A Comprehensive Buyers Guide for Shock Absorbers/Dampers

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A Comprehensive Buyer's Guide for Shock Absorbers/Dampers

Shock absorbers or dampers perform a number of important functions on a car or truck. One function of a shock absorber is to dampen the ride of the vehicle by smoothing out bumps in the road. Travelling by car or truck would be a very unpleasant experience without the benefit of dampers.

When it comes to buying a new set of shock absorbers, the many different options available to damper buyers can lead to confusion about the best type to buy for their vehicle. Shock absorber buyers benefit from understanding the different designs of shocks and how those design features affect the ride and handling of their vehicle. One can purchase shock absorbers from auto parts stores, auto dealer parts departments, specialty automotive outfitters, and auto repair shops. Buyers can also purchase shock absorbers from sellers on eBay. It is easy to locate shocks for a specific vehicle on eBay and buyers can have their purchase shipped directly to their doorstep.

What Shock Absorbers Do

The springs on a vehicle connect the frame to the axles and, ultimately, the wheels. As the vehicle rolls down the road, the springs bounce in accordance with the terrain over which the vehicle is travelling. If the springs bounce uncontrolled, the chassis responds to each action of the spring, resulting in a very bumpy ride. Additionally, the tyres also rebound at a different rate than the springs, which would likely result in the driver losing control of the vehicle. Shock absorbers work to even out the rebound of the springs and prevent the tyres from bouncing by keeping them constantly in contact with the road.

How Shock Absorbers Function

The top of a shock absorber is mounted to the frame and the bottom is mounted to a fixture on the suspension or axle in the vicinity of each wheel. In simple terms, a piston inside the interior cylinder of the shock moves up and down through oil that is sealed within the cylinder. Small holes in the piston slow the movement of the piston and provide the dampening effect of the shock absorber. The piston is mounted on a shaft that runs out the top of the shock cylinder; a seal around the shaft keeps oil from leaking out of the cylinder. The shaft is a part of the top of the shock that attaches to the frame, while the cylinder is a part of the bottom of the shock that attaches to the axle or suspension.

Different Types of Shock Absorbers

A variety of different types of shock absorbers are available on the market. One can find OEM or original equipment manufacturer shock absorbers for most models. Aftermarket shock absorbers that offer specific features are available for all late-model vehicles and many older models as well. The following list explains the different types of shock absorbers that are produced for passenger cars and trucks.

Standard Shocks

Standard shock absorbers are the type commonly provided by the OE manufacturer. Oil-filled and without special features, a standard shock absorber provides a comfortable ride in passenger cars and gives adequate usage before replacement is required. It is not uncommon for a set of original OEM shocks to last for 100,000 miles; however, it is a good to have them inspected regularly after 40,000 to 50,000 miles.

Gas Shocks

Manufacturers often provide gas shocks as original equipment, especially on smaller vehicles. Gas shocks, like standard shocks, have oil in them to cushion the ride; however, they are sealed with pressurised nitrogen gas inside. The nitrogen keeps the shock cooler and prevents the oil from foaming and thinning out. The extra pounding that smaller cars deliver to the dampers can cause the shock to heat up from friction. Gas shocks last longer on a smaller vehicle than standard shocks.

Heavy-Duty Shocks

Heavy duty shocks have a larger diameter than standard shock absorbers and have beefed-up attachment points and a larger centre shaft. Designed for more rugged use, heavy-duty shocks are often placed on trucks, vans, and passenger vehicles that carry heavier loads frequently. Heavy-duty shocks ride a little stiffer than standard shocks until they are loaded with extra weight, after which the ride characteristics become more similar.

Automatic Level-Control Shocks

Usually found on luxury vehicles, level-control shocks have an air pump that is activated when the weight distribution in the car changes. Driving with four passengers or extra weight in the boot causes the air pump to activate and pressurise the shocks to compensate for the added load. The air pump is electrically operated and activated by sensors on the suspension. An airline that is routed from the pump delivers air to the shock.

