For all that vehicles are “four wheels and an engine” most of the time, it’s pretty hard to understand them through all the grease these days. That’s why it’s important to know what, and when, to service parts of your vehicle – which also means knowing the names of parts, what they do, and what they should not be doing to create strange noises or travel bumps in your car.
With that in mind, let me ask you a question: do you know the difference between shocks and struts in your vehicle? Do you know what their primary functions are and the things that you should be looking out for prior to servicing them? For someone who isn’t very familiar with vehicles and their inner workings, these questions almost feel like they’re in a different language! But don’t worry, because those questions can be answered here and now for you before you even have to take your car to get its next oil change.
What Are They? What Do They Do?
To start, shocks are shock absorbers in a car, designed to prevent bouncing and make your ride smooth as butter despite any road problems like debris, potholes, or even some more natural shifts of the earth that sometimes put a road off-center. They can get wear and tear easily because of their exposure to the aforementioned dirty roads, but they can be checked on at home if you’re careful about taking the shock absorber apart and have a good car jack! Even repairs and minor replacements of damaged portions can be done from the comfort of your garage! Try to keep in mind that shock absorbers, when fiddled with too much, even for repairs, can cause wheel alignment issues. Luckily, almost every service center does complimentary wheel alignments, and they barely take half an hour, if that!
Struts, on the other hand, are a little more complicated. They’re a part of what keeps a vehicles suspension in place, arguably making them even more important than shock absorbers! And while they do have an effect on the level of driving comfort you have, struts can also change a car’s steering and vehicle control, braking, wheel alignment, and even create more wear than average on other parts of the suspension system – like the front tires. Struts should only be replaced by professionals due to the delicate nature of the suspension in a car and the great amount of tension the coil springs hold in that area. Rest assured; service centers like Oil Line Automotive here in Hastings, MN are well-equipped to handle the replacement of such delicate parts of your vital vehicle, and will be able to answer additional questions that you have as they go!
The cost of struts is roughly double that of shock absorbers, which are commonly between $100-200 for every pair of shock absorbers. This would make strut replacement parts cost an average of $300.
What are the Signs of Bad Shocks and Struts?
The most obvious sign that your shocks need to be repaired or replaced is that your ride isn’t as smooth. Bouncing and some turning trouble – from the steering wheel, though there have been times that cars have seemed to “drift” a little on safe, common turns as well – are the most frequent and noticeable signs of shock absorber wear and breakage that requires replacement. Issues with braking in a timely manner are a major indicator of bad struts. In addition, struts tend to make a clunk or clanging noise when going over construction bumps or potholes – unlike shock absorbers, struts are rather solid and therefore make noticeable sounds in the area of the front or rear tires to alert you to trouble.
Both shocks and struts can cause wheel alignment issues as they experience wear and tear to the point of needing replacement, and often an alignment is need for a vehicle after these particular items are repaired or replaced. It is also worth mentioning that shocks and struts should be replaced in pairs at a minimum to ensure your driving remains silky smooth and secure as much as possible.
There is nothing worse than realizing you’ve accidentally gotten yourself into a tight spot with your vehicle in need of repair and you lacking in time. Just know that Oil Line Automotive is ready to take your vehicle any time, and will treat you and your car with the utmost respect and care while repairing and replacing your shocks and struts – which you hopefully have learned plenty about and feel ready to drive with from today onward!