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Choosing the Right Shocks and Coilovers

January 24, 2020

When people are buying lift kits, they want to know what the deal is with Rough Country, Fox, King, and other lift kit brands. Two of the most common questions we are asked are:

  1. Why are some shocks so expensive?
  2. Why are some shocks steel, while others are aluminum?

In this post, we’re going to explain a few differences in shocks and coilovers. We want you to understand why different shocks have different materials, why prices vary so much, and why coilovers are often a worthwhile investment.

Monotube Shocks

The first four shocks in the video above are monotube shocks with a two-inch diameter body, give or take a half inch. The Bilstein, featured in the photo below, has a smaller piston and shock.

 

The Fox and Rough Country V2 have an aluminum body while the Bilstein and Rough Country N3, featured in the picture below, have a steel body. They are nitrogen charged with fix valving.

 

The Difference Between the Rough Country N3 and Rough Country V2 Monotube

So what are the difference between the shocks of the same brand? First, the V2 is more expensive, but we think it’s worth it. The V2 has an aluminum body and the valving, pistons, bushing ends, and seals are higher quality than those of the Rough Country N3. 

If you’re going for value though, the N3 might be the better choice. But at the end of the day, the choice is yours; and there is no right or wrong answer. Also, different shocks have different valving and setups. The V2 will provide a more performance oriented, firmer feel. The N3 provides a less aggressive, softer feel. 

Steel vs Aluminum

What’s the difference between a steel and aluminum body? Aluminum is lighter and dissipates heat better than steel. Steel shocks are cheaper to manufacture and thus cheaper to purchase. Higher end shocks are usually aluminum. Alunimun is lightweight and doesn’t rust, though it does corode.

King Piggyback Reservoir Shock

The King Piggyback reservoir shock looks cool, but there's a lot more to it. Its biggest benefit is the piston on the shock shaft with the shims, valving, and floating piston that separate nitrogen gas from hydraulic fluid, which they move into the reservoir.

About a Resevoir Shock

On a resevoir shock, you can move the floating piston to the reservoir, giving a more compact body and the ability to dissipate heat better. A reservoir shock isn’t necessarily going to ride differently: Its benefits are heat dissipation and the physical characteristics.

Shock Diameters

For the record, shocks have different diameters. Diameters indicate the size of the piston inside the shock. The larger the piston, the more damping ability it has.

Check out this these BDS kits with Fox shock upgrades, featured in the photo below.

 

Coilovers

Coilovers are more expensive than shocks. They’re a spring in addition to a shock: their full name is