10 Best Shock Absorbers – Reviews & Buying Guide

Best Shock Absorbers

Just as their name suggests, shock absorbers are meant to absorb shock or dampen the ride to make it smoother. Your vehicle will undergo all kinds of shaking and bouncing when on the road, but with the best shock absorbers, you will hardly notice any of it.

Shock absorbers will work by dampening the shaking and bounce that come from the spring and tires and by ensuring the chassis does not also move according to these actions.

Like with most other vehicles parts, they get worn out at some points or even get damaged as a result of things like broken seals or leaking oil, and so you will need to change them.

When it comes to replacing shock absorbers, you need to find something that suits your vehicle and improves the ride quality. Here we review 10 top rated shock absorbers and also highlight some crucial things you need to know about these important vehicle part.

10 Best Shock Absorbers - Reviews

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Product Name

Type

Position

Rating

Current Price

Bilstein 5100 Series Rear Shock Absorber

1. Bilstein 5100 Series Rear Shock Absorber

Mono-Tube

Rear

4.7

ACDelco 580-435 GM Original Equipment Shock Absorber

2. ACDelco 580-435 GM Original Equipment Shock Absorber

Mono-Tube

Front

4.4

KYB 349105 Excel-G Gas Shock Absorber

3. KYB 349105 Excel-G Gas Shock Absorber

Twin-Tube

Rear

4.4

Bilstein 24191203 Shock Absorber

4. Bilstein 24191203 Shock Absorber

Mono-Tube

Rear

4.5

Monroe MA822 Max-Air Adjust Shock Absorber

5. Monroe MA822 Max-Air Adjust Shock Absorber

Mono-Tube

Rear

4.3

Bilstein 24-187374 Monotube Shock Absorber

6. Bilstein 24-187374 Shock Absorber

Mono-Tube

Rear

4.9

Monroe 911262 Reflex Truck Shock Absorber

7. Monroe 911262 Reflex Truck Shock Absorber

Mono-Tube

Rear

4.7

KYB 565102 MonoMax Gas Shock Absorber

8. KYB 565102 MonoMax Gas Shock Absorber

Mono-Tube

Rear

4.1

Monroe 31000 Monro-Matic Shock Absorber

9. Monroe 31000 Monro-Matic Shock Absorber

Twin-Tube

Rear

4.2

ACDelco 530-301 Professional Gas Charged Shock Absorber

10. ACDelco 530-301 Professional Shock Absorber

Twin-Tube

Front

4.1

#1. Bilstein 5100 Series Rear Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Bilstein 5100 Series Rear Shock Absorber
  • Type: Mono-Tube
  • Position: Rear

Blistein is always the best brand to go for when looking for the best shock absorber for smooth rides, and this is one of the key reasons why their 5100 Series rear shock is our top pick.

The shock is made from a sturdy and durable metal to ensure that it serves you for many years and it makes use of some top-notch technologies for an impressive performance.

These technologies include the 46 mm mono-tube design that helps to ensure consistent and fade-free performance in all driving conditions. And the patented digressive valving that will react instantly to changing surfaces for smooth and consistent rides.

With the OEM certified mounting hardware that comes with this rear shock, installation should be straightforward, and you will not need to pay a professional to do it. The shock will also come with a lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • Consistent and fade-free performance
  • Easy installation
  • Instant reaction to surface changes
  • Sturdy and durable metal
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Still a little stiffer than factory shocks

#2. ACDelco 580-435 GM Original Equipment Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

ACDelco 580-435 GM Original Equipment Shock Absorber
  • Type: Mono-Tube
  • Position: Front

For those that use their light trucks on various surfaces, this shock absorber by ACDelco is meant to ensure that you always get smoother and more comfortable rides.

Despite the fact that it is the priciest item on our shock absorber reviews, you can be confident that you will get what you pay for as they are not only high-performing and reliable but also last for a long time.

The front shock absorber is built to match your original factory shocks in fit, form, and function, and so with these shocks on your light truck, you can be confident of great control and smooth rides.

ACDelco also provides the necessary mounting hardware and parts for simple and precise replacement.

