If you’re experiencing a lot of bouncing and shaking while you’re driving on the road, it’s time to invest in the best shock absorber that can effectively dampen your ride and make it smoother by reducing the amount of bounce and shaking coming from the tires and springs, as well as ensuring that the chassis doesn’t move due to these actions.
- Top 10 Best Shock Absorbers
- How to find the best shock absorber
- Vehicle compatibility
- Driving conditions
- Construction material
- Service life
- Ease of installation
Top 10 Best Shock Absorbers
At some point, your shock absorber will get worn out or damaged, which means it’s time for a replacement. To help you out, we reviewed dozens of promising options on the market, and came up with this list of the ten best shock absorbers today:
1. Monroe MA822
First up is the Monroe MA822, which is nothing short of perfection. It’s the ideal solution for vehicles requiring adequate ground clearance and better handling. This is because it features an air-adjustable design that is capable of inflating and deflating based on your vehicle load. It even comes with a simple switch that lets you adjust your vehicle’s height.
This is what makes it so much more versatile than other shock absorbers on the market. Not only that, it can also adapt to various handling requirements in order to improve your stability and your entire driving experience. It even guarantees smooth and comfortable rides with its entirely displaced valve system.
As a matter of fact, it even comes with a specialized all-weather fluid which makes for reduced friction and smoother rod reaction. And, a hardened ground rod is also included for increased longevity. Simply put, with this mono-tube shock, you can expect a better ride quality.
- Ideal for heavy vehicles
- Enhanced quality performance and service life
- Comfortable and smooth ride quality
- Easy to inflate and deflate as needed
- Straightforward installation
- Lower bolts and retainer nuts are not included
A close second is the Monroe 31000 Monro-Matic Plus, a twin-tube shock absorber promising exceptional value for your money by employing a twin-tube, gas charged design which offers excellent damping performance.
This twin-tube design uses two pieces of concentric tubes, with the inner tube acting as the primary working tube and containing the piston rod, as well as most of the shock absorber’s oil, while the outer tube contains low-pressure nitrogen gas and acts as the reserve.
What this all means is that you get to enjoy three outstanding benefits, including enhanced damping capability offered by the pressurized nitrogen gas inside the reserve chamber, which exerts a consistent amount of force on your reserve oil in order to ensure that the working chamber always contains the optimum amount of oil for heightened functionality.
- Outstanding road performance
- Sturdy and durable construction
- Optimum function and quality
- Budget friendly option
- Not suitable for large vehicles
We also particularly like the KYB 349105 Excel-G Gas Shock, which also features a twin-tube design that consists of two separate cylinders in order to give you the advantage of a significantly more comfortable ride despite the limited damping.
It also comes with bolt bushing and solid mountain eye rings to help you effectively address the issue of worn out bushings and suspension ruts, which are what primarily causes those rattling sounds in your vehicle.
Furthermore, this shock absorber is ideal for automotive with an electronic safety system. It is intended for one-directional mounting, which shouldn’t be a problem in most cases. And, it also comes with a piston band coated in Teflon for an increased lifespan, along with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty for your investment’s protection.
- Restores original handling and control capabilities
- Reliable, retains proper alignment
- Reduced wear with chrome piston
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Longer than many OEM shocks
Taking the fourth spot is the Rancho RS9000XL, a high-performance, heavy-duty shock absorber that delivers exemplary performance by employing a gas charged, twin-tube design that can offer an enhanced damping capability.
This is all thanks to the gas charge inside the shock absorber that effectively heightens the shocks’ spring rate. More than that, this shock absorber also features a hydraulic fluid formation to ensure that its performance won’t ever be compromised.
Not only that, but this twin-tube design also ensures that the shock absorber enjoys a long service life. It even features an adjustable valve that lets you manually set the spring rate depending on your driving preference. For example, you can increase the shock’s responsiveness by loosening the external valve when off-roading or driving on uneven surfaces.
- Ideal for heavy-duty applications
- Suitable for large hauls and off-road use
- Eliminates the risk of any aeration
- Adjustable spring rates
- Not suitable for smaller vehicles
Ranking fifth is the ACDelco 580-435, which is one of the best options for owners of SUVs, crossovers, and light trucks, or anyone who’s serious about wanting to enjoy a comfortable ride. Sure, it’s a little pricier than other options on the market, but it still offers a great value for your money.
It comes from a reputable aftermarket parts brand that branches out from the GM company, so you know you can really count on the best quality and performance. This shock absorber, for one thing, promises enhanced handling and outstanding comfort. The thing is, it manages to deliver on both fronts.
That’s all thanks to the stub attachment on the upper chassis mount and the eyelet on the lower wheel. The eyelet also comes already connected to a chassis attachment. And, there’s also the black rubber bush for the lower mount, which helps better guarantee ride comfort.
