Choosing Shocks for your Ford F150
So it's time to replace the shocks on your F-150, but you're not sure where to start. There's a lot of options out there, we'll do our best to guide you along so you can make the best choice.
How to check for worn or failing shocks and struts
- Oil leaking from the shock shaft / rod, onto the body of the shock or strut. If it’s too dirty to tell, grab a rag and wipe off the shocks in question, and check again in 50-100 miles to see if there's liquid or noticeable moisture around the shaft / body area.
- Bouncing up and down on the front or rear bumper, if the truck continues to bounce (after you stop of course), then the truck is riding solely on the leaf springs or front coil springs with no dampening provided by the shock.
- Bushings / mounts cracked or broken, duh.
- If the shock is cavitating or sticky when being cycled (while off the vehicle), then the internals may be bad and damaged.
Questions to ask yourself
What is your primary and secondary use of your Ford F150?
- Commuting and / or normal highway and street driving
- Offroad / Trail / Sand Dune riding?
- Carrying heavy loads for work, camping, dirt bikes, sport equipment?
- Towing campers / trailers / other vehicles
- Do you plan on keeping the vehicle for another few years, or are you replacing the shocks to get it on the road again and get through your current situation? (budget level shock vs high end shock that performs well)
- Budget vs. Performance needs - If you're planning on some big trips, good shocks pay for themselves in absorbing aggressive terrain.
Commuting / Highway / Street
A monotube gas shock excels in every day driving, soaking up potholes, and reducing body roll. A monotube shock that is highly pressurized by nitrogen gas will last a very long time in terms of miles, and in terms of fade (the shock stays cooler on aggressive terrain). There are twin tube options which are more budget friendly, but these shocks will not last nearly as long as a monotube shock under the same stresses (2-3x lifespan for monotube).
The industry standard by which most other shocks are measured against, these shocks will outlast anything of comparable cost. High pressurized gas, monotube design, these shocks are excellent for trucks and SUVs, soaking up potholes like no one's business, and can handle towing and heavier loads with ease.
Our most popular seller, the 5100 series provides great control offroad, while still maintaining a comfortable ride on the highway. Providing more road feedback over a factory shock, or the 4600 series, these shocks help reduce body roll and resist fade offroad. These shocks are the go-to struts and shocks for F150 owners that are looking for a good highway ride, along with a leveling kit for bigger wheels and tires for offroad excursions.
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).
KYB Gas A Just / Monomax
Standard factory replacement, OEM level shock absorber. The Gas-a-just isn't trying to do anything new, just restore factory characteristics to your ride.
Towing / Hauling / Heavy Duty
When thinking about a shock that can handle the heavy payloads or work that you put it through, you want something versatile that provides a decent ride, but also wont fade and fail you under pressure. A lot of truck owners that tow or carry heavy loads prefer an adjustable shock, that way they can turn up the dampening power to control compression to maintain stability with the extra weight in the back. A monotube shock is highly recommended for towing.
Pro Comp MX-6
ProComp MX-6 Adjustable shocks are one of the few adjustable monotube truck shocks, providing the most consistent ride qualities in terms of consistent dampening ability. These are adjustable by a knob, accessible while the shock is installed on the vehicle. The shock adjustment will allow very soft or very firm compression damping (absorbing the road/bumps), highly sought after for heavy duty trucks that see it all.
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.
An offroad rated shock absorber excels at aggressive terrain and will provide durability, predictability, and longevity for related suspension components and the vehicle in general. These shocks are manufactured with high end components, and have been proven on our customer's vehicles with excellent feedback. There are no white-can shocks here, for good reason.
The brand new suspension system from Bilstein includes new struts and coil springs, with an adjustable height coil spring collar. This allows for 7 different height settings, starting from factory height, up to 2.5” of lift. The Bilstein 6112 for the F150 differs from the 5100 series by offering more height settings, and being a much thicker shock. This equates to more shock fluid, more shock damping, and greater predictability and control offroad. Bilstein has always been known for a great highway ride, but now the 6112 delivers excellent offroad handling for the F150 as well.
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. Numerous Fox series exist for the F150, depending on how much you offroad or do heavy duties:
Suitable for the trails, fire roads, and slower to medium speed offroad driving. Utilizing the 2" lift in the front will mean a firmer-than-stock ride, but can also clear a +1 tire size from stock.
"The Performance Series shocks feel a bit firmer than stock on surface streets and seem to work together well with upgraded Vortracs. Jump off pavement and this is where you really notice the benefit of the firmer spring rate. The shocks soak up the bumps well and keep the factory suspension under better control through whoops and bumps."
Suitable for all of the above, and with a good set of control arms and other suspension upgrades, can handle medium+ speeds offroad. You can also achieve 2-3" of lift.
Icon Vehicle Dynamics offers a 2.5" aluminum bodied set of coilovers and shocks for many F150 models. 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 rock-and-whoop eating attitude.
King Offroad Shocks provides tried and true offroad racing shock design, and they've brought that technology and R&D to the OEM space, giving a range of options for your F150. King and Fox are the two leaders in the offroad racing world in terms of team support and wins, both manufacturers have excellent parts made from near identical components. King’s quality assurance is unmatched, as they intentionally stay small as a company, to maintain quality and service standards surrounding their product.