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Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:11 pm
by electricjay
Hi,

I recently upgraded the suspension on my 2011 Leaf, and while doing so, I noticed something that looks like a serious design flaw that could cause future issues.

I discovered that the drains below the windscreen channel water straight onto the top of the front suspension struts, where it is caught and trapped by a dish-shaped plate / washer / spacer on top of the strut, thereby creating a lake in which the nut sits (that's the one large nut which holds the whole spring and strut together). The car was parked outside when I first noticed this, and one side was actually brim-full of water. Both sides showed surface rust on the nut and bolt.

Here's a photo showing what I mean:

Image

It looks like this would be an issue if you live in any rainy climate. At best, it will just make future replacement of the struts difficult since the bolt will be rusted up. At worst, the bolt and nut could eventually deteriorate to the point where it came apart. At that point I think transient shock absorber loads would tend to pull the strut out of the through-hole, and then bad things could really happen...

Anyone else observed this? Nb: If you want to check, pull out the clip-in plastic cover at the left and right sides just below the windscreen, to reveal the top of the struts. I temporarily "fixed" the issue by wiping the bolt with "Lanox" (spray on protective lube) then covering the whole 'dish' thing with wide sticky PVC tape to keep the water out. I've now changed the struts anyway, and the new ones don't have the water-trapping dish.

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:05 pm
by DaveEV
I've seen this on my driver's side front strut, but not the passenger side, first noticed it a couple years ago. I put a bunch of grease in there to counter the water. I should look at it again.

The flaw is that the dust cap doesn't seem to keep the water out as it should.

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:13 pm
by electricjay
There's supposed to be a dust cap? That could explain it...

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:52 pm
by DaveEV
Pics from my car I just took.

Driver's side, dust cap on, looks OK.
Image

Driver's side, dust cap off... Eeeewwww!!!
Image

Passenger side, dust cap off, looks great!
Image

Obviously I need to clean the driver's side out again.

If you look, the windshield wiper on the driver's side leaves a gap which just drains down onto the dust cap. And you'll notice that the dust cap has a hole right in the middle, so it's obviously not designed to keep the water out.

I'd hate to see a car from a snowy area.

You mentioned that your new struts don't have the bowl area for the water to collect - what kind of top-hat do you have now, it must not be stock? I'd guess coilovers or something?

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:23 pm
by cwerdna
If you truly believe it's a potential safety defect, file a safety complaint w/NHTSA at http://www.safercar.gov/.

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:32 pm
by electricjay
The new ones are a Blitz fully adjustable system. They have a flat plate on top, although I will still check to make sure they are not trapping any water.

Strange that mine was missing the dust caps - it came from Japan and had only 13,000 km on it, and in all other respects everything was present and completely original.

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:54 am
by DesertSprings
I've seen similar photos from some Japanese Leafers.

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:26 pm
by electricjay
Maybe the Japanese ones didn't come out with the dust cap... anyway, the design doesn't look water tight since it is a plug that sits inside the cup.

FYI, here's a post about my new suspension:
http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=21729

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2017 8:44 pm
by JohnGalt69
electricjay wrote:There's supposed to be a dust cap? That could explain it...
My 2013 SL does not have the dust caps. The passenger's side was clean, but the driver's side was full of water (no rust yet).

I covered it with grease for now. Does anyone have a good solution for keeping this area dry?

Re: Rusting bolt on front suspension strut - potential safety issue

Posted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 7:09 pm
by AntronX
Here is my 2011 SL in Florida. More images here: http://imgur.com/a/CByXi

Image

Cleaned it, soaked in WD-40, sealed with silicone. I also plugged little hole at the top of the cap. Will check it in a year.