The purpose of shock absorbers is to dampen the ride of your vehicle when driving. You can usually tell when they need replacing because the ride will feel much harsher than it should. Therefore, if this is the case, upgrading to a new set of shock absorbers may increase your ride comfort quite significantly.
The best shock absorbers are the Bilstein Shock Absorbers 5100 Series, which provide optimal performance and comfort for light trucks and SUV’s
There is a wide variety of shock absorbers on the market that include standard, gas, heavy duty, automatic level control, air and overload shocks. Each have their own benefits and are suited towards certain vehicle suspension setups.
Table of Contents
- The Best Shock Absorbers
- Shock Absorbers Buying Guide
Shock Absorber Comparison
|Bilstein 5100 Series||Truck/SUV||Single|
|Bilstein B6 Series||Passenger Car||Single|
|Monroe 5779||Passenger Car||Single|
|Bilstein B8 Series||Sports/Low Car||Single|
OEM shock absorbers are usually an oil filled construction and provide a relatively comfortable ride. From an OEM set of shocks, you can expect up to 100,000 miles but regularly checking during them service intervals is highly recommended. Upgrading to suit your new suspension or improve comfort is a common modification that comes with instant results to the ride quality.
In terms of the installation, it’s a relatively straight forward job but as long as you have the correct tools i.e. a strut spring compressor. If you have changed your springs before, this is a relatively straight forward job but if not, a professional shouldn’t charge too much.
Below is a list of the best shock absorbers that provide a smooth ride and improve handling.
The Best Shock Absorbers
1. Bilstein Shock Absorbers 5100 Series
Bilstein are a huge brand in the shock absorber industry and produce a wide variety of types to suit your vehicle. The 5100 series is suited for lifted trucks and SUV’s and have been designed to withstand the extra dampening demands of these vehicles.
The 5100 series uses Bilstein’s gas pressure technology to bring excellent handing qualities on or off road whilst maintaining a comfortable ride.
In terms of the construction, it is a 46mm monotube design that is fade-free for maximum performance. In terms of the durability, it is zinc plated and uses neoprene rubber bushing as protection from any harsh elements.
Overall, they are the best shock absorbers for light trucks and SUV’s with the reputable backing of Bilstein for quality and performance.Check it Out
2. Monroe Load Adjust Shock Absorber
The 58620 series by Monroe is the most expensive within this article but features a full displaced valving that automatically adjusts to the road. This significantly improves handling and smoothness of the ride.
As with the Bilstein 5100 series, these Monroe shock absorbers are suited for light rucks and SUV’s. The Monroe 58620 uses a heavy gauge calibrated spring for extra comfort and will assist in maintaining the ride height when up to 1,100 LBS of additional weight.
In terms of the durability, it uses a Fluon Banded Pistons to provide a consistent sealing between the piston and pressure tube. This result in increase control and of course, durability of the shock absorbers.Check it Out
3. Bilstein B6 Series Shocks
The Bilstein B6 Series are suitable for a range of cars from Mini’s to Mercedes Benz’s and offers a performance based suspension setup. It is a gas pressure shock absorber that provides a constant damping power under any load and restores your vehicles original ride characteristics.
Unlike the 5100 series by Bilstein, this shock absorber setup is designed for most passenger cars. Installing this setup will restore the OEM characteristics at a much cheaper cost compared to the dealership prices.
Overall, the B6 series by Bilstein is the best car shock absorbers without having to spend a large amount on the dealership alternatives. The B6 Series will improve the handling performance and control of your car and therefore worth spending the extra.Check it Out
4. Monroe OESpectrum Car Shock Absorber
The Monroe 5779 OESpectrum Passenger Car Shock Absorber is another type that is suited to a range of passenger cars as opposed to trucks and SUV’s. As with the Monroe truck alternative, it uses the latest form of valving to provide precision handling and control.
On top of this, it uses an internal dampening control technology to provide a smoother ride even on the most challenging of roads. The piston design of these shock absorber also isolates impact related noise, vibration and harshness.
Overall, they are the best shock absorbers for a smooth ride and offer excellent value for money compared against the Bilstein alternative.Check it Out
5. Bilstein B8 Series Sport Shock Absorber
Many people that have lowered their car for the stance look or improved handling will require a shorter shock absorber to prevent a “crashy” ride. The B8 series by Bilstein have been developed for such a scenario.
It is a gas pressure shock absorber with shortened high performance shocks that provide the correct spring tension for lowering spring. For those that want the dynamic driving experience, the B8 series are the shock absorbers for you.
