Informational Guide

What Is Shock Absorber In Car?

In this guide, we discuss what a shock absorber is, how they work, and all about their uses in automobiles.

Shock absorbers are an integral part of a vehicle's suspension system. What is a shock absorber in a car and what is its purpose?  

In this guide, we explain everything you want to know about the shock absorber in a car. We also answer your top questions, from how to repair car shock absorbers to how much are shock absorbers for a car. 

There are several different types of shock absorbers for cars available. Here are a few that might be on your vehicle.  

  • Hydraulic   
    The hydraulic shocks are used on most passenger vehicles. With the hydraulic shock absorber on a car, resistance is increased to the spring because of the fluid being forced through the small orifices and valves.  
  • Double Acting 
    On modern vehicles, you might notice double-acting shocks instead. These shocks provide resistance during rebound and compression of the springs. To increase the capability, highly flexible springs are used.  
  • Single Acting Shock   
    What is a shock absorber in a car? If you look at some of the earliest types, you see this single-acting design. With this shock, the resistance is only provided on the rebound. While it might have provided a benefit to cars in the 1920s and 1930s, it's not as relevant today. 
  • Friction   
    The friction shock absorber is one of the first types used. If you are looking to perform classic car shock absorber refurbishment, you might be dealing with the friction type. However, these shocks became obsolete after World War II due to the non-predictable damping ability.  
  • Lever   
    The lever shock absorber was the first type of hydraulic version to be used, starting in the 1930s. It has an indirect action and is bolted to the chassis. When the axle moves, the double piston arrangement pushes the hydraulic oil through a valve for damping.  
  • Telescopic   
    The telescopic shock is a direct-action type. It gets mounted between the frame and the axle. As the wheel travels upward, a spring in the suspension system compresses to absorb energy, while the rebound action puts it back in its original location, creating a constant compression and rebound cycle.  

What Exactly Is A Shock Absorber? 

By looking at a car shock absorber diagram, you get a basic idea of how the monotube and twin-tube shock absorber work. As your vehicle travels over a bump, the impact pushes the affected wheel up. If your car had a rigid suspension, the impact would be felt in its entirety. Plus, the tires on the car would lose contact with the road, causing you to lose control.  

With shock absorbers, there is damping occurring for a smoother ride. When the wheels move upward, the springs of your car's suspension compress, thereby absorbing the shock from the bump. While compressed, the springs also store up energy that needs to be released, or the vehicle will continue traveling upward. The shocks are responsible for slowing down this force and converting the energy into heat that can be dissipated through hydraulic fluid.  

Where is the shock absorber on a car? The shocks are mounted to the frame of the vehicle. They are placed vertically and look like a pneumatic pump. Most modern vehicles contain struts on the front wheels with shocks on the rear, but it's also possible to have 4-wheel struts. If you have an older vehicle, you might have 4-wheel shocks instead.  

monotube and twin tube shock absorber

Important Components Of A Shock Absorber 


The car shock absorber mounting secures the vital suspension part to the frame of the vehicle. It comes with an upper and lower mount, complete with a hollow surface part for the bolt and bushing to be inserted into.  


The car shock absorber bushings are on the mount and are constructed from either urethane or rubber. This car shock absorber rubber absorbs the vibrations and prevents noise from the metal components. If the bushing is worn, it can be replaced.  

Coil Spring

Not all shocks come with coil springs. If it does, it is known as a coil-over shock design or a spring coil shock. These shocks look like a suspension strut, making them easy to confuse one another.  

Piston and Piston Rod 

The piston of the shock absorber comes with valves and openings that allow for oil to move around the passageways. The piston rod is responsible for guiding the piston within the shock absorber's cylinder. If these parts fail, the shocks must be replaced.  


The shock absorber is contained with a cylindrical tube. This cylinder is the body of the shock. In a monotube design, there is one cylinder, while the twin-tube design contains several cylinders. Inside the cylinders, the oil and piston can move as intended.  


Fasteners are needed to hold the shock to the mount. The bolts will be applied at the frame on one end and the suspension on the other. All of the bolts need to be properly torqued so the absorber can't come loose during travel.  

shock absorber

What Does A Shock Absorber Do?  

Limit Vehicle Body Movement

The main shock absorber function in a car is to limit the movement. Shocks control the vertical movement and sway of the body. Even when traveling over bumps or uneven terrain, the shocks can provide a superior ride.  

Ensure Contact Between Road & Wheels 

The adjustable shock absorbers in cars ensure that the wheels always remain in contact with the road. If the shocks weren't working, the wheels would separate from the road while traveling over bumps, causing the driver to lose control.  

Stabilize The Car's Ride

With the right shocks installed, the drive is comfortable, even when transitioning from an even road to one that is bumpy. You shouldn't notice any major difference because the shocks dampen the impact.  

Reduce Wear of Tires & Chassis Parts 

When the wheels and other suspension parts don't have to take on the brunt of the impact, wear is decreased. You will notice that the parts last longer, requiring less frequent replacement. Considering how long shocks last, you can enjoy fewer repairs overall.  

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Can shock absorbers be repaired? 

There are only a few parts that could be repaired, such as the car shock absorber spacer, seals, bushings, or mount. If the part can't be repaired, you will want to consider looking at a new car shock absorber for sale instead.  

Is it better to repair or replace a vehicle's shocks? 

When you consider the car shock absorbers cost, it's often just as much to get new ones as it is to repair a damaged one. However, this isn't the case if there is a small malfunction that can be easily replaced, such as adding a new bolt to the mount.  

How much does the car shock absorber cost? 

The average shock absorber car cost is between $25 and $300 for each one. However, the shock absorber car replacement cost will depend on what type of vehicle you drive and whether you can perform the installation yourself.  

Can you repair the vintage car's shock absorbers? 

You will likely want to restore the vintage car shock absorbers to keep the vehicle as original as possible. However, you can also install a newer type of shock if you want a smoother drive.  

Do the best shock absorbers come from India? 

Even in India, the most popular shock type is Bilstein. These performance shocks can be used on a variety of vehicles, offering complete versatility. You can use the Amazon Garage function to find the style that fits your vehicle.  

Why didn't my shocks come with boots? 

The car shock absorber boots are considered unneeded by many manufacturers because they aren't needed to function. Instead, the boot is used to protect the shock from dust, debris, and road contamination.  


What are shock absorbers for cars? This suspension part operates similarly to the car trunk shock absorbers you are familiar with, except they are needed to dampen the movement from the vehicle itself.