Pros:

  • Built to GM OE specifications
  • Durable materials
  • High-quality and reliable
  • Hardware included for simple and precise replacement

Cons:

  • Relatively pricier

#3. KYB 349105 Excel-G Gas Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

KYB 349105 Excel-G Gas Shock Absorber
  • Type: Twin-Tube
  • Position: Rear

KYB is one of the best shock absorber brands out there and many vehicle owners love their products as they are not only high quality but also come at a relatively affordable price tag.

This particular rear gas shock has been specially calibrated to ensure that you get the original handling and control characteristics or at least something that is as close to this as possible.

The shock absorber uses a seamless working cylinder that is matched with a Teflon coated piston band to ensure that it has a positive seal for a long service life.

With this shock absorber, you will also get to retain correct wheel alignment thanks to the precision, sintered iron strut rod. And the shock absorber also comes with solid mounting eye rings and some bolt bushings to eliminate rattles.

Also, it has been engineered to be highly useful for vehicles with the electronic safety system, and it is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • Restores original handling and control characteristics
  • Long lasting cylinder and piston
  • Helps retain proper wheel alignment
  • Relatively affordable
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Bolt holes seem a little too close

#4. Bilstein 24191203 Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Bilstein 24191203 Shock Absorber
  • Type: Mono-Tube
  • Position: Rear

Here is another top-notch quality mono-tube shock absorber from Bilstein that is designed to ensure that you get a better ride quality and improved handling and control.

The mono-tube design provides a consistent and fade-free performance for the lifetime of the shock, and it also makes these shocks ideal for a variety of terrains.

With the unique velocity and sensitive digressive piston, this shock is designed to react instantly to changing road conditions to ensure a smooth transition from one surface type to the other.

Also, the shock absorbers in this series are tuned specifically for each application which ensures that they will provide optimal performance on any vehicle. And like most other Bilstein shock absorbers, these ones also come with a lifetime warranty.

Pros:

  • Consistent fade-free performance
  • Instant reaction to road condition changes
  • Improved ride quality and better handling
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Damping is a little too soft for heavy trucks

#5. Monroe MA822 Max-Air Adjust Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Monroe MA822 Max-Air Adjust Shock Absorber
  • Type: Mono-Tube
  • Position: Rear

Monroe is one of the oldest shock absorber brands and what this means is that they have had more than enough time to know what works well for all kinds of vehicles.

Their MA822 are mono-tube shock absorbers with an air adjustable internal design that will let you inflate or deflate the shock as needed to suit different vehicle loads.

Smooth and comfortable rides are also guaranteed with these Monroe shock absorbers thanks to the fully displaced valving that provides a better valving range for both the compression and extension cycles.

These shocks use an all-weather fluid with special modifiers that help to reduce friction and also ensure smooth rod reaction.

The shock absorbers can be adapted to most vehicles that use an automatic leveling system. And they will work great for heavy vehicles or those that pull trailers as they are designed to provide proper ride height even when additional weight is added.

Pros:

  • Smooth and comfortable rides
  • Consistent and long lasting rod
  • Relatively easy installation
  • Great for heavy vehicles
  • Inflatable as needed

Cons:

  • Does not come with retainer nuts or lower bolts

#6. Bilstein 24-187374 Monotube Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Bilstein 24-187374 Monotube Shock Absorber
  • Type: Mono-Tube
  • Position: Rear

Like most other top-notch quality mono-tube shock absorbers, these Bilstein ones are also designed to ensure that you always get consistent and fade-free performance.

Also, the installation is quite straightforward as the manufacturer provides everything that you will need, and it should only take a couple of hours at most.

The velocity-sensitive digressive pistons are designed to react fast to changing road conditions for smooth and consistent rides. And each of these shocks undergoes an application specific tuning for optimal performance.

These shocks are a direct fit for a lifted truck and other vehicles like SUVs and once you install them you can be confident of significant improvement of handling, ride quality and also the comfort level.

Pros:

  • Consistent and fade-free performance
  • Easy installation
  • Velocity sensitive piston
  • Application-specific tuned
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Not adjustable

#7. Monroe 911262 Reflex Truck Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Monroe 911262 Reflex Truck Shock Absorber
  • Type: Mono-Tube
  • Position: Rear

Monroe 911262 is a top rated shock absorber that uses ASD technology which is an innovative valving design that provides greater control for improved handling and also improves the ride comfort.

