The other day a lady came in the shop and said she just bought a new (to her) 2001 Mazda MPV mini van and it rides like being on the back of a pony.
I love this business, every body describes noises and such using barnyard animals for the example noise or some other characteristic of said animal to describe what they’re hearing or feeling.
Anyways, I test drove it and she was right. It would beat you to death in just a few miles. I was worn out from just the test drive.
It was obvious after about 50 yards the front struts were not working. They were almost totally frozen in position. So I installed a new pair of front struts and reset the alignment and it was fixed.
But what’s unusual about this is I rarely see this kind of problem with struts. It’s so unusual here that I had to cut one of the old struts open and see what was plugging the piston valves.
It turns out that the strut had some type of foam like washer that looked like it’s function was to be an internal bump stop for the piston valve and it totally rotted away.
As you can see in the photo it’s crumbling to pieces. Those pieces are blocking the ports on the piston rod valve and not allowing any oil to flow through them which is causing the strut to hydrolock.
I suspect in a big city with a lot of these vans, this is a common problem. In our area there aren’t many of these vehicles so I’ve only seen this a handful of times. Before I was too busy to cut open one of the old struts and today had a little extra time so I had to see exactly what was causing the problem.
For those of you wondering how many miles, 93,000 was on the odometer. So if you own one of these, I’d be replacing the front struts at about 70K tops.