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What is the Difference Between Shocks and Struts?

You've most likely seen shocks and struts talked about interchangeably. While they do perform the same function, the difference comes in their design. Similar to how a car and truck serve the purpose of transport, they have different shapes and constructions immediately telling you they aren't the same thing.

Every Vehicle Has Struts or Shocks

The four corners of your vehicle all need suspension support attached to the tires to give you a smooth ride and take some strain off the chassis. Often you'll find struts on the front with shocks on the back instead. It's also common for struts to be used with vehicles that have no upper control arm. Independent or solid axle-based suspension systems will use shock absorbers.

The Difference Is Small But Important

Shock Absorbers

There are three types of shock absorbers used today. You have mono-tube, dual, and coil-over shocks. Each one is set up to handle the impact of the road differently depending on the type of vehicle it's installed on.

Mono-tube shocks are the go-to option and use a steel tube with a rod and piston that rely on a pressurized gas to absorb the shock, slowly going back into position to prepare for the next bump.

Dual shock work similarly but instead has two smaller tubes using a fluid rather than compressed gas for absorption. Coil-over shocks are the most noticeable as they will sport the, often red, coil wrapped around the shock itself.


Since struts don't tend to have any assistance from other suspension parts, they are less stiff than shocks for a larger range of impacts it can handle. The MacPherson strut is the industry standard as it takes one less step during installation by combining the spring and strut into one component.

Vehicles with compressed suspension travel, meaning the distance the tire and body can move away from the suspension is minimal, will utilize struts thanks to the smaller form factor provided.

Whether you have struts or shocks, original or aftermarket, give us a call with any shock or strut work and our auto repair shop can get you back on the road riding in style!