The shocks also use an all-weather fluid that is designed to reduce friction while also ensuring smooth rod reaction.

The Monroe 911262 has a Fluon Banded piston that provides a consistent seal between the pressure tube and piston for better control and also to ensure maximum durability.

Also, the ASD valve on this shock absorber will sense acceleration for improved handling and safety while also enhancing the overall ride characteristics on your SUV, light truck or minivan.

Installation is also relatively easy even if you have never installed shocks before and provided you choose the right ones for your vehicle they will be a perfect fit.

Pros:

  • Improved ride comfort
  • Quick and easy installation
  • All weather fluid
  • Better handling and safety

Cons:

  • Thin paint might not provide long rust-resistance

#8. KYB 565102 MonoMax Gas Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

KYB 565102 MonoMax Gas Shock Absorber
  • Type: Mono-Tube
  • Position: Rear

With up to 40% more damping performance than what you get from standard gas shock absorbers, the KYB 565102 will be the perfect choice for upgrading the suspensions on your GM truck.

The mono-tube design is also meant to provide a consistent and fade free-performance when using these shock absorbers on your truck. And the stainless steel piston which also has a zinc coating will provide a positive seal even when driving in extreme conditions.

KYB also puts a rubber boot on these shock absorbers that will help protect the shaft while also keeping debris and dirt away from the seals for a long shock service life.

Also, the tough design of these shock absorbers ensures that they will automatically adjust to different driving conditions to make them ideal for almost any terrain.

Pros:

  • Protective rubber boot included
  • Greater damping performance
  • Ideal for heavier and more powerful vehicles
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • Auto adjusts to driving conditions

Cons:

  • Bushings will not fit some vehicles correctly

#9. Monroe 31000 Monro-Matic Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Monroe 31000 Monro-Matic Shock Absorber
  • Type: Twin-Tube
  • Position: Rear

The Monro-Matic shock absorber is the cheapest item on our shock absorber reviews, and so if you are looking for quality at an affordable price this will be a great pick

One of the key factors that make this one of the best shock absorbers out there is the all-weather fluid as it makes a huge difference for the overall performance by reducing friction and ensuring smooth rod reaction.

The 1/2-inch piston rod is nitrocarburized for a long service life while the relatively larger bore is designed to provide more efficiency and consistent control.

This highly affordable shock absorber also has a velocity sensitive valving that ensures the shock will adjust to different road conditions for smooth rides and consistency.

Pros:

  • All weather fluid
  • Long lasting rod
  • High efficiency and consistency
  • Velocity-sensitive valving
  • Highly affordable

Cons:

  • Not heavy-duty shocks

#10. ACDelco 530-301 Professional Gas Charged Shock Absorber

Editor's Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

ACDelco 530-301 Professional Gas Charged Shock Absorber
  • Type: Twin-Tube
  • Position: Front

ACDelco is another top brand that you can always trust to have a good shock absorber for your car, truck or SUV. And if you prefer the gas charged types their 539-301 professional model is a top-notch choice.

This heavy-duty shock features a hardened chromed piston rod with micro cracks to provide an ultra-smooth and self-lubricating surface that is also both corrosion and scratch resistant for a long seal life.

The DOM (drawn over mandrel) pressure cylinder provides improved sealing properties while also minimizing internal friction for long shock life.

Gas charged design reduces fluid aeration for better response and consistent control. The multi-lip piston seal is also permanently lubricated to help keep dirt and other contaminants away from the internal rod.

And with the O-ring hydraulic piston seal, you can also be confident of minimal piston blow-by and you also get more consistent control.

Pros:

  • Permanently lubricated piston rod
  • Reduced fluid aeration
  • Relatively long shock life
  • Minimized piston blow-by
  • Corrosion and scratch-resistant

Cons:

  • A little thinner and shorter than OEM shocks

Types of Shock Absorbers

As you shop for a good shock absorber for your vehicle, one of the first things you need to understand is that they come in two configurations which are twin tube and mono-tube.

Each of the two designs or configurations is ideal for a particular driving style and desired ride quality. Hence it is important to understand what each has to offer to determine what is the most appropriate for your car or truck.

