Shock absorbers are a crucial part of your car’s suspension system. They prevent wear and tear on tires and break suspension, and can even save your life in an accident.
So, selecting a shock absorber that won’t betray you in your hour of need is incredibly important.
In this article, you’re going to learn about the best shock absorbers for your car, and why they’re superior to their competitors. But before you know which product to buy, let’s talk about what shock absorbers are and why they’re so important.
A shock absorber (a.k.a. a damper) is a hydraulic device made to help your car absorb and lessen shock impulses. It converts the kinetic energy from the received shock into heat energy and dissipates it. Shock absorbers are particularly important for high vehicles, which can sometimes struggle and even tip over in harsh driving conditions.
Additionally, the ride height control that shock absorbers provide can improve your car’s handling and reduce the aerodynamic drag by lowering it. So, shock absorbers give you more control, ensure your safety, and can even increase the performance of your vehicle.
Benefits of Using Shock Absorbers
The importance of shock absorbers lies in the stability they provide to your car. They do so by boosting the friction between your car tires and the road. Without them, the vertical energy from your wheels would shift to the frame and cause the wheels to lose contact with the surface you’re driving on.
In addition to providing more stability to your vehicle, shock absorbers were made with the passenger’s comfort in mind. By reducing the magnitude of the vibrations caused by imperfections on the road, the “shocks” will make every drive a smooth one.
Additionally, worn-out shock absorbers come with great potential for harm. They can cause you to lose control over your vehicle’s stopping distance, and put you at risk of an accident. So, now that you know what shock absorbers are, and why they’re integral to your comfort and safety, let’s see what the 10 best shock absorbers are.
Reviews of Top 10 Best Shock Absorbers
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a shock absorber that won’t rust or break off mid-drive — and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. So, I have written this article to ensure you can make an educated decision when buying one.
1. Monroe 58640 Load Adjusting Shock Absorber
Monroe 58640 features improved ride comfort in the rear end of your car and is perfect for off-road and tow vehicles. It’s self-adjustable, so the shocks will automatically adjust to the added weight once you start driving. These absorbers can withstand up to 1,100lbs of additional weight and even include a gauge calibrated spring for more comfort and control.
Monroe 58640 shock absorbers feature custom modifiers that can reduce friction and ensure smooth rod reaction. So, this might be one of the best shock absorbers for you if you live in an area with more periods of precipitation.
Additionally, the shock absorber’s valving can automatically adjust to the conditions of the road to provide a more stable driving experience. Monroe shock absorbers also feature a Fluon band, which increases durability and offers better driving control. This band is what provides consistent sealing between the pressure tube and the piston.
Monroe offers one of the best shock absorbers for tow trailers and smaller trucks. However, keep in mind that it’s a bit stiffer than other shock absorbers, so driving with them takes some getting used to. Also, it’s only made for Ram 1500 vehicles, and can’t be used with Ram 2500 ones.
2. Bilstein (24-186742) 5100 Series Rear Shock Absorber
Bilstein (24-186742) 5100 is one of the best shock absorbers for those who enjoy off-roading or hauling on a daily basis. The product features a monotube design to ensure more efficient vehicle operation and a longer lifespan. Additionally, it also has a digressive valving system that can instantly react to changing surface conditions.
This shock absorber features a steel body with a zinc finish and a chrome-plated steel rod. Additionally, the overall design allows it to take a great amount of pressure, and withstand a lot of wear and tear.
Bilstein offers a generous warranty policy on a great number of their products, and the 5100 Series is no exception. Although it’s not transferable, the warranty does ensure your shock absorber will be in great working condition for quite some time.
Lastly, with a 95-inch body, 46mm piston size, and 14mm eye, the model is perfect for heavy trucks. Even though it’s not the best for lighter trucks and cars, you can still install it.
All that said, the shock absorber is a bit too stiff, and might not be the best fit for lightweight vehicles or trucks. It’s also a bit more difficult to install, compared to other models I have listed in this article.
3. Acdelco 580-435 GM Original Equipment Front Shock Absorber
ACDelco’s car parts are some of the more popular ones available, and their shock absorbers are no exception. ACDelco 580-435 GM is quite sturdy and offers a lot of stability and grip control. It is engineered to meet the original material (OE) standards for exceptional application and enhanced performance.
The company offers some of the best shock absorbers for many different types and makes of cars. You can use them with any General Motors car, including sport utility vehicles and light-duty trucks.
ACDelco is a known name in the automotive industry, and the company is revered for producing high-quality products. Additionally, the company’s 580-435 GM absorbers offer a lot of support and make for a much more comfortable drive.
Unfortunately, there have been some complaints about the quality and durability of this particular shock absorber, as it can leak within a few months of installation.
4. GABRIEL 43162 REAR SPRING ASSIST LOAD CARRIER SHOCKS
Gabriel 43162 features advanced shock and spring technology, and can be used with heavy-duty vehicles and trucks. It also has constant-rate coil springs, which allow your car to have better stability while maintaining the ride height. Additionally, the shock absorber can handle up to 500lbs of extra load capacity.
