Does My Car Use Shocks or Struts?
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 17, 2012)
Shocks or struts are found on every single four wheel vehicle under the sun, and in fact are a fairly integral part of how well they operate. Just about everyone has ridden in a vehicle with bad struts or shocks at some point, and knows what that feels like. But do you know how to tell if your vehicle has shocks or if it has strut? Well it's not all that difficult, so keep reading to find out how you tell the difference, as well as learning some more important information about these automotive parts.
- Purpose. Many car owners would tell you that the only real purpose of the shocks or struts on a car is to help cushion the ride that is experienced. In fact, while this is one of more noticeable results, it is still only one of the results. In fact, the purpose of both struts and shocks is to control the excessive spring motion that vehicles experience. This doesn't just mean the up and down feeling that people experience, but also the side to side motion as well. This being said these items are also important to the general handling and alignment of the vehicle as well.
- Difference. The main difference between shock absorbers and struts is the general appearance, and how they are designed. For example, shock absorbers often have the appearance of a spring or even pneumatic pump that is standing upright. A strut is usually installed horizontally, and frankly looks like they are simply an extension of the wheel itself.
- Average life length. Generally speaking, these vital parts have an average life of about 50,000 miles, so you won't have to replace them all that often. However, there are a few things that can help reduce the general effectiveness of these automotive parts. One of the most common reasons is that there has been some kind of damage to either a seal or the part itself, and the lubricant is leaking in some way.
- When to replace. Perhaps the most traditional method for checking if you need to replace shocks or struts is by doing what is called a bounce test. Simply put a bounce test is when you push down on each corner of your bumper and then check to see how it reacts. If your car bounces more than twice, you should probably change them. Other indications are if there are any pull on the steering, excessive vibrations felt while driving, uneven wear on the tires, and excessive dipping when accelerating and breaking.