Best Shock Absorbers

To search for the best shock absorber on the market today, we spent over 16 hoursgoing through websites and checking how the most effective ones compare with each other. We looked for the following factors – vehicle compatibility, shock absorber type, uses in various settings, durability, and easy installation.

After careful scrutiny, we’ve chosen the Bilstein 24-186742 Rear Shock Absorber of the 5100 Series as the top pick due to its efficient monotube design, durable and sturdy construction, excellent handling of changing terrain both on-road and off-road, and the consistently smooth ride it provides. Nabbing the second spot is another shock absorber from the Bilstein 5100 series, the 24-186643 Shock Absorber. Read on to know more about how to choose the best shock absorber and what other models made it to our list.

Top 5 Best Shock Absorber

 #1  Bilstein 24-186742 Rear Shock Absorber

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: Built for heavy-duty use, Bilstein rear shock absorbers are the best truck shocks for a smooth ride in any terrain. It has a chrome-finished, heavy-duty monotube design and a patented digressive valving that can efficiently handle speed bumps and potholes with ease.

Pros
  • Excellent for on or off-road
  • Consistently smooth ride
  • Built for medium to heavy-duty use
Cons
  • Can be a little stiff on small cars

Bilstein shock absorbers are among the best ones on the market. Designed for the GMC Sierra, the Bilstein 24-186742 works particularly well with trucks that perform medium to heavy-duty tasks. It has a 46mm smooth piston and a gas-charged monotube for superior handling and efficient operation. It features a patented digressive valving that reacts instantly to surface changes for a consistently smooth ride even when torsion bars are cranked.

The Bilstein 24-186742 has a direct fit and can be easily installed. Its solid construction ensures durability and long-lasting performance for years. If you want chrome-finished reliable shocks for your truck, get this Bilstein. For the best cars as well, since they will smooth your ride.

 #2  Bilstein 24-186643 Shock Absorber

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: Designed for the Chevrolet Avalanche, this Bilstein is arguably the best shocks for 4×4 trucks with its monotube gas pressure construction, self-adjusting disc valves, and high-flow piston. The Bilstein 24-186643 gives you reliable fade-free performance on any terrain.

Pros
  • Best budget
  • High-flow piston for smooth operation
  • Self-adjusting deflecting disc valving
Cons
  • Relatively long for non-lifted vehicles

The monotube high gas pressure design of the Bilstein 24-186643 enables it to have a cooler and more efficient operation. It has a high flow 46mm piston that reduces harshness and a digressive valving that self-adjusts and deflects automatically. Its zinc exterior adds to its durability, ensuring several years of reliable service.

This shock absorber was designed for the 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 but can also work for a few other vehicles. Its length can range from 12.54” (318.5mm) to 16.3” (414mm), which is longer than other shock absorbers. For even more Bilstein shock absorbers, check out the 24-186636 Shock Absorber on Amazon.com, which is well suited for lifted trucks and SUVs and uses a velocity sensitive piston that reacts well to changing driving conditions. This also comes with the Bilstein Limited Lifetime Warranty. Check your vehicle’s specifications to ensure compatibility before buying any best car accessories.

 #3  Monroe 58620 Load Adjust Shock Absorber

Award: Best Load Adjusting

WHY WE LIKE IT: These could be the best shock absorbers for light trucks or tow trailers mainly because of their load adjusting capability, full displaced valving, and all-weather fluid. Its smooth rod operation and adaptability to various terrains ensure consistent ride even on extreme road conditions.

Pros
  • Best for light trucks
  • Heavy gauge calibrated springs
  • Full displaced valves
Cons
  • Not ideal for vehicles with no rear ABS

If you have a light truck that you use to carry varying loads on different surfaces and extreme conditions, the Monroe Load Adjust Shock Absorber would be a good choice for you. It has heavy gauge calibrated springs that can help maintain ride height even when handling up to 1,100 pounds of load. It also has full displaced valving that automatically adjusts to road conditions for a consistent ride. You get no rear end bouncing even when going over bumps.

