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イリジウム
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You've done a lot of research. Supposedly most if not all KYB struts today come from a Gabriel factory in Mexico. Gabriel Ultra was my go-to before Monroe came out with their own competitor in the OESpectrum. I had stayed away from KYB because of the harshness and the (IMO) poor valving. Many members like KYB for the firm ride and the handling that comes with it. A lot of it is personal preference. I now prefer Monroe's newer OESpectrum (not their old Sensatrac junk which I avoided touching).

Another thing to keep in mind, Monroe offers lifetime warranty, even for normal wear and tear (but you'll have to pay return shipping to rockauto if you buy there). KYB does NOT warranty against normal wear and tear. Next month Monroe usually start to offer Spring Break rebate of $100 per 4 struts/assemblies. So that's another thing to consider. The rear struts usually don't affect alignment (but I'll have it checked regardless) but the fronts will. So an alignment charge (or in my case I buy lifetime alignment for about 2.5x the cost of a single alignment. Do it early in an ownership and you'll end up making money). One thing, alignment quality also depends on the shop and tech, so it can be a crapshoot. Some shops honors it even with parts replacement, so check terms.

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So I've gotten more info from several professional mechanics on Reddit. OSC's line of quick struts are made in a factory that KYB used to own. KYB has apparently changed what country they've made their struts in. Another twist is at least some Gabriel struts are made by KYB. This was discovered by mechanics recognizing the similarities, removing the Gabriel label, and finding KYB stampings and part numbers underneath. I'm still getting as much hate as love for Monroe's original ride quality Quick-Strut line. I've now heard all good reviews from mechanics and buyers of OSC and FCS quick struts. Nobody regretted them. The ride, height, and durability reports are more consistent than what I'm hearing from Monroe or others in my price range. If I go bare strut I'll go KYB. It all depends on the final numbers my mechanic gives me. I'm also thinking about the existing springs having 198000 miles on them.
 

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2001 Avalon XLS w/ JBL Audio 215K mi.
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9 Posts
I'm on a fixed income. My 2001 Avalon needs rear struts. My friendly neighborhood shade tree (but damn good) mechanic gives me a decent rate, fortunately. After looking at parts cost vs labor cost, it looks like my best bet is quick struts. I'd like to keep the ride and ride height as close to original as possible, but have to keep the cost down. A mechanic on Reddit swears by OSC quick struts, but Rock Auto says they're Economy. Monroe RoadMatic are also listed as Economy. A brand listed as Original Ride Quality is FCS. Prices are ranging from about $55-65 US each for these brands. I can probably go up to about $80 each plus shipping if I have to, but lower's better. If you have experience with brands and models in my price range, please speak up. There's no point suggesting one that's $120, like some I'm seeing. There's just no way. Thanks for your time.
In September I installed Front and Rear Gabriel Guardian struts which were $10 each from RockAuto. I kept the original springs which kept the stock ride height and quality. I borrowed the Spring Compressor from AutoZone and did the work myself to save money.

Having done this, I would recommend doing the rear struts this way, but not the fronts. The shape of the front springs made the swap dangerous, and I ended up doing it twice because I didn’t replace the front strut mount (bearings) the first time. Doing both rears took me about 3 hours start to finish. HTH.
 

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2000 Avalon
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162 Posts
Abacus, I just did my fronts, kyb and mounts at the same time, they are great now, I did have to remove the left front again and remove the plastic coil spring silencer, basically a tube wrapped around the bottom 2 coils, the silencer was making awful noises around turns and bumps. The right front was fine, it didn’t have that spring guard, both were Monroe Quickstruts. I’m getting ready to tackle the rears, which I also installed quickstruts in 1.5 years ago. I noticed that the new mounts and struts have a 1/2 inch gap when I set the new mount on the new strut, I haven’t taken the old ones out yet. Toyota shows a spacer at the top, did you re-use the spacers. I have quickstruts and they’ve been a little noisey Since new, I’m concerned that the spacers may not be there at all. If not I guess I’ll stack some flat washers to take up the gap? Frank
 

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2000 Avalon
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162 Posts
Oh and I agree about the fronts being a bit scary, lol. I used a set of spring compressors I bought of Amazon, they look just like the ones auto zone rents out. I’m hoping the rears have a bit less tension on the coil springs.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
So what I ended up doing was I went with original ride quality FCS cartridges for the rear. They're twins of what Autozone sells. Even the ad copy's written by the same guy. The springs and other assorted components were reusable with the exception of one mount. My mechanic friend pulled that off a car in a local salvage yard for nothing instead of making me pay local retail or wait for Rock Auto. Ride height and ride quality are fine initially. I'll follow up later over time.
 

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イリジウム
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12,145 Posts
A friend in need is a friend indeed. Glad that setup worked for you.
 

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2000 Avalon
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162 Posts
I did my rear struts yesterday, had 1.5 year old quick struts, the difference in the kyb struts and mounts is enormous. Like many members say, they are a bit on the firm side., they are very quiet and I like the handling difference. As Abacus32 said in this thread, the rears were very easy to compress and change out, I reused the bumper/bellows from the Monroe quickstruts by trimming off the bellows with a razor knife, that left just the bumper/stop which I installed on the kyb strut on each side, the Monroe’s did have the spacers on each mount at the top which you must re-use. The fronts were a bit scarey to compress while the rears were very simple, did not need to compress the spring very much at all. I wish I had done them like this 1.5 years ago, at least the rears anyway. The fronts were not as easy, I wish I had access to a strut compressor, may have to watch eBay or craigslist for a decent used one. The Monroe quickstruts are noisey and problematic, the sensa-trac is garbage.
 

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2000 Avalon
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135 Posts
A tip for compressing the coils. Jack up the car, support it at the frame with a jack stand. Take the jack and put it under the control arm. Raise the jack to compress the spring, then install the spring compressors to the already compressed coil. Lower the jack. The springs are being held by the compressors. Remove the strut. Replace or repair as you wish.
 
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