How to Inspect MacPherson Struts

Updated July 20, 2017

Not too long ago, the MacPherson strut was found almost exclusively on foreign-made cars, but today more American cars have them as well. The most striking thing you will notice about the MacPherson strut is that it is a self-contained suspension system. It works the same as systems with separate coil spring and shock absorbers. MacPherson struts come with either serviceable shock absorber cartridges or non-serviceable cartridges. Those that are serviceable have a screw-on cover. Those that are not serviceable will have a cap that cannot be removed.

Drive the car, watching for vibration when braking, cornering or accelerating. Take note of overall handling characteristics. Does the car sway or roll as it corners? Is there excessive bouncing from bumps? Any of these could indicate the MacPherson struts need to be replaced.

Press down on the fenders, then release them quickly. There should not be any bouncing, other than a recovery to normal resting position. You should not encounter any resistance when pushing down. Resistance may indicate a bent shaft.

Chock the tires. Jack up the car and support it with the jack stands. While wearing safety goggles, inspect the MacPerson strut for leaking oil. The use of a light will help you see.


Always replace or repair MacPherson struts in pairs, both front or both rear struts.

Things You'll Need

  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wheel chocks
  • Safety goggles
  • Portable work light or flashlight
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About the Author

Mark Quest began his writing career in 2009, contributing to various online publications. He attended Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College, focusing on the sciences.