What's the Difference Between Shocks and Struts?
Many times, people use the terms shocks and struts interchangeably but they are not synonymous. While both serve to smooth a vehicle's ride and maintain its handling characteristics, they are actually very different. Struts are an integral part of a car's suspension while shocks could be thought of as secondary or add on parts. You can drive a car without shocks, though it might not be a pleasant experience. You cannot drive one without struts.
Shock absorbers act to dampen vibration, improve road feel and handling, and generally just make a vehicle more pleasant to drive. While there have been several advances in shock technology over the last 100 years their basic design has not changed. Three terms you will often discuss when talking about shock absorbers are mono-tube, twin-tube and coil over.
As the name implies, mono-tube shocks are comprised of a single cylinder with a rod extending from one end. The rod is attached to a seal inside the gas-filled shock. When a tire drops it creates a vacuum inside the tube and when a tire rises it compresses the gas. In accordance with the laws of physics as the travel distance increases so does the pressure change. Think of it as squeezing a balloon. This provides a stiffness relative to the load and smooths your ride.
Twin-tube shocks use hydraulic-fluid that is passed from one tube to the other as the shock travels up and down. Since fluid can't be compressed travel rate is controlled by valves between the two tubes. Generally speaking, these shocks are stiffer and more resilient.
Coil-over shock simply means that the shock is mounted inside of the vehicles coil springs. Since very few leaf springs are used anymore these are by far the most common mounting system now used even though they can make auto service and repair more labor intensive.
Struts serve much the same purpose as shocks but rather than just dampening vibration and motion they actually support the vehicle's body and tie it to the suspension. Depending on the particular strut design that your car or truck uses they can have a great impact on its steering geometry. Because of their greater workload and complexity, it normally more expensive to have struts replaced and can intel needing alignment work performed as well.
For suspension repairs of any type in the Belleville, IL area contact Hotz Automotive Services where you get Dealer quality service without the dealership price.