CHARLOTTE – Shocks are designed to help control impact, rebound and body roll. They are energy dampeners. They work in conjunction with the vehicle’s springs, but the two aren’t integrated parts. They are a simple piston-based system. They do not bear weight. They simply prevent your car from going bouncy-bouncy.
Struts, on the other hand, are a complete unit. They are a shock absorber complete with a damping unit and a spring. They take the place of an upper control arm, upper ball joint, spring and shock. These units are more expensive to replace, but they are lighter, more compact and allow for each wheel to have independent suspension (meaning each wheel can react independently based on the bumps it encounters, versus the both wheels having to react.)
Most cars and SUVs today come with struts on all four wheels. The benefit of struts over shocks is an easy way to make a car feel more comfortable and “premium.” Also, as the units have become more common, the cost differential between struts vs. shocks is not as big as it was in years past. Pickup trucks, however, still use shock absorbers in at least the rear, because pickups still use leaf spring suspension in the back under the bed.
Ultimately, what is most important is proper maintenance. Keeping these components in good shape is what matters for a safe, comfortable ride.
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