Choosing Shocks for Your Nissan Xterra

The Xterra did not come with the best shocks off the assembly line, but many original owners get 75-100k miles with regular highway driving. If the truck has been used pretty aggressively offroad at any point, then that will severely limit the life of the shock absorbers.

How Do You Ride?

Choose your type of shock upgrade to see our expert advice:

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.

Questions to ask yourself

What is your primary and secondary use of your Xterra?

  • 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, typically strut and shock sets start in the $300-400 range, and can go all the way up to $1000 or more depending on quality and performance

Commuting / Highway / Street

Bilstein 4600

The 4600 is a monotube gas shock, and you’ll be hard pressed to find something that rides nicer for a similar price, Bilstein is the gold standard in the shock industry with their monotube gas charged design. The 4600 is considered one of the best factory replacements available for the Xterra if your commute and daily drive is the main priority.

Bilstein 5100

Bilstein’s 5100 series is a zinc-plated monotube gas shock which is great for moderate offroad use at slow speed, rock crawling, and other aggressive terrain. The Bilstein provides great control offroad, while still maintaining a consistent ride on the highway. Providing firmer dampening over a factory shock, or the 4600 series, these shocks help reduce body roll, and resist fade, with exceptionally long life.

KYB or Monroe

For normal driving behavior, either of these shock brands ride well and are inexpensive. If miles and longevity are important, we recommend going with KYB Monomax or Monroe Reflex shocks, both monotube gas charged design.

Tow Icon Tow / Haul / Heavy Duty

Before doing anything else, research Weight Distribution Systems that better allow your vehicle to tow the maximum allowable weight. When towing long or heavy trailers, it’s imperative to keep the ride steady and stable, shocks cannot always accomplish this alone.

Most higher end gas pressurized shocks will handle trailer loads and the increased oscillation that is present. Our most popular options, according to customer feedback:

Rancho RS9000XL Adjustable Shock

Adjustable shocks, which are twin tube and nitrogen gas charged. These have 9 settings of compression adjustment through an easy-turning knob on the bottom of the shock or reservoir, accessible any time while on the vehicle for on the go adjustment.

Old Man Emu

Since Old Man Emu shocks ride a bit firmer than factory, their dampening ability makes the Nitrocharger Sport very viable in handling heavier loads.

Offroad Trails

Lots of options available for offroad focused rigs, or your weekend trail runner, we outline them below.

Bilstein 5100

Developed by Bilstein specifically for offroad applications, lifted or factory height, these shocks provide incredible ride characteristics for both the highway and light offroading situations. These are amongst our most popular sellers, for good reason.

Old Man Emu

Derived from true offroad racing experience, manufacturing, and shock technology. These parts are made from aircraft quality 6061 aluminum, providing exceptional heat dissipation. All aluminum bodied Fox shocks are rebuildable, and nitrogen gas rechargeable, extending the life of the shocks dramatically. Fox have numerous series of full coilover setups, with or without reservoir options, and with or without compression / dampening adjustments.

Fox Racing Shocks

Derived from true offroad racing experience, manufacturing, and shock technology. These parts are made from aircraft quality 6061 aluminum, providing exceptional heat dissipation. All aluminum bodied Fox shocks are rebuildable, and nitrogen gas rechargeable, extending the life of the shocks dramatically. Fox have numerous series of full coilover setups, with or without reservoir options, and with or without compression / dampening adjustments.

King Offroad Shocks

King doesn’t fuss with worrying about street comfort, so be prepared for a significantly firmer ride when equipping your vehicle with these shocks. Proven offroad technology outfits these shocks with some of the best materials available. King shocks are both rebuildable, and nitrogen gas rechargeable. King carries full coilover setups, with and without reservoir options, with or without compression / dampening adjustments.