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Best Shock Absorbers (With Buying Guide and Tips For 2019)

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Written by The Motor Guy

Best Shock Absorbers - The Top 7

Shock absorbers are a key component of the suspension system. Using the best shock absorbers is crucial to prevent wear on your tires, break suspension components but most importantly, a good quality shock absorber can save you from a car accident.

Bad, defective or inappropriate shock absorbers have a negative impact on your braking system, including the Anti Lock Brakes (ABS) as well as the Electronic Stability Control (ESC). 

This article will guide you through the best options available regarding best quality, excellent value shock absorbers.

Best Shock Absorbers Detailed Reviews


'Best Shock Absorber For Light Trucks'

Amazon.com prices as of  2019-09-23 at 12:43 UTC Details

Main Features
  • Nitrogen Gas Shock
  • Monotube Construction
  • Patented Hydraulic Lockout

Shock absorbers in the Monroe Reflex series are specially designed for light trucks with a high center of gravity. This particular one, the Monroe Reflex 911533, is a rear monotube gas shock absorber designed to fit most General Motors K1500 series Light Trucks. 

What Makes It Different?

Designing and manufacturing shock absorbers for light trucks is not easy, and when it comes to the GM K1500 series, it's even harder. A truck like the Silverado 1500 is a synonym of hard work and reliability. The Monroe Reflex 911533 does an excellent job providing enhanced handling and control yet maintaining the reliability of OE shock absorbers. This is achieved by the unique piston valve system called "Twin Disc" that reacts to even the smallest motion.

What Vehicle Does It Fit?

This particular Monroe Reflex, the 911533 shock absorber is designed for:

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (2007-2017) 
  • GMC Sierra 1500 (2007-2017) 

Monroe produce a wide range of Reflex shocks, so you should have no trouble finding one to fit your truck or van.

Specifications 

The general specifications for this shock absorber model are:

  • Position: REAR (any side)
  • Type: Monotube shock absorber
  • Main dampening: Nitrogen pressurized gas system
Pros
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    Are a direct replacement for OE shocks
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    Easy to install (with the right tools and skills)
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    Heavy duty, monotube design
Cons
  • Won't fit smaller vehicles

'Best Shocks For Ford/Mazda Light Trucks'

Amazon.com prices as of  2019-09-23 at 13:42 UTC Details

Main Features
  • Gas Pressure Shock
  • Twin Tube Technology
  • Designed to Provide Better Than OE Performance

Bilstein B6 4600 shock absorbers are manufactured to be a direct replacement of the OE part. The Bilstein B6 4600 Series 24-196260, in particular, fits perfectly on Ford Ranger series up to 2011 as well as Mazda B2300 and B300 light trucks.

What Makes Them Different?

The Bilstein B6 4600 Series 24-196260 front shock absorber is engineered to deliver superior performance, better handling, and reduced uncontrolled movements. While they are intended for highway usage you can rely on them for light off-road adventures.

What Vehicle Does It Fit?

This Bilstein B6 4600 Series 24-196260 shock absorber is designed for:

  • Ford Ranger XLT, XL (up to 2011) 
  • Mazda B2300, B3000 (up to 2011) 

The Bilstein B6 range are also available for a wide range of vehicles. It's also worth noting that these shocks are sold individually, not in pairs

Specifications 

The general specifications for this shock absorber model are:

  • Position: FRONT (any side)
  • Type: Monotube shock absorber
  • Main dampening: Bilstein pressurized gas technology
Pros
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    Provide better than OE handling and performance
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    Feature an allen key slot at the top nut to help when fitting
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     Stiffer, more accurate handling
Cons
  • They are usually more expensive than OEM replacement shocks

'Best Shocks For SUVs'

Amazon.com prices as of  2019-09-23 at 13:42 UTC Details

Main Features
  • Direct OE Replacement
  • High Pressure Nitrogen Gas & All Weather Fluid Technology
  • Will Fit A Wide Range of SUVs

The Monroe Reflex 911506 is another great shock absorber from the Reflex series. This particular model fits many SUVs from the General Motors K1500 series like the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Avalanche, Suburban, Tahoe, and GMC Yukon.

What Makes Them Different?

General Motors K1500 SUVs are big and heavy vehicles, with a high center of gravity. The Monroe Reflex 911506 shock absorber does a great job providing a comfortable ride for passengers as well as delivering an enhanced maneuverability and increased weight capacity. 

What Vehicle Does It Fit?

