks pretty ugly too. I will just replace both and have a smooth ride and some peace of mind too.

One more thing, you are 110% correct on the lower bolts giving me problems. So far I've broken 1 socket and (don't laugh) 1 12" crescent wrench and the nut still hasn't moved. The first one came out relatively easy but the 2nd is being stubborn. Some new tools might do the trick tomorrow. What I wouln't give to have an air wrench right now. I'll have to put one on my Christmas list.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Jul 25, 2008, 5:24 AM

Post #6 of 8 (4423 views)
Re: Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN [In reply to] Sign In

These things are really best with air tools. All the leverage in the world can just tip the car over and a good air wrench can make this a one shot/done deal! You pay for those things though!

Good luck. Sounds like you have the attack down right. Remember the alignment. You may see that one of the stut's bolt holes allows for altering the tilt (camber)) of the wheel when loosened and tightened,

Long retired now

New User

Aug 14, 2008, 6:34 PM

Post #7 of 8 (4383 views)
Re: Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN [In reply to] Sign In

I thought I'd give an update and one more "Thanks!"
All is well now with 2 new strut/mount combos installed.
Casualties: 3 sockets, 1 12" Crescent Wrench, 3 bolts for the strut mount, 1 lower bolt, 3 drill bits, and surprisingly no blood! Only some extremely sore muscles and back.

Rust was not my friend on this project. After 12 years of Minnesota winters I should have expected nothing less. I snapped the heads off of 3 of the 4 (both sides) strut mount bolts and had to grab the other ends, from inside the trunk, to screw them inward to get them out. One of which I actually snapped off from the other end using vice grips leaving only the part of the bolt surrounded by threads left. After breaking 3 drill bits, the bolt, or what was left of it, finally busted out without damaging the threads.
On the camber issue: luckily for me it was easy to line up. The old strut was set all the way to the end of the adjustable bolt hole on both sides.

The end result is a car that feels perfectly aligned with much better handling and much less klunking.

Thank You again for the help.

Tom Hinz

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator

Aug 14, 2008, 10:49 PM

Post #8 of 8 (4376 views)
Re: Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN [In reply to] Sign In

Thanks for the update on the fix. Rust is a real pill with cars - never mind the roads and bridges rotting away as well known.

Glad to hear you survived it!

Long retired now

Broken rear strut, and I mean BROKEN

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