Shocks vs. Struts...Are they the same part?

Are Shocks and Struts the same part?

Both shocks and struts are an essential part of your vehicle’s suspension system. They keep the springing movement of your car to a minimum, eliminating the bounce that can otherwise be damaging to the underside of your vehicle or make it hard to steer properly. Though people typically use the terms shocks and struts to describe the same part since they essentially serve the same function they are actually not the same part and each have a significantly different design.

Shocks act strictly as shock absorbers, and that’s all they do. Their only goal is to give your car better handling. They ensure that the vehicle’s tires always remain in contact with the road surface. The key components of shocks are a piston, a coil, and hydraulic fluid. For example, when a car wheel dips down into a pothole, the shock initiates a compression cycle, and a piston exerts pressure on hydraulic fluid in the upper chamber of the device. The fluid serves to slow down the coil as it relaxes back into place, and this helps prevent an excessively bumpy feel to the ride.

Struts have multiple roles. Struts are designed to be much stronger than shocks since they are weight-bearing components. They are a structural part of the car’s suspension system and are really an assembly of several different suspension parts, including shock absorbers. In all, the parts of a strut include a coil spring, spring seats, shock absorbers, and strut bearing. All of these components work together to help keep the body of your car on the ground and keep your wheels in contact with the ground to give a smooth ride. Additionally, they help dampen vehicle jolts and improve your vehicle’s steering and alignment. As you can see, your struts are much more complicated than shocks. Because there are more working components in your struts, it’s even more important not to procrastinate if you suspect a repair is necessary.

If your shocks or struts are worn, you will feel extra motion when braking, skipping when turning a corner, and extra motion when driving over bumps. Otherwise, you may notice a fluid leak, shocks or struts that look dented or damaged, or uneven tire wear. As a good rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to think about having them replaced around every 50,000 miles, since letting them go too long worn can add to damage and wear of other parts.

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