- Outstanding off-road performance
- Sturdy and durable construction
- Long service life
- Limited manufacturers’ warranty
- Hydraulic-fluid aeration is an issue
- External adjustment valve is not included
You should also check out the Maxorber shocks, which feature a gas charged, twin-tube design, and come as a complete set of shocks for the front and rear of your SUV or truck. Each of the shocks is composed of a working and reserve chamber, with most of its hydraulic fluid stored inside the working chamber.
This working chamber is also what’s housing the piston assembly, which then connects to your shaft. Meanwhile, the reserve chamber is used to store reserve oil intended for the piston. It also stores nitrogen gas molecules that are chemically inert.
At first glance, this shock absorber may seem like it features a rare triple-tube design, but that’s because it makes use of a large outer tube located at the shock’s upper mount end. This large tube acts as the actual shock absorber’s protection against sand, pebbles, dust, and other debris that when left alone may compromise the shock’s performance.
- Excellent road performance
- Outer layer of protective tubing
- Sold as a complete set
- Budget friendly option
- Not available as standalone front or rear shocks
Another amazing option is the Bilstein 24-186742 5100 Series Rear, which is designed with occasional off-road use and regular heavy hauling in mind, making it ideal for delivery trucks due to its superior damping ability.
This works by restraining vibrations from the springs and tires as the vehicle cruises on urban highways and off-road trails. That said, however, this shock absorber is not intended for vehicles that use the four-wheel steering system by Quadrasteer since it will require the gas shock absorber to be modified prior to use in order to achieve a better vehicle elevation.
This is why it’s important to precisely measure the piston lengths of any aftermarket suspension system so you can better determine whether or not a product is compatible with your suspension system.
- Sturdy, heavy-duty construction
- Ideal for hauling tasks and off-road use
- Long service life
- Won’t work with the Quadrasteer four-wheel drive system
- Aeration is an issue
8. KYB 554384
You might also want to consider the KYB 554384, which features a gas charged monotube design that contains a free-floating piston which separates the single tube into two different compartments.
This free piston is independent to the shaft; and the two separate compartments created to function as the working and reserve chambers, where the larger of the two compartments act as the working chamber, which contains the piston assembly that then connects to a precision ground shaft made with hardened steel.
Furthermore, the hydraulic fluid that is used by the piston to move through when the shock absorber functions normally are also housed in the working chamber. Meanwhile, the reserve chamber, which is the smaller compartment, houses pressurized nitrogen gas that comes at 230 to 360 psi.
- Ideal for hauling applications and off-road use
- Compression rebound valve for hydraulic fluid control
- Monotube construction resembling a twin-tube design
- No external adjustment valve
There’s also the KYB 565102 MonoMax Gas Shock, which delivers impeccable performance by employing a highly pressurized monotube design and a piston assembly that is charged with a 250 psi chemically inert nitrogen gas that makes for its superior damping capacity.
It also features an attachment stud on the upper mount and an eyelet attachment for the lower mount, to install the absorber on each of your wheels and to the body of the SUV or truck itself. There are even additional black rubber bushings to enhance damping action, making this shock absorber great in improving your control and handling.
However, one notable downside is that its monotube design doesn’t come with adjustable valves, so you will not be able to lower the shock piston’s pressure, which is what gives you that stiff feeling when using new shocks.
- Suited for off-road use and heavy-duty applications
- Impeccable damping ability with black rubber bushings
- Ideal for SUVs and trucks
- Susceptible to aeration
- Adjustment valves not included
10. Skyjacker H7091
Last but not least is the Skyjacker H7091, another twin-tube shock absorber that features large-diameter working and reserve chambers and workings similar to those of many other twin-tube shocks. It’s a great option for various four-wheel drives.
The piston assembly that connects to a shaft is contained in the working chamber and features a combined compression rebound valve that makes for seamless flow control of the hydraulic fluid. Meanwhile, the working tube and the reserve chamber are separated by a compression valve located at the base, which also helps control the hydraulic fluid’s flow.
To top it all off, this shock absorber eliminates the issue of aeration that many of its competitors suffer from. This is done by using a special formulation of the hydraulic fluid, aka using additives to stabilize the fluid and sustain air molecules, which ten prevents foam formation inside the shock. This is essential in enjoying the consistent performance.
- Best-in-class for off-roading
- Eliminates aeration issues
- Enhanced overall performance
- No external adjustment valve
How to find the best shock absorber
Finding the best shock absorber is possible if you take into account the most important factors, such as the following:
Shock absorbers are available in many different styles, each with their own pros and cons. So, it’s important that you find the best style based on your specific riding conditions.
