Has the ride in your truck become more bouncy than usual, do you find yourself ‘bottoming out’ or feel the chassis leaning into turns more than you’ve come to expect?
If so, there is a great possibility that your shock absorbers are worn, leaking fluid and will need replacing. You are going to need to find the best shock absorbers for light trucks. For this, our first choice will be Bilstein.
Shock absorbers are hydraulic devices that are part of your vehicle’s suspension system.
Maintaining their condition ensures your grip and stability, helps with control and makes sure that the occupants of your truck have a comfortable journey, no matter how treacherous the road surface is.
Did you know that not only do shock absorbers give you a much more comfortable ride, regardless of on which terrain you are driving; they are also a major player in your safety?
They guarantee that the bottom of your tire remains on the road, keeping you in total control of your vehicle. Brake response, steering and road handling will all remain at their optimum if your shock absorbers are intact.
Table of Content
Comparison Table of 10 Shock Absorbers for Light Trucks
10 Best Shock Absorbers for Light Trucks
If you are struggling to make an informed decision on which of the many varieties available, look no further, you have come to the right place.
There are many different makes and types of best shocks and struts for smooth ride available on the market, based on experience, word of mouth and a huge amount of research; we have put together the definitive guide to the 10 top rated shock absorbers available.
1. Bilstein (24-186742) 5100 Series - Best OEM Quality Shock Absorbers
What a fantastic piece of kit from a tried and trusted brand. This 46mm smooth bodied monetube shock absorber is zinc plated to offer long-term durability. The fact that it is heavy-duty also equates to a high-end performance.
It will level the height of your truck whether it has been fitted with a lifting kit or is standard, always with that consistent smooth ride in mind.
It has gas pressure technology and its auto-adjusting feature, digressive valving, ensures same ride experience when driving from a flat terrain onto one much more brutal.
The Bilstein shock absorber gives you precision handling whilst maintaining optimum vehicle control. Its sporty approach gives your passengers a high degree of comfort.
The shock is OEM certified (Original Equipment Manufacturer), meaning no need to hire the professionals, it is simple to install.
2. ACDelco 580-435 GM Front Shock Absorber - Best Front Shock Absorber
When you realise that your front shocks need replacing it seems the sensible thing to do to fit the exact same ones that were designed for your truck.
ACDelco shock absorbers are factory fitted in most makes of GM vehicle as standard, and as such, you can be sure of their high standards and that the shocks are 100% fit for purpose.
They are constructed from sturdy, durable metal so their life expectancy is great, just like you’d expect with all GM products. They are tough shocks; they enable your light truck to deal with heavier loads and greater forces.
Installation is easy as all relevant mounting hardware is provided. Everyone in your truck would get a comfortable, jolt-free ride if you use these shock absorbers.
3. Bilstein 24191203 - Best Truck Shocks for A Smooth Ride
Let’s visit the Bilstein brand again, possibly the first name that is likely to pop into your mind when thinking of quality replacement shock absorbers.
This particular model is another monotube design that ensures that fade-free performance of which Bilstein are so proud. The amazing speed sensing technique works effortlessly; it senses any changes in terrain and adjusts automatically. Your light truck will remain at the same height for your entire journey, allowing your shock absorbers to do all of the work.
This shock absorber provides a perfect fit for most lifted trucks and SUV’s.
The gas hydraulic system is so perfectly honed that, as a truck driver, you will definitely notice a marked improvement in the handling of your vehicle, I’m sure your passengers will be glad of the excellent ride quality and their added comfort too.
4. The Monroe MA822 Max-Air - Best Overall
Ah, finally a company that supplies a pair of shock absorbers in one package!
The rods on these Monroe shocks are made from precision ground metal so they provide a high-quality performance over a long life span.
The fully displaced valving, along with the all-weather fluid, enables the rods to glide friction-free and loosely, this presents itself as a smooth comfortable ride.
These shock absorbers are unique as they can be inflated or deflated between 20 psi and 150 psi, depending upon your vehicle load. They are ideal for heavy loads or when towing trailers as the overall vehicle height will remain constant. Cleverly, the adjustments can be made even when the vehicle is fully loaded.
These shocks should be a serious consideration as an addition to your suspension system if you regularly carry or tow heavy weights and will probably experience road surface conditions that aren’t always ideal.
5. Bilstein 24-187374 - Best Shocks and Struts for Smooth Ride
The Bilstein mantra is to offer a consistent fade-free performance from their shock absorbers, and this model is definitely no exception to that rule.
