A shock and a strut do the same basic job on a vehicle, tire control and controlling vehicle body motion. Shocks and struts improve road feel and handling properties, as well as improving ride quality. Even though they do the same thing, shocks and struts are completely different parts.
A vehicle will have either a shock or a strut at each wheel, never both. Although some vehicles may have shocks on two wheels and struts on the other two wheels.
The major difference between shocks and struts is that a strut is a structural part of the vehicle’s suspension system where a shock is not. A strut is also crucial part of the vehicle’s steering system and greatly affects alignment angles.
Replacing Shocks and Struts
Shocks and struts are strong enough to take a lot of punishment without getting damaged. But eventually after tens of thousands of miles, these suspension and ride control components will wear out. Symptoms of bad shocks or struts include:
- Badly cupped tires and/or noticeable tire shaking, wheel shimmy or vibration after hitting a bump.
- Suspension bottoming on rough roads or when backing out of a driveway.
- A bouncy ride.
- Body sway or rocking when cornering or driving in strong crosswinds.
- Nose dive when braking hard.
- Fluid leaking from a strut or shock.
Determining how long shocks and struts last is difficult because it depends on the road conditions and how the vehicle is driven. Driving on smooth roads will cause much less wear than driving on roads with lots of bumps and potholes. Some aftermarket manufacturers say 50,000 miles is the limit for shocks in average driving conditions.
The traditional bounce test is a good way to assess the condition of your shocks or struts. Rock the vehicle several times then stop. If the vehicle continues to rock for more than one or two times, then you need to consider replacing these components.
Shocks and struts should be replaced in pairs. Don’t forget to realign the wheels after replacing the struts.
Have Questions Regarding Your Vehicle’s Handling?
If you suspect your shocks or struts are not doing their job, bring your vehicle by Beck’s Auto Center and we’ll help you determine if new shocks or struts are needed.