I've suspected that I've had a leak in or around the rear struts for quite some time now; I've always heard the air compressor kicking on automatically at intervals when the car is off (even with nothing in the trunk). However, it seems to have gotten worse recently (over the past year maybe?). It'* gotten to the point that the compressor runs so much, that it will completely drain the battery if I go more than a day or two without driving. In fact, in my testing earlier today, the compressor came on about once a minute
. I don't remember it being nearly this bad when I bought the car in 2004; in fact I remember looking back at the pictures I took when I first went to look at the car, and the rear was kind of jacked up (which to me would indicate that the struts didn't leak at all, or very little, at that time). Also, I'm 99% sure the compressor itself is fine - the inflator seems to work fine when I put the fuse back in - I just reinflated my spare tire to 60psi the other day with no issues.
For this reason I've just pulled the 20 amp level control fuse under the driver side dash (have been running without it for the better part of a year, probably). Now I'm reading that this may not be such a good idea. So, I'm looking into getting my rear struts replaced (assuming that'* where the leak actually is - I plan on doing the "soapy water" test tomorrow to be sure). The parts themselves don't look too bad, I've found the Monroe 801798'* (OEM equivalent listed in Techinfo article) for about $54 each, and the Sensatrac 71798'* for ~$68 each. The real problem is getting them installed. I looked at the article and a few other similar threads here, and that looks way out of my reach, skills-wise - I don't have the required tools, nor would I really be confident that I could do it without destroying something even if I did.
So, about how much am I looking at in labor cost to get these replaced if I buy the struts themselves separately? I will have a little money to work with in about a month (and I do mean a little), and as far as I can tell this seems to be something that would be better replaced sooner rather than later (or "when I get around to it"). I do carry heavy loads (maybe a few hundred pounds) from time to time, and in fact will be doing just that in a few weeks - that'll be before I have the money to fix this, so I'll probably just plug the fuse back in for the duration of my trip and unloading, then unplug before it gets a chance to drain the battery...