On many vehicles with strut-type suspension designs, the front struts (which include the springs and shock absorbers) are mounted with bearings or bearing plates that serve as the upper pivot points for the steering.
The bearings can wear out from long-term use, corrosion, impact or collision damage, and other factors. When they do, they often make knocking or clunking noises over bumps or in turns, or the steering becomes stiff or snaps back toward center when the driver lets go of the steering wheel. Bad strut bearings can also cause alignment issues and uneven tire wear.
Many mechanics recommend that strut bearings be replaced whenever struts are replaced so worn bearings don’t affect suspension or steering performance. Some replacement parts come as a complete assembly with struts, springs, bearing plates and mounting hardware. In addition, strut assemblies should be replaced in pairs, not just one side at a time, and the vehicle should also get a wheel alignment after the struts and/or bearing plates are replaced.
One advantage of buying a complete strut assembly instead of individual parts is that with the complete kit, removing and installing the strut assembly doesn’t require a spring compressor, a tool that can cause serious injury when not used properly.