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How to Choose the Best Shocks for Your Truck or SUV

How to Choose the Best Shocks for Your Truck or SUV

How your truck or SUV feels while you’re riding down the road makes a huge difference in your comfort. How your truck rides can also make a huge impact on the mechanical wellness of your vehicle. Shocks for trucks allow the springs to move while still controlling the ride. Without them, you can mess up your truck really fast. 

Choosing the right shocks and knowing how to properly maintain them can make all the difference in your truck’s long-term durability and wellness. If you don’t know much about shocks, take some time now for a little investigation. Read on, and learn more about how your truck works. 

What Are Shocks for Trucks? 

Shocks are critical for the safety of your truck. They are between the frame and wheels and can look like a tube or a tube inside a big spring. You typically will find one at each wheel, but some larger vehicles will have 2 or more per wheel.

RV trailer Shock replacement - How when and why replace or add them to your RV

The name shock absorber is a bit misleading because they don’t actually do any moving on their own. Springs in a vehicle are what actually absorb the bumps of the road, however shock absorbers are what control the springs. These devices slow down the movement of the springs and help control it. Without shocks, a vehicle will have a very bouncy ride that can make it hard or impossible to control the vehicle.

Shocks are important because they affect tire wear, the stability of your truck on the road, braking, vibration, and the wear placed on other parts of your steering and suspension systems. You don’t want to ride around for too long without proper shocks on your vehicle, that’s for sure!

How Do I Know If My Shocks Are Bad?

There are quite a few different ways you can tell that your shocks might need the attention of a mechanic. Let’s investigate a few of those now. 

For starters, maybe you notice that your front bounces little more than usual when you make a quick stop. The same goes for if the back of your vehicle dips more than normal when accelerating. 

Wheel shock product
Your wheel shocks will help absorb the impact of any bumps you encounter along the road.

The most notable sign you need to repair your shocks is when you’re driving around, and every bump you hit feels like it might break something. If bumps cause the springs to oscillate uncontrolled the ride can be very jarring.

Also, if you notice any fluid on the exterior of your shocks or struts, there could be a problem. It’s a sign that the oil sealed inside your shocks is leaking. 

What’s Better Gas or Hydraulic Shocks?

First of all, all shocks are hydraulic and rely on fluid and valves to create the damping force. However, some shocks are gas-charged which means they are pressurized with a gas inside them. Gas-charged shocks are designed to react much faster and provide a much more aggressive damping force.

Which is better depends on what type of vehicle you’re equipping. If you’re working with a classic car or luxury cruiser, you’ll want to install a hydraulic shock. Gas shocks have a higher tension rating, meaning you’ll get a much stiffer dampening of the shock of each bump. 

Gas shocks are better suited for sports cars or vehicles meant for fast driving. They provide better traction on the road and help the vehicle hold tight around those tough twists and turns. Hydraulic oil shocks are more appropriate when looking for a smoother ride.

For trucks, shock choice can be a bit tricky because the truck’s ride changes drastically between loaded and empty. Some shocks are adjustable and can increase the damping force for different loaded conditions.

Pro Tip: Want to upgrade your truck? Find out: What Mods Should You Do to Your Truck First?

Close up of car wheel with shock visable
Consider if gas or hydraulic oil shocks are the best options for your vehicle.

What Shocks Will Make My Truck Ride Smoother? 

Choosing the right shocks is key if you want a smoother ride in your truck. An adjustable shock that can have the damping force reduced or reaction time slowed is a good option.

Our best recommendation for the smoothest ride, however, is shocks with variable valving. Koni FSD shocks will only dampen when there are larger bounces. This allows the spring to move slightly without any shock-damping action, dramatically reducing small bumps and the roughness felt on high-pressure tires. These variable valved shocks are also load-independent and will work if the truck is empty or loaded. While their price is higher, ride quality is far superior with this type of shock.

How Do I Choose a Shock for My Truck? 

A few other things you should consider when you’re working on choosing shocks for your truck include the size and weight of the vehicle, the terrain you’re typically driving, and whether you need adjustable or non-adjustable shocks. Make sure you choose ones that will easily handle the weight of your truck on and off the road. You’ll be happier in the end. 

Close up of truck shock installed on vehicle
Replace your shocks roughly every 50,000 to 100,000 miles.

How Often Should Shocks Be Replaced on a Truck? 

In general, shocks have an average of 50,000 to 100,000 miles before they start to wear out. If your driving style is more aggressive, you may have to maintain your shocks more often. Remember that all of your shocks aren’t very likely to need repair at the same time. It’s wise to pay attention to how your vehicle rides and whether or not your truck is showing signs of shock wear. 

Pro Tip: Is smoke coming out of your truck? Find out What Happens When Your Truck or RV Engine Overheats.

What Are the Best Shock Options for Trucks? 

By now, you’ve learned that different shocks are good for different things. Which shock is the best option for your truck has everything to do with what truck you drive and how you plan to drive it. Here are a few of the most highly rated shock options to consider. 

As we mentioned above, we highly recommend the Koni FSD series with the variable valving. We personally have tried many shocks and find these to make the biggest difference in ride quality and control.

While the Koni shocks are a top-of-the-line option you should be sure to check out some of the other top-rated truck shocks. First, check out the Bilstein 5100 Monotube Gas Shock. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, look into the Monroe 58620 Load Adjusting Shock Absorber. If you’re going to be pulling a lot of weight regularly, you might need the Gabriel 49235 Hijackers Air Shock Absorber

Bilstein B8 5100 Series Pair of Front Monotube...
  • Pair of front replacement shock absorbers
  • Monotube Design Gas Charged Shock Absorbers
  • For Front Lifted Height: 2-2.5" / With Torsion Key Lift / Without...
Choosing the RIGHT Shocks/Coilovers

Shocks Are Important for Heavy Vehicles 

The shocks on your vehicle are very important to your overall safety on the road. Good shocks will control the connection your tires have to the road below, granting you better traction. They’ll prevent unnecessary or uncontrollable wobble in your steering or ride and help lower the wear and tear on other aspects of your suspension. 

Are you considering upgrading your tires to handle diverse terrains? Find out: Do You Really Need All-Terrain Tires? Pros, Cons, and What They’re Actually Good For

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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