Is there a difference between shocks and struts? Most people often try to find an answer to this question. But, before finding the difference, you need to know about these two items and their benefits.
Otherwise, you will not understand the variance between shocks and struts. Today, we hope to answer this question correctly. So, let us get started. difference between shocks and struts
“For those potholes, speed bumps, and rough roads, shock and struts are must-have parts in your vehicle.”
In other words, you will be thankful for shocks and struts. Without them, your vehicle will suffer drastically.
So, having high-quality shocks and struts is vital. In the next section, we will discuss the shocks and struts properly.
What Are Shock Absorbers?
Shock absorbers are part of the suspension system. As a central component of the suspensions, they control and absorb the impact and vibration of the movement of your vehicle’s suspension system. These shock absorbers ensure the tires are in contact with the road surface all the time.
“Usually, a shock absorber consists of a piston, coil, and hydraulic oil.”
For instance, when your vehicle hits a speed bump or a pothole, the shock absorbers start a compression cycle. First, the piston pushes the hydraulic oil.
When that happens, hydraulic oil acts as a conduit to slow the coil. This process makes your ride experience less bumpy.
What Happens if Your Vehicle Does Not Have Shock Absorbers?
From the above section, now you know about shock absorbers. But what happens if your vehicle does not have shocks?
As mentioned above, shocks help the tires maintain contact with the road surface. When you do not have shocks, your vehicle’s wheels will bounce and vibrate against the road surface to a great extent; this will make your truck bumpy.
Common Type of Shock Absorbers?
There are three main types of shock absorbers. Depending on the vehicle model, you can use any one of them.
Mono-tube Shocks Absorbers
This is the most popular shocks type. These shock absorbers are made with steel tubes (including a rod) and a piston.
When your vehicle hits a bump or a pothole, the piston pushes upward; then, it will begin to compress slowly with the help of gas.
A duel shock comes with two vertical tubes and hydraulic oil. These tubes are filled with hydraulic oil as opposed to gas. When the compression happens, hydraulic oil is transferred into the secondary tube.
Some vehicles have shock absorbers installed in the front. These shocks are called coil-over shocks; These shock absorbers come with a coil spring.
What Are Struts?
Before we talk about the difference between shocks and struts, there is one more section that we need to cover. We will talk about that in this section.
“Struts are a main structural component of a modern suspension system, and they act as a connection point between the vehicle’s body and the wheels; These struts play a vital role in the steering system and alignment.”
Struts can make a connection between the various parts of the suspension system. For instance, they connect the shock absorbers and coil springs.
They provide much-needed help for shock absorbers to handle the vehicle’s weight.
Here are the main purposes of struts.
- When spring compresses and rebounds, the struts reduce the movement of the springs.
- Provide structural support for the suspension system.
What Happens if Your Vehicle Does Not Have Struts?
You already know that struts are a main part of the suspension system. So, you cannot drive your vehicle without struts.
Your vehicle will go off-road immediately, and even bad struts can get you into an accident. So, driving with worn-out struts is not recommended.
Difference Between Shocks and Struts
Now we hope you have a better idea about shock absorbers and struts. This section will talk about the main difference between shocks and struts.
Although shocks absorbers and struts play a vital role in the suspension system, their design is significantly different.
Shock absorbers add to a vehicle’s design (or suspension system). On the other hand, struts are built into the suspension system. In other words, struts are a structural component of your vehicle’s suspension system.
These struts are directly attached to the caster and camber angles, and the strut’s position finalizes the caster angle.
What is Caster Angle?
Most automotive manufacturers design each suspension system to ease directional stability and steering.
The vehicle’s wheels should follow the same path as the vehicle to maintain directional stability.
Also, it is vital to steer self-centered automatically after taking a turn, and a caster angle achieves this self-centered ability.
“The angle between the front suspension’s ball joints and the vertical line is called a caster angle. This angle can be positive or negative.”
Determining the correct caster angle is vital for you and your vehicle’s safety. So, bad or worn-out struts result in incorrect caster angles.
A strut is a pivot point for your vehicle’s steering system and includes a coil spring; this is one of the reasons why struts are more expensive than shocks. But, you will get good value for that extra money.
When to Replace Struts and Shock Absorbers
Depending on the vehicle type and the road condition, you might need a shock or struts replacement between 50000 to 100000 miles. There are not many differences between shocks and struts in this department.
Apart from vehicle type and road condition, several factors affect this replacement time. Sometimes you might need a replace shocks and struts sooner than you think.
So, here are some indications that you can recognize early; if your vehicle needs a shocks struts replacement.
As mentioned above, the purpose of the shock absorbers and struts is to improve the handling of your vehicle; if your shocks absorber and struts work smoothly.
You will not feel any bumps or vibrations. But, if these shocks and struts get worn out, you will feel unusual bumpiness.
Issues with Breaks
Damaged struts and shocks can cause severe handling issues; this includes breaking. While breaking, if your car lurching forward, that might be because of the bad struts and shocks.
In this kind of situation, you should act immediately, and otherwise, you might get into an accident. So, fix the problem soon as possible.
This is one of the easiest ways to check the condition of the shocks or struts. All you need to do is check your tires for cups and scalloped dips.
Because most of the time above symptoms occur due to a damaged suspension system. Also, after examining the tires, you can even determine the direction/side of the damaged shocks or struts.
If you can observe small or large fluid leaks outside the shocks or the struts, it might indicate damaged shocks or struts.
Also, these shocks and struts need the right amount of fluid to absorb bumps and impacts. Either way, you should pay attention to any fluid leaks.
When you are trying to turn your vehicle, if the vehicle tips or leans to the outside of the turn, it might affect the broken suspension system.
As we mentioned earlier, damaged shocks or struts lead to a damaged suspension system.
Instability at Highways Speeds
When dealing with damaged shocks or struts, you cannot maintain stability in high-speed situations. You can identify this clearly while driving on a highway.
Even though you might drive, your vehicle might bounce around regularly. This movement is very light; a driver can catch it effortlessly.
And remember, if the vehicle movement is very high, do not take any chances. Check the shock absorbers and struts immediately. There is a higher probability of you getting into an accident.
How to Replace Shocks and Struts?
These shock absorbers and struts will wear out over time like most vehicle parts. Depending on the vehicle type and the driving conditions, these shocks and struts will last around 50000 to 100000 miles.
But, if you ever need to replace them, always use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. Or you can go with some other alternative. But, we highly recommend the OEM replacement parts.
Furthermore, these shocks and struts should be replaced in pairs, and after the replacement, you should get a suspension alignment from a qualified professional.
It will ensure that the steering, tires, and suspension system are aligned correctly.
We hope that, with this article, you were able to get a clear-cut idea about the difference between shocks and struts.
To sum up, both shock absorbers and struts are essential parts of your vehicle’s suspension system, and they are not only different in design but also in cost too.
Also, a strut helps to finalize the caster angle, which does not mean struts are more critical than shocks.
If you need proper handling and comfortable riding, shocks and struts should perform well.
So, make sure to check the shocks and struts regularly. The key takeaway is that every wheel requires some control on the ride part.
Daniel Bass, owner of Best Vehicle Parts, leverages 8 years of auto parts expertise to author insightful blogs sharing his automotive knowledge.