What is the difference between shocks and struts?

Latest news articles

Though the shock and strut are used interchangeably, they are different. Check the differences of these two car components and see which one you should use for your car!

Plying through a road with potholes, speed bumps or even a rough road while your shocks and struts are in good working condition should make you appreciate their functions. The two car parts are frequently addressed together. They see to it that your car is kept sturdy and safe. As they are discussed together, yet separate parts, you may wonder about the difference that exists between them. This article on Naijauto will be making the difference known to you. We’ll be explaining what a shock and strut is, their functions and what will happen in the event of wear.

1. What is the difference between a shock and strut?

Every car you see driving on the road is fitted with a vehicle suspension system which has multiple individual parts. They are shock absorber (or called struts) and springs. The springs are responsible for providing support to the car and cushioning effect, in the event of the car hitting an object on the road. The shock absorber restricts the vertical travel (motion) from the spring, together with absorbing the effect from obstruction on the road.

Due to the fact that the shock and strut serve the same purpose, people use shock and strut interchangeable when describing both parts. However, there is a difference between both which exists in their design and each also has distinct advantages and disadvantages. You can't replace a shock with a strut and neither can you replace a strut with a shock

  • The main difference between a shock and a strut is evident in the suspension system of each component.
  • Every vehicle is expected to use a strut or a shock on each corner of the wheels. A number of vehicles use the strut in the front while the shock absorber stays at the back.
  • Vehicles that have no upper control arm and without connection to the knuckle uses strut while vehicles that have an independent suspension or a strong axle on the rear uses shock absorbers.

2. What is a shock absorber?

A shock absorber is a car component that's constructed to be a bit stiffer than a strut. It is so because they carry out their functions with ancillary suspension parts to take in the shock from the road.


These are a pair of car shock absorbers

>>> In case you want to replace your shock absorbers, we highly recommend this post: 6 tell-tale signs to know when to replace shock absorber

We have three main types of shock absorbers.

  • Mono-tube shock absorber

This is the most commonly used among other shock absorbers. Also known as a gas shock absorber, it’s produced from a steel tube, with a piston and rod embedded on the inside. Whenever the car drives on top of a speed bump, the piston will be pushed upward and the gas compresses it slowly for a leveled transition.

  • Dual shock

A dual shock (also called twin-turbo shock) has two vertical tubes with hydraulic fluid inside them. When it compresses, fluid will be transported to the secondary tube.

  • Coil-over shocks

Vehicles that have the shock absorbers placed on the front are known as coil-over shocks. Here, the shock absorber is covered with a coil spring.

3. What is a strut?

A widely known strut is the MacPherson strut. It is a strong and durable part that merges the spring and strut into a single unit. Some cars make use of a single strut, together with the use of a separate coil spring.  A strut is an important component of the vehicle's suspension system, It affects the alignment angles. This makes it expensive than shock as alignment has to be done when you are changing the strut/The struts are placed to a steering knuckle and the top of the spring is fitted to support the body. Struts are smaller in size than shock absorbers and it is the main reason they are frequently used in cars that have compressed suspension travel.


A McPherson strut is strong and durable

>>> To better understand how struts work, you should read about car suspension system first: How does a car suspension system work?

4. Which should I use in my car: a shock or a strut?

As it is with moving car components, the shock and strut are created to depreciate or wear out with time. Based on the type of car you drive, a strut and shock may tend to last ranging from 30,000 to 75,000 miles. Follow the recommendation provided by your car's manufacturer to replace the shock and strut. And when replacing them, it will be a good idea to make use of the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) replacement car component when they are due to be replaced. If your vehicle's shock absorbers were installed at the point of production, then be sure to also use the same shock absorber that was used. The same thing applies to the strut.

When replacing the shocks and struts, replace them in pairs (they should be changed on the same axle). Make sure you carry out a complete professional suspension alignment so that the steering, Tyres, and suspension system are all aligned straight.

>>> We have other frequently asked questions with the answers provided here on our FAQ section. Do check it out!

Jane Osuagwu

Jane Osuagwu is an automotive writer at Naijauto.com. She's a car enthusiast who loves creating educative and informative topics on cars, ranging from maintenance tips to updates on the latest trend in the auto industry in concise and friendly writing. 

... See more




Latest review Articles

Latest price articles

Covid 19