When do coil springs need replacing in a car?

Updated: March 04, 2020
Most cars have four coil springs; each supporting one corner of the vehicle. In cars with MacPherson struts, coil springs are installed within struts (in the photo).
Front coil spring Front strut. See also: rear coil spring.
Coil springs don't need any maintenance, but they might need to be replaced.

One reason is when a coil spring breaks. A broken coil spring is a safety concern. Not only is your suspension not working as it's supposed to, but a sharp fractured piece of a coil spring can puncture a tire or jam some other part. It can also fall on the road and cause danger to other motorists and pedestrians. If the coil spring is broken, it must be replaced.
If one of the coil springs in your car looks badly rusted, your mechanic may also recommend replacing it as a precaution.
Are there any symptoms of a broken coil spring?
In some cases, a broken piece of the spring can produce a metal rattle when driving over bumps and potholes. The ride height may also appear lower on one side. Most of the time, however, there are no symptoms and a broken coil spring can only be caught during a regular service when the vehicle is lifted on the hoist in a shop; see the photo1 and photo2.
Broken coil spring The vehicle was making a rattling noise when driving over bumps. Turns out, it was a broken coil spring in the back.

Another reason to replace coil springs is when they become weak. In older cars, coil springs weaken and sag. Often this happens to rear springs causing the car to sit lower in the back.

Weak rear coil springs may cause poor handling and increased wear on the inside of the rear tires. In addition, when the rear springs sag, the headlights point higher blinding oncoming drivers.

This problem can be caught during the wheel alignment, because sagging coil springs can alter the wheel angles (especially camber) beyond what can be corrected during the wheel alignment. In this case, your mechanic may suggest replacing rear coil springs and, if needed, other worn-out suspension components to restore the ride height and proper wheel angles.

Should both coil springs on the same axle be replaced at the same time?

If the car is more than 5 years old, it's recommended to replace coil springs in pairs. Over time coil springs weaken, so if you replace only one spring, the left and right springs will respond differently to the road and the left and ride sides may have a different ride height. Your mechanic may recommend replacing only one coil spring if the vehicle is fairly new and the replacement spring is a matching OEM part.

Coil spring replacement cost

How much does it cost to replace coil springs? One coil spring (part) costs between $50 and $250.
New coil spring New coil spring.
Labor charges vary from 1 to 2 hours for one coil spring, depending on the difficulty. The wheel alignment might need to be done too.

To replace coil springs that are mounted on the strut, mechanics use a special spring compressor. We don't recommend replacing coil springs DIY, because it's not safe. A coil spring is loaded when in place, and can unwind with a lot of force causing injuries.

If your coil spring is broken, check for recalls

If a coil spring broke in your car, we suggest checking with the manufacturer or dealer for possible recalls or safety campaigns related to coil springs.

Several car manufacturers have issued recalls to replace coil springs. For example, Nissan recalled some 2007-2012 Nissan Versa models in Canada and certain regions of the United States to replace both front coil springs. The reason is that the salt used on the roads in winter time can cause the springs to corrode and possibly fracture.

Hyundai also recalled certain 2011 Elantra and Sonata vehicles for the same reason. In 2019, Volkswagen has recalled several U.S. and Canada models for rear axle coil springs (recall 42J5).