Shocks Vs Struts: The Differences and Comparison

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When the shocks and struts in your vehicle are in good condition, you’d enjoy a smooth ride even when you drive over potholes and bumps. Here, we’re providing detailed shocks vs struts comparison to clarify the differences between these components.

Shocks and struts slightly look-alike, perform the same basic function, and are mostly used interchangeably, yet, they are completely different – shocks and struts are very important components that join to make up a car’s suspension system.

We’d explain these two components individually, and then proceed with the comprehensive comparison.

What are Shocks?

Shock Absorbers (generally shortened as “Shocks”) are an integral part of automobiles’ suspension systems. Just as the name implies, shock absorbers help to “absorb” shocks while driving. They are paired with ancillary suspension components to ensure more effectiveness in shock absorbance.

There are three major types of shock absorbers used in vehicles:

  • Mono-Tube: This is the commonest type, it is made from steel tube , featuring a rod and piston inside
  • Dual Shock: Made with two vertical tubes filled with compressed hydraulic fluid
  • Coil-Over Shocks: These are shocks covered by a coil spring

Regardless of the type, shock absorbers are designed to perform one action, and that is to reduce the impact you feel when you drive over uneven parts of a road. They simply help to ensure a smooth transition.

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What are Struts?

Similar to shock absorbers, a strut is an integral part of a vehicle’s suspension system comprising a coil spring and shock absorber. Struts are a pivotal point for vehicles’ steering systems and it greatly affects alignment angles.

A vehicle can either struts or typical shock absorbers; it’s not possible to use both struts and shocks at the same time.

You’d find this suspension system component, “Strut,” on vehicles with compressed suspension travel. Struts are usually mounted to a steering knuckle and are smaller than shock absorbers.

Shocks Vs Struts: Comparison

Every vehicle you see on the road has struts or shocks as part of its suspension system components. Some vehicles use the two – but not at the same place. A vehicle that uses both shocks and struts would have one installed on the front wheels and the other on the rear wheels.

What does this mean? It means that such a vehicle may have shocks on the front wheel and struts on the rear wheel or vice versa. You cannot use struts and shocks on the wheels (front wheels or rear wheels).

Both shocks and struts work together with springs, which help to maintain smooth transition when a vehicle hits an object on the roads. Now, what are the key differences?

  • The major design between shocks and struts is the “design.” They are structured differently, and as such, both can’t be used on the same suspension system.
  • A suspension system structured to use shocks cannot accept struts. If you want to replace shocks with struts, you need to install a (new) suspension system that is designed to used struts.
  • Typically, struts connect to the knuckles, and are used on vehicles without upper control arms. In contrast, shocks are installed on cars with an upper and lower control arm or a solid axle.

Frequently Asked Questions?

Can I Use Shocks to Replace Struts?

If your car uses shocks, that’s what the suspension system is designed to use; you cannot use struts on such a suspension system. To replace shocks with struts, you must have to restructure the suspension system or get a new one that is designed for struts.

Should I Use Struts or Shocks?

Both components are typically the same; you should use the one your car’s suspension system is designed to accommodate. If your car’s suspension system is built for shocks, use shocks; if it is built for struts, use struts.

When Should I Change My Struts?

Just as with every other component in a vehicle, struts and shocks may wear out or damage after several miles. It is advisable to thoroughly check your vehicle’s suspension system after 50,000 – 70,000 miles and replace any faulty component.

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What More?

Shocks vs struts comparison is all about the design of a vehicle’s suspension system. A suspension system can either use struts or shocks, but not both at the same time.

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