10 Best Truck Shocks For A Smooth Ride: Based On Field Test

Don’t you just hate it when you hit a bump, and everyone inside gets tossed in the air? To remedy this annoyance and prevent your truck from getting damaged, you will need shock absorbers.

But not just any shock absorber but the best truck shocks for a smooth ride. So which is the best shock absorber for your truck? In this article, I have compiled a list of 10 shocks that I believe will give you a smooth ride.

The first on my list is the Bilstein (24-186742) 5100 Series Front Shock Absorber. The latter is the best all-around absorber for most trucks. The runners-up position goes to the Gabriel 43167 Rear Load Carrier, which is the best for heavy loads.

But before we get to the reviews, you may be wondering, do I really need new shock absorbers? Let’s find out by looking at some of the common signs of bad shocks.

How do shock absorbers work?

Shock absorbers usually consist of a piston connected to a piston rod and a hydraulic fluid. The up and down movement of the wheel suspension causes the hydraulic fluid to pass through tiny holes.

Since only a small amount of fluid flows through the tiny holes called orifices, the piston slows down. And in slowing down causes the suspension movement to slow down as well.

Common Signs of Bad Shocks

So how do you know it’s time to change your truck’s shocks? Well, here are the six most common signs of worn-out shocks.

Unstable handling at high speeds

When you hit the highway and notice that there is a lot of movement in your car, it is a sign of worn-out shocks. The movement may not be that much, but it will be noticeable.

An abnormally bumpy ride

One of the most noticeable signs of worn-out shocks is a bumpy or rough ride. Your car will feel as if it is losing control every time you hit a bump or porthole. If you experience such a rough ride, it may be time to replace your shocks.

Instability when braking

Worn Out shocks and struts will result in other structural problems. One of the most common is problems with the brakes. You will notice that your car feels unstable and tends to lurch forward when you brake. This will be especially noticeable when you make a hard brake.

Uneven wear of the tire treads

Worn Out shocks will lead to uneven tread wear. You will notice that the tire treads will start wearing out in an inconsistent wavy manner. The normal wear and tear caused by old age is usually more even than wear and tear caused by worn-out shocks.

After a 50,000 miles mileage

Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, it is recommended to replace the shocks after 50,000 miles. It is essential to have them checked after clocking this mileage to ensure they are in good shape.

Visible structural damage to the struts

Worn-out shocks will cause visible structural damage to the struts. One of the most common indicators of structural damage is a fluid leak.

Types of Shock Absorbers

Now that we know when it is appropriate to replace the shocks, what different types of shock absorbers are available?

Twin-tube shock absorbers

Twin-tube shock absorbers are composed of two separate tubes. An outer tube that is exposed to the environment, and an inner one that houses the piston and the hydraulic fluid. These types of absorbers are the most common and also affordable.

However, they do have their drawbacks. For starters, when driving on a bumpy road, the rapid movements of the piston causes the oil to overheat. The overheated oil becomes aerated and bubbly.

This results in the shock’s inability to control the oscillation of the springs. Some versions are built from heavy-duty metals and high-quality hydraulic fluids.

Monotube shock absorbers

These tend to be costlier and rare than mono tubes. As the name suggests, instead of two tubes, these types feature only one tube that houses the piston and hydraulic fluid. One of their main advantages is that they dissipate heat better.

This means the chances of the shock absorber oil overheating are significantly reduced. Under this type, we also have gas-filled monotube shock absorbers. Instead of fluid, these are filled with a gas, in most cases nitrogen.

The benefit of these types is that they do not lose efficiency due to the rapid movement of the piston. Since they use gas, there is no chance of any fluid overheating.

Coil-over shock absorbers

These types are also quite common and feature a spring coil wrapped around the shock absorber tube. These types can be adjusted in height to suit different vehicle configurations. Also, the spring coil enhances the efficiency of the shocks.

External reservoir absorbers

The rarest of all types, these feature an external reservoir where the hydraulic fluid is held. This means the absorber cools quicker than other types. Also, the amount of weight pressing down on the wheels is reduced.

These types of absorbers are made for high-performance cars, such as rally cars. Due to their high price tags, they do not make economic sense for the average driver.

