This article will dive into the different shocks offered by Fox, Bilstein, Eibach, KYB, and Rancho - all of which can and will level your vehicle, commonly known as a "Leveling Kit". These shocks typically provide between 1.5” and 2.5” of lift, depending on application, in order to lift the front of the vehicle, to be even with the rear - a level ride.
Leveling Kit [ lev-uhl-ing kit ]
- an, oftentimes height adjustable, strut or coilover that takes the factory rake out of a truck or SUV, thus "leveling" the vehicle's stance with an even front and rear height
- the random item, like a folded up menu, you shove under a table leg to stop the table from wobbling
One of the most popular options for leveling kits and aftermarket shock upgrades, the Bilstein 5100 was first mover almost 20 years ago in the ride height adjustable shock game. They’re popular because they’re an economical choice, using factory springs, to gain a good amount of lift from the front of your vehicle. Popular doesn’t always mean the best choice though, Bilstein delivers a specific type of ride quality not seen very commonly in other brands.
When we say its not the softest shock on the block, we mean that bump compliance (that soft cushy feel you may expect) is different than other shocks. Bilstein aims for control, and that sporty ride, which translates to a tighter, firmer riding shock. If load hauling, gear hauling, longevity, and budget friendly are your ideal - than Bilstein is one of the best options.
Fox occupies a unique spot in the lineup for a couple reasons, namely in materials and durability. Fox has the only aluminum shock body here, which benefits the experience in helping protect against shock fade, shedding heat faster when compared to a steel body. The Fox 2.0 shock can also be serviced and rebuilt when the shocks need a refresh, usually somewhere in the 40-60k range. You can also tune the shock further to adapt to your driving style; specifically being able to make them firmer if you tow a lot, or making them softer if your base suspension is particularly firm or unforgiving.
With Fox’s typically conservative approach to ride damping for OE-replacement applications, these shocks are typically very comfortable and bump compliant. Smooth is what we’re going for here. If you’re not opposed to servicing the shocks when they’re due, the $199/ea price tag is definitely worth the performance and comfort gains.
Eibach is the newer player here when it comes to light truck and SUV applications. They’ve had their stage 1 kits that come with standalone shocks and springs, these Pro-Truck coilovers are the first foray into a single shock tower unit that is height adjustable.
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The threaded steel body allows for fine tuning to the ride height of the vehicle, while Fox has the same feature, Eibach is the only one we would adjust while on the vehicle. The steel threads are more durable to wear compared to the Fox coilovers’ aluminum threads that are more sensitive to force and metal-on-metal adjustment.
Three different Shock Surplus crew vehicles have run the Eibach coilovers. We've put together a triple-ride-review so be sure to see what we think of Eibach.
The Quicklift Loaded Leveling kit from Rancho carries a phrase we call economical performance. The price-to-function ratio on these coilovers makes them a popular choice for people looking to level their vehicle, and fit larger wheels and tires. The compression adjustment on the shocks themselves allow you to fine tune between comfort or handling characteristics.
We’ve ran and reviewed these shocks on a couple different vehicles here at Shock Surplus, you can find those HERE. The long of the short of it is that they’re certainly comfortable and pretty soft on the daily drive. The adjusters provided noticeable differences in ride quality, but as we put more and more miles on the shocks - the differences became almost imperceptible.
KYB is one of those options that will accomplish a full shock tower replacement, with the ability to level out the truck with the Truck-Plus product, or a straight factory replacement with the Strut-Plus setup. If you want as close to factory ride quality, with moderate height gain to the front of your truck, then these are one of the safest bets.
There is no height adjustment on these compared to Fox, Bilstein, and Eibach. These are what you may be quoted on or recommended by a local auto-repair shop, or even a dealership service center, as KYB is one of the most common aftermarket brands seen across the United States.
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