#1. Twin Tube

Generally, the twin tube shock absorbers will consist of the inner working tube and an external tube that acts as a hydraulic fluid reservoir and this explains its name.

These shock absorbers are also available in three types which are gas charged, position sensitive damping and acceleration sensitive damping.

Gas Charged

gas charged shock absorbers

The main role of the gas charged shock absorbers is to prevent the hydraulic fluid from being aerated. It makes use of pressure from nitrogen gas to compress air bubbles in the hydraulic fluid. By doing this it prevents the mixing of air and oil which creates foam.

Because foam can be compressed it can affect the performance of the shock absorber, unlike fluid which cannot be compressed. With the reduction in aeration, the shock absorber is able to react more predictably and relatively faster for quicker response time.

Benefits

  • Reduces aeration
  • Improved handling
  • Quicker response time
  • Reduced fade

Position Sensitive Damping (PSD)

PSD shock absorbers

PSD shock absorbers are designed to strike a perfect balance between handling capabilities and ride comfort.

These shock absorbers use an advanced technology that goes beyond controlling the velocity of the hydraulic fluid by also taking into account the position of the valve on the pressure tube.

The key to the functioning of this mechanism is having a pressure tube with precision tapered grooves.

Great attention is paid to every detail from the length of the grooves to their depth and taper to ensure the shock absorber will provide an optimal balance between ride comfort and control.

With the PSD shock absorbers, you essentially have a pressure tube with two zones. The first zone acts as the comfort zone which is where the normal driving will take place while the second zone is the control zone for demanding driving conditions.

Benefits

  • Rapid adjustment to changing road conditions
  • Two shocks in one
  • Provides both control and balance.

Acceleration Sensitive Damping (ASD)

ASD shock absorbers

Like the PSD shock absorbers, the acceleration sensitive damping ones are also designed to provide a good balance between control and comfort.

With these shock absorbers, you will get greater control and improved ride comfort. They achieve this by going beyond the velocity sensitive damping and instead focusing on impact.

The increased focus on the impact on the ASD shock absorbers is achieved through a new compression valve design.

Benefits

  • Enhanced control and comfort
  • Reduced ride harshness
  • Automatic adjustment to road condition changes

#2. Mono-Tube

Mono-tube shock absorbers

Mono-tube shock absorbers are high-pressure gas shocks that only have one tube which is the pressure tube. Inside the pressure tube, there are a couple of pistons which are the working and dividing pistons.

The key difference between the twin tube and mono-tube shocks is that the latter will allow for upside down or right side up mounting as it will still work either way.

Also, the mono-tube will not have a base valve as all the control during the extensions and compressions will occur on the piston.

For these shock absorbers, the rod and piston have to move up and down to balance the force during operation.

Benefits

  • Allows for upside down mounting
  • Working tube is exposed to air for cooler running

Buying Advice: If you want a shock absorber that will help give your vehicle a ride that is as close to factory characteristics as possible, go for the twin tube types. But, if you want to increase the vehicle's responsiveness go for the mono-tube types. Mono-tube shock absorbers are also the best for replacing factory-installed mono-tube shocks.

How to Buy the Best Shock Absorbers

How to Buy the Best Shock Absorbers

One cannot overemphasize the importance of always ensuring that you are a getting the correct shocks for your car or truck.

And this is because the wr.ong shock absorbers will not only affect the ride quality but also the vehicle safety. But, you should not have any issues with shock absorbers if you consider the following factors when buying them.

#1. Style

Shocks will come in different styles and each will have merits and demerits and will be suitable for different riding conditions. Here are some of the most common shock absorber styles out there.

Gas Shocks

Many manufacturers will provide gas shocks as original equipment or the kinds of shocks that your vehicle will have when coming out of the factory.

They have oil and nitrogen gas sealed inside which are what cushions your ride. Because they can handle the extra bouncing better, they often last longer on the small vehicles than the standard shocks.

Standard Shocks

Standard shocks are generally what many car manufacturers will have on the car when you get it. These shocks will not have any special or unique features as they are just basic and you will hardly get any that can serve you for more than 100,000 miles.

Heavy-Duty Shocks

Because the heavy-duty shocks are mostly made for use on SUVs, trucks, vans and other relatively larger vehicles, they will come with a larger center shaft and better attachment points than the gas and standard shocks.

