Do I need Shocks, Struts or both?
June 5, 2008 6:41 PM   Subscribe

I bought a 1997 Honda Accord from my 21 year old Sister - the car was lowered as a "gift" by her one-time fiance. The original shocks/struts were replaced with adjustable shocks/struts. Or something like that. Lowered cars, if you don't know, ride like a wheelbarrow on a cobblestone road. I would like to buy, on ebay or whatnot, the stock shocks and/or struts to repair the ride comfort of this fuel-efficient car. What do I need? Shocks? Struts? Is the Shock also the Strut? Does Strut refer to the way guys with lowered cars walk? I'm at a loss. General information about what the difference between shocks and struts are would be educational. Specific information about exactly what I need for a 1997 Honda Accord LX would be ideal and much appreciated. Someone out there with a '97 Accord with great suspension who would like to trade it for a lowering kit would be even better! I can try to provide more information if it's needed, but I'm dumb enough not to know if more is needed or not.
posted by idzyn to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
Response by poster: I should have mentioned - I'll be getting a mechanic to do the work, but the parts are too expensive, so I'm looking for buying used parts - junk yard or ebay. And I've been posting on Craigslist for a parts swap for almost a year - offering to pay for all labor involved at a qualified mechanic - not one single reply...
posted by idzyn at 6:58 PM on June 5, 2008

Best answer: A shock controls spring rebound. A strut encompasses suspension, wheel locating and spring rebound. Wiki has a not bad general overview. Accords have double wishbones suspension with coilovers.

There are several ways to lower a car:
  • cut springs
  • lowering springs
  • adjustable or replacement coil overs
  • dropped spindles
  • body modifications
  • combinations of the above
Without seeing the car it'd be really tough to tell everything that may have been done to accommodate a hack job like sway bars or non oem-brakes.

Best thing would be to take it to a mechanic for a quick look. They shouldn't charge for an estimate to revert it and they'll tell you what you need. And best source for the parts would be the local wrecking yard, stock pieces (minus the shock/strut insert which wear) are usually pretty cheap from the recycler.

It would be ideal to find a car that is all rusted out or has been in a t-bone or similar accident, be cheaper than buying stuff piecemeal. Or a honda independent specialist shop may have all the pieces hanging around from a take off.
posted by Mitheral at 7:31 PM on June 5, 2008

Best answer: Check out for online prices - they've been pretty good in the past. Struts are essentially a shock that fits inside your coil spring & are usually more hassle to remove install than old-time shocks. A car that takes struts doesn't also use shocks.

You ought to be able to google up info from Honda forums & by all means get a manual.
posted by Pressed Rat at 7:34 PM on June 5, 2008

Best answer: There are two main components- the shock absorber and the spring. You may need one or both. It depends on how the car was lowered. Ask your mechanic.

I'd go browse some Honda forums for some used parts, you should be able to find someone who has their factory parts left over after lowering their car.

FWIW, not all lowered cars drive/ride like crap. It all depends on the quality of the parts, as well as what the parts are intended for.
posted by wongcorgi at 7:59 PM on June 5, 2008

Is it coilovers that are installed? If its adjustable you may be able to raise the car to closer to stock height - it should ride more comfortably.
posted by jeffmik at 7:59 PM on June 5, 2008

Best answer: I would suggest looking at Honda car forums. If you want a stock suspension, there is probably a 20-year-old ricer within 50 miles that would like your suspension on his car and would even do the work (or help you do the work) to swap them out at minimum expense.
posted by Doohickie at 8:17 PM on June 5, 2008

Yeah, you should probably be able to adjust them up to something more like stock.

That said, you don't want to have used struts. It would be like walking around on using someone else's used ankles.
posted by notsnot at 8:24 PM on June 5, 2008

Response by poster: I should have also mentioned that my other car is a Nissan Titan, which gets less than half the MPG of the Accord.. Thanks for the suggestions - Honda forums! Why didn't I think of that!
posted by idzyn at 8:26 PM on June 5, 2008

Response by poster: Used ankles would be better than no ankles! Which is how it rides now!
posted by idzyn at 8:27 PM on June 5, 2008

It is quite possible that you are going to have to spend a lot of money to restore the suspension of this car. You might consider selling it to someone who wants a lowered car and using the money to buy something more suitable for you with no out of pocket expense.
posted by JackFlash at 10:42 PM on June 5, 2008

What I meant by that is, you don't know if the person was a tennis player, liked to jump off two story buildings, or was sedentary. I.E., for all the labor involved in putting in the parts, might as well have new ones, rather than used ones of uncertain provenance.
posted by notsnot at 5:07 AM on June 6, 2008

Whatever you do, if you go back to the stock suspension keep the aftermarket parts. You can definitely get some money for the lowering springs & adjustable struts.
posted by PFL at 8:20 AM on June 6, 2008

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