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My car is kind of a beater and I don't want to pour money into it. Apart from a bumpy ride, is anything really bad going to happen if I don't replace these parts? For example, will this put a significant amount of extra stress on the motor mounts?

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There are two big things which are a detriment to riding on worn out struts and bushings:

  1. Safety: Worn struts cause longer stopping times/distances as dead struts allow the vehicle weight to shift (sometimes unexpectedly) during braking. This weight shift is a lot more than when you are using good struts, so braking distances suffer. You also will not be able to corner as well as good struts will allow you, either. You will notice both of these effects if trying to do either over bumpy roads ... the struts will just not be able to allow you to control your vehicle in a safe manner.
  2. Wear on other parts: The most notable things which worn bushings and struts cause is accelerated wear on the tires. Because the bushings hold the alignment in check, with the tires at the proper angles, when they wear out, it causes extra wear on the tires. Worn struts also allows the vehicle to bounce more, which causes wear on your springs. Springs are meant to support your vehicle's weight, not to bounce uncontrollably up and down.

I understand not wanting to put unneeded money into your vehicle, but sometimes if you want to continue to use your vehicle, the smart thing is to replace the worn parts. This doesn't mean you have to replace them with upper tier replacement parts (such as buying them from the dealership), but you should at least get them replaced with whatever you can afford.

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    +1. Often times you can do these repairs in about 2 months worth of new car payments and will last you for quite some time. The mistake people make is that they think of how much money they have already spent on the car and how much is the car worth at the moment. This is the wrong mindset to have. Instead think of how much you can save on getting the old car fixed. – rana Nov 25 '15 at 1:29
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    Word. Saving money on tires alone will have suspension work pay for itself. Seems like $600+ these days for a set of tires... – JPhi1618 Nov 25 '15 at 1:30
  • @rana - Very good advice. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 25 '15 at 1:34
  • @JPhi1618 - Very true on both ends of that statement. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 25 '15 at 1:35
  • I didn't think about the tires, that's definitely something to consider. Braking seems perfect now, I replaced the pads and rotors when I bought the car (about 4,000 miles ago). I also don't notice cornering issues, but I don't drive fast or on poor roads, I just have a 7-mile commute to work + occasional shorter or longer trips. However, I'm pretty sure the struts are original parts with 150,000+ miles on them, I can feel every tiny bump in the road and the bushings look cracked/worn out. Do you guys think it would be safe to wait until spring or should I try to do it now before it gets cold? – user505255 Nov 25 '15 at 2:29

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