Are Shocks, Suspension, and Struts the Same Thing?

Your vehicle’s suspension ensures your tires remain connected to the highway even over bumpy terrain. Your car must be able to steer in the direction you need it to go on a bumpy road, and reducing those bumps makes a ride more pleasant. Shocks and struts are vital components of your suspension system.


There are defining differences between suspension, shocks, and struts.


The word suspension denotes the overall system in a vehicle that makes for a pleasant and comfortable ride (along with good tunes and friends.) 

  • If you’ve ever sat in an older vehicle that hasn’t had its suspension maintained, it is incredible to realize how much we take it for granted. 
  • The two types of major movementdamping parts associated with the suspension system are shock absorbers and struts. All wheels have either struts or shock absorbers, but never both. 
  • For instance, there may be struts on the front of your vehicle and shocks on the rear wheels. Lesser components called control arms, ball joints, and springs round out the entirety of the suspension system. See our suspension page here.


Shocks is the one-word version of its proper term, shock absorbers. 

  • Most vehicles have four shock absorbers, one for each wheel. 
  • The vehicle’s kinetic energy is lessened by the amount of hydraulic fluid that is allowed through the shock absorbers’ pistons. 
  • By limiting the amount of fluid through the piston, you’ll feel less road bounce, acceleration squat, and brake dive, which would otherwise cause uncomfortable movement of your vehicle on rough roads during accelerating, and braking. 
  • Shocks should be replaced as a set of four. However, sometimes changing them out in pairs, front or rear, is done. 


Struts, unlike shock absorbers, are major structural parts of the vehicle’s suspension system. 

  • They are a connection point between the wheel and the vehicle’s body.
  • They are mounted on the front end of a body frame of most front-wheel-drive vehicles and other drive configurations.
  • The main purpose of struts is to sustain the vehicle’s weight while absorbing rough terrain impacts.
  • Struts’ coil springs support the weight, height, and stability, while shock absorbers dampen vibrations. Struts serve various operations of your vehicle while shock absorbers serve mostly one purpose.
  • Struts use two types of design, the coil over strut and the air strut, depending on the model of your vehicle. 


Your tires will wear more quickly, your car will handle (or react) more poorly to your steering, and your brake performance can be affected if the components making up your vehicle’s suspension are weakened, old, or damaged.

Come in for a periodic inspection of your struts and shocks. Call us or request an appointment online.  

Hanford’s Tire & Service has been serving the London area since 1986. Read our satisfied customer reviews here.


Please drop into one of our two locations for fair and honest assessments of all of your vehicle concerns.