The Monroe 58620 also has fluon banded pistons that increase handling control and enhance durability. Its all-weather fluid also reduces friction and ensures smooth rod reaction. These shocks can help light trucks and SUVs effectively adapt to any road condition — even extreme ones. You may also want to read about the best car battery charger to make sure your car is good to go.

 #4  Monroe 58640 Load Adjusting Shock Absorber

Award: Best for Towing

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Monroe 58640 gives a smooth ride whether you’re riding empty, carrying a load, or towing a trailer. These load adjusting shock absorbers can maintain ride height while handling loads of up to 1,100 pounds or towing trailers of more than 6,000 pounds.

Pros
  • Heavy-gauge calibrated spring
  • Fluon-banded piston with all-weather fluid
  • Full-displaced valving
Cons
  • Rear is slightly higher without load or trailer

If you’re looking for shocks that are reliable for loading, towing, or doing some farm work, the Monroe 58640 is worth considering. This load adjusting shock absorber has been proven reliable for towing trailers as heavy as 6,800 pounds with no sagging at all. Plus, they also ride smooth when riding empty.

Like most Monroe shock absorbers, this model has a fluon-banded piston, all-weather fluid, and full-displaced valving. All these features work together to ensure a consistently smooth ride regardless of surface and weather conditions. Another great shock absorber to replace your factory air shocks with is the Pair ATSA003, which is best for Cadillac, Chevy, and GMC vehicles and has dimensions of 26.9 x 4.5 x 4.9 inches. Use the best car jack to install these. And you might also need the best truck bed liner mats.

 #5  ACDelco 580-435 GM Front Shock Absorber

Award: Best Quality

WHY WE LIKE IT: The ACDelco 580-435 is an exact OEM replacement for your GM shock absorber, ensuring the same reliable and long-lasting performance. This shock absorber is specifically designed to fit your GM vehicle perfectly, handling bumps and vibrations effectively for better ride quality.

Pros
  • Best GM replacement
  • Effectively absorbs bumps and vibrations
  • Lightweight design
Cons
  • A bit pricey

This ACDelco Front Shock Absorber was built to match original GM shocks and have the same fit and form. It’s also designed to provide the same smooth and reliable performance of original GM shock absorbers. With this model, you’re ensured a high-quality and durable OEM replacement.

Shock absorbers are engineered to work efficiently with almost any type of vehicle including cars, SUVs, and light trucks. They help absorb bumps and other road imperfections, enable better handling and control, and provide consistent ride performance. ACDelco overall makes a whole assortment of quality products, like the 530-301 Premium Gas Charged Shocks. These are heavy duty, twin tube passive replacement shocks that have a high pressure nitrogen gas charge to provide comfort and extra control. And if you are working on your car, make sure you have the best garage lighting.

How We Decided

In choosing the best shock absorbers, we checked for durability, performance, and ease of installation. All those that made it to our list are made of high-quality materials and solid construction that can provide a lasting performance of 5 years or more. If you also want a trailer that will stand the test of time, take a look at this list to find the best trailer tires on the market.

These shock absorbers are also proven to provide smooth rides with monotube gas designs or load-adjusting functions that perform well both on empty and with load. Also, their installation is pretty straightforward if you are handy with tools and instructions. You can easily complete setup in a couple of hours or less.

Best Shock Absorber Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Factors to Consider

  1. Compatibility
    When buying shock absorbers, your primary consideration must be compatible with your vehicle. You may have the best performing or most durable shocks, but if they don’t fit your vehicle, they’re practically useless. So always check the specifications, and make sure that it fits your vehicle. Most manufacturers provide a list of compatible vehicles, but if there’s none, just compare the specs of both the shocks and your vehicle.
  2. Type
    There are several types of shock absorbers with each one intended for use for a specific vehicle type or purpose. For instance, a twin-tube shock can be used for an SUV but won’t work on an off-road truck. For vehicles like cars, vans, and light trucks, monotube gas shocks are a good choice. These are versatile and affordable too. For vehicles that handle heavy loads such as trucks and trailers, heavy-duty monotube shocks are essential. If you use your vehicle off-road, overload shocks or coil-over shocks give you better cushioning on rough terrain.
  3. Durability
    You don’t want to be changing shocks every few thousand miles so you must ensure that your shocks are made from highly durable material and have solid construction. The most common materials used are steel and aluminum. These are usually finished with a zinc or chrome exterior for added longevity. The typical life span of shock absorbers is 1 to 5 years, but really good ones can last even up to 10 years with proper maintenance.
  4. Use
    Another important factor you need to consider is how and where you’ll be using your vehicle. Will you be carrying light or heavy loads? Will you be driving on smooth roads or rough terrain? For normal driving conditions, almost any standard or gas shocks would do as there isn’t much bounce or abuse to deal with. However, tougher heavy-duty shocks are required for off-road driving. In this case, choose shocks that can withstand muddy roads and rough gravel.
  5. Installation
    Easy installation is vital if you prefer doing things on your own. All shocks come with instruction manuals that may or may not have detailed directions on how to install a unit. If you have adequate mechanical skills, look for shocks that are easy to install. However, for shock absorbers that require modifications for installation, it’s always best to call your favorite mechanic.

