Shock absorbers and struts are parts of the vehicle suspension that absorb shocks from the bumps and potholes and keep your vehicle riding smooth and stable. What is the difference between a shock absorber and a strut?
A strut is the shock absorber built into one unit with the coil spring (in the photo). Any car has four struts/shock absorbers; one at each wheel. Most cars and SUVs have struts in the front suspension and shock absorbers or struts in the back.
Struts and shock absorbers are maintenance-free units. Does this mean that they never have to be replaced? A strut or a shock absorber doesn’t need to be replaced unless there is a problem with it or if you just want to upgrade your ride with new shock absorbers.
The most common problem with shocks and struts is when they start leaking. See this photo: leaking rear shock absorber. Struts and shock absorbers are filled with oil. If during a regular inspection, your mechanic noticed that a strut or shock absorber is leaking, it must be replaced, as it will stop working without a sufficient level of oil. Sometimes a shock absorber may stop functioning even without visible leaks.
What are the symptoms of a bad shock absorber or strut? Symptoms include bounciness and/or knocking when driving over bumps. You may also notice that your car swings up and down more, like a boat. To pinpoint a weak or failed strut or shock absorber, your mechanic may do a quick “bounce test” where each corner of the vehicle is pushed down and quickly released. The corner with the weak shock absorber will keep bouncing up and down longer, while the corner with the good unit will rebound slowly and will not bounce more than twice.
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