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How to find the best shocks for your truck

Shocks are an under-appreciated workhorse in any fleet. But ignore them at your own risk. The best shocks provide a smoother ride and protect valuable cargo while improving vehicle safety and protecting brake performance. They keep tires firmly in contact with the road, reducing accidents. The best ones vary by vehicle and intended use. Read on to select the best shocks to fit each truck in your fleet. 

What are truck shocks?

Truck shocks, or truck shock absorbers, are used to reduce the impact of uneven road surfaces on trucks and trailers. “Certain events have high shock damage potential,” according to the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, “particularly dips, bumps, chuckholes, and railroad crossings at high speed.” The best shocks for trucks create a smoother ride, increasing driver comfort and protecting freight assets. Truck shocks control the vehicle’s body motion to improve vehicle handling and control.

If truck shocks aren’t working properly, the driver may feel that their vehicle’s rattling more or not handling as well. Poor-quality shocks will also cause the brakes to wear out faster, leading to dangerous brake failures. Maintaining truck shocks increases both comfort and safety. 

How do shock absorbers work? 

Shock absorbers are structures like oil pumps under the vehicle. They work as part of a vehicle’s suspension along with leaf springs to absorb compression and rebound in the suspension and springs. They do this by absorbing the vehicle movement (kinetic energy) and converting it into heat (thermal energy) that will dissipate into the atmosphere. In this way, shock absorbers work to control or minimize spring motion. When shocks work properly, they ensure that the vehicle tires stay in contact with the road, even when covering uneven terrain. 

How to find the best shocks for your truck 

It’s clear that the best shocks for trucks are an integral part of a fleet’s safety systems. Here are tips to help you find the right ones.

Figure out which type of shocks work for your truck

While all shocks perform the same basic function, they aren’t universally compatible. Find ones that fit your vehicle type and intended use. 

Original-equipment replacement shocks

Original-equipment replacement shocks are ones purchased from your vehicle’s manufacturer. Also called original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement shocks, these are the same shocks that came with your new vehicle. They are high-quality parts that come with a manufacturer guarantee. The downside is that they’re often the most expensive option.  

Mono-tube gas shocks

Mono-tube gas shocks are sometimes called off-road shocks. This type of shock has a single tube that holds a piston and gas, usually nitrogen. This type of shock dissipates heat better than other options. Mono-tube gas shocks can reduce ride height and vehicle rollover risk. They offer excellent stability and heat dissipation. 

Short aftermarket shocks

Short aftermarket shocks are designed for vehicles with lower suspension. They improve handling and reduce wind drag. They can also help compensate for heavy tire pressure to increase fuel efficiency. Aftermarket shocks, by definition, are ones produced by any company other than the original vehicle manufacturer. 

External reservoir shocks

External reservoir shocks have an external reservoir filled with hydraulic fluid. This feature reduces the weight pressing down on the wheels and allows the absorber to cool more quickly than other shocks. They’re often the most expensive type of shocks, and are commonly used in high-performance cars. However, fleets may choose external reservoir shocks to gain a few key advantages:

  • Faster cooling
  • More suspension travel 
  • Lower gas pressure
  • Greater durability

Determine the length of shocks needed

Shocks are measured by extended and collapsed lengths. You can remove the equipment from the vehicle, pull it to its fully extended length and measure it. Then, have someone hold and fully compress the shocks before measuring the compressed length. 

Measure carefully. Without the correct shock length, vehicles can bottom out or sustain cylinder head damage, harming fuel efficiency and safety. 

Read reviews from previous customers 

Reading peer reviews can help determine which shocks will work best for your truck. There are thousands of reviews for most truck shocks online. Some reviewers may have the same make and model of vehicle as you. 

Understanding other owners’ experiences will help determine whether the shocks live up to promised performance standards. It can help you avoid poor-performing or incompatible truck shocks, and narrow down the best shocks for trucks for your fleet. 

Things to consider when choosing shocks for your truck

It’s clear that the right type of shock and length of the shock is important. Beyond that, you should consider price, performance and intended use. 


Price is a major consideration, as shocks can range from $70 to $800 or more per pair. Costs vary not only by the type of shock but also by intended location (front or rear). The total expense can add up quickly as semitrucks have shocks at each axle.

OEM shocks are usually the most expensive, followed by external reservoir shocks. However, you don’t only want to consider the upfront price. A pair of shocks priced at $250 that typically lasts seven to 10 years may be a better investment than a $100 pair of shocks that need to be replaced after three years. In general, choose the best shocks you can find within your budget. 


Performance is the most important factor for the best shocks for trucks, as they can be reliable or unreliable in specific conditions regardless of price. Look for ones with excellent performance quality and reliability ratings. Don’t compromise on durability over varied terrain or expected usage.

Intended use of your truck

What you use your truck for can affect which type of shocks are needed. Certain activities can ruin shocks or reduce their lifespans. Some shocks perform better in uneven conditions, while others dissipate heat faster. 

Trucks transporting heavy loads need harder shocks to withstand the corresponding extra pressure they must endure. Likewise, shocks that are prone to rust won’t be the best option for vehicles operating in wet areas. They’re also a bad idea if the majority of travel is near a coastline, where salt may speed up erosion. 

The climate of operations — hot and cold — and types of road surfaces will affect which shocks are best for you. Check with vehicle manufacturers or other drivers for recommendations on the best shocks for your specific circumstances.  

What are the best shocks for trucks? 

The answer varies depending on many factors. However, one thing is clear: investing in high-quality shocks with excellent performance reviews can improve fleet safety. Ultimately this saves time and money down the road. The final decision comes down to budget, type of shock needed and intended use. 

Measure carefully and double-check manufacturer specifications to ensure you buy ones that are compatible with your vehicle. Learn from other users’ experiences to find the best shocks that balance price and performance for your fleet. 

Want to further import driver comfort? Here are our recommendations for the best semitruck seats.


How long do shock absorbers typically last?

Shock absorbers typically last four to five years or about 50,000 miles, depending on road conditions and wear and tear.

 How do you check shocks on a truck?

To check shocks on a truck, you should first look for signs of corrosion, uneven tire wear or rattling sounds. A truck that handles poorly or feels stiff may also need shocks replaced. Learn more about semitruck shock inspections in this video.

Are heavy-duty shocks better?

Heavy-duty shocks are often better for semitrucks. They provide control when the vehicle is fully loaded.

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