Overall, they are the best shock absorbers for low cars for an enhanced safety and performance improvement after a lowering spring change.Check it Out
Shock Absorbers Buying Guide
Shock absorbers play an important role in dampening your ride by smoothing out the bumps and cracks in the road. Without them, the ride will become incredibly hard and very uncomfortable and this is also a sign that they need to be replaced.
There are a range of different styles that are suitable for a range of different vehicles i.e. passenger cars to light trucks and SUV’s. Many are shortened for sports cars and lowered cars that require a new suspension setup.
Shock absorbers serve the purpose of reducing the wheels from bouncing around and evening out the springs when under load. The springs will bounce in a variety of different ways depending upon the terrain and load, which is why the importance of the correct shock absorber is crucial.
Opting for a performance based upgraded setup will see the handling increase without compromising the comfort and for that reason, it is a popular modification among many car enthusiasts. Below are some of the factors that you should consider before purchasing shock absorbers.
Functionality of the Shocks
Before getting really deep into certain aspect of the shock absorbers, its important that you understand how they function. In short, they mount to the frame of the vehicle and the bottom is mounted to a fixture on the suspension for each wheel. There is a piston that moves up and down through oil that is sealed to provide the dampening effect and absorb all the bumps on the road.
In order to prevent oil from leaking out of the cylinder, there is a seal around the shaft where the piston is mounted. If the oil has leaked out of the shock, it will not function as it should and will need replacing.
Types of Shock Absorbers
The standard shock absorbers that the majority of vehicles will use are oil filled and are deigned to be comfortable and long lasting. However, many aftermarket alternatives will use different methods of dampening for a different type of ride.
Gas Shocks are very popular and use oil to provide the dampening but are sealed with a pressurized gas, which prevents the oil from thinning out or foaming. Gas shocks are mostly used on smaller passenger vehicles and generally last longer than the alternatives. They are often called Monotube shocks with the majority of Bilstein’s using this type of shock.
Air Shocks are usually installed on the rear of vehicles as opposed to the front and suited to vehicle that lifts up and down with air suspension. This type of shock will have an air inlet that allows them to become pressurized and pump the vehicle upwards.
Automatic Level Control Shocks are a premium type of shock absorber that will provide the functionality of a weight distribution hitch and level the car as the load changes i.e. heavy load in the rear of the vehicle. In order to do this, they use a similar system to the air shock with a compressor but it is electrically operated once the sensor is triggered by the change in weight distribution.
For the larger vehicles such as trucks, vans and others, there is heavy duty shocks that are slightly stiffer but are designed for rugged use and can handle larger loads. Those that take their vehicles off road will want to opt for an Overload Shock Absorber that uses a coil spring around the shock cylinder to stiffen the reflex action.
When Should You Replace Your Shock Absorbers
It is not only the ride quality that will suffer when they become worn but the handling also becomes an issue. You may also notice uneven tire wear and extra stress on other suspension components, which can cause more expensive damage. Below are some of the signs you should look out for:
- Age or Mileage – As with most mechanical components, they will need replacing after a certain period. OEM shocks can last up to 100,000 miles in some cases and if you are still running the same shock at this mileage or with a classic car then it may be time to change.
- Type of Usage – If you have been using your vehicle on the highway all its life then you can expect the maximum lifespan of around 100,000 miles. However, if you are driving on rough terrain, they will need attention.
- Poor Handling – If you notice that your car has started to swerve all over the road or the handling is not how it used to be, looking into the shocks is highly recommended.
- Damage to the Shock – Broken seals, leaking oil and other defects can be seen by simply looking under your car at each axle. If you see any defects, it would be time to get them changed as soon as possible.
- Ride Quality – One of the most obvious signs of worn shock absorbers is the poor ride of quality and a “crashy” ride. The whole purpose of the shock is to dampen the bumps and if its not doing this then it would be the right time to replace them.
In terms of the installation of a new pair of shock absorbers, they are fairly easy with the right tools. For example, if you do not have a garage car lift, you will need to roll around of the floor to get them done. We highly recommend using a pair of heavy duty jack stands to keep the car level as you may need to use force to remove them.
Shock Absorbers are a critical components of any suspension setup and many people will upgrade them if they are serious about their suspension. Opting for an aftermarket set as opposed to the OEM alternative will often be much cheaper and perform better in terms of handling and performance.
The top brands in the world of shock absorbers include Bilstein, Monroe, APEX and many more. We highly recommend these brands as they are reputable for their build quality and durability.