That’s a very good question. Often times the terms shocks and struts are used interchangeably so we tend to think of them as the same part. Even though they perform the same function, absorbing the bounce from rough surfaces, they are two separate parts on your vehicle.
Vehicles before the early 1980’s were rear-wheel drive and had 2 shocks in the front and 2 in the back. With the development of front-wheel drive vehicles (starting in 1983/1984) the front shocks were replaced by struts.
The struts are a vital part of your vehicle’s suspension, and connect the wheels to the body of the car. They can be attached to both the front and the rear wheels, and they feature shock absorbers and coil springs.
The shock absorbers are cylinders filled with gas or liquid, and a piston. When the wheels experience impact from the road, the shock that the car feels is limited by the shock absorbers, as the piston moves in the cylinder, and is met with resistance by the liquid or gas.
The coil springs further serve to reduce the amount of shock that the body of the car is subject to. When the struts are damaged, loose, or stuck, your car is subject to the full force and impact of the road. This causes the car to bounce and sway as it loses contact with the road.
As you can see struts and shocks are important parts to your vehicle’s safety. When you notice your vehicle bouncing more than usual, it’s time to set up an appointment with your trusted service mechanic.
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