Cost of suspension replacement?

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Jan 17, 2005
Atlanta, GA
Need a little BITOG help. How much should I expect to spend on suspension replacement for a 1994 Buick Regal?

In fact, I'm not even familiar with what parts are used in this suspension. That's part of my problem I imagine. I need new tires, so I figured I might as well do everything I could to make it drive better.

The car is starting to have some creaks (bushings?) and the ride feels sloppy... about 130k on it.
You likely just need a new set of front struts / rear shocks, and maybe tie-rod ends if things are really bad. Completely new suspension would be a waste and wouldn't really make a difference. Call Midas and get ask for a quote on struts / shocks.
Ditto. Don't replace the entire suspension - that would be wasteful. Just have someone assess what needs to be replaced. This is usually done before an alignment anyhow.
You might also want to replace the swaybar endlinks - they're cheap at $20 for 2 and you need 4 (2 per bar, $40).

The slopiness you talk about is probably shocks. Get some brand new shocks and you'll be in much better shape.
Struts and shocks are easy with a manual and some decent tools.

You can check your struts and shocks by giving each corner a couple of good pushes and watching the bounce. Make sure you're pushing on something solid before pushing hard when doing this. Ideally, it should just return to its initial position and stop completely. Compare to a vehicle that you know has good shocks to see what it should be like if you're unsure.

With the struts, you'll likely need ball joints and maybe tie-rod ends. Ball joints are cheap and don't require much extra work, so you may as well do them at the same time. Check the tie rod ends for play or cracked boots and replace if necessary. Take a look at all the bushings, but I wouldn't bother doing any unless they're visibly damaged.

[ May 17, 2006, 01:16 PM: Message edited by: rpn453 ]
Struts can be a little misleading with the 'bounce test'. I once drove an old Cimarron that didnt bounce excessively, but got some scary side-to-side motions going while driving over dips in the road. Shocks are more cut and dry in their behavior when worn out...struts can be deceiving and don't show all their problems unless the car is actually being driven.
I agree with the endlink suggestion. In fact, I'd do the end links and the bushings on the other two mount points as well for both front and rear sway bars. That can clear up a lot of slop. If you want to firm things up even more, check into polyurethane bushings and end links. I'm not sure what might have changed on the W-body platform since '94, but check the bushings where the lower A-arm is mounted to the engine support frame, too. Those can get old and sloppy. Between that, the sway bar bushings and the struts, you should have a great riding and handling car.
Is replacing the shocks/struts a DIY thing? Also, what about the springs?

If I did that work myself, I would take it in for tires & alignment afterwards.
But struts are just a structural assembly with a shock built in. The damping effect is the same. I'd guess that Caddy must have been suffering from a combination of mild anti-roll bars, soft bushings, tall and thin sidewalls, and weak struts!

A lot of cars will benefit from new shocks or struts even when there's no extra bounce, but if there's an extra bounce, then they definitely need changing. But, if you're trying to keep operating costs down, I think most are okay to wait until there's a little extra bounce.

The only time the bounce test has surprised me was on a 2002 T/A Firehawk. Brand new, the back end would bounce two extra times on a good push. They must have spec'd very weak shocks to allow a lot of squat on hard launches.
Struts can be a pain in the a**, and it really depends on the car. Rear shocks are a snap. Unless you're seeing uneven ride height, there's likely nothing wrong with your springs.
When I mentioned comparing to a vehicle with good shocks, I didn't expand on that like I maybe should have. Good shocks will suck the life right out of your bounce attempts, while mediocre shocks may move alright while you're inducing motion without providing extra bounce. There's definitely a judgement-call area there. You maybe have to feel a few different vehicles, at various stages of their shock's life, to get a really good feel for it. But if there's extra bounce after the ones you provide, it's almost certainly time for some new ones, regardless of whether you want to spend money on the vehicle.
I just had a full suspension rebuild done on an 01 Montana, I'd imagine the parts and labor costs on a GM car would be similar. Items replaced:

-2 front stuts, 2 rear shocks
-2 ball joints
-2 inner+2 outer tie rods
-4 wheel bearings

Total- $2300 CDN +tax This was at a private shop using aftermarket parts. The wheel bearings are outrageously expensive at $900 for the set due to the fact they are sealed and one-piece with the hub and ABS sensor.

In USD that totals about $2k. Alot of dough for a higher mileage vehicle and some of those parts wern't worn out yet but atleast it's all done and I won't have to bring it in 3 or 4 times, paying R&R labor and a new alignment each time.

If you plan on selling the car shortly then just fix what's worn out. But if you plan on keeping it, do the whole job and save some money and hassle in the long run. At 130k I'm willing to bet you have a few components that are worn out and the rest arn't far behind.

Originally posted by olympic:

Total- $2300 CDN +tax This was at a private shop using aftermarket parts. The wheel bearings are outrageously expensive at $900 for the set due to the fact they are sealed and one-piece with the hub and ABS sensor.

Wow olympic, you got burnt.
OK Batman, I plugged your ride into the Advance Auto website. Here are the parts for everything to freshen it up:
Front Strut Towers:$29.88 x2
Rear Strut Towers: $46.96 x2
F Struts Monroe: $41.88 x2
R Struts Monroe: $58.48 x2
Front Wheel bearing$98.88 x2
Inner Tie Rod $31.50 x2
Outer Tie Rod $29.48 x2
F Ctrl Arm Bushings$40.00 for all four
F Low Ball Joints $41.48 x2

Total cost for parts: $797.08 (plus my commission for looking this up
I used to be an ASE certified tech working through school. This car could be done in 4 hours with a competant tech. 6 hours would probably be the number a garage would give just in case bolts are frozen or the unexpected happens.
So, if you went to a dealer, it's roughly $80/hr up here. 6 * 80 = $480

$800 parts
$480 labor
$70 Alignment
$1350 total. Not too shabby and cheaper than a new car payment.

Good Luck.
Most of the price difference is in the wheel bearings, I punched my van in to AA's website and the 4 bearings are ~$900US. Plus if BatmanLS1 buys the parts from AA and goes somewhere else to install them, he'll have no warranty on the labor should something go wrong. So add XX% to the parts total for markup.
I don't know the specifics of your car. In general, a car with that kind of mileage needs new strut bearings when the front shocks are replaced.
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