Shocks VS Struts – What’re the Major Differences?

Not many people even consider these two parts to be different. In fact, people usually think these both are interchangeable. I'm talking about shocks and struts. There are some basic common jobs that both have to participate in for the smooth running of your vehicle.

But that does not make two different components the same completely. And today in this shocks vs struts discussion, I'm planning to talk about that specifically. Because when you need to replace one, there's no way you'll be getting the other thing for taking its place. And knowing the obvious difference is important that's why.

We'll explore the Complete Strut Assembly as well as shock assembly if necessary. Let's get things started.

shocks vs struts

Difference Between Shocks And Shock Absorbers

From definition to more on their difference in responsibilities, I'll try to explain all the basic but crucial areas to draw mark between both of these parts.

Basic Introduction to Shocks & Struts.

Starting with shocks, this one is also known as a shock absorber. Some people thing both are different and try to look for the difference between shocks and shock absorbers. Anyways, so the main job of this part or device is to dampen energy.

In the case of a vehicle, it basically reduces any road or ground-provided feedback that gets to vehicle. There should be a shock that will keep the vehicle's tires planted on the ground as soon as energy from road hits those tires. To keep the body roll in control.

If this part is absent, then the truck or car will bounce on surface of road. And there will be vibration whenever you hit the rough roads.

Now struts also work for road force diminishing. But it has a second job as well. The vehicle weight usually stays on coil springs. And the struts are responsible for holding these springs. It's one of the integral parts of vehicle suspension. Without the mechanism, whole vehicle will basically deal with immobility.

From the introduction, we can say that most prominent difference between both of these is the fact that one is a complete structural part of suspension system of a vehicle, while other is not. However, for the right comfort and safety, both shocks and struts are two different parts that are equally necessary.

In Terms of The Structural Difference.

By now, you should have already acknowledged that the most prominent difference between shocks and struts is their structural distinction.

Shock absorbers have the extension and compression cycle thing going on. And so, it focuses mainly on reducing roll rate. In simple terms, it terminates any chance of brake dive as well as acceleration squat. Plus, the bounce effect occurs while driving.

You can pretty much consider them to be a stand-alone component. And you can also allow a torsion bar to be in pair with it for additional work. Also, it pairs well with coil and leaf springs. The pricing is also pretty less compared to struts.

On the other hand, we have the car struts that are also a structural part but of suspension system. You can pretty much consider it to take the role of upper control arm as well as an upper ball joint. This is when we are talking about the conventional style suspensions.

Also, every single strut needs to be integrated in an assembly. And that's with the coil springs of suspension. So, these serve dual purposes that make them a bit expensive.

Meanwhile, struts act as a structural part of the suspension system. They take the place of upper ball joint and upper control arm in conventional suspensions. Each strut is integrated into an assembly with one of the suspension coils springs.

How They Differ Performance- Wise?

If we talk about the typical way a strut is constructed, then there's a coil spring, housing with a damping unit, and a strong support structure for assembly. Basically, all of these combinedly work for controlling the spring and helping with suspension movement. The steering knuckle connects to strut body bottom part. While that knuckle attaches through the lower ball joint to lower control arm.

While the work style of shock absorber includes fluid displacement. And it happens on extension and compression cycles. During the extension cycle, car or light truck will have better resistance. The sprung weight is heavy during this cycle. While there's a better motion control of unsprung weight when in the compression cycle.

This is the main reason why shock absorbers are so good at adjusting to road conditions and reduce all those stability-related issues.

Replacement Costs Will Vary Because of Angles.

The strut is one of the most vital suspension system parts that has a direct relation with camber and caster angles. Depending on the position of struts, these angles can be modified or changed. Keep in mind, the part plays an important role in maintaining a connection as well as a pivot point with steering mechanism.

So, if we compare shocks and struts replacement cases, with strut you must prioritize wheel alignment and pay for it. And so, you will be spending more than when it's about changing the shocks.

Keep in mind, you can never replace a strut with a shock and opt for a strut in place of a shock.

To replace your struts pair, you'll be spending somewhere between 400-900 dollars. While for a single strut you can expect the cost to be 280 to 600 dollars. And this includes the labor cost as well. For a pair of shocks replacement, expect the cost to be between 250-600 dollars.

Ease of Use Is Better with Shocks.

If I have to give scores on the basis of a smooth ride and better handling, then it's going to be the shock absorber earning my marks. These are typically easy to use and at the same time are capable of giving you a smooth riding experience without additional pressure. One of the many reasons, some car owners, have a forever preference for shock absorbers.

In Terms of Value, Expensive Struts Are Still Better.

So, we just found out that shock absorbers are easier to handle and give a better ride experience. But struts, are also not absolutely hated. In fact, for overall value, struts are much better than shock absorbers.

You may ask why? Because they basically serve you with double functions. We already talked about the dual purpose it serves. And so, the cost being a bit more still seems to justify if you consider dual functions of struts. So, even if it's expensive compared to shock absorbers, you're still getting a better value factor with struts.

Wrap Up 

Are you still confused about the differences between shocks vs struts? Hopefully not. It's also partially true that both of these elements do share some common jobs or responsibilities for a vehicle. And so, it is quite obvious that someone can get confused over both thinking they are the same.

Hopefully, after going through all the factors where both of these slightly or completely stand opposite to each other, you now know things better than before. I'll See You in The Next Topic, Bye!

About Jeremy

Hello! My name is Jeremy Bloomberg. I have been passionate about carpentry and DIY. Over the years, my passion slowly turned into expertise and wider knowledge about electronics. I’ve been involved in numerous projects, both professional and personal. I want to share all I have learned with you. Welcome!

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