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> How to Choose Shock Absorbers

How to Choose Shock Absorbers

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A shock absorber’s job is to suppress reverberation in your vehicle’s suspension springs. Without them, the bumps you hit in the road would cause your suspension to rapidly move up and down resulting in very uncomfortable and almost dangerous ride quality. In order to maintain a safe and comfortable ride quality, shock absorbers should be periodically inspected and replaced. Whether you’re replacing your stock shock absorbers or choosing from options available in a suspension lift kit, knowing what to expect from each type of shock absorber will help you make the right choice for your needs.

Hydraulic Shocks

Often called hydro shocks, these absorbers consist of a tube filled with hydraulic fluid and a piston that allows a controlled amount of fluid to pass through. This action converts the kinetic energy of suspension movement into heat energy, which is then dispersed by the absorber. Hydraulic shock absorbers were commonly used as original equipment  on older vehicles.

Choose Hydraulic Shocks When: Your vehicle won’t see much off-road use and you want a smooth, soft ride on the road. These are usually the most affordable shock absorber style.

Gas Shocks

As the name implies, a nitrogen or “nitro” shock contains a nitrogen gas charge added to a hydraulic shock. The pressurized nitrogen reduces aeration of the hydraulic fluid in the shock, allowing more consistent spring dampening. Nitrous shocks are often found as standard equipment on modern vehicles.

Choose Nitrogen Shocks When: You want more consistent dampening, even after a day at the track or on the trail.

Twin Tube vs Monotube

Shocks are available in two configurations: twin-tube and monotube. Each design has specific characteristics that make it well-suited to a specific driving style or desired ride quality.

Twin Tube

Consists of an inner “working” tube with a second tube acting as an external reservoir for hydraulic fluid. Within the working portion are a base valves as well as a piston with multiple valves. Twin tube shocks deliver a smooth, consistent ride on the road. For this reason, they are commonly found as original equipment on modern vehicles.

Choose Twin Tube When: You want to maintain or restore your vehicle’s factory ride characteristics


Rather than having two tubes, a monotube shock absorber features a single cylinder divided into sections: a fluid area with a floating piston and a gas chamber. During aggressive movement the floating piston pushes into the gas chamber, increasing pressure and improving damping force. This design is more responsive than a twin tube shock and is offered as an upgrade on vehicles that came stock with twin tubes.

Choose Monotube Shocks When: You want to increase your vehicle’s responsiveness or when replacing factory equipped monotube shocks.

Air Shocks

Air shocks are popular with customers who tow and haul. Sometimes referred to as an air leveling shock, this design features an inflatable chamber inside the shock that can be adjusted to provide the best combination of load support and ride comfort. Since this shock is designed to provide a level ride while towing and hauling, it is usually only available for the rear of a vehicle.

Choose Air Shocks When: Your truck will carry or tow heavy loads frequently.


Dual and Remote Reservoir

Extended use on rugged terrain can cause a shock absorber to exhibit a condition called aeration. Aeration occurs when the fluid within a shock overheats and foams, weakening the absorber’s damping ability. Dual and remote reservoir shocks include an external reservoir that increases a shock absorber’s fluid capacity. With this extra fluid, aeration is reduced or eliminated during aggressive off-road maneuvering.

Choose Dual/Remote Reservoir Shocks When: You’re going to spend a lot of time off-road in rugged terrain.

Dual Shock Absorbers

As the name implies, dual shock absorber systems use two shocks per side instead of one. A dual shock system allows for greater control during fast off-road driving as well as a more aggressive look, making them popular on show trucks. A dual absorber system can also greatly increase performance on a front heavy vehicle such as one equipped with a heavy duty bumper or heavily modified diesel engine.

Choose Dual Shock Absorbers When: Your vehicle will see fast off-road conditions or you want to build a show truck with an aggressive, memorable look.

Whether you’re heading out to the trails, improving the comfort of your ride, installing a lift kit, or replacing worn out parts, new shock absorbers are a key component when modifying your truck. If you have any questions regarding shock absorbers for your ride, don’t hesitate to contact our product experts and get the answers you need today.