The Monroe Reflex 911506 shock absorber is designed for:

  • Cadillac Escalade, ESV, EXT (2000-2006) 
  • Chevrolet Avalanche (2007-2013)
  • Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 (2002-2006)
  • Chevrolet Suburban (2015-2017)
  • Chevrolet Suburban 1500, GMC Yukon XL 1500 (2000-2014)
  • Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon (2000-2017)
  • GMC Yukon XL (2015-2017)

Specifications 

The general specifications for this shock absorber model are:

  • Position: REAR (any side)
  • Type: Monotube shock absorber
  • Main dampening: High Pressure Nitrogen gas
Pros
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    Provide an OEM suspension 'feel'
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    Easy To Install, direct replacement for OE shocks
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    Feature hydraulic lockout technology to dampen the ride  
Cons
  • Can be more expensive than other shocks

'Best OE Shocks For GM SUV's'

Amazon.com prices as of  2019-09-23 at 11:03 UTC Details

Main Features
  • Genuine recommended GM replacement part
  • Direct replacement for factory shocks
  • Top quality, fit and reliability

The ACDelco 580-435 is the original equipment front shock absorber for General Motors K1500 SUVs like Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Avalanche, Suburban, Tahoe, and GMC Yukon. As you can expect, this gas shock has a superior quality that guarantees smooth rides and peace of mind.

What Makes Them Different?

Front shocks usually suffer more load than rear shocks due to engine weight that should be absorbed by them. Using an OE shock absorber as the ACDelco 580-435 guarantees the same level of reliability of the original part. This is especially important for applications like General Motors K1500 series. Large Sport Utility Vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe or the Cadillac Escalade demand high-quality front shock absorbers, using the ACDelco 580-435 is hands down the safer choice for these applications.

 What Vehicle Do They Fit?

The ACDelco 580-435 shock absorber is designed for:

  • Cadillac Escalade, ESV, EXT (2008-2014) 
  • Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado 1500, Suburban 1500 (2008-2013)
  • Chevrolet Suburban 2500, GMC Yukon XL 1500 (2011)
  • Chevrolet Tahoe (2008-2014)
  • GMC Yukon, Yukon 1500 (2008-2014)
  • GMC Sierra 1500 (2008-2013)

Specifications 

The general specifications for this shock absorber model are:

  • Position: FRONT (any side)
  • Type: Monotube shock absorber
  • Main dampening: pressurized gas
Pros
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    GM Recommended replacement part
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    Restore your SUV to 'factory feel' suspension
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    Come with a limited lifetime warranty
Cons
  • They won't give you better performance or handling
  • Some customers have reported having difficulty ordering more than one at a time

'Best Heavy Duty Rear Shock Absorbers'

Amazon.com prices as of  2019-09-23 at 14:53 UTC Details

Main Features
  • Offer superior handling and feel when driving
  • Produced specially for older GM vehicles (K1500 and Escalade)
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty

Older GM SUVs require excellent quality shocks. The Bilstein B6 4600 Series 24-024211 is a great solution for these vehicles. If you own a Chevrolet Suburban or similar K1500 SUV prior to 1999 then these shocks absorbers are for you.

What Makes Them Different?

The Bilstein B6 4600 Series 24-024211 shock absorber uses a superior monotube gas design that outpaces the original part installed on the vehicle. That translates in a noticeable increase in comfort, handling, and load capacity. They are designed for heavy duty applications, and are even used in NASCAR Supertruck and Pro-Truck competitions!

What Vehicle Do They Fit?

The Bilstein B6 4600 Series 24-024211 shock absorber is designed for:

  • Chevrolet Suburban K1500 Base, LS, SLE, SLT, SLE (1992-1999) 
  • GMC Suburban K1500 Base, LS, SLE, SLT, SLE (1992-1999)

Specifications 

The general specifications for this shock absorber model are:

  • Position: REAR (any side)
  • Type: Monotube shock absorber
  • Main dampening: pressurized gas
Pros
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    Improved handling and feel over OEM shocks
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    Long lasting, German made technology 
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    Designed to last a long time, even with heavy duty loads
Cons
  • Often more expensive than OEM replacement shocks 

'Best OEM Shock Absorbers'

Amazon.com prices as of  2019-09-23 at 10:43 UTC Details

Main Features
  • OEM Shock For Many Volvo, Renault cars
  • High Quality monotube design
  • Produced to OE standards

Not all SUVs are created the same. The Volvo XC90 is a high-tech SUV in every aspect including its suspension system. The Sachs 313 216 rear shock absorber is on par with the high-quality standards demanded by this great vehicle.

What Makes Them Different?

The Sachs 313 216 incorporates all elements necessary to deliver a secure, comfortable and stable ride. They use a monotube design and high-pressure nitrogen to achieve the top performance required by this particular application.

What Vehicle Do They Fit?

