What are Shocks and Struts?

Shocks and Struts

Car shocks and car struts will both require maintenance eventually, and you may find yourself wondering what’s the difference? Both are key components to your suspension system helping to ensure that you have a smooth ride. Your local Southern California car care experts are here to explain the difference between the two, and why it matters.

Shocks and struts are both key components used in various types of suspension systems. While they may look very similar and be used in the same place, they are quite different. Both shocks and struts are designed to absorb the impact of your vehicle bouncing along uneven streets, speed bumps, or dirt and gravel roads. However, shocks are a basic form of shock absorption, and struts are more sophisticated in design.


Shocks, which are sometimes called shock absorbers, only have one goal of minimizing bouncing while driving. It’s there to damper the amount of force absorbed by the car’s springs, and limit suspension movement. Shocks are chambers or pistons with fluid or gas inside, which compress and move through the shock when the vehicle bounces up and down. It is the compression and movement of the fluid or gas inside that absorbs the impact from each bounce, minimizing what is felt by the driver and passenger inside.


Struts are a compact component that combines a shock, spring, and structural support for the suspension. You will see a spring attached to two mounting plates, with a shock in the middle. By combining these components into one piece, struts save weight and space in an already tight space. Struts are very often used in modern independent suspensions, and are considered to be somewhat upscale.

Main Differences

The main difference between a strut and a shock absorber is that your shocks will not provide structural support for the suspension. Struts are used in place of components like ball joints and control arms, unlike shocks that need suspension components to achieve the same goals. Struts tend to be the more expensive option, and provide better handling, ride comfort, and overall control.

Signs of Issues

Eventually, shocks and struts may need servicing. Shocks are likely to wear out faster than struts, but it all depends on how and where the vehicle is driven. There are a few telltale signs that your car’s shocks or struts are in need of servicing.

    • Excess noise during a bump
  • Vehicle bounces up and down more than 3 times
  • Vehicle is bouncing higher than usual
  • Excess body roll (tilting during a turn)
    • Cupping on your tires
    • Suspension bottoming out
  • Nose dives during a hard stop

Knowing when your car maintenance needs to include your struts and shocks is one thing. Replacing these components can be difficult without the right equipment. You can trust your local Southern California Ford Dealers and their car service center for services related to shocks, struts and other suspension needs. Call today to schedule a service appointment.