shock absorber for trucks

How to Choose Shocks for Your Truck

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Is riding your truck becoming less comfortable than usual?

Before you jump into getting the best shocks for 4×4 trucks, we’ll help you identify what’s causing it and what you must do if you need new shocks for your truck.

What Are Truck Shocks?

mini orange shock absorber
Photo by Avsar Aras via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons License

Truck shocks or simply shock absorbers, are tube-like structures placed in between your vehicle’s suspension and wheel tires. They help you maintain a manageable ride in situations where entering uneven terrains become possible.

Why Do You Need a Shock Absorber in a Truck?

dirty pickup truck

A shock absorber acts as a stabilizing agent that keeps your tires and the ground surface in contact. Without it, the chances for bouncy rides are great. Sometimes, a lack of it, even translates to increased sliding and rollover accidents due to a lack of traction on the trail.

How Long Should Shock Absorbers Last?

pickup truck on country road

Shock absorbers can last for up to 10 years and can be replaced in as early as 4-5 years, depending on how often you go out or how much abuse they take. If you normally carry heavy items and do water crossing or mudding at the same time, expect your shock absorbers to wear out fast.

When Do You Need to Replace Your Shock Absorbers?

nose diving truck
Photo from HNpowersports’ YouTube Channel

Some of these tell-tale signs meant your shock absorbers need immediate replacement:

  • Nose diving truck – This happens when your truck’s front part droops upon braking and usually has a stopping distance of more than 22 feet at 70 miles per hour.
  • Truck bounces when driving – Your truck continues to move up and down after hitting a bump.
  • Truck sways in wind – It means your truck is having a hard time resisting against strong winds, especially on the highways.
  • Truck leaning to one side – Noticeable when turning and increases weight transfer, making your truck prone to rollovers.
  • Steering wheel shakes on smooth road – Worn out shocks meant misalignment on your truck’s vital parts including the tires.

What Are the 4 Main Types of Shock Absorbers?

types of shock absorbers

The most common types of shock absorbers for vehicles are; the twin tube for normal day-to-day driving and light off-roading, and the mono tube for carrying heavy delivery items. However, when it comes to trucks, there are 4 general styles under such types based on the kind of truck you’re using.

  • Original-equipment (OE) replacement shocks – used for the standard or basic pickup trucks. They’re designed to fit your vehicle’s type and model year for regular use.
  • Mono-tube gas shocks – also known as off-road shocks for trucks. They reduce ride height to minimize the chances of a rollover.
  • Short aftermarket shocks – for pickup trucks with lower suspension. They’re intended for reducing the wind drag or heavy tire pressure to improve fuel efficiency.
  • External reservoir shocks – meant for racer trucks off-road style. Body diameters can go up to 3 inches which lets a generous amount of fluid pump to resist steep climbs without overheating.

How Do I know What Size of Shocks I Need?

how to measure shock absorber
Image shows the proper position of measuring a shock absorber’s length in extended form.

Knowing the exact length of your shock absorbers in inches is important because if you don’t, your truck will encounter either of two problems:

  • Vehicle bottoming out – happens when your shock absorbers are extremely compressed resulting in your truck’s either excessive turning (oversteering) or insufficient turning (understeering) capability.
  • Vehicle topping out – happens when your shock absorbers are very minimally compressed which damages your truck’s cylinder head that’s responsible for fuel efficiency.

To determine the length of the shocks for replacement, you need to consider two things:

  • Length of the shocks extended – Use a tape measure to find the length from the eye to end of the piston.
  • Length of the shocks compressed – Same procedure follows but you need a friend to hold down the shocks for you.

How Much Is a Shock Absorber Replacement?

shock absorber replacement cost

Usually, shock absorber replacement costs around $150-$650 when taking into consideration:

  • your vehicle’s type (style)
  • model (when it was released)
  • number of parts to be removed for the actual replacement to occur
  • length of replacement period

The labor for a shock absorber replacement typically runs from $70-$125. Normally, the higher the number of shops offering the same type of service meant the greater chances of you encountering an affordable offer while gaining more than what you pay for (e.g., cleaning, fine tuning, etc.).

Keep in mind, most shock absorber replacements are done in pairs for proper fitting and alignment to maintain your truck’s optimal performance. Below is a data on average shock replacement cost including the time of replacement via mechanicbase.com.

Shock Absorber Replacement Cost

Shock Part Price Replacement Time
Front (Pair) Standard: $400

Expensive: $800

2-3 Hours
Rear (Pair) Standard: $260

Expensive: $400

2-3 Hours

Conclusion

There’s no such thing as right or wrong in choosing the necessary shocks for your truck. In fact, it’s only a matter of driving preference and condition because your shocks’ longevity depends on usage. What other factors are you looking for in shock absorbers? Don’t hesitate to comment below.

 

 

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