Shock Absorbers FAQs

Do shocks really make a difference?

Absolutely, yes. Shocks reduce the amount of bounce in your vehicle so you have a more comfortable and safer ride. They also help reduce the maintenance cost of your vehicle as they ease the compression and rebound of your suspension system.

How do I know when my shocks are bad?

When you start feeling those bumps and potholes more, your shocks may not be performing as well as they should. Bad shocks also result in excessive leaning when turning around corners. Other tell-tale signs of bad shocks that need replacing are unusual noises when going over bumps and uneven tire wear.

What’s the difference between gas shocks and regular shocks?

Gas and oil shocks typically have similar designs and basically work the same way. The difference is that gas shocks have no risk of aeration and enable cooler operation. This results in a more consistent shocks valve rate and smoother operation. On the other hand, regular shocks tend to heat up the oil. This causes the valve rate to change as gas bubbles form and the oil gets foamy.

How do I choose shock absorbers?

All shock absorbers generally have the same basic components: pistons, valves, and fluid. However, each type of shock accomplishes tasks differently. Twin-tubes are ideal for highway truck drivers who don’t require much speed but need more support for heavy loads. Gas-charged monotubes are best for frequent off-roaders or those that drive at high speeds because gas shocks have very little risk of aeration and better heat dissipation. So in choosing shock absorbers, always consider how you use your vehicle and the road conditions you frequently encounter.

Which is better KYB or Bilstein?

While both KYB and Bilstein are very reliable brands, they do have slight differences. KYB is popular for its Monomax series built for heavy load tasks, while Bilstein is known for its long-lasting 5100 series shocks. KYB shocks are better at cornering and more affordable but performance-wise aren’t really at par with Bilstein. Bilsteins are generally more durable, provide a smoother and more comfortable ride, and better for off-road driving.

What is the best brand of shock absorbers?

According to most consumers, Bilstein is the go-to brand for any type of shock absorber. KYB and Monroe follow close behind in terms of popularity and reliability. Bilstein shocks are known for their excellent handling of varying loads both on and off-road. Their gas pressure technology and rising rate valving enable shocks to react more quickly to changes in road conditions. Monroe shocks are cheaper but aren’t as heavy-duty as the other two. KYB is somewhere in between in terms of both performance and affordability.

Who makes the best shocks and struts?

Bilstein is arguably the best brand when it comes to shock absorbers. But for shocks and struts combo, we recommend you go for Detroit Axle. Detroit Axle is known for its high-quality full strut assemblies that improve the stability of vehicles. Their struts effectively absorb vibrations from uneven road conditions, providing a smoother and more comfortable ride.

What’s better KYB or Monroe shocks?

KYB and Monroe are both known for reliable OEM replacements. In choosing between the two, consider your vehicle type and the conditions you’d be driving in. KYB shocks are generally stiffer and allow you firmer control of your vehicle. These are great for driving on rough terrain as you get less bounce and more control. On the other hand, Monroe shocks are less stiff and provide a smoother ride. They give you better performance on smoother roads.

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Geri Mileva

Based in Prague, CZ, Geri is a freelance writer with nine years of experience. Technology, marketing and finance are among her favorite topics to write about. She's also a strong advocate of plant-based and ethical living.

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