Choosing Shocks for your Toyota 4Runner
So you need to replace the shocks on your 4Runner, but 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.
Questions to ask yourself
What is your primary and secondary use of your 4Runner?
- 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
For the daily driver and general commute, a high quality shock or strut can last the life of your vehicle without issue. Potholes and speed bumps may compromise a factory shock, and especially a budget shock, but a quality monotube shock or strut will eat them up day after day, mile after mile. A thicker shock body will be better for longevity as well, providing better cooling capacity and lower internal shock pressure, leading to longer component life.
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 4Runner if your commute and daily drive is the main priority.
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. Both brands have , which ride slightly less consistent compared to monotube shocks, but entirely fine if there aren’t lots of rough roads, or potholes.
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.
These twin tube gas charged shocks have 9 settings of compression adjustment through an easy-turning red knob on the bottom of the shock, accessible any time while on the vehicle for on the go adjustment. This setting helps control how firm or soft the shocks respond to road feedback, so if you carry a lot of weight in the rear, the rear shock settings may be set firmer than the front.
Lots of options are available for offroad focused rigs, or your weekend trail (4)runner, we outline them below.
The brand new suspension system from Bilstein includes new struts and coil springs, with an adjustable height coil spring collar. This allows for 5 different height settings, starting from factory height, up to 2.5” of lift. The Bilstein 6112 for the (vehicle) 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 4Runner.
Old Man Emu
Tried and true offroad shocks straight from the outback of Australia. Old Man Emu tests all of their shocks in the rugged terrains of Australia, making numerous adjustments during the vehicle application testing. If your vehicle is a true work horse, overlanding, or just want a super solid all around shock, Old Man Emu shocks are a fantastic choice. Old Man Emu covers only a handful of U.S Domestic applications, so consider yourself lucky to have them as a choice, they’re tough.
ICON 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. ICON's full coilover units feature adjustable height coil spring collars, and possible compression damping adjustment valves to fine tune your ride on the fly.
Fox Racing Shocks are derived from true offroad racing experience, manufacturing, and shock technologies. These parts are made from aircraft quality 6061 aluminum, providing exceptional heat dissipation, and heavily resistant to the elements. All aluminum bodied Fox shocks are rebuildable, and nitrogen gas rechargeable, extending the life of the shocks dramatically (next vehicle owner will love you). Fox has a huge range of shocks, coilovers, and reservoir options, all with optional compression / rebound adjustability. Shock Surplus staff currently runs Fox on their vehicle(s).
KING Offroad Shocks
King Offroad Shocks are like the Air-Jordans of Baja Trophy Trucks. Proven offroad technology success outfits these shocks with some of the best materials available. King shocks are rebuildable, nitrogen gas rechargeable, and will handle anything you throw at them. King carries full coilovers and shocks for OEM replacement applications, but their bread and butter is outfitting some of the most badass offroad rigs out there.