The Sachs 313 216 shock absorber is designed for:

  • Volvo XC90 (2002-2015) 

Specifications 

The general specifications for this shock absorber model are:

  • Position: REAR (any side)
  • Type: Monotube shock absorber
  • Main dampening: pressurized gas
Pros
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    OEM fitment
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    Will restore your Volvo/Renault to factory suspension 
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    Easy to fit, direct replacement
Cons
  • Not suitable for all cars
  • Can be more expensive than other shocks on the market  

'Best Shock Absorbers For BMW 3 Series'

Amazon.com prices as of  2019-09-23 at 14:53 UTC Details

Main Features
  • Manufactured to OEM Specification
  • Exact Fit, Easy To Fit
  • Will Fit Most e9x 3-Series Models

When it comes to BMW you know that you need the best and BuyAutoParts 75-834342C is indeed the best option for BMW 3 Series. 

What Makes Them Different?

Besides offering unsurpassed performance and an OEM ride experience, the BuyAutoParts 75-834342C shock absorber comes ready to be mounted on your BMW. This part number includes the pair of shock absorbers with their corresponding strut pre-installed as a kit. All you need is buying this kit, install it, and recover the comfort and security hallmark of BMW 3 Series.

What Vehicle Do They Fit?

The BuyAutoParts 75-834342C shock absorber and strut kit are designed for:

  • BMW 325i (2006) 
  • BMW 328i (2007-2013) 

Specifications 

The general specifications for this shock absorber model are:

  • Position: REAR (any side)
  • Type: Monotube shock absorber
  • Main dampening: pressurized gas
Pros
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    Easy to install, no messing with springs
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    Manufactured to OEM specs
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    Restores your BMW to factory suspension 
Cons
  • They don't fit all wheel drive (x-drive) models

Best Shock Absorber Buying Guide

What Are the Different Types Of Shock Absorbers?

Nowadays, there are three commercially available shock absorber types:

1. Twin-Tube Shocks 

This is the standard type of shock that you can find in any local auto parts store. Since twin-tube shock design has many years on the market it's production process was greatly enhanced and hence it’s the least expensive to manufacture. The main disadvantage of this type of shock absorber is its poor heat management. The friction of the two cylinders makes very difficult to dissipate the heat fast enough and therefore oil starts overheating. When this happens bubbles start appearing inside the oil chamber. Oil is not compressible but the air is. The end result is a huge degradation of the shock performance, in some cases as high as 35%.

2. Monotube Shocks

The evolution of the twin-tube shock absorber is the monotube design. The internal piston travels directly on the cylinder generating less heat. Since the cylinder is directly exposed it can be cooled by the surrounding air resulting in a better heat management. However, this great design comes at a price. The manufacturing process is more complex and hence this kind of shock absorber is more expensive to produce.

3. Gas-Filled Monotube Shocks

The monotube design offers better heat management than its twin-tube counterpart, however, the heat dissipation problem is still there. While driving on bumpy roads oil overheating continues to be an issue. The answer to this situation is a variation of the monotube shock known as gas-filled monotube shock. A high-pressure chamber filled with nitrogen prevents oil overheat. As nitrogen is an inert gas heat can’t build up as quickly as the traditional design. As you may expect, this type of shock absorber is even harder to produce, and the direct consequence is a higher cost.


How To Test For A Bad Shock Absorber

Formally speaking, the right way to test a shock absorber is by using a suspension test machine. This machine uses a special bench and a computer software to apply different levels of vibration to the vehicle’s suspension system. Special sensors measure the suspension dampening and then send the information to the computer. That information is then used to create a vibration graph that can be analyzed to determine the condition of each suspension component, including the shock absorbers.

A good starting point to test a bad shock absorber is mimicking the formal test procedure. Instead of servo-motors, you will use your own strength to produce the vibration pushing and pulling up and down, the front and/or rear of the vehicle several times and then observe how the suspension reacts. If the suspension is in good shape, the vehicle shouldn’t bounce more than twice. In case your vehicle bounces more than twice or simply can’t stop bouncing then chances are that you have a bad shock absorber.

Additionally to the method described above, you should make a meticulous visual inspection of the shock absorber condition. Any sign of hydraulic fluid is enough evidence to replace the shock absorber.


How To Change A Shock Absorber

For the purpose of this article, only stand-alone rear shock replacement will be explained. Front shock absorbers, especially McPherson or integrated shock/struts are very difficult to replace, even dangerous if not done properly. Struts contain huge amounts of potential energy and hence should be treated with extreme caution.

The following instructions assume that you have experience in DIY repairs and the adequate tools to complete the project.

  1. Using a proper jack lift your vehicle and then secure it with two or four jack stands.
  2. Remove the shock bolts. Be aware this bolts may be hard to loosen. A good all-purpose lubricant is recommended. As for the adequate tool, using a wrench is highly advisable.
  3. Remove the shock assembly from the vehicle.
  4. Install the new shock absorber. Use a torque wrench to tighten it properly.
  5. Lower your vehicle and test the new shock absorbers.

As you can see, rear shocks and stand-alone shocks are very easy to replace. Once again a word of warning, don’t be overconfident regarding McPherson type shock absorbers. They require a qualified technician, using special tools to compress the assembly. 

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