Cheap Shocks Cost More Than Expensive Shocks

Spending more now, or later?

When thinking about upgrading your suspension or replacing your shocks or struts, look beyond the sticker price of the products you’re considering. There’s a difference beyond the sticker price on cheap shocks, OEM replacement, and higher end off-road or performance shocks. The longevity of shocks, which are your primary defense against everything the road throws at your vehicle, makes a huge difference in maintenance cost over the life of your car or truck.

Cheap shocks, typically "white can" (+manufacturer’s sticker) are going to need replacing every 15,000-25,000 miles. The internal components of these parts are low quality, a consequence of high volume mass production, meaning the seals preventing debris clearing off the shaft, valving shims, and other components will wear very fast under the pressures that a shock absorber goes through. If you live in a high-salt state, dont even consider a white can shock, you're throwing money away.

Cheap Shocks versus Expensive Shocks infographic, Expensive Shocks cost less over time

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Typical low-cost behavior

So you drop $100-150 on four cheap shocks, and at least one or two hours at a shop for installation (typically $75-100/hr), you’re in the hole for around $200. Six months later, you’re in the same spot for the same cost, with some added frustration.

During a 100,000 mile cycle on a vehicle:

  • 3 or 4 sets of shock absorbers - $400-600
  • 5-8 hours of shop labor - $400-600
  • Your precious time and energy - priceless
  • Total out of pocket - $800-1200 for cheap shocks

For Performance or Longevity

Now consider a set of higher end, long lasting, premium quality shocks such as Bilsteins, Fox, Koni, Icon, and many others. These shocks typically come in the price range of $300-500 per set, depending on the model. The same installation costs apply here, as a 1 time cost.

  • 1 set of super shock absorbers - $300-500
  • 1-2 hours of shop labor - $75-200
  • Your excitement at badass shocks, saved time, peace of mind for the life of your vehicle
  • Total out of pocket - $375-700

The amount of time, frustration, and energy devoted to purchasing new shocks is saved. Higher end shocks also come with fantastic warranties that protect the shocks under most conditions, further increasing ROI (Return on Investment). Premium shocks do a much better job at protecting your vehicle's components as well, we're talking road/pavement/pothole damping characteristics here. A cheap shock will let everything on your vehicle rattle more than a good damper that controls the flow of energy through your rig. This superior behavior translates into less maintenance cost for the life of your vehicle.