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The Difference Between a Mustang's Shocks And Its Struts

Written By: Stanley Sadowski

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Dialing in your Mustang's suspension is vital to getting your car's power to the street. Before you can carve road courses and set low E.T.s the inherent issues with your stock Mustang's suspension needs to be addressed.

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Your Mustang's Shocks and struts are suspension components that play a vital role in how your Mustang handles, both on the street and at the track. Upgrading them will greatly improve handling and driveablilty, each and every time you get behind the wheel.

Shocks and Struts – Control and Adjustment

A critical component of any vehicle are the shock absorbers or dampers. These are arguably the most influential element of ride quality and handling. Their job is to control the movement of the vehicle as it travels over surfaces and around corners as well as under braking and acceleration. Aftermarket offerings for the Mustang include non-adjustable, single-adjustable, and double-adjustable. Shocks and struts also hold your Mustang up and help it to turn in. The shocks are in the rear and the struts are in the front of your Mustang, and they are encased by your Mustang’s springs. When you lower your Mustang with a set of springs, you will want to consider upgrading the shocks and struts as well to maintain a balance throughout the vehicle. Going to a set of aftermarket shocks and struts will make you feel those little bumps in the road a bit more, but they will also drastically improve your handling and weight transfer throughout the vehicle.

Single-adjustable shocks will allow you to adjust the valving to suit your driving style and road/track conditions. Some units control only rebound while others control compression and rebound with one single dial. A double-adjustable shock/strut is the ultimate in adjustability allowing for fine-tuning of the compression and rebound curves separately to suit any combination of suspension upgrades. Upgrading your Mustang’s shocks/struts will:

  • Improve tire to road contact
  • Improve control in cornering, acceleration, braking, and quick steering input
  • Adjustable shocks allow a tailored driving experience

When adding a lowering spring, it is often recommended you pair it with a performance shock/strut designed to work with the shorter travel and firmer rate of the spring. Look for companies who offer complementary kits which include both springs and shocks for a very effective suspension upgrade. As spring rates and ride heights change, so does the dampening needed from the shocks and struts. The springs' job is to support the vehicle while the shocks and struts control the rebound of the spring, preventing the ride from being too bouncy and handling poorly. So the strength of the spring will dictate the action required from the shocks and struts. You can also change the shocks and struts while keeping the same springs, to control how the suspension reacts and handles, should you desire to have either a slightly looser or firmer feel. 

Aftermarket struts (and shocks) are always recommended when lowering a Mustang. As we've mentioned, the stock struts were designed for the stock spring specs. As a result, they are not intended to be used under lowered conditions. While they most certainly can work under lowered conditions, it is not optimal. This will lead to quicker failure and replacement of the struts. This also applies to rear shocks.

2005-2010 Mustang with Eibach Struts

What is the Difference Between a Mustang's Shocks & Struts? 

Their purposes are exactly the same but the difference is the way they mount. They both absorb the bumps in the road and keep your car stable. Certain things need to be adjusted with strut mounts in order to keep the car's alignment straight unlike rear shocks.

Different Types of Mustang Shocks & Struts 

There are monotube and twin-tube gas pressure design shocks. The twin-tube design has two inner working cylinders whereas monotube only uses one. Monotube shocks keep the nitrogen gas and hydraulic fluid completely separate and because these two never mix the foaming problem that occurs in twin-tube shocks is eliminated. Monotube gives you the performance when you want it and twin-tube usually gives you the most comfortable ride—choosing between them usually comes down to preference and what your end plans are for the car.

Differences Between Adjustable vs. Non-Adjustable Shocks & Struts?

  • Adjustable - recommended for owners who race their Mustang and want to control the firmness of the suspension. Adjustable shocks and struts allow you to fine tune the compression and rebound settings providing the better grip while cornering.
  • Non-adjustable - recommended for those looking to upgrade over their factory set-up, and who use their pony primarily as a daily driver. 

Consider Your Budget

When it comes to suspension components there is a huge range in pricing. There are stock replacement parts which are a far more affordable route than say a high performance setup which can cost a thousand bucks or more. It depends on the level of performance you want. Most shocks and struts get a little pricier if they are adjustable which allows you to either soften or tighten up the suspension by externally adjusting them. If your car is a daily driver that sees the track from time to time then this setup might be ideal for you.

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