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I was looking to buy a 2013 Lexus and realized the left front strut is leaking, the right one looks fine. So I asked the dealer to fix it for me and he gave me 2 options:

  1. He can find a strut from another Lexus, within similar milage and year/model, and replace it free of charge.
  2. He can buy 2 new strut and install both for me and we split the cost.

I know it is recommended to always replace strut in pairs, but I was wondering if there are any risks in replacing only one strut with something that is very similar in usage?

Thanks in advance!

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  • It is unlikely to get matching struts unless tested. The result is amplification on the weakest side instead of shared energy absorption. – Tony Stewart Sunnyskyguy EE75 Sep 3 '20 at 15:25
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    I think you've missed the most important option: Walk away from the deal. Look for some other car. You've found an issue which the seller is unwilling to fix correctly without you paying more. To me, it's a hill to high. Go find a different car to buy. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Sep 3 '20 at 15:27
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Very good catch, that point didn't register when I first read the question. – DavidSupportsMonica Sep 3 '20 at 23:19
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The risks are the replacement used strut will behave differently than the strut already installed and remaining on the vehicle, and may fail differently (earlier, later, and/or in a different manner). A side-to-side inequality may also cause the car to handle differently than it does now, and behave differently in right or left turns.

Unfortunately, there's no way AFAIK to examine and assess these chances. That the proposed used replacement is of a similar vintage (age and use) is better than if the failed strut were replaced with a new one; adding a new one would create a larger inequality between the two struts. OTOH, having side-to-side inequality is a bad thing, particularly because struts are significant parts of the front suspension and steering. Issues there can significantly affect you, your passengers, and other road users.

For myself, using a similar age and mileage replacement strut would carry too high a risk.

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Replacing a leaking strut with a used one in better condition is probably fine, it's doubtful there will be any real issues with it, although there's always some risk. You might get a bit of asymmetry, realistically though you're unlikely to notice unless you push the limits of the performance.

To me the main logic to replacing in pairs is that if one side is leaking the other is probably not far behind, so although you can get away with kicking the can down the road by replacing with used, that can is probably not going to roll vary far and you'll be back in a year with the other side leaking. You'll need to spend the money soon, and until you do you know you are driving on 2 worn struts, so I would take the reduced price offer and replace both struts with new ones.

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  • I agree with you. I'll suggest, however, that the wording in your last sentence would be clearer if it said "...take the reduced price offer and replace both struts with new. – DavidSupportsMonica Sep 3 '20 at 16:18
  • That's definitely clearer @DavidSupportsMonica, edit made. – GdD Sep 3 '20 at 16:19

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