This is a question we get a lot. Many people believe that struts and shocks can be used interchangeably, but that just simply is not the case. Hopefully this blog will be able to inform you on the uses for both shocks and struts, when they need service, and why.
What is a Shock and What is a Strut?
Shocks and struts work similarly and both accomplish the same goal. They dampen the movement of the spring and stop bouncing and oscillation.
Having said this, it is important to note that shocks and struts are completely different parts, and are not interchangeable. Think of it like the difference between gasoline and diesel engines. They both do the same thing, propel a car, they just do it differently.
Can a Car Have Both Shocks and Struts?
Yes. While most cars will typically have one or the other, some have both. These vehicles commonly have struts in the front and shocks in the rear.
How Do I Know if I Have Struts or Shocks?
The only sure way to know would be to look under your vehicle. A shock will be vertical and look like similar to an air pump. Struts will be horizontal and will look like an extension of the wheel.
When Should I Check my Struts or Shocks?
Every time you service your vehicle, you should have your mechanic inspect the suspension system. However, there are some things you can look out for on your own. These include:
- Poor Ride Quality – Meaning your car is bouncier and bumps more than usual. This is a sign of a damaged suspension system.
- Nose Diving – Your car lurches forward and the front points towards the ground. This could mean your shocks or struts are faulty.
- Body Roll – Body roll refers to the overall feel of your car, how much the body is shifting. When you turn, it will feel like the body of your car is shifting as well.
- Squats – A squat happens when you go to accelerate. Your shocks or struts should be able to compensate as you accelerate, but might not if they’re faulty, resulting in your car lifting into the air.
- Visible Damage – If you’re ever inspecting your shocks or struts and see any dents or cuts, that could be serious damage, as the hydraulic fluid can leak out. Have your car serviced immediately.
If you feel like your car is suffering from any of these problems, or something just doesn’t seem right, it’s probably best to have your vehicle serviced. A damaged shock or strut can be a big safety hazard, so it’s better to play it on the safe side. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle, give us at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions a call today at (301-662-5100).