Shock Guide - GM Heavy Duty 2500 / 3500
Choosing Shocks for your 2500 / 3500 Heavy Duty Truck
Heavy Duty trucks place unique demands on suspension components and the dampening system (shocks). Larger wheel and tires, with massive unsprung weights, place tremendous stress on shock absorbers. Budget level shocks will do you a disservice by failing quickly, costing timely downtime and repair costs, it's heavily recommended to invest in quality shocks for a HD truck to reduce downtime, reduce cost / mile, and labor involved.
Some Updates for 2011+
Starting in 2011, the GMC and Chevy HD trucks have been upgraded with a fully boxed high strength steel frame all the way through the truck,
- Improving stiffness by 92%. Accommodating this change are bigger rear leaf springs, larger engine mounts, and new hydraulic body mounts to improve the ride quality.
- New suspensions changes include new upper and lower control arms, along with new torsion bars tailored for each of the five different axle weight ratings. Upper control arms are constructed from forged steel which is stronger and lighter than previous versions, while upgraded lower control arms improve and increase load carrying capacity.
- Each of the five different vehicle weights comes with its own unique torsion bar, which allows for more precise control over vehicle ride height; if you're unfamiliar with how a torsion bar affects vehicle height, read here.
- More importantly after all of this, the front shock mounts have been changed top and bottom. The front top mount is now a two bolt design which attaches the barpin to the frame, supposedly eliminating squeaks and thumps. Rear shock mounts have not changed, they are still eyelet to eyelet. The new heavier leaf springs do allow for additional weight capacity compared to the older models, but we dont recommend a broad shock change across year ranges.
These are the go-to shocks for a suspension tune-up and refresh, especially if you're picking up a used vehicle. If your vehicle is not seeing a lot of offroad, or extra duty utility, these are a great option to extend the life of your vehicle.
- BILSTEIN 4600 - The industry standard by which most other shocks are measured against, these shocks will outlast anything else on the market in most cases. High pressurized gas, monotube, these shocks ride firmer than stock, but soak up potholes like no one's business, and can handle towing and heavier loads with ease.
- Rancho RS5000X - Long known for their shock prowess, Rancho's RS5000 hydraulic damper is a thick 2" shock more capable in the towing and workload department than the above mentioned, due to their firmer response and dampening. Feedback from customers makes us believe these shocks are sometimes stiffer than what drivers are comfortable with, so just a heads up.
- MONROE REFLEX - These shocks are probably the best thing you're going to pickup for your truck in order to restore factory handling, but can also handle some heavier loads and towing in the rear. They are a monotube gas design, and can withstand some aggressive driving, Reflex is firmer than stock, but not in the uncomfortable sense. These shocks will last far longer than a stock replacement and much longer than Monroe OE Spectrum shocks (which we don't recommend).
TOWING / HEAVY LOADS / WORK HORSE - I use my truck for truck things.
- RANCHO RS9000XL - One of the longest running adjustable twin tube shocks on the market, widely known for their convenience of adjustment. These shocks can be adjusted on the fly without removing the shock, to adjust between soft or firm depending on ride requirement. Many users report "3 & 9" - meaning a setting of 3 in the front (soft) and 9 in the rear (firm) for taking care of their towing, heavy loads, or other situations that put more stress in the rear compared to the front.
- BILSTEIN 5100 - One of the most well known shocks on the truck market, these shocks ride phenomenally well, one of our best selling packages. Not adjustable, but monotube with high pressurized gas, the Bilstein 5100 rides firmer than stock but still extremely comfortable. The high pressurized gas allows the shock to operate in its optimum temperature for longer, not only allowing for increased loads on highways, but also providing incredible ride through rougher terrain and potholed city streets.
- PROCOMP ES9000 - Twin Tube, Nitrogen Gas charged, these shocks are budget friendly and get the job done. Firmer than stock, these shocks have no problem holding up heavier loads, heavier tongue weight for towing, and some offroad capability.
OFFROAD / LIFTED TRUCKS
A word of caution, some lift kits for the GM 2500/3500 HD platforms have modified the shock mounts. Some shock mounts serve as extensions of the factory mounts, or will change clevice mounts to loop mounts. Lift kits on the newer 2011+ GM HD will change the front shocks from the top barpin mount to a loop mount, or a stem mount. This is important to know before buying shocks, as we (along with others) advertise shocks that are meant for factory-style mounting.
Now, why would they change the shock mounts? Because most manufacturers of lift kits aren't making their own shocks, so they dont have shocks with the proper mounting configuration. So instead they will change the mount to fit shocks that they already have.
- FOX SHOCKS - One of the leading manufacturers of OEM fitted offroad shocks right now, these are the shocks you always wished for during Christmas but never got because shocks are shocks right? Wrong. The Fox's aluminum body protects against everything the world throws at it, dirt, debri, mud, sand, snow - these shocks are heavily rust resistant, making them perfect for areas of high salt content.
- Performance 2.0 - The most popular Fox shock for factory applications, excelling at offroad and tough terrain. Aluminum bodied, rebuildable, very high pressure nitrogen gas charged.
- Performance 2.0 Reservoir / CD - Next stage in offroad performance, all the benefits of the non-reservoir option, but with more travel, and more longevity while offroad, no fade here!
- Factory 2.5 Series - Fox's top of the line shock product for factory applications, reservoirs are included, with a 2.5inch body that holds significantly more shock fluid to prevent fade and overheating.
- BILSTEIN 5100 - For the weekend warrior who offroads, but still sticks to highways, normal roads, and their commute during the week. These shocks still provide exceptional control offroad, while giving a great ride on the highway.
- Bilstein 5160 Reservoir shocks will provide more capability than the 5100s, in case you cherish the smooth highway ride, but need something that still withstands aggressive offroad driving.
- KING SHOCKS - The offroad kings, literally. Tons of suspension setups that you see on trophy trucks in the desert are running King bypass setups, for good reason. Long ago proven to have incredible technology and components, these shocks will outlast your vehicle in most cases.
- Icon Vehicle Dynamics offers 2" or 2.5" aluminum shocks for most major truck and Jeep models in a monotube design, with a beautiful matte finish. All parts are hand built in Riverside, CA, with exceedingly high quality components, based on non-stop real-world testing in the deserts of Southern California. Expect a more controlled ride with these shocks, reduced body roll on the highway, and incredible road feedback in all terrains.