Because it can take up to 500lbs of extra weight, Gabriel 43162 is arguably the best shock absorber for heavy-duty use. You can also buy it even if you have a lighter car, as it can self-adjust to fit its weight.
Additionally, the product features a chrome piston rod, which helps inhibit corrosion and ensure proper seal lubrication. It also features a leak-proof piston seal, so the shock absorber can last longer.
Finally, as it’s made with heavier vehicles in mind, Gabriel 43162 offers a lot of security on the road. The front coil springs are what helps it improve and maintain stability — no matter the driving conditions.
The shock absorber is loved by many, but some customers have complained about an inconsistency in the quality of the materials the company uses.
5. Belltech 9145 Nitro Drop 2 Shock Absorber Set
Belltech 9145 Nitro Drop is made with the goal of fitting every vehicle, and it can fit different makes of sports trucks, SUVs, and cars. They feature a durable dust boost which keeps the absorbers clean for a longer period of time. Also, Belltech is known for its high-quality manufacturing process and materials, and is a force to be reckoned with.
This is one of the best shock absorbers on the market because of the cavitation valves that prevent them from losing effectiveness. So, they will go through less wear and tear over time, and will be more productive during their lifespan.
Belltech 9145 Nitro Drop puts a premium on performance and is a durable, high-quality OEM product. Moreover, this type of performance is rarely found in entry-level shock absorbers.
You can feel the quality of the materials and the manufacturing process when you install these shock absorbers. I can all but guarantee you’ll be in for a much smoother ride if you start using Belltech 9145 Nitro Drop.
What truly sets Belltech Belltech 9145 Nitro Drop 2 is the technology the company uses to create its products. It even features cavitation-free valve assembly to prevent any external elements from lessening the effectiveness of its products.
6. Monroe ma822 Max-Air Adjust Shock Absorber
Monroe Monroe MA822 Max-Air offers great grip control and consistently provides high levels of performance. It features modifiers that can reduce friction and ensure a smoother driving experience. Moreover, the absorber can easily maintain the vehicle height levels, and you can inflate and deflate it when you need to.
Monroe MA822 Max-Air can easily keep up with you through all types of weather and driving conditions. The shock absorber also fits many different types and makes of cars — including oldtimers. So, Monroe MA822 Max-Air might be the best absorber for you if you love older car models.
This is one of the best shock absorbers for low trailers and vehicles that haul heavy loads. The only downside is that Monroe MA822 doesn’t come with retainer nuts or lower bolts. So, if you accidentally break one of those while installing it — you’ll have to go and purchase it.
The shock absorbers are quite easy to install, and the whole process shouldn’t last longer than an hour. If you’re not sure how to replace your old shock absorbers, you can watch this video.
7. KYB 349105 Excel-G Gas Shock
This model features a sleek black design and is the perfect shock absorber for most Asian minivans. Additionally, it has a Teflon-coated piston band to ensure a longer lifespan. It’s made specifically to help you restore the control and handling you had when the car was brand new.
KYB 349105 Excel-G Gas Shock is made from superior OE quality components, and the absorber helps you have more control and feel safer while you’re driving. Moreover, I consider it to be one of the best shock absorbers because it provides better responsiveness, handling, and stability than most.
Excel-G is built to last and can go through different driving scenarios without losing power along the way. You can depend on these shock absorbers to last you for tens of thousands of miles.
The Excel-G model might be one of the best shock absorbers for all minivans — but it’s not without its flaws. Many customers complain about a rattling noise that starts to occur near the passenger door after installing the absorber.
8. KYB 565104 Monomax Gas Shock
The KYB MonoMax features a monotube design that the company claims is superior and can outperform all other shock absorbers. Moreover, the company claims that its product can help you attain up to 40% better damping, compared to its competitors. It’s coated with Zinc and has a stainless steel piston that provides a great seal even in the most extreme weather conditions.
The KYB MonoMax offers some of the best shock absorbers for heavier trucks, or vehicles with a higher center of gravity. The model can provide more security and stability than most of its competitors.
The absorber is perfect for heavier trucks and more difficult driving conditions. So, you shouldn’t fear it giving out on you when you need it most. This particular model has a great reputation among truck and off-road drivers. It can persevere through extreme conditions and has a long lifespan.
The KYB MonoMax also contains a rubber boot that can protect the shaft and keep all debris and dirt away from the seals. Unfortunately, some complain that the absorber can develop a squeaking noise over time.
9. Fox Racing 98024677 Shock Absorber
FOX has a great reputation for building high-performing equipment, and the company has many years of valuable experience. The absorber is made from aluminum to maximize damping efficiency and help heat dissipate faster.
Fox Racing 98024677 shock absorber is made with race cars in mind, so the company does everything it can to improve the performance of your vehicle. Additionally, the absorbers are made to last, and you can use them in more extreme driving conditions.
