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Shocks vs. Struts vs. Coilovers

June 17, 2021

If you’ve ever had a conversation about your truck’s suspension, you may have heard the terms shocks, struts, and coilovers. But what the hell are the differences? Don’t they all just absorb shock?  Whether you’re doing routine suspension maintenance or looking to make some upgrades, these three device names are probably going to be brought up during that process. Let’s take a look at the difference between shocks, struts, and coilovers! 

 

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Table of Contents:

-Shocks

-Struts

-Coilovers

-Final Thoughts

 

2016 ford f150 ARKON OFF-ROAD Mandel wheels AMP mud terrain attack tires rough country suspension

 

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Shocks

Remember, all of them are technically shock absorbers. But the shock device we’re referring to specifically in this case is the part that absorbs the “shock” or feedback that comes from the energy of a truck hitting the ground. The shocks on your setup are going to keep your tires on the ground and minimize how wobbly your ride feels by controlling spring movement. Shocks are an important part of delivering a good ride quality and ensuring safety, though your truck will drive with worn shocks or without them altogether. This is pretty dangerous because your shocks can affect your braking, making it longer for your truck to come to a complete stop. Besides braking, shocks are critical for safe steering and proper handling as well. Another tip, if you’re not into wearing out your tires at a faster rate than normal, having maintained shocks will help in the treadwear department!

 

shocks

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SHOCKS

 

The components of a shock include a piston, a coil, and hydraulic fluid. When your truck needs to absorb shock from a pothole, for example, that energy starts a cycle where the piston exerts pressure on the hydraulic fluid in the device. The fluid is used to “slow down” the coil in the device, allowing it to relax back into its original place. This is the process that makes it so you don’t feel like there’s an earthquake happening underneath your truck when you’re driving fast or on uneven ground. 

 

shocks

 

SUSPENSION GUIDE

 

Struts

Struts, like shock absorbers, also serve the purpose of dampening forces from the road. However, unlike shock absorbers, struts are a structural part of a suspension system. It integrates parts like the coil spring, spring seats, shocks, strut bearing, and steering knuckle into one, compact place. 

 

struts

 

Along with its shock absorbing duties, struts serve as dual-purpose. Struts support the truck’s weight while it's moving in order to adapt to the road conditions that shocks will need to absorb the feedback from. 

 

2014 GMC sierra 1500 fuel titan wheels fury offroad country hunter tires rough county suspension

 

SUSPENSION FITMENT

 

They hold the coil springs, which are the reason the truck’s weight is supported. Without struts and the coil springs, your truck can’t drive, as there won’t be a place for the coil springs to fit, and in turn support the weight of the truck. In terms of the truck’s ability to pivot, struts connect the upper bearing to the lower ball joint, which allows you to actually turn a vehicle. 

 

struts

 

Here are a few signs that your shocks and struts are wearing down and to get them changed:

  • Tires are wearing down at a higher rate than usual
  • Truck starts “shaking” when driving fast
  • Ride quality becomes noticeably bumpier
  • Leaking fluids
  • Dip in MPGs
  • Difficulty braking

 

UPGRADE YOUR TRUCK'S SUSPENSION

 

Even if you may not be experiencing these issues, it's good practice to replace your shocks and struts around the 50,000 mile mark.

 

2012 ford f150 TIS 544bm wheels Kanati mud hog tires

 

Coilovers

The term coilover comes from the “coil spring over shock absorber.” A coilover is most commonly found on trucks that are performance-level and have a need for certain height and dampening requirements. People like coilovers if they’re interested in lifting their truck and putting bigger wheels and tires on their setup. 

 

coilover

 

COILOVERS VS. LIFT KITS

 

They’re similar to struts in the sense that they house coil springs and dampen with shocks, but in coilovers, it’s all a single unit. Instead of having separate shocks and struts to get the job done, a coilover is like a 3-in-1 device for shock absorption and truck support that also allows you to adjust ride height. 

 

2020 chevy silverado ARKON OFF-ROAD wheels gladiator xcomp tires superlift suspension

 

MORE INFO ABOUT LIFTING A TRUCK

 

In the aftermarket world, there are options for coilover kits that are designed to best suit your truck and lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a stiffer ride, a good off-road setup, or some extra height, there are different coilover kit options and applications to help you get there. 

 

2021 toyota 4runner axe offroad wheels toyo tires pro comp suspension

 

Final Thoughts

In the end, if you’re someone who wants to maintain stock height and ride quality, you’re probably going to want to go the OEM shocks and struts route when getting your suspension maintenance. But for a fun height upgrade, coilovers are the way to go for convenience reasons because as a single unit, you won’t have to worry about adjusting your truck’s springs, mounts, and struts during the process. 

 

2013 Ram 2500 TIS 544 bmr wheels toyo open country tires zone suspension lift

 

Looking to upgrade your suspension? Remember, we offer as low as 0% APR for those who qualify, so you can build now and pay later!

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT SHOCKS

 

UPGRADE YOUR TRUCK'S SUSPENSION

 

COILOVERS VS. LIFT KITS

 

 

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