Car Struts – What Are They and How They Work



Car Struts are used on the front end of nearly every front-wheel-drive vehicle. They are more than shock absorbers and with a different name. A strut integrates numerous different suspension parts into one compact assembly. This includes:

  • The Coil Spring
  • The Spring Seats
  • The Shock Absorbers
  • The Strut Bearing
  • The Steering Knuckle

The shock absorber portion of the strut is the most commonly serviced part of the strut assembly.

As the strut is able to integrate the different components all into one assembly, a strut actually serves multiple purposes. With its spring it is able support the weight of the vehicle, while it is moving so that it can adapt to the road irregularities. The internal shock absorber will dampen the movement of the spring as it compresses and rebounds itself whilst the vehicle is traveling.

The strut housing serves as a structural part of the suspension system and it connects the upper strut bearing to the lower ball joint so that the entire assembly can then pivot when the steering wheel is turned.

For a complete check of your vehicle’s suspension system, you should have it thoroughly checked and inspected by a qualified service technician. Do not try and do it yourself if you don’t know what you are doing. A vehicle’s struts should be checked at least once a year, and it should usually be done in conjunction with the wheel alignment. Under any normal conditions, the shock absorber portion, which is the strut carriage, will wear out gradually and you may not even notice incremental losses in ride quality, or even handling and control. However, there are some signs that you vehicle may have worn struts and they might include the following:

  • Bottoming Out
  • Excessive Bouncing
  • Rocking Back and Forth
  • Drifting or Nose-Diving While Breaking
  • Swaying
  • Cupping Wear on the Tires

If your vehicle needs a strut service, it may also be a good time to think about changing the coil springs. The reason for this is because they usually need to be removed when the struts are being changed, and this way you would save on labor costs by doing it all at the same time.