Shocks, struts, and coilovers are all suspension components used in vehicles. They provide a smooth and comfortable ride. Despite the similarities, there are key differences between shocks vs struts vs coilovers.
Shocks are designed to absorb road impacts. Struts are built to absorb impact and support a vehicle’s weight. Meanwhile, coilovers enable independent adjustment of your vehicle’s height. They also help to dampen the suspension’s force while driving.
This article explains the difference between these suspension components. However, before delving into the difference, let’s know what a shock, strut, and coilover is.
What are Shock Absorbers?
Shock absorbers are a vital component of a vehicle’s suspension system. The components absorb and dampen the impact of bumps and vibrations while driving.
Shocks, as they’re fondly called, help to provide a smooth and comfortable ride. They control the movement and oscillation of the vehicle’s suspension. A shock absorber consists of a piston, a cylinder filled with hydraulic fluid, and valves.
When a car encounters a bumpy road, the suspension compresses or extends to absorb the impact. As this happens, the shocks prevent excessive bouncing, pitching, and rolling. This helps to maintain stability, handling, and control.
What are Struts?
Struts are a structural component. They combine the functions of a shock and a suspension spring. It comprises a steel coil spring wrapped around a shock absorber. Then, enclosed within a housing.
The combination allows the strut to dampen and support the vehicle. Like the shocks, the main function of struts is to absorb road impact and vibrations. They also play a crucial role in maintaining tire contact with the road surface.
They help evenly distribute the vehicle’s weight, ensuring that tires maintain optimal grip. This improves traction, handling, and safety, especially during sudden maneuvers.
Additionally, struts provide structural support to the suspension system. They connect the steering system, control arms, and wheel hub assembly. They also help maintain the alignment of the wheels.
What are Coilovers?
Coilovers are a type of suspension modification mostly used in high-performance vehicles. They comprise a coil spring and a shock absorber combined into a single unit.
The coilovers provide control over both the spring and damping characteristics. The term “Coilover” is an abbreviation that refers to “coil over shock absorber.”
As the name suggests, the coil spring is made up of a coiled metal wire. They provide support and distribute the vehicle’s weight. They also absorb the shocks transmitted through the wheels to the car’s chassis.
Conversely, the shock absorber is responsible for dampening the spring’s oscillations. This helps to deliver a smooth and stable ride. What sets coilovers apart from traditional suspension systems is their adjustability.
Coilovers offer the ability to fine-tune various aspects of the suspension. This includes the ride height, spring pre-load and damping force. This adjustability allows drivers to customize their car’s handling characteristics.
Shocks Vs Struts Vs Coilovers
Strut vs shock vs coilover have some similarities. There are also key differences. If you’re wondering how they differ, here’s the difference between the components.
Design and functionality
Shocks are designed to absorb road impacts. Struts, conversely, absorb impact and support a vehicle’s weight. Meanwhile, coilovers are built with coil springs and shocks. They provide adjustable ride height and damping.
Ride quality and performance
Shocks are generally used in vehicles with separate coil springs. They provide a smooth ride. Struts provide a smooth ride with more stability due to their structural design. They offer more precise control and better cornering performance.
Meanwhile, coilovers offer customization of ride height. Car owners can also fine-tune their suspension to suit driving conditions.
Installation complexity is another difference between shocks vs struts vs coilovers. Shocks are relatively the easiest to install and replace. This is because they are separate parts from the suspension system. Struts, conversely, need more extensive work.
Struts are integrated with other suspension components. The replacement may involve the removal of wheel assemblies. Coilovers are the most complex to install. They require more knowledge and expertise in suspension tuning and adjustment.
Shocks and struts are generally more durable. They are built to withstand the constant compression and rebound forces while driving.
Conversely, coilovers have more moving parts and adjustable components. This makes them more prone to wear and tear over time. But this varies based on the brand and quality of the coilovers.
Adjustability is a major difference between shocks vs coilovers vs struts. Shocks offer limited adjustability. This is usually limited to the dampening force. Struts may offer some adjustability in terms of dampening and ride height.
Coilovers, conversely, offer the most adjustability. Car owners can change ride height, spring preload, and dampening force. This allows for a more tailored handling and ride experience.
Lastly, cost is another difference between struts vs coilovers vs shocks. Shocks are generally the most affordable to replace, among others.
Struts are usually more expensive than shocks. This is due to their integrated design and additional structural reinforcement. Coilovers are the most expensive. This is because they’re the most advanced and customizable.
Are Shocks and Struts better than Coilovers?
Shocks and struts are not necessarily better than coilovers. They’re only more durable due to their less adjustable parts. Your vehicle type and preference during an upgrade will determine what you choose.
Many drivers with off-road or high-performance vehicles prefer coilovers. This is because they’re more adjustable.
When considering struts vs shocks vs coilovers, note that they all have pros and cons. Your choice will depend on your driving conditions, preferences, and budget.
Are Coilovers Good for Off Road?
Yes, coilovers are perfect for off road vehicles. They offer a huge advantage on rugged terrain. They also deliver better ride quality and performance.
One key advantage of coilovers is their ability to provide adjustable ride height. This allows off-road enthusiasts to increase ground clearance when traversing challenging terrains.
The height adjustability of coilovers help prevent the vehicle from bottoming out. This reduces the likelihood of damaging vital components.
Can I Use Shocks Instead of Struts?
Shock absorbers cannot be used to replace struts and vice versa. Although the terms are mostly used interchangeably, they’re not the same. Struts are mostly found on the front axle of most modern vehicles.
They can also be located on the rear wheels. However, the position of struts depends on the vehicle’s make and model.
Ensure always to use the recommended suspension components for your car. Consult a technician or refer to your owner’s manual to know your car’s correct shocks or struts.
Shocks, struts, and coilovers are crucial in a vehicle’s suspension system. Shocks provide dampening to prevent excessive bouncing or vibrations. Struts are load-bearing components that enhance stability and steering control.
Meanwhile, coilovers offer the highest level of adjustability for customized suspension setups. Choosing between shocks vs struts vs coilovers depends on your specific vehicle needs.