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I finally got the variable rate rear coils and new gas shocks for my runaround '95 Spirit (80,000 miles). They are installed and it is like a different (better) car.

I guess these K Cars are designed to handle like a toad so I'm wondering if selecting a "better" grade of stut would be a waste of money? Safety versus bluebook (scrap). Asphalt camouflaged cattle.
 

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Struts and shocks control spring oscillations and keep tires in better contact with the road. The springs have more impact on ride quality. I doubt that a more expensive shock or strut will make a major impact on ride quality than cheaper ones. You will not make these cars ride and handle like a premium vehicle, no matter what you do.
 

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The handling on my '95 is better than most modern cars that I've driven, IMO. I have Monroe struts and shocks on all 4 corners, with all original springs, and I'm very satisfied with how she handles. Monroe is not the least expensive brand, but the cost is very reasonable nonetheless. The rear end of the car likes to hop when the shocks go, which makes the car really squirrely over highway bumps. An addition you may want to look in to is polyurethane suspension bushings. I have them up front and I am very happy with them. Check out polybushings.com if you're interested.
Get quick struts if you can, or an electric impact gun to use on the spring compressors if you want to do it yourself. Compressing springs with a socket wrench is something I would only wish on my worst enemies, although the gun makes it a very reasonable job.
 

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I don't have the means to change out struts and rely on mechanics to do that for me (I have no air tools or spring compression tools).
2 places I checked at wanted to use the quick struts (they indicated the springs might crack and other parts (bushings/spring 'perch' area?) could fail. Either place was $1K for just the rears (installed).

Is it advisable to go with just the strut and not the quick assembly? I think it should be much less painful for the wallet. Or do I need to get a 3rd garage/better deal?
(P.S. this is on our 94 Camry)
 

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I guess these K Cars are designed to handle like a toad so I'm wondering if selecting a "better" grade of stut would be a waste of money?
They are designed to handle well, given good tires, struts, and shocks. Any experience you have on an old used car that probably has been cheapened over the years with crap replacement parts is invalid when comparing to the original — and for that matter, the originals were often less than optimal because the factory under-tired them.

You already said, “I finally got the variable rate rear coils and new gas shocks for my runaround '95 Spirit (80,000 miles). They are installed and it is like a different (better) car.” Doesn’t that tell you anything?
 

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TM1963 said:
I don't have the means to change out struts and rely on mechanics to do that for me (I have no air tools or spring compression tools).
2 places I checked at wanted to use the quick struts (they indicated the springs might crack and other parts (bushings/spring 'perch' area?) could fail. Either place was $1K for just the rears (installed).

Is it advisable to go with just the strut and not the quick assembly? I think it should be much less painful for the wallet. Or do I need to get a 3rd garage/better deal?
(P.S. this is on our 94 Camry)
The quick strut assembly is usually more expensive, but you are getting a new spring in addition to the strut.

Last time I had new struts installed (on a 1990 Acclaim), it was cheaper to buy the struts (NAPA), have a mechanic swap the springs and install the struts and then get an alignment.

At least with a quick strut assembly, if you're so inclined you can swap out the assemblies yourself and only have to pay labor on the alignment.
 
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