The Basics of Shocks and Struts

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All vehicles use struts and springs that work together to make your driving experience smoother and more pleasant. These two parts work in synergy, but they actually have two different functions. The springs support the weight of your vehicle and give extra cushion to the ride as they prevent jolts when you drive over rough terrain or potholes. Shocks help to limit the vertical motion from the springs and help to absorb any excess impact from the road. Read on to learn more about the difference between shocks and struts.

Shocks or Shock Absorbers

You’ll find most shocks mounted between the upper and lower control arms in front and in between the axle and rear frame of the vehicle. A valve in the shock absorber helps create a stiff resistance. This resistance works to fight any upward motion, and it works to support the weight of the vehicle to keep you comfortable as you drive. A mono-tube shock absorber is made of a durable steel tube that holds a rod and piston. The piston compresses gas and it reacts to any bumps in the road.

Twin-tubing shocks include a pair of telescoping tubes that contain hydraulic fluid. This fluid is dispersed to other areas as the piston begins to move up and down. Front shocks and sometimes rear shocks use a coil-over design. This means that the shock is mounted directly inside of the coil spring. When your shocks are in good condition, they will improve road feel and handling. This improved ride quality ensures you feel fewer jolts and bumps on the road.


Most modern vehicles use MacPherson struts, which combines the spring and strut assembly into one piece. This design is extremely popular although there are several vehicles that still use a bare strut without any strings attached to it. It’s very close to what shocks look like except that the strut connects the knuckle and the vehicle. This means that struts are quite different from shocks in both forms and in function. The struts are mounted to the steering knuckle and support the entire body of the vehicle. A small coil spring is attached to the top of the shock-absorbing part of the strut. This results in a smaller component since there’s no upper control arm needed. Struts are also effective at ensuring a smoother ride, but they tend to need more maintenance than shocks.

Remember, for all your vehicle’s maintenance and repair needs, call 610AutoHaus in Pottstown, PA at 610-628-4271!

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