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Q: what is the purpose of front struts on 1998 Buick Regal

Rookie cbe0621eac06868b3efe0d8d1d3611e23c60d3114864ea2ec19a68cfbd3eebab
car has 140,000 miles. steering wheel shakes when braking- and feels floaty when driving (not a new symptom).
(1) Answer
The struts are actually shock absorbers or shocks, like vehicles have had for YEARS! With that much mileage they need to be replaced. Your steering wheel shake when braking is most likely caused by the 'front' disc brake rotors, they are 'warped' and need to be replaced, along with the brake pads. Can have the rotors machined (turned) but better to replace with new as not much difference in cost. In fact may be less money and a whole lot better!!!!