What is the difference between a monotube and a twin-tube shock absorber?

A monotube shock absorber has only one tube that houses the piston and hydraulic fluid. The piston and fluid are housed within an inner tube housed inside another tube in a twin-tube absorber.

This is the main difference between the two. Another notable difference is that monotube absorbers cool quicker since they are exposed to their environment.

Reviews of The Best Truck Shocks for a Smooth Ride

Bilstein (24-186742) 5100 Series Front Shock Absorber

The Bilstein 5100 series shock absorber tends to top most of the best truck shocks for a smooth ride list on the internet. So I was curious to see how these shocks would perform.

I installed these on a 2008 GMC Sierra 2500 Duramax, and I have to say they were quite easy to install. However, some people have complained of having problems fixing these in their trucks. So it may depend on your truck model.

However, this could be because of the lift. These Bilstein shocks work up to a lift of 2 inches. If you have a 4-inch lift truck Bilstein does offer a 4-inch variant. The 46mm digressive piston with a shelf adjusting deflective disc, make them ideal for offroading.

These shocks are compatible with the 2002 GMC Sierra 1500, 2002 GMC Sierra 1500, 2002 GMC Sierra 1500, and 2002 GMC Sierra 1500.

The exterior of these monotube shocks has zinc plating, which should give them a long lifespan. The lifetime warranty you get does also sweeten the deal. Overall, these shocks translate to a smooth and even ride.

What I liked The Most

These shocks are incredibly easy to install. It took me only a few hours to install the front shocks. Also if you know your way around a vehicle, you do not need to call a mechanic for installation.

Also their super damping ability make them ideal for heavy hauling without compromising on street ride

What I Didn’t like

It might not fit all trucks and you may experience some difficulty trying to install them in certain truck models.

Gabriel 43167 Rear Load Carrier

From a monotube to a coil-over absorber in the form of the Gabriel 43167. If your truck tends to squat when hauling heavy loads, you need these shocks.

Firstly, installing these absorbers is relatively straightforward. But the best part is how they perform when hauling heavy loads. With these shocks, I was able to haul 900 pounds of gravel on my truck without it looking like a lowrider.

This is due to the fact that the rear coil springs offer a load capacity of 500 pounds per pair. And as you would expect these shocks are going to increase your truck’s stock height. Depending on the truck this will be anywhere from ½ inch to 1 inch of lift.

These shocks are designed to last. The chrome-finished piston rod is corrosion resistant and helps promote seal lubrication. Thus it does not wear out quickly regardless of usage.

There is also the leak-proof piston seal that helps promote product life. Overall these shock absorbers should last for a long time. The shock absorbers are mainly compatible with Ford trucks including the Bronco, F150, F100, F Super Duty, F250, F350, and Ranger models.

Also, you will experience a significant difference when driving at highway speeds. This makes them an ideal option for transporting heavy loads.

What I liked The Most

These shocks were able to support the truck bed with a heavy load without sagging. This, coupled with their excellent performance on the highway, makes them an ideal option for most.

They are also designed to resist wear and tear, and will serve you for a long time.

What I Didn’t like

Installation on some models, such as specific Ford Ranger models, can be complex, and you may need a shock or strut compressor.

Bilstein 24191203 Shock Absorber

Another Bilstein model that I have to include on my list is the Bilstein 24192103. The latter absorber performed remarkably well. However, like with all other models, it is not without its drawbacks.

You will hardly feel bumps or potholes with these bad boys installed in your truck. They do a remarkable job of providing a smooth ride on all surfaces. In terms of size, these were bigger than the older Bilstein models.

However, I would not recommend these for transporting heavy loads. For driving, they are great but aren’t for transporting heavy loads.

What I liked The Most

The difference they make is significant, especially on potholes and bumps. You will not feel the bumps when driving. Cornering is also improved and can be used in several all-terrain vehicles.

What I Didn’t like

These are a bit soft for heavy trucks, especially those used for transporting heavy loads. I would not recommend them for such purposes.