With these types of shocks, you will get a stiffer ride until the vehicle gets a heavier load which is when they even out for a smoother ride.

Automatic Level-Control Shocks

These are the kinds of shocks that you would typically find on the expensive luxury vehicles. They use an air pump system that will only be activated when there are differences in the vehicle’s weight distribution.

When you have passengers on your luxury vehicle or extra weight, the air pump is activated to add pressure to shocks to compensate for the extra weight so that the ride remains smooth.

Air Shocks

Air shocks are similar to the automatic level-control shocks in that they require air to be added to the shocks but their work mechanism is more of a manual process.

These types of shock have an air inlet that will allow air to come in and pressurize the shock to lift the vehicle for better control and improved ride quality.

Overload Shocks

Overload or coil-over shocks as they are also referred to as will have a spring coil around the outside section of the shock cylinder. This coil is meant to help vehicles stiffen the shock’s reflex action and they are great for use on off-road vehicles like rock climbers.

#2. Compatibility with Vehicle

The many types of shock absorbers out there can make it hard to choose the right one for your vehicle. But, the most important thing to always consider is the vehicle compatibility. Here is a simple compatibility summary to help make things easier for you.

Vehicle Type

Shock Absorber Type

Off-Road T​​​​ruck

External Reservoir Shock Absorber

Off-Road Truck (raised)

Monotube Gas Shock

Van (full-size)

Monotube Shock

Pickup (standard)

Original Equipment Replacement Shock

SUV (heavy-duty)

Air Springs and Monotube Gas Shocks

SUV (standard)

Twin Tube Shock

#3. Price

While the quality of the absorbers, their performance and compatibility are the most important factors to consider, the price also matters a lot and you cannot overlook it when picking shocks.

Always start by coming up with a budget or decide on how much you are willing to spend on the shocks and look for the best-performing ones within your budget.

The size of your vehicle also determines how much you will spend because small saloon cars use cheaper shocks than SUVs and heavy-duty trucks.

#4. Driving Conditions

The roads that you drive through often also determine the best shock absorbers for you. For example, off-road adventures will require tougher shocks that can withstand more bounce.

If you ride in smooth roads often, then almost any shock absorber can work for you as it will not have to face a lot of bounce or abuse.

The standard and gas shocks that come with most cars are often good enough for normal driving conditions while the heavy-duty shocks are the best for muddy roads and rough roads full of gravel.

#5. Material and Durability

Even if your shocks offer the best rides and control, they will not be very convenient if you have to change them after every few thousand miles. This also means you have to spend more on the shock absorbers which can be expensive in the long run.

Before you buy, shock absorbers you should check the material and ensure you only settle for something highly durable.

Shocks can be made from various materials, but the most common ones are steel and aluminum. Steel shock absorbers are often the cheapest but they can be a little cumbersome to install.

Aluminum shocks, on the other hand, are adjustable and lighter which is why many drivers will prefer them, but most are relatively pricier than the steel types.

Besides the material, also check on the overall construction of the shocks and make sure that it is sturdy enough for maximum durability.

#6. Ease of Installation

If you are one of those vehicle owners that always prefer to do everything on their own without paying a mechanic, the ease of installation of shock absorbers is a vital factor to consider.

It is important to note that some shocks will require customization or modifications for installation. For such types of shocks, you will often need to pay a professional for installation.

If you still want to install the shocks that require modifications on your own or have the mechanical skills to do it, make sure that the shocks come with a mounting kit and detailed instructions.

For the shock absorbers that do not require modification, installation should be straightforward, and you can easily do it yourself by following the instructions that most manufacturers will provide.

Conclusion

It is possible to drive a car with worn shocks and some people still do it for many miles, but it is not something you should look forward to or even get used to.

Shocks are integral for getting a smooth ride and for vehicle control and also for other things like braking and turning. And so you need to replace yours in good time or immediately they get damaged.

Finding best replacement shock absorbers should now not be a problem as this piece highlights everything you need to know from the types to the important things to consider when shopping.

And with our top 10 heavy duty shock absorbers reviews above, you also now know some of the best brands and models to buy.

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