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I just took my car ( 99 Nissan Almera ) in for a pre-inspection check and the mechanic said both struts have to be completely replaced because what appear to be rubber / plastic dust shields at the top of the struts are torn up ( these are called boots? ). He did not do any kind of inspection beyond just looking at the torn up boots and citing them as the reason for replacement. Local law requires the boot to be whole and in place, regardless of the condition of the strut / shock absorber.

However, the struts seem to be working fine to the extent that the car drives very smoothly and there doesn't seem to be any excessive bounce when going over speed bumps and such.

I also checked the chrome shock absorber shaft for oil, and it seemed mostly dry, with maybe a barely detectable film on it.

I did a bounce test and it went up once and settled, without too much noticeable oscillation.

Do the struts need to be completely replaced because the boot / dust shield is torn up, or can just the rubber boot be replaced?

EDIT: Instructions for replacing the shock / strut boot - so apparently it's possible, question is if it's worth it.

Here are some pictures of the two front struts:

Passenger's Side Shock

Driver's Side Shock

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I think the basis for the replacement of the strut is really up to two things:

  • How old are the current struts?
  • If old, can you afford to replace them, or is just replacing the boot more economical for you?

If the struts are the original struts which came on the car, it may not do any harm to just change them out. To change out the boot alone will incur pulling the entire strut assembly, dismantling the strut assembly, replacing the boot, re-assembly, re-installation, and alignment. It will be almost exactly the same if you replace the strut itself. The main difference in cost will be strut v. boot. Here in the States, struts usually aren't that expensive. It's the labor involved in replacing them which makes up most of the cost.

Another thought here is how bad of shape are the boots actually in? If you wanted to, could you use some zip ties and reattach them to where they need to be? This is just an errant thought, so take it for what it's worth.

  • Thing is that the seller is paying for this, so they're going to want to do whatever is cheapest to get it past the inspection. Question is should I chip in if only the boot really needs to be replaced and replace the strut also since it will be the same amount of labor. Struts are the originals, and the boots are almost completely disintegrated. The price I was quoted put the two structs at twice the cost of the labor, but that might not hold with a different mechanic. – Robert S. Barnes Jul 12 '15 at 20:00

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