LAST UPDATED: August 20, 2019
Best Shock Absorbers: Improve the Ride of Your Vehicle
Glide over bumps and explore offroad with these top-rated shock absorbers
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON August 20, 2019
A car’s shock absorbers are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. The shocks make sure you get the smoothest and most comfortable ride by protecting your car from harsh bumps or vibration. A bad shock absorber is harmful to your car and can lead to other issues as well; you’ll feel each bump and groove as you drive. To help remedy this and to make sure your vehicle isn’t damaged, here’s a list of the best shock absorbers to even out your ride.
All-weather fluid shocks fit with modifiers to reduce overall friction on your drive. Each shock adapts to the other to change with the terrain to improve handling and control.
They are made of lightweight fluon band pistons and are ideal for handling difficult terrain, including rocks, bumps, and potholes.
They may be a little noisy on your drive and make the ride stiffer.
These shock absorbers come with a hardened chromed piston rod to fight against corrosion and scratches. They are durable and can take a lot of punishment from the road.
Their design reduces internal friction, helping to extend the service life of each shock. They are gas-charged, which makes them more efficient and gives them a faster response time.
They are on the thinner side when it comes to standard or OEM styles and is also shorter, meaning you have less clearance around the shocks.
This is a heavy-duty, gas-powered monotube shock absorber built for those wanting to explore the off-the-beaten path.
The Bilstein shock absorber is equipped to handle difficult terrain and harsh bumps, while also improving the handling of your car.
They are only designed to fit larger vehicles. The ride of the vehicle may be stiffer than the OEM shocks, and they may not operate at their full capacity with cars that have a lift kit.
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Benefits of Shock Absorbers
- Improved ride. The best set of shock absorbers will improve the ride of your car. This is achieved by increasing the amount of shock each one absorbs when your car hits a bump or hole. High-quality shocks will decrease the amount of force and bounce you feel while driving.
- Increased comfort. You will bounce up and down or get slightly jostled every now and then when you’re driving. The best shock absorbers will lessen the amount of movement you feel inside the car. You won’t shake around with each bump and divet you encounter. This also means you don’t feel as much impact on your body; the less wear and tear you take, the more comfortable you will feel after a long journey.
- Increased safety: Your car’s suspension system is an essential part of your vehicle. It keeps your car on the road by adding stability to your steering wheel. As shock absorbers wear down, they can impact the steering and the ability to control the car properly.
Types of Shock Absorbers
Gas shocks are designed with nitrogen gas inside of them. These are more equipped to fit smaller cars and can take a beating from the road’s hardest and most severe bumps. Generally, you’ll find newer cars are fitted with gas shocks.
These are ideal for larger trucks, Jeeps, or SUVs, and if you want to go off-road or need to haul heavy loads. These typically have a larger central shaft and give your vehicle a firmer ride.
As the name suggests, air shocks are powered by pressurized air. The air works by inflating inside the shaft, raising or lowering them when needed. They are generally quieter than standard shocks but are more expensive.
These types of shock absorbers are more commonly seen on motorcycles and scooters. They feature a spring coil wrapped around the shock cylinder.
Monroe Shocks and Struts has been in business since 1916. It was founded in Monroe, Michigan, by August F. Meyer. The company has businesses all across the globe and makes high-quality shocks and more for vehicles. One of its highest-rated products is the Monroe Load Adjust Shock Absorber.
Since 1906, ACDelco has been creating parts for vehicles, planes, and spacecraft. William Durant helped launch the company and worked with General Motors to design spark plugs, shocks, and more for vehicles. It makes the ACDelco Professional Premium Gas Charged Shock Absorber.
August Bilstein first had the idea for his company in 1873 and started out by building metal window fittings in Germany. Hans Bilstein decided to create automobile parts and accessories in 1927. It is known for the Bilstein 5100 series and also makes the Bilstein Shock Absorber.
Shock Absorbers Pricing
- $60-$100: You’ll find both front and rear shock absorbers in this price range. However, they generally only come in a single unit. It’s recommended you buy four so you can change them all at the same time.
- $100 and up: Typically, you may have to shell out more cash for shock absorbers because you’re buying them in sets of two or four.
To get the best-rated shock absorbers for your car, you’ll want to look for those that are made from strong and durable materials. After all, they are an essential part of making sure your car stays on the road. The majority of shocks are made from strong, thick steel, reinforced with a chrome or zinc coating.
- Lifespan: It’s essential that you get a set of shock absorbers that stand up to the worst bumps. While it is difficult to judge how long a pair should last, they should be durable enough to see thousands of miles. The strongest ones have thick pistons and a well-protected and fortified shaft.
- Size: Shock absorbers range in size and weight and require certain specifications to be met to fit some vehicles. One way to see if they fit is to enter your vehicle information on either the manufacturer’s website or wherever you choose to purchase the shock. Typically, shocks vary from 16 to 24 inches long, but they can be longer or shorter depending on your vehicle. Keep in mind that if you lower or raise your vehicle, you may need to find shocks designed to fit the specific height.
- Travel Distance: To make sure your shocks remain strong, it is recommended to check them every 40,000 or 50,000 miles. However, their condition depends on the types of roads and driving you to do. For instance, heavy off-road driving will cause shocks to deteriorate more quickly than driving on paved roads every day. Typically, shocks should last between four to five years for those driving the car normally. Some are able to last up to ten years if they aren’t put under constant stress.
