What’s the difference between shocks and struts?
First thing’s first. Many people wonder whether their cars have shocks or struts—and what that means. A shock and a strut do basically the same job—they dampen the movement of the spring and stop oscillation and bounce. In other words, they absorb shock and make for a smoother, safer ride.
Although the two words are sometimes used interchangeably, the fact is, your car either has shocks or struts—usually not both. Some vehicles might have struts on the front axle and shocks on the rear, which makes it even more important to remember that a shock cannot used be used to replace a strut, and vice versa. The difference between the two is mechanical – a strut is a structural part of the car’s suspension system, whereas a shock isn’t. A strut is also an important part of the steering system and greatly affects alignment angles. All details aside, if you feel like your shocks and struts are wearing out, your mechanic will know exactly what you need. Here are some signs that your shocks and struts need to be replaced.
Four Symptoms of Worn Shocks and Struts
1. Excessive nosedive when braking or sway while driving
Shocks help your vehicle stop up to 10 feet sooner at 60 mph, plus they help stabilize your vehicle by helping tires maintain contact with the road. If you notice either your vehicle’s nose dropping when braking or feel an excessive sway while driving, it may be time to have your shocks and struts checked.
2. Poor steering response
Struts are an integral structural support component for your vehicle's suspension. As such, they bear much of the side-load placed on the vehicle's suspension system, affecting riding comfort and handling. If you notice poor steering response, it may be time to have your struts examined.
3. Excessive bounce after road impact
Shocks and struts both act as an energy absorber by creating resistance to forces generated by the up and down motion of your vehicle's suspension. If you notice your vehicle bounces excessively after hitting a bump in the road, it’s probably time for a checkup.
4. Leaking fluids
If hydraulic fluid is leaking from your shocks or struts, it's definitely time to get them checked out.
Once you've determined you need to replace your shocks or struts, make sure to ask your mechanic the following questions:
- Does my car have shocks or struts?
As we mentioned before, struts are an important structural component of your vehicle, whereas shocks are simply one part of your vehicle's suspension system. Struts are usually more expensive, so be sure to ask your mechanic which you have so you are more prepared for the price estimate.
- Can you perform an alignment check after changing my shocks and struts?
Because struts are an important structural component of your vehicle's suspension system, it's always best to have your alignment checked after a shock or strut installation. At Sears Auto Center, we offer a free alignment check with every visit, as well as a free multi-point inspection to check other important aspects of your vehicle, like fluid levels, battery, battery cables, air filter, belts and hoses, and more. Plus, using top-of-the-line Hunter Alignment technology, we can diagnose a misalignment in 90 seconds.
- Can you perform a free multi-point inspection?
Have the mechanic perform a multi-point inspection to make sure all other elements of your vehicle are in top shape. Worn-out shocks and struts can often cause premature tire wear, so be sure to have your tire pressure and tread wear checked.
At Sears Auto Center, we recommend having your shocks and struts checked regularly, as well as a complete chassis examination every 12,000 miles. If you think your shocks or struts might need to be replaced, schedule an appointment at your Sears Auto Center today!