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Dump trucks? Pretty cool. Your truck looking like it’s taking a dump because it squats as soon as you hook up a trailer? Not cool. Squat under load doesn’t just look uncool, it can also pose a safety hazard by unloading the front tires and reducing your ability to stop and steer. Take it from me, not being able to properly stop or steer several tons of rig and trailer down the highway in inclement weather will really make you wish your rig had a brown interior.
Thankfully, a variety of solutions exist to combat squat and shocks are some of the simplest. From upgraded traditional dampers to the sheer power of air, we’ve combed the market for products that’ll help ensure your future towing endeavors go off without a hitch. Without further ado, here are our top picks for the best shocks for towing.
The Max-Air is an affordable, easy-to-use air shock with heaps of load-leveling capability and competitive pricing.
- Up to 1,200 pounds of load leveling
- Compatible with factory compressors and portable compressors
- Priced on the right side of $100
- Only available with a two-year warranty
- Maximum pressure of 150 PSI often isn’t attainable from a portable 12-volt compressor
Living up to its name, the KYB Monomax is a sturdy high-performance monotube shock with an outstanding warranty.
- Solid upgrade over OEM shocks
- Sturdy monotube construction
- Comes with a limited lifetime warranty
- Not a load-leveling shock absorber
- You’ll only get the best value if you’re keeping your tow vehicle for a long time
A trusted air shock for over 50 years, the Gabriel Hi-Jackers are a force to be reckoned with in the towing community.
- Proven heavy-duty construction
- 1,100 pounds of maximum load leveling capability
- Plenty of vehicle fitments available
- Most compressors can’t crank out 200 PSI of power, so the maximum capabilities of these shocks may be limited by inflation method
- A bit on the expensive side
When we sat down to make our top picks, we prioritized shocks capable of leveling loads as minimal squat is generally desired when towing. For leveling shocks, we looked at leveling capacity, required pressure, and ease of leveling. For conventional dampers, we took construction and damping into account, prioritizing dampers with durable monotube construction. We also used a 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe LT 4WD as our pricing control vehicle as it’s a fairly typical tow rig with coil-spring rear suspension prone to squatting when loaded.
Price remained a key priority as we believe that the safety of towing-optimized shock absorbers should be available to everyone. As ever, we followed our Guides & Gear code of ethics to ensure freedom from undue influences and used a mixture of personal experience, manufacturing standards, and real-world Amazon user reviews to help select our top picks. In the end, we were able to crown some winners and recommend solutions for everyone, regardless of use case.
Best Shocks for Towing Reviews & Recommendations
The most effective solution for towing is almost always load-leveling and air shocks make a particularly massive difference in coil-sprung vehicles like SUVs and modern Ram 1500s. The Monroe Max-Air won our best overall pick for its combination of capability and affordability, while the Gabriel Hi-Jacker won our honorable mention thanks to its proven technology and trusted name. As far as sheer value goes, it’s hard to argue with the KYB Monomax’s incredible limited lifetime warranty and extremely budget-friendly pricing. Overall, they’re three highly-effective products for towing applications.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!
Q. How are shocks designed for towing different from other shocks?
A. Shocks designed for towing generally involve a sort of leveling design, be it hydraulic or pneumatic. In addition, they often adopt a heavier-duty monotube design over a traditional twin-tube damper. This aids longevity and body control under high load, both of which are beneficial improvements for vehicles used for towing.
Q. Why would I want to level my vehicle?
A. Even traction and stability are best achieved with even ride height. When a trailer is hooked up to a vehicle, the rear end typically squats, reducing traction on the front tires. Not only do your front wheels steer your vehicle, but your front brakes also provide the majority of stopping power. By leveling your vehicle, you increase control over those front wheels.
Q. How do I route air lines for air shocks?
A. While air line routing seems fairly simple, there are a few things worth keeping in mind. First, make sure your air lines aren’t attached to anything that moves. Cable-tying air lines to suspension components is a sure recipe for disaster. Second, route them away from the exhaust as melted lines are no fun. Finally, keep them free of super-tight openings near body mounts where they may chafe on the frame, body, or bed. Follow these steps and your air lines should last for years to come.
Q. What about non-leveling performance shocks?
A. Upgraded non-leveling shocks are great for leaf spring or off-road applications, offering a nice balance between a comfortable ride and higher control in a maintenance-free package. As a bonus, many non-leveling aftermarket shocks offer seriously impressive warranties, a boon for anyone keeping their rig for the long-haul.
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.Learn more