Posted under Car Suspension

Shocks vs. struts? What’s that? A battle of the bands? A heavyweight boxing match?

Shocks and struts are essential components of your car’s suspension system. The suspension system smooths the ride and makes the car easier to handle by:

  • Maximizing the friction between the tires and the road, thereby minimizing jolts and bumps.
  • Maintaining the relationship between the wheels and the car body to provide steering stability and good handling.

To perform properly and keep you rolling along, the suspension system needs shocks and/or struts. So that brings us back to shocks vs. struts. What’s the difference between shocks and struts? Are shocks and struts the same thing?

SHOCKS AND STRUTS PERFORM THE SAME FUNCTION, BUT THEY ARE NOT IDENTICAL

  • Shocks (aka shock absorbers) typically consist of a piston, a cylinder and fluid. When you hit a bump, the shock enables your suspension to absorb the impact and then recover, so you don’t feel it as much.
  • Struts are commonly used in four-wheel-drive vehicles. With their more complex design, struts integrate different parts — including a spring and shock absorbers — into one compact, efficient unit. Like shocks, struts help your vehicle hold the road so you won’t feel bumps as much. A strut assembly is often installed to replace one or more standard suspension components.

Sometimes when you read articles about the suspension system, or hear mechanics talk about shocks vs. struts, the subject of springs may come up. Springs and shock/struts work together. A spring — whether it’s a coil, leaf, air, or torsion bar — holds the car at the desired height, while shocks and struts dampen the oscillations — or ups and downs — of the springs.

Coilovers are also a popular topic. What is a coilover, and does it have anything to do with the difference between shocks and struts?

A coilover can be used with both shocks and struts. Simply put, it’s a spring attached to the outside of the shock or strut. Coilovers are often added to adjust the car’s ride height and spring rate, which can have an impact on the quality of your ride. Typically, a lower height and spring rate results in a stiff suspension and a harsher ride. 

Here’s where shocks vs. struts doesn’t matter: Over time, they both wear out. It just stands to reason. Every time you drive your vehicle, the elements of your suspension system are in constant motion. No wonder the components experience wear and tear! Typically, shock/strut manufacturers (and some car manufacturers) recommend service at or around 50,000 miles. You should refer to your owner’s manual for the specific schedule for your vehicle. No manual? No problem! Jiffy Lube technicians can access your car’s specific maintenance schedule, as well as the recommended procedures.

Worn shocks and struts can affect the ride, handling, and safety of your car. So even if you’re between scheduled maintenance visits, don't ignore the telltale signs of suspension trouble, including:

  • A persistent rattle that may get worse after hitting a bump
  • A very bumpy ride, marked by bouncing and vibrations
  • The vehicle pulling to one side
  • A momentary loss of control, especially when coming out of a turn
  • Uneven tire wear

WHEN SOMETHING IS THIS IMPORTANT, TURN TO JIFFY LUBE

As soon as you suspect there’s an issue, bring your vehicle in. A trained Jiffy Lube technician will:

  1. Ask about your driving style. Finding out if you have been carryingjiffy lube employee propping up hood to examine vehicle heavy cargo or perhaps towing a trailer or boat can help the Jiffy Lube technician isolate the problem.
  2. Inquire about where you have driven lately. Road construction, potholes and ditches can all be very hard on the suspension system.
  3. Visually inspect your vehicle’s suspension system. Standard with every Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change, it can also be done as a standalone service.
  4. Perform further diagnostic tests, if necessary. This will only occur after the Jiffy Lube technician explains why these tests are needed and you give your approval.
  5. Examine key components. Shocks, struts, ball joints and springs are among the parts that may need to be replaced. You can rest assured that any new parts will meet or exceed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) recommendations.
  6. Provide a written estimate of any recommended work. The Jiffy Lube technician will welcome your questions and wait for your approval before the work is done.

COMMITTED TO YOUR COMFORT AND SAFETY

Whenever you visit one of the 2,000 Jiffy Lube locations across North America, you’ll be in capable hands. Keeping your car, truck, minivan or SUV on the road and running smooth is our job.

READ MORE ABOUT IT

Surprised to learn that a visual check of your suspension is part of the Jiffy Lube Signature Service Oil Change? It’s more than the standard oil change you’ll get elsewhere. Find out all that’s included here.

Return to this Tips in a Jiffy blog often for pro tips. Informative content is added regularly.

Please note: Not all Jiffy Lube service centers offer suspension services. Please call ahead or check jiffylube.com to ensure the service is available.