Best Shock Absorbers Reviews & Recommendations 2020
These all-weather fluid shocks come with special modifiers to reduce friction, giving them more control over bumps for a smoother and more comfortable drive. Once all four are in place, they can easily adapt and change with the terrain due to their full-displaced valving, which is tuned specifically to handle the bumpiest highways and roads.
The shocks are tough and can withstand the most extreme road conditions. They are made up of fluon band pistons, offering improved durability and increased handling for your car. They are also lightweight and easy to install yourself but don’t be fooled by their weight. The Monroe Load Shock Absorbers are best utilized at hauling and towing heavy loads up to 1,100 pounds, a feature we found extremely useful.
One issue is you may end up getting a lot of noise out of these shocks when driving. While it isn’t anything that will impact how they handle, it can be annoying. They may also make your ride a bit stiffer.
These shocks are built to handle all types of terrain. One thing we found most useful about them is their hardened chromed piston rod is corrosion- and scratch-resistant.
This added feature means they will last longer and take more punishment. Each shock also comes with its own unique micro-cracks, giving it a special look. When it comes to the inside of the shocks, they all contain a drawn-over mandrel (DOM) pressure cylinder for a high-quality sealing process. This reduces internal friction, which helps extend the lifespan of each shock. They are also gas-charged, making them more efficient and giving them a faster response time to each bump. Each piston rod is self-lubricated to keep out dirt, dust, and other debris to improve performance.
While they make for an excellent set of shock absorbers, they are on the thinner side when it comes to standard or OEM styles. They are also shorter, so your car may not stand as tall as it does with its original shocks. This also means you have less clearance around the shocks.
These heavy-duty, monotube design shocks are built for anyone who is looking to drive off the beaten path. They’re equipped to fit larger, heavier vehicles including trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs.
As a gas-powered shock, they improve the handling of the car both on the road and off. The nitrogen-powered shocks limit fade and resist shock fluid foaming, making them incredibly tough. They are made from sturdy metal to give you several years of use. You also get a lifetime warranty, and they’re easy to install yourself, saving you money by not having to consult a professional.
Your ride may be more comfortable, but it will also be stiffer. You may also find that if you have a lifted truck, Jeep, or SUV, these monotube shocks may not be the best fit.
The Monroe 31000 MONRO-MATIC PLUS Shock Absorbers are a great option for cars and trucks. The piston rod has a 1/2-inch diameter and is nitrocarburized for durability.
They also have a 1-3/16-inch bore, which is a bit larger than some shocks, so they’re more efficient and provide consistent control. The shock absorbers are designed to minimize friction and facilitate a smooth rod reaction for a more comfortable ride. Users report that the shock absorbers greatly improve ride quality. It's simple and straightforward to install them, and it doesn't take very long to do so. They are good quality, worth the price, and can be used in anything from a 60's Chevy pickup to a 90s Nissan hardbody.
The shocks provide a softer ride and are ideal for hauling light loads. However, they're not as likely to last as long as a brand such as Bilstein. In addition, some users have experienced a little too much bounce with these installed.
The ACDelco 520-396 Advantage Gas Charged Rear Shock Absorber features a chrome piston rod that minimizes corrosion and enables more consistent wear. Over time, the piston seal keeps its tight seal between the piston and pressure tube, preventing leaks and prolonging its lifespan.
Constant pressure between the o-ring and inner tube keeps dirt out and prevents wear and tear. The shock absorbers also have a drawn over mandrel (DOM) pressure cylinder that ensures there's less resistance, which prolongs their service life. Overall, these shock absorbers improve the handling characteristics of your vehicle, particularly when it's loaded. They ride comfortably, are easy to install, and you'll feel less rolling when cornering. Users love the quality and the fit combined with their relatively low price. They work as advertised and are a direct factory replacement for some vehicles.
However, they may soften up a bit once you break them in. Also, they're not great if you have to go over speed bumps on a regular basis, and they may be smaller than the original shocks on some trucks.
- You’ll know you need new shocks when you notice the car start to sway during turns, bounce excessively over bumps, or if the shock is leaking.
- Shock absorbers come in both rear and front versions. You will want to make sure to buy two of each for your vehicle.
- If you are looking for a long-lasting shock, consider getting ones that have a chrome-plated piston, high-quality paint, and polished shafts.
Q: How often should I change my vehicle’s shocks?
A: It is recommended to change your shocks every 50,000 miles. However, it also depends on the manufacturer, so check your owner’s manual.
Q: How can I tell if my shocks are wearing down?
A: To determine if one or more of your shock absorbers are failing, check for any odd vibrations, unusual handling during braking, increased stopping distance, uneven tire tread, or fluid leakage.
Q: Will shock absorbers fit any vehicle?
A: You’ll want to check with the manufacturer before installing them on just any car. Many are designed with a specific vehicle in mind such as a Jeep Wrangler, Dodge Ram 1500, or Grand Cherokee, so double-check which kind you’re interested in before purchasing.
To improve the ride comfort of your car and get better handling, check out the Monroe Load Adjust Shock Absorber.
However, if you want to save a bit of cash and still get a high-quality set of shocks, consider the ACDelco Professional Premium Gas Charged Shock Absorber.