This is a common question that we receive as the terms shock and strut are often used interchangeably. A shock and a strut do the same basic job on a vehicle, damping the movement of the spring and stopping oscillation and bounce. Even though they have the same function, shocks and struts are completely different parts. A shock cannot be used to replace a strut and a strut cannot be used to replace a shock. A vehicle will have either a shock or a strut at each wheel, never both. Every vehicle was designed with either shocks or struts and your vehicle's suspension cannot be changed to use the other.
The major difference between shocks and struts is that a strut is a structural part of the vehicles suspension system, whereas a shock is not.
What is a Strut?
A strut is a crucial part of the vehicle's steering system and greatly affects alignment angles. Camber and caster angles are usually adjusted right on the strut itself. A strut is also a pivot point for the vehicles steering system and contains a coil spring. Because of this an alignment is always needed when replacing a strut. This is also the reason that struts are typically more expensive than shocks. Struts will have mounts, and sometimes boots and bumpstops within the complete strut. When replacing struts, you should always replace your boots and bumpstops. Coil Springs generally last 300,000 miles and rarely have to be replaced. In some vehicles, you may find a complete strut unit, which we will detail below, that will contain a new spring.
What is a Shock?
A Shock Absorber is a part designed to keep your tires on the road. The better quality shock you buy, the more it will keep your vehicle down and riding smoothly. A good shock will reduce wear and tear on all parts of the vehicle. A shock will usually have eyelets on each end, an eyelet and a stem, sometimes even stem to stem or with a post.
A Strut. Note the spring perch that holds the vehicle's coil spring,
making the strut an integral part of the vehicle's suspension.
Shocks and Struts?
People often call in saying they have been told they need shocks and struts. This is usually a friendly neighbor with a less than perfect knowledge of suspensions trying to be helpful. Because the terms are used interchangeably, customers often get confused as to which they need.
Can You Have a Shock and A Strut on the Same Vehicle?
To add to the confusion on shocks vs struts, yes you can have a strut and a shock on the same vehicle. You will find many cars and trucks with Struts on the Front Axle and Shocks on the Rear Axle.
Can I Get a Complete Strut or Quick Strut for My Vehicle?
A less expensive way to replace your strut system is to purchase a complete strut, which is composed of the strut, boot/bumpstop, mounts and a new spring. This saves you time and labor cost and is much safer. BUT please know that you will need to buy a quality complete strut. If you choose this route, that means Monroe Quick Strut, KYB Strut Plus, or Gabriel Ultra Ready Mount Strut.
Shocks vs Struts How Can I Be Sure and How Shockwarehouse Can Help?
If you search for your vehicle on Shockwarehouse, you will only see the correct units for your vehicle - struts if you need struts and shocks if you need shocks.
If you still need assistance, call us at 1-800-245-7469.