The pistons are so highly sensitized that regardless of your speed, they automatically sense and adjust to the ever-changing terrain.
Their design is perfectly suited for those light trucks that have been lifted up to 1”, though many users report to using them with great success on their vehicles that have been lifted 2 or 3”.
They are also suitable for trucks that remain at stock height. Due to its heavy-duty nature, some users claim it is a slightly stiffer but still excellent ride when on a stock truck.
They are simple to fit; it is just a matter of removing the old shock and fitting this one directly in place of it. The manufacturer supplies everything you need for a correct fit.
6. ACDelco 519-2 - Most Comfortable Shock Absorbers
While I understand that you don’t buy a pair of shock absorbers because they look easy on the eye, surely you agree and think these look cool?
The tough springs that spiral around the cylinder serve to improve stability and maintain your overall height when used as front shocks.
When they are rear shock absorbers, the constant rate coil provides 500lbs per pair load capacity. (This does not increase the vehicles recommended payload – don’t be confused).
Due to the composition, all of the internal components are well protected against the elements; this can only result in an extended product life.
The strong spring and shock technology combined helps your truck to maintain its height even when fully loaded while still providing an even ride.
7. Bilstein 24-187367 5100 Series Front Shock Absorber - Best Adjustable Shock Absorber
Yet another example of the quality products from the Bilstein range, all made in the USA. This is the B8 from the 5100 series, the ride height adjustable shock absorber.
Just as it says on the tin, by deploying the multiple snap ring grooves in the body, you can adjust the spring seat positions and add up to 2.75” of front lift to your truck. It is a really simple way to level out your vehicle.
Adjusting the height of your vehicle is a great way to prepare it to face even the most unforgiving terrain and safely drive your truck knowing that you will still have excellent handling, great quality, and your comfort will still be paramount.
No lift kit is needed, just fit these shocks and adjust them to the height adjustment you require, the nose of your truck will rise accordingly.
8. Bilstein 24-185776 BE56681H8 - Best Shock Absorbers for Smooth Ride
Bilstein consistently manufacture quality shock absorbers that are perfect for the purpose. This model has incredibly high-performance reviews with one user stating that since fitting these shocks she has learned to love her truck again, even though she lives in “Pot-hole City”!
These are meant solely for trucks that have already been lifted approximately 2 inches, and they are not suitable for 2wd vehicles.
The monotube gas hydraulic design ensures that the vehicle has an uninterrupted smooth ride while maintaining highly efficient road handling and superb grip. Who cares what the road surface is, these shocks will handle it.
When your shock absorbers arrive, the package will contain everything you need to make the exchange, washers, spacers and a bolt.
9. Gabriel 49235 - Best Shocks for 4x4 Trucks
I am sure most petrol heads will recognise the name Gabriel and know that they are synonymous with air shock absorbers.
What a fantastic piece of kit that you should consider fitting if you use your truck regularly to tow a trailer or a boat, or if you just often carry heavy loads.
Simply load or hitch up your truck and use the air hose provided to inflate shocks, exactly as you would do tires. They will level a loaded vehicle ensuring a safe and smooth driving experience. Simply use the valve to deflate them once you’re done. What could be easier?!
The Hijacker shocks can help with the handling of your truck and will most definitely stop it from bottoming out.
Up to 1100lbs of air-leveling capacity can be added per pair. (This doesn’t increase the vehicle’s overall payload)
10. Monroe 911506 Reflex - Best Monotube Shock Absorber
Another Monroe shock absorber has made its way into our most comfortable shock absorbers guide, and it is easy to see why.
This monotube shock comes with a unique patented hydraulic lockout system when your suspension is fully extended this fella continues to work to cushion any impact.
It contains specially modified all-weather fluid to give those rods a friction-free ride, making your ride friction free too!
It is a gas damper, there is a high-pressure charge keeping the oil and nitrogen separated internally, this increases the spring rate and that in turn provides better handling and a more cushioned ride.
COMPATIBILITY. Your first stop when purchasing best truck shocks for towing is always to check that the model will actually fit your vehicle.
Manufacturers provide this information but it can also be found on the Amazon product guide too.
COST. Also, be aware that many shocks are single, as it is always advisable to change them in pairs, you may need to order 2, at double the cost.
Our guide will show you which dampers already come in pairs.
SIMPLICITY TO FIT. Something else to take into consideration, if you need to do the job yourself.