Monroe Shocks & Struts Gas-Magnum 34690 Shock Absorber

Compared to some of the other absorbers I have reviewed, these Monroe shocks are quite affordable. And this begs the question, will they perform at the same level as their pricier counterparts.

Firstly, as their name suggests, these use gas instead of hydraulic fluid. The gas, in this case, is nitrogen gas. I have always found that gas absorbers tend to perform slightly better on bumps. And these models absorb bumps well.

While they do hold up well, they will rust faster than most. You will notice some rusting after only five months of usage. Nonetheless, even when rusting starts, they do maintain their good performance, so this isn’t such a big problem.

What I liked The Most

Compared to other absorbers, installation is straightforward. More importantly, they offer a remarkably smooth ride and significantly improve cornering.

What I Didn’t like

The absorbers rust easily, and the thin layer of bright yellow pain will start disappearing after only about five months. Also, I found that the bushings were a bit too squeaky and noisy for my liking.

Detroit Axle – 4WD Front Struts w/ Coil Spring Rear Shocks

If you are looking for the best f150 shocks for a smooth ride, let me introduce you to the Detroit Axle shocks. These come as a four-set package containing front shocks and rear spring coil-over shocks.

If you do not have a lot of experience working with cars, I would recommend going to a mechanic for installation. The installation may require some time and tools, but for the most part, if you are no stranger to installing a shock absorber, it will be easy.

These shock absorbers are sold as a pair and will be ideal for the 2004-2013 Ford 150 trucks. These coil-over absorbers will increase the lift of your truck by about 1.5 inches. However, this will depend on the condition of your truck.

Out of the box, the absorbers come ready to install and without the need for any special tools. Thus, while they aren’t OEM parts, they are pretty close in terms of installation.

The fact that you get a complete set of four shocks is excellent. Not many models offer a complete set of four. As for the warranty, it is a ten-year warranty, so no lifetime warranty.

What I liked The Most

These will easily fit any 2009-2013 Ford F-150. Also, the fact that they come in a set of four means you can replace all your absorbers at once.  And compared to other shock absorbers these are quite affordable.

What I Didn’t like

They can be challenging to install, and the average driver may need to have these installed by a professional mechanic.

Gabriel 49235 Hijacker

Gabriel shock absorbers are usually the best for hauling heavy loads. So you can expect good performance with the 49235 Hijacker model. According to the company, they can handle a lifting capacity of 1000 pounds on each pair.

You will notice that these are bigger in diameter than most other models. But this means they are great for what they are designed for. If you have a truck that tends to sag when hauling heavy loads, you will notice a big difference after installing these.

In regards to installation, they are not complicated to install, and you should be able to install them easily.

What I liked The Most

The design is rugged and solid, and the piston rod has a chrome finish that should protect it from rust. Also, the installation is easy as the instruction manual is easy to follow.

What I Didn’t like

The valve stem on this model is made of plastic. At the price you get it at, it is a bit disappointing.

KYB 565104 MonoMax Gas Shock, Red

Another gas shock absorber worth considering is the KYB 565104 MonoMax gas shock. While the likes of the Bilstein 5100 are great models, they cannot match the Monomax’s performance on an HD truck.

If you are going offroad, I would recommend these over other models such as the Bilstein 5100 series. They are heavy duty making them suitable for aggressive driving.

In terms of price, these are actually cheaper than some of the other options on the list. However, their performance cannot be compared to that of these KYB shocks.

What I liked The Most

They are considerably cheaper than some of the other models and handle excellently on rough terrain. They also help improve vehicle grip on the road when towing.

What I Didn’t like

You may find installing this a bit difficult given the instructions manual is in Spanish.

ACDelco 580-435 GM Original Equipment Front Shock Absorber

The second most expensive model on the list, the ACDelco 580-435 GM, had to be on my list. But is the hefty price tag attached to them justified.

While they may be the second most costly on the list, they are actually cheap for an OEM absorber. That’s right, these are original GM OEM absorbers and will fit into your most GM trucks without any problems.

They are designed to be almost the same as the factory shock absorbers found on GM trucks and cars, in particular those with magnetic shocks and air ride suspension. Thus if your vehicle does not have magnetic suspension there may be cheaper options out there.

