The Differences Between Shocks, Springs and Struts

by Dustin WalkerUpdated July 11, 2023
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Shocks, springs, and struts are essential components of a vehicle's suspension system, working together to provide a smooth and comfortable ride while minimizing the impact of bumps and uneven road surfaces. Each component has specific characteristics and functions that contribute to the overall performance of the car's suspension. Let's explore the differences between these components and their roles in enhancing the car's performance.


Shocks, also known as shock absorbers, are designed to minimize the impact experienced while driving over rough terrain or encountering potholes. They utilize a combination of hydraulic damping and structural components to absorb the energy generated by these road irregularities. They consist of a column filled with hydraulic fluid and a piston. As the vehicle encounters bumps, the fluid within the shock absorbers absorbs the impact and provides a smoother ride for passengers. Shocks work in conjunction with other suspension components, such as coil springs, to ensure that the tires maintain contact with the road at all times and to provide optimal ride quality. They are found in all cars and can be filled with hydraulic fluid, air, or pressurized nitrogen gas.


Springs (aka coil springs) on the other hand, are coiled components that primarily absorb vertical impact. They are a fundamental part of the suspension system, and they differ from shocks in design and function. Composed of a large metal rod shaped into a helix, these coiled springs are capable of absorbing substantial amounts of energy and distributing the weight of the vehicle evenly across the suspension. However, they are less effective at handling smaller impacts. If a vehicle relied solely on springs without shock absorbers, the ride would be extremely uncomfortable due to the inability to absorb minor bumps. Springs are commonly integrated into all suspension systems to complement the shock absorbers.

Coil springs can be complemented with coilovers, which are adjustable shock absorbers integrated with coil springs. Coilovers allow for fine-tuning of the suspension system to suit different driving conditions and preferences.


Struts are a specific type of suspension system commonly found in many cars. They are a combination of a shock absorber and a structural component known as a steering knuckle, and they provide support and stability to the suspension while allowing the wheels to turn in response to steering input. Struts are essential for maintaining precise handling and ride quality. They often incorporate other components, such as ball joints and upper control arms, to enhance suspension performance. MacPherson struts are the most prevalent form of strut suspension, utilizing a shock absorber as the steering pivot. This design allows the strut to rotate along with the steering wheel, providing turning capability to the wheels. Struts are often more expensive than other suspension configurations due to their added functionalities.

In summary, shocks, springs, and struts are integral parts of a vehicle's suspension system. They absorb the impact from road obstructions, like potholes, and contribute to a comfortable, stable ride.

Shock absorbers‌ work in tandem with springs to provide a comfortable ride by dampening impacts, while springs absorb vertical energy.

Struts‌, on the other hand, serve as a specific type of suspension system that combines the functions of a shock absorber and steering pivot.

Springs‌ are designed to support the vehicle and cushion the ride when the vehicle strikes objects in the road. The shock absorbers (also known as struts) limit the vertical travel or motion from the springs along with absorbing or

Proper selection and maintenance of these components are crucial for achieving a smooth ride and optimal suspension performance.

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