Front Strut Failure - Bilstein 5100 - Second Generation Nissan Xterra Forums (2005+)
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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Question Front Strut Failure - Bilstein 5100

Could use some of your input gents, I feel like my shop is trying to pull one over on me.

About 6 months ago I replaced my rear leaf springs, rear shocks and installed the u-bolt flip kit while I was in there.

I had the front struts replaced by my local shop because I didn't want to deal with compressing the springs.

Once winter arrived and all the frost heaves formed, I noticed a ton of clunking in the front end of my truck. Looking at the passenger side front strut, you can see the bushing has been pushed right through and when I jump on the passenger side of the car the clunking starts immediately.

I brought it to the shop and explained I think they installed the washers incorrectly, they told me that is incorrect and the 'Strut Caps' should have been replaced when the new struts were installed. I asked why they wouldn't have recommended that in the first place and they just shrugged their shoulders.

I'm not a mechanic, but looking at the strut assembly I'm not sure how replacing the strut caps will remedy the situation? Are they just trying to get me to replace the strut caps to give them an opportunity to get in there and fix their first mistake? Any guidance you can provide is greatly appreciated. Pictures of my front struts attached.

Thanks,
Dale
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File Type: jpg Driver Side.jpg (162.5 KB, 30 views)
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 10:06 AM
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They are correct in that the strut caps, what some might call the "top hat" should have been replaced if they were in bad shape. Given a 2011 Xterra driven for several years, safe bet they were in bad shape....

The metal part is irrelevant, I replaced mine because it was a cheap part and it's always better to assemble new parts, but the main parts to replace are the 3 bushings, one big one the coil sets on, and 2 small ones that sandwich the metal top hat.

That does not rule out them screwing up. They might have missed the bushing under the metal hat. We can't see if they put that on or not until it's off. It could simply have rode on the old bushings a while and it gave up like they suggest though, hard to say without looking at it.

It is good practice and would have been worth your while to replace all the rubber parts while it was out. You depended on your mechanic to do the job and if they were good at their job, they would have asked you to do this or included it as part of the job. This is why I don't have much respect for most auto mechanics...

This shows the proper stack, it's a but complex to interpret but simple once you have it in hand:

It can change somewhat with aftermarket setups. Old Man Emu simplified and improved the upper shock mounting dramatically.




This is the stock setup that came off my X:


2011 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X - 6 MT
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 11:37 AM
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They definitely assembled the strut parts incorrectly, that's what caused it to push through. Yes, you should have replaced the disposable parts, but this is on the shop. I can almost guarantee they did not intall the bottom washer and/or bushing in the correct spot.

edit: Can you also post a pic of your spring perch? If they installed the bushings incorrectly, there's a possibility they also installed the perch upside down, I just want to make sure you're good.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Dale Mottram View Post
Could use some of your input gents, I feel like my shop is trying to pull one over on me.

About 6 months ago I replaced my rear leaf springs, rear shocks and installed the u-bolt flip kit while I was in there.

I had the front struts replaced by my local shop because I didn't want to deal with compressing the springs.

Once winter arrived and all the frost heaves formed, I noticed a ton of clunking in the front end of my truck. Looking at the passenger side front strut, you can see the bushing has been pushed right through and when I jump on the passenger side of the car the clunking starts immediately.

I brought it to the shop and explained I think they installed the washers incorrectly, they told me that is incorrect and the 'Strut Caps' should have been replaced when the new struts were installed. I asked why they wouldn't have recommended that in the first place and they just shrugged their shoulders.

I'm not a mechanic, but looking at the strut assembly I'm not sure how replacing the strut caps will remedy the situation? Are they just trying to get me to replace the strut caps to give them an opportunity to get in there and fix their first mistake? Any guidance you can provide is greatly appreciated. Pictures of my front struts attached.

Thanks,
Dale
They did not install the lower washer and the shock shaft is pushing through the bushing. Note that on the graphic posted above the lower bushing in the insulator is one piece. Forgetting the lower or the upper washer happens all the time; both from pro shops and home mechs alike. It has nothing to do with reusing the top hat. It is 100% the shops fault.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-19-2019, 09:33 PM
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What everyone else already said. Unless the top hat completely rusted through (unlikely) they forgot to install the bottom washer. It's pretty common to do it wrong, people see the one shiny new washer that comes with the new Bilstein and toss the old stuff in the trash because it looks fine once assembled.


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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-25-2019, 12:29 PM Thread Starter
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Hey All - Just wanted to follow up with an update. Technicians told me the strut mounts caused the failure and were 100% certain the struts were assembled correctly, they wouldn't give up on this diagnosis and the conversation was getting heated. I got in touch with the shop manager and explained the situation. He promised he would have eyes on the struts as they were disassembled so he could confirm if they were assembled correctly or not.

Shop manager just called me, said both struts were assembled improperly (missing washers) and that they are going to fix the struts and replace my strut mounts at no cost to me. Stated strut mounts still have plenty of life left in them but they had ordered new ones just in case and will move forward with installing them as a courtesy / apology for the headache.

Thanks everyone for the input, very much appreciated!

Dale
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Dale Mottram View Post
Hey All - Just wanted to follow up with an update. Technicians told me the strut mounts caused the failure and were 100% certain the struts were assembled correctly, they wouldn't give up on this diagnosis and the conversation was getting heated. I got in touch with the shop manager and explained the situation. He promised he would have eyes on the struts as they were disassembled so he could confirm if they were assembled correctly or not.

Shop manager just called me, said both struts were assembled improperly (missing washers) and that they are going to fix the struts and replace my strut mounts at no cost to me. Stated strut mounts still have plenty of life left in them but they had ordered new ones just in case and will move forward with installing them as a courtesy / apology for the headache.

Thanks everyone for the input, very much appreciated!

Dale
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 03:24 PM
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Glad they are sorting this out for you. My spring compressor wasn't up to the task, so I've got my coilovers at a shop being assembled right now. After seeing this thread (and the many others like it), I'm definitely a bit worried. I took videos and photos of all the parts I gave them and use a Sharpie to write on each washer indicating orientation and placement. Supposedly I'll be able to pick them up this afternoon and I'll be examining them very closely before I take them home.

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