Air Shocks

Similar to level-control shocks, air shocks have an air inlet that allows the shock to be pressurised with air and pumped up to lift the vehicle. Air shocks are usually only installed on the rear of the vehicle and are common additions to trucks and vans carrying heavy loads. Unlike level-control shocks, the user must inflate air shocks. An air fitting is normally placed somewhere on the rear of the vehicle for an air chuck to be attached and inflation occurs with air from an air compressor or air tank. Lines run to the shocks from the air fitting and are usually attached to the frame with straps or clamps. Air shocks are aftermarket products that take the place of OEM shocks.

Overload Shocks

Overload shocks or coil-over shocks are easy to identify by the coil spring that is fitted around the outside of the shock cylinder. The coil spring stiffens the reflex action of the shock significantly. Off-road vehicles often have overload shocks, as do dune buggies, rock climbers, and other recreational vehicles.


Struts are technically different than shocks in that they fit into a strut assembly rather than bolt onto the frame and suspension of the vehicle. But struts perform a similar function to shocks or dampers. Installation of new strut cartridges can be a dangerous procedure; strut assemblies have a loaded coil spring that is positioned around the strut cartridge. To remove the strut cartridge it is necessary to disassemble the top of the strut assembly. The disassembly procedure is normally performed in a jig that holds the entire unit. Spring compressors are used to hold the coil spring tension when the strut assembly is taken apart. Failure to secure the assembly and hold the spring tension may result in the spring unloading during disassembly, causing damage to parts and workers in the general vicinity.

Popular Shock Absorber Manufacturers

A number of companies make shock absorbers for sale in the automotive aftermarket. Some of the more well known names are likely recognisable even to non-technical enthusiasts. The following chart lists some popular shock brands and the type of shock absorbers that they carry in their product line.





Standard, heavy-duty, gas, coil-over, air shocks and struts

One of the most recognised brands in the world


Standard, heavy-duty, gas, coil-over shocks and struts

Internationally recognised for racing and performance shocks and struts


Standard, heavy-duty, gas, coil-over, air shocks and struts

Original inventors of the shock absorber in 1907


Standard, heavy-duty, gas shocks, and struts

Japanese company formerly known as Kayaba


Standard, heavy-duty, gas, coil-over, air shocks and struts

Euro Car Parts brand


Standard, heavy-duty, gas, coil-over, air shocks and struts

German OEM and aftermarket manufacturer

Many car enthusiasts become partial to a particular brand of shocks and always look for the nameplate when making a purchase. Some manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on their product, which can eliminate the need to ever buy another set of shocks for the owners who keep their vehicle for extended periods of time.

How to Buy Shocks on eBay

Though shock absorbers are available at brick and mortar stores such as auto parts stores, auto dealer parts departments, and auto repair shops, many buyers turn first to eBay. On eBay one can find a large selection of shock absorbers, dampers, and struts for sale on eBay Stores. Additional related products are also offered for sale.

Finding the right shock absorber for your car is easy when using eBay Motors parts search tool. From the eBay Motors Home Page simply enter the vehicle make and model in the drop-down selection boxes, type in 'shock absorber' in the product keyword bar and then hit search. The result is a list of both OEM and aftermarket shocks applicable to the vehicle. Shopping on eBay is convenient and simple. With a simple keyword search, buyers can purchase the shock absorber parts they need, use PayPal to safely and securely transfer funds to pay for the purchase, and then have the parts delivered to the buyer's home or workplace.


Shock absorbers not only cushion the ride of a vehicle, but they also perform some specific safety functions for cars and trucks. Keeping the wheels and tyres firmly in contact with the road, improves vehicle handling as well the manoeuvrability of the vehicle. Badly worn shock absorbers cause wheel hop, which, in addition to being dangerous, is also damaging to tyres. Worn shocks cause the rubber on tyres to chop and wear prematurely. Shock absorbers or struts with damaged seals around the shaft of the shock often leak oil, and a leaking shock absorber is a sure sign of the need for replacement. Understanding the different types of shock absorbers available on the market provides buyers with all the information they need to select a damper that best fits their driving style and the road conditions the vehicle travels on. With many different brands available, buyers can choose a shock absorber with exactly the design features they want.

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