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What’s the difference between shocks and struts?

If you’ve been a dedicated Quickademy student you will have heard terms like shocks and struts being thrown around, but do you know what the difference is? Struts and shocks both make up parts of what we call a suspension system. However, they play very different roles while still contributing to the overall safety and handling of your ride. Of course, they also work to maintain tyre-to-road contact. 

Shocks

Most passenger cars make use of a coil spring that helps absorb any disruptions and impact caused by the road surface itself. This is due to compression and expansion of the spring according to the up and down movement of the wheels.

The coil does absorb a lot of the movement, but uneven road and subsequent impact and movement also causes a rocking motion that early vehicle drivers found to be disturbing - the reason why the shock absorber was first introduced.

This tells us that shocks are actually not a structural component of a car but rather an addition that ensures the suspension system operates smoothly.

Struts

Struts, however, are an extremely important structural component of the entire suspension system, as well as a vital part of the steering system.

As we now know, the shock absorber is separate from the coil spring, while the strut actually contains the spring and the shock absorber within itself.

When replacing a strut you would fit an entirely new unit, whereas a shock absorber or its spring can be replaced individually as and when needed. In fact you will find that replacing a shock absorber is a relatively simple process that will usually fix your problem. Replacing a strut, however, will involve adjusting the alignment of the car itself, which is a far more complicated and often very costly process. 

Many manufacturers are now starting to use struts as opposed to shock absorbers - an important thing to keep in mind when buying or servicing a vehicle, especially if you are concerned over the cost of parts.

There you have it, you’ve got all the shock vs. strut knowledge in your back pocket and you never know when it’s going to come in handy. Check out our other Quickademy videos on shocks to find out more about what damages them, and even how to test them! 

Find out about our current shock absorber offers.

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