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What is the Difference Between Shocks and Struts?

Shocks and struts are terms often used interchangeably because they perform the same function. However, they distinctly differ in suspension system design. It is worth noting that even though they perform the same function, a shock cannot be used to replace a strut and vice versa.

Let's break down the primary functions of these two parts to differentiate them clearly.

What are shock absorbers?

Shocks are designed to absorb the shock impacts from the road. For this reason, they are designed to be a bit stiffer than struts. There are three main types of shocks:

  • Monotube shock absorber: It is one of the most commonly used shock absorbers. It is made from steel with a piston and rod installed inside. When a vehicle runs over a bump, the piston exerts vertically and compresses slowly to ensure a smooth transition.
  • Dual shock: A twin or dual shock has two vertical tubes filled with hydraulic fluid rather than gas. As it compresses when the vehicle runs over a bump, the fluid is transferred to the second tube.
  • Coil-over shocks: These are shock absorbers 'covered' by a coil spring. When a vehicle's shock absorbers are installed on the front, they are generally referred to as coil-over shocks.

What is a strut?

Struts are more compact than shocks and are primarily used in cars with compressed suspension travel. It is a durable component that combines the spring and struts into a single unit. Some vehicles employ a single strut with an isolated coil spring. Struts are usually a pivotal point and are attached to a steering knuckle with the spring at the top to support the body.

Should I use struts or shocks in my car?

Shocks and struts like any other vehicle part wear out over time. They can last anywhere between 30,000 and 75,000 miles, depending on the type of vehicle you drive. It is advisable to replace them as recommended by the manufacturer using original equipment manufacturer replacement parts.

Ideally, struts and shocks should be replaced in pairs. It is advisable to have your professional check on your suspension alignment to ensure the suspension system, steering, and tires are straight. Give our auto repair shop a call today for shocks and struts replacement.