POT-HOLE CITY. Only you, the driver, know the conditions that you regularly drive in and your driving style, so if you are a hectic driver in treacherous conditions, then maybe go for a heavy-duty set of shock absorbers for your light truck.
If you own a boat that you like to tow to the beach every now and again, perhaps air adjustable shocks are the ones for you.
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How does a shock absorber work?
In its simplest form, anything that is hydraulic just means oil flowing through valves.
The most common shock absorbers are hydraulic telescopic cylinders. Inside is a rod that is attached to the vehicle. This moves up and down, the faster it moves, the more resistant and rigid the shock absorber becomes. The system has specially calibrated valves inside; controlling the oil flow through these valves creates compression and rebound forces. This is what makes the shock absorber react to different driving surfaces. The shock absorber rides and dampens all of the jolts so that your truck can remain level.
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Which is the right model for me?
Firstly, decide exactly what type of shock absorber you need to fit your truck, rear or front? Replacing both sides is recommended, to give your truck a nice consistent performance. Is ease of installation important to you, or manufacturer’s warranty? Is there a particular brand you prefer?
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I keep hearing the word damper, what does it mean?
A damper is just another word for a shock absorber; to dampen the bounce means to absorb it.
Will shock absorbers lift a truck?
Not usually, you will need to fit your truck with a specialized lifting kit for this. However, if you need to raise your truck’s height temporarily, say for towing a trailer or an unusually heavy load, then you can fit adjustable air shocks to the truck, inflate, and deflate them as necessary.
Can shock absorbers for light trucks be repaired?
It is possible to repair a shock; usually you would require a specialist to do this.
However, a repaired shock has a much shorter life span so I would always recommend for peace of mind and because overall it would be more cost effective, that you replace the pair of shocks
Are shock absorbers easy to fit?
Most are, yes. The monotube design houses all of its components inside the unit so it is usually a simple case of one out-one in!
All you need is a little time and know how. All of the dampers that we have reviewed are supplied with all of the parts you would need, just get your tool kit ready. There are always great step-by-step guides available on YouTube.
How long do shock absorbers last?
This isn’t a straightforward answer as there are many variables to consider. How many miles does your truck cover, are you mostly on smooth pot-hole free roads and are you a careful driver or, errr, a little aggressive shall we say?
Overall, most manufacturers recommend that their shocks will need changing at 50,000 miles, but that might just be a ploy to sell more! It’s advisable to check them at 50k for leakage, if there’s no sign and your ride is as smooth as ever, then maybe just check them annually after that.
When do I know its time to change my shocks?
When you spot any leakage at a regular check, as we spoke about in the previous question. Alternatively, when your ride starts to feel different, spongier in the turns, generally more bouncy as you drive or it begins to bottoms out. These are signs that your shock has deteriorated, will be leaking fluid and becoming less responsive.
You may also hear a knocking sound from the front or rear tire region; this is another signal of wear and tear.
Does the front end of your truck dive when you are braking or when you accelerate does the rear seem to squat? This too could be down to failing shock absorbers.
Will I notice much difference after I’ve invested all of this time and money?
I should say so! Your light truck could gain a whole new lease of life, along with that smooth ride, it will corner and brake like it did when it was new. It will handle better, you will have more control and it will be a much safer vehicle to be behind the wheel of.
What is the difference between a monotube and twin tube shock absorber?
There is no short answer to this one.
The monotube shock houses all of its components within one unit, meaning it is simple to fit and there’s less likelihood of gas and oil mixing, resulting in aeration, which has a detrimental effect on your ride. It causes fading and poor damping.
The monotube also has a single valve mechanism, the pressure is applied equally over the entire shock surface, and it usually has a higher oil capacity too, as the entire working tube is exposed to the air it helps to disperse heat quicker. Both of these factors ensure your vehicle will have a better response and great handling.
The twin tube shock absorber for light trucks can be less expensive but you may have to factor in a fitting cost, as they are more complicated for the novice.
A gas charged twin tube shock works to fight the aeration, it uses pressure from the nitrogen to keep the gas and air very separate, should they mix it would create foam, which will have a negative effect on the performance of your shock absorbers. Because fluid cannot be compressed, your gas charged shocks would have a quicker response time and smoother transition.
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The Bottom Line
I hope that this guide will have made your buying decision easier and you choose the right, simple to fit, shock absorbers for your light truck.
Whichever set you have decided to go with, may they give you a smooth, jolt-free ride for many miles to come!