Informational Guide

Strut Vs Shock Vs Coilover

In this guide, we discuss the different types of shock absorbers such as strut vs shock vs coilover.

The strut, shock, and coilover are all vital parts of the suspension system. However, while all of these components are part of the same system, they each have a different role. In this guide, we will discuss the differences of the strut vs shock vs coilover, so you gain a better understanding.

Struts are responsible for holding the weight of the vehicle in whatever corner they are mounted. The struts allow the vehicle to move up and down along with the road. Inside the strut assembly, you will find shocks with a coil spring around them. In general, the car struts will last between 60,000 and 80,000 miles.  

Perform Shock-Damping Function  

Struts provide a shock-damping function, similar to what is found with the shock absorber. A piston attaches to the piston rod's end, working against the hydraulic fluid to control movement from the suspension and spring. With each bump or road imperfection, the strut dampens the movement.  

Provide Structural Support For Suspension

The struts provide structural support to the vehicle. Because the strut needs to hold the weight, it will dramatically affect the handling and ride comfort of the vehicle. It also plays a part in steering, braking, control, and wear to the tires.  

car strut diagram

What Is A Car Shock & What Does It Do? 

The shocks control how fast the suspension compresses. When the car is at rest, the shocks perform no tasks because they do not bear the vehicle's weight. It is only when handling the road imperfections that the shocks go to work, providing damping force against the bumps. A vehicle can be equipped with two or four shocks, which should last for at least 50,000 to 100,000 miles. 

Limit Vehicle Body Movement

The shocks minimize the sway or body movement of the vehicle. As the vehicle moves up and down or side to side with the road, the shocks keep all of the motion in check for a smoother ride.  

Stabilize Vehicle Ride 

Depending on what type of road you are driving on, the surface can change condition very quickly. If you were to move from a smooth surface to a bumpy, unpaved area, the shocks would control the body movement to make the transition a little less rough. They also provide stabilization while taking turns.  

Stabilize Vehicle Tires 

The shocks offer stabilizing force to the tire they are paired with. With the vehicle kept from bouncing or hopping across uneven terrain, the tires remain planted firmly on the ground where they belong. This is also a reason that handling is maintained.  

Minimize Tire Wear 

Because the tires are stabilized and riding across the ground as intended, there is less tread wear. If the shocks are in good condition and the vehicle is aligned, you can expect the tires to wear slower than those with suspension and alignment issues.  

Reduce Overall Suspension Wear

The shock absorber is one vital part of the suspension system, but there are other components at play. When the shock absorber works as it should, the other parts remain in better condition. In fact, the condition of the shock has a lot to do with the coil springs, struts, and leaf springs on a vehicle.

What Is a Car Coilover & What Does It Do?

Sometimes the strut is confused for a coilover, but these two parts are different. The coilover is over top of the shock. It offers some adjustability with the ride height and dampening. Coilovers are often used in high-performance models where suspension control is critical and aren't often provided as an OEM option in budget-conscious vehicles.  

Prevent Chassis From Bottoming Out 

The coilover can allow for a lower ride to a vehicle. However, the unique design can also help prevent bottoming out in some situations. With the adjustability, it's easy to set the ride height at the perfect spot.  

Support Wheels On Vehicle 

By maintaining the perfect amount of damping force for bumps, the tires stay firmly planted to the road at all times. Without this bounce, the coilovers can keep the tires from wearing prematurely or in an uneven manner.  

Reduce Body Roll When Taking Turns

With more ability to handle the imperfections of the road, the drive is much smoother. There is less body roll during a turn, even if it is taken at higher speeds. This is one of the reasons that high-performance drivers prefer coilovers.  

Reduce Squatting When Accelerating

In a car with a bad suspension, it's common to see squatting when stepping on the accelerator. However, coilovers help to prevent this by balancing out the suspension force evenly. You can step on the gas pedal, and the car will remain balanced.  

Reduce Diving When Decelerating 

On the other hand, the coilover also helps to reduce diving while braking or letting off of the gas. You should notice less of the front moving towards the ground when power is reeled in when the vehicle is equipped with coilover shocks.  

car coilover

Strut Vs Shock Vs Coilover: Key Differences Explained

As we look at shocks and struts vs coilovers, we must determine what most cars have. In general, the lower-cost models are going to come with OEM struts on all four wheels. However, luxury and high-end vehicles, like trucks, might include some shocks for a better ride. Most often, coilovers are added as an aftermarket accessory, although they are available on some high-performance vehicles. 

In the same regard, you will see the price change with the coilover shocks vs struts. Struts are generally the least expensive option, with shocks coming in second and coilovers topping the charts.  

Performance is also a factor worth looking at with coilovers vs. shocks and struts. The strut provides the least amount of performance and isn't adjustable. However, high-performance shocks and most coilovers are adjustable for a better ride quality. 

The similarity of coilovers vs. struts and shocks is that any one of these can lead to further damage of the tires or suspension system when they fail. It doesn't matter if the car has coilover shocks vs. struts; any damage must be repaired or replaced to avoid further issues with the vehicle. That's why it's important to watch for signs of failure and seek help from a mechanic when necessary.  

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are coilovers better than shocks and struts? 

If handling is paramount to you, then the coilover is going to be the best option. These suspension parts are used in high-performance vehicles because they provide the best experience and are adjustable.  

Are coilovers good for daily driving? 

If you are simply commuting to work, there is no reason to install coilovers. In fact, when used on smooth terrain, the coilovers can create a stiff ride that is less enjoyable to some drivers.  

What noise does a bad strut make? 

The bad strut often sounds like a banging or hollow clunking. You will hear the noise more frequently when traveling over uneven terrain. The noise could come from the strut or the bearing located at the top of the assembly.  

What happens if a strut breaks while driving? 

When a strut breaks, that area of your vehicle can move faster and further than the rest. Not only does this put you in danger on the road, but it can also cause wear to your car's tires and other suspension parts.  


Now that we've looked at the difference between shocks, struts, and coilovers, you should have a better understanding of what's on your vehicle. By understanding your car's suspension, you are better equipped to care for it, which allows you to enjoy a smooth ride.