Gas shocks typically come as OEM quality shocks with nitrogen gas and oil sealed inside the shocks in order to cushion your ride. These are long lasting shocks that handle extra bounce and are ideal on small vehicles, trucks, and SUVs alike.
Standard shock absorbers are basically what you get when you first purchase your car. These are basic shocks that don’t really come with any special feature and will last for about 100,000 miles at the most.
Heavy duty shocks
On the other hand, heavy-duty shocks are specifically designed for large vehicles such as trucks, vans, and SUVs. These are designed with better attachment points and larger center shafts as compared to standard and gas shocks. The ride feels smooth when there’s a heavy load on the vehicle, but quite stiff when it’s light.
Auto level control shocks
There are also expensive, high-end shock absorbers with automatic level control that you typically see on luxury vehicles. These shocks use an air pump system to keep the ride smooth by responding to differences in weight distribution and adding extra pressure to the shocks in order to compensate for the said difference.
You will also find some air shocks that make use of a manual process to replicate the performance of automatic level control shocks. This works by using an air inlet that allows air to pressurize the shock and lift your vehicle in order to provide better control, therefore improving your ride quality.
Finally, overload shocks or coil-over shock absorbers make use of a spring coil located around the shock cylinder’s outer section, which acts in helping stiffen the reflex action of the shock when it comes to off-roading and other similar applications.
You also need to ensure that the shock absorber you buy is compatible with your vehicle. To give you an idea, here is a list of different vehicle types and the best shock absorbers you can buy for each type:
|VEHICLE TYPE||COMPATIBLE SHOCK ABSORBER|
|Off-road truck||External reservoir shock absorber|
|Raised off-road truck||Monotube gas shock|
|Full-size van||Monotube shock|
|Standard pickup truck||Original equipment replacement shock|
|Standard SUV||Twin tube shock|
|Heavy-duty SUV||Air springs and monotube gas shocks|
Another important consideration is where you drive. For instance, if you most often drive on smooth, paved roads, you can use just about any shock absorber since you won’t be dealing with a lot of bounce. However, if you like to engage in off-roading adventures, you will need a tougher shock absorber that can withstand more abuse.
This means that while you may be able to use a standard or gas shock absorber for normal road and driving conditions, they won’t be enough for rough roads and muddy terrain.
Shock absorbers are made with different materials with varying levels of durability and longevity. What this means is that even if two shocks offer the same level of control, handling, and overall performance, they might have widely different lifespans. This is important if you don’t want to keep replacing your shocks every few thousand miles.
Common shock materials include steel and aluminum, with steel being the cheapest option and also often the most durable, although installation can be quite cumbersome. On the other hand, aluminum shocks are considerably lighter and more adjustable, but they do come with a price.
Speaking of adjustability, the unfortunate reality is that most shock absorbers available today, at least the standard ones, allow for little to no adjustability. However, it’s ideal that you find an adjustable option since this lets you maintain a smooth ride regardless of where you drive and how much load you’re carrying. It also helps with how well you maneuver your vehicle.
Keep in mind that shock absorbers come in different weights and sizes (typically 16 to 24 inches in length for most cases), so not all of the available options you find may meet the specifications to fit your vehicle.
To find the best fit, you need to search your vehicle’s year, make, and model on the manufacturer’s website and follow their recommendations as to which shock size works best for you. You should also understand that you might need to make allowances if you’re planning to raise or lower your vehicle’s height.
The actual lifespan of a shock absorber largely depends on how you drive your vehicle. Having said that, a good quality shock absorber should last you for well over a hundred thousand miles. This means using a fortified and well protected shaft along with a thick piston.
When it comes to the cost of a replacement shock absorber, the first thing you need to do is decide how much you’re willing to spend and come up with a budget that gives you the level of performance you expect without requiring you to spend lots of money.
That said, shock absorbers can cost anywhere from 20 dollars to as high as $500 depending on a lot of factors, including model, size, brand, and added features.
Ease of installation
Finally, if you are planning to install your shock absorbers by yourself rather than employing the help of your local mechanic, you should make sure to find shocks that allow for easy installation. This primarily means shocks that don’t require any modification, since you’ll just need to follow the provided instructions.
However, if you want to use shocks that need some prior modification or customization, it’s best to purchase one with an included mounting kit, along with detailed instructions. Even then, you’ll be better off to leave the actual work to the professionals.
Your car’s shock absorbers are one of the most important automotive parts when it comes to giving you a smooth and comfortable ride without too much vibration and bounce. This is why it’s important to use only good quality shocks, since cheap ones can be harmful to your vehicle and even lead to other issues.
On the contrary, the best shock absorbers like the Monroe MA822 will ensure a safe, bounce free, and comfortable driving experience.