You will notice an improved ride when you install these. For a Cadillac escalade, you cannot get better replacement shocks than these. Furthermore, they fit perfectly as they are designed to be replacements for original GM absorbers.

What I liked The Most

The pistons on these shocks are large and heavy-duty. Also, since they are OEM replacement shocks, they are easy to install. These are the best option for anyone with a GM truck with magnetic suspension

What I Didn’t like

For some people, these may be a bit too pricey. Also, I noticed that they feel a bit stiff to drive at first and will need some getting used to.

LUFT MEISTER 84176631 580-1108 Pair Front Shock Absorber

The title of the most expensive shocks on my list goes to the LUFT MEISTER 84176631. As with the ACDelco, these are meant to be OEM replacement shocks. So how do they compare to other similar products?

Firstly these are built for trucks and SUVs. As such, they are compatible with Cadillac Escalade 2015-2020 models. As for trucks you can use them on Chevrolet Silverado 2014-2019, and the GMC Sierra 1500.

Due to their price these shocks are not for everyone or for every car model. They feature a magnetic control and will be an ideal fit for vehicles with air bag sensors. This is why these airbags work well with all Escalades from 2015-2019.

If your car does not have airbag sensors then you may want to check other cheaper models. But if does, these shocks will be almost the same as the stock absorbers you want to replace them with

These also offer a smooth and even riding. With these installed, you will not notice any bouncing on your truck, which is excellent.

What I liked The Most

They come with connectors that allow for easy installation. And will significantly improve the handling of your truck.

What I Didn’t like

For most people, these are quite costly and will make sense if you own a Cadillac Escalade or Suburban Silverado.

Tips To Help You Buy A Shock Absorber On A Budget

So what are some of the things you should consider when shopping for shock absorbers for your truck? Here are the main things to consider.

The type of vehicle and absorber

Different shock absorbers are designed to fit into other car models. Thus it is essential to check which models are designed to fit into your truck. Also, the type of shock absorber will matter.

We have already covered the different types of shock absorbers above. Twin-tube shock absorbers are usually cheaper. For heavy-duty trucks, I would recommend gas tube shock absorbers such as the KYB monomax.

Truck and absorber compatibility

As already stated, the type of truck you have will influence the kind of shock absorber to get. Ideally, if you have a raised truck for off-roading, a monotube will be your best option. If you own a standard truck, OEM replacement such as the ACDelco will be a safer bet.

The driving conditions

The condition of the road you typically use will also influence the type of shock absorber to get. For highway driving, a standard absorber will be fine. However, for tougher terrains, you will want something tougher. These will typically be bigger and thicker models.

The ease of installation

How easy shock absorbers are to install will also matter. Some are harder to install than others. Typically units made of steel tend to be challenging to manufacture. This is compared to those made from aluminum, which tends to be easier to install.

How much does it cost?

Ultimately, you want to spend an amount of money you are willing and able to spend on a model. That said, shock absorbers come at different prices. Most shocks have a price range of between $20 and $500.

What is the warranty?

If you are spending a significant amount on shock absorbers, you will want a lifetime warranty on them. However, not all come with a lifetime warranty, and this will depend on the price.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes KYB shocks great?

KYB shocks are typically offered at affordable prices compared to other models. Also, they generally tend to be better for offroading than other models.

Why are shock absorbers important?

As their name suggests, these components absorb the energy of an impact generated when you drive over a bump or pothole. Thus your body does not feel the impact, translating into a smoother ride, especially on rough terrain.

When do I know it’s time to replace my shocks?

If you are having trouble braking and feel the impact of every bump you drive on or pothole.

What is the life expectancy of most absorbers?

Generally, most shocks will have a life expectancy of 50,000 miles. However, some may go for longer.

Should I replace all the shock absorbers at once?

There is no harm in replacing all the shock absorbers at once. However, depending on the condition of your truck, it is still possible to replace them one at a time.

Conclusion

The best truck shocks for a smooth ride will significantly improve the handling of your truck. Also, they will allow for a smooth ride and the ability to haul heavy loads without the truck sagging.

Last Updated on May 27, 2022 by Rifen

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