The greatest part is that these absorbers are 100% tunable and serviceable — you don’t have to throw them away if something happens. So, these might be the best shock absorbers for you if you own several sporty cars, or don’t want to keep buying new ones all the time. However, they’re not quite as easy to install as the majority of other shock absorbers I have mentioned in this article.
10. Monroe 34690 Gas-Magnum Truck Shock Absorber
The Monroe 34690 Gas-Magnum is perfect for mid and full-size pickup vans and trucks. It has twice the amount of fluid capacity and helps your car run smoother, with less effort. The shock absorber can adapt to bumpy roads and offers firm control.
Additionally, it features a nitrocarburized rod for a long service life. The Monroe 34690 Gas-Magnum can really roll with the punches and won’t let you down when you need it most. So, it’s one of the best shock absorbers for all full-size vans and trucks.
It’s weather-fluid and it reduces friction in order to ensure smoother rod reaction. Also, the shock features displaced valving that allows it to have a better range on the extension and compression cycles.
The absorber has a sintered iron piston that is much stronger than traditional materials. Additionally, it contains a reserve tube that produces more fluid than most. All of these features add up to a much more durable shock absorber. However, it can start rusting soon after you first purchase it — as early as 5 months.
Types of Shock Absorbers
The first thing you need to do to ensure that you get what you need is to choose the right type of shock absorbers. The type of vehicle will determine the kind of absorber you need. You can choose between heavy-duty, standard, automatic, air, and overload shocks.
Not all shock absorbers are the same, and while all are good to have — some provide a bit more comfort than others. Let’s see how different types of shocks compare to each other, and what they’re good for.
Standard shocks can fit almost any car with a conventional suspension system and are the closest to being OEM. Don’t let the name fool you, as they can still help you minimize unwanted motions such as rocking, pitch, and bounce. They’ll also assist you in handling your vehicle with more ease.
Heavy-duty absorbers are perfect for large vehicles that need more stabilization or have a bigger carrying capacity. These shocks are typically gas-charged and provide greater efficiency and a higher impact weight.
Adjustable Air Shocks
Adjustable air shock absorbers can quickly adapt to your car, driving style and conditions — and can handle both regular driving and heavy hauling. Instead of the typical spring that the standard models have — these shocks have an inflatable gas bag. The best part about them is that they’re (as the name suggests) fully adjustable.
Overload shock absorbers can carry heavy payloads and have a spring coil over the piston that creates more resistance. They can help your vehicle balance out the weight and you can adjust them to fit multiple ride heights.
Automatic Level Control
Automatic level control absorbers are similar to air shocks — with one crucial difference. They have a system that can detect the type of surface you’re driving on, and adjust the absorber accordingly. The adjustments happen in real-time, and in all types of driving conditions.
Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Shock Absorber
The best way to truly test out a shock absorber is to use a suspension test machine. The machine uses special computer software and a bench and applies varying levels of vibrations to your car’s suspension system. However, there are some things you should take into consideration before testing your absorbers.
The lifespan of your shock absorbers is determined by the roads you’re driving on. So, if you love going on wild off-road road trips, standard absorbers won’t be able to do the job.
Also, if you spend a lot of time on muddy or gravel roads, you’ll need a heavy-duty shock — preferably a monotube or twin-tube one. However, if you’re the average Joe who uses newer concrete roads, a light-duty device will do the trick.
How Easy Is It to Install It
Some models require you to make adjustments to your car before installing them, and you’ll need to take that into consideration before making a purchase. If you have your heart set on that complex shock absorber — go for it! But most people (myself included) want one that we can easily install in an hour or less.
Shocks come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re most commonly made from steel and aluminum. Steel absorbers are usually cheaper, but they’re more difficult to install and can’t be adjusted. On the other hand, aluminum is lighter and adjustable — so most people prefer it.
Keep in mind that the material is what dictates how well the shocks work and how long they last. So, the best shock absorbers must have a sturdy construction and consist of a material that can withstand a lot of pressure.
Lastly, remember that if you do not install the correct absorber, you will have a problem and may have to keep changing it, as well as some other parts of your car.
When Should You Replace Your Shock Absorbers?
If your car starts losing grip while you’re driving, it could be a sign that your shock absorbers need to be replaced. There are two more easy ways to spot a pair of malfunctioning shocks — appearance and sound.
First of all, when you notice rust taking over the absorber, there are no tune-ups that can help you, and you have to replace it. Additionally, if you hear it making a squeaky sound (usually by the passenger side door), it could signify a broken shock absorber. However, this could be easily fixed with a tune-up and service.
If you still need more help on replacing a shock absorber (either rear or front), you can watch this video to learn how to do it.
Shock absorbers play a major role in maintaining your suspension system and helping your car run smoothly. Most of us think about driving within the speed limit or buckling up are the only things that keep us safe. However, every car-lover and mechanic will tell you that shock absorbers have an integral role in keeping your car in optimal driving condition.
So, now that you know why shock absorbers are important and what to look for in them — there’s no excuse not to buy them. I hope this article makes you feel confident about deciding on the best shock absorbers, as I can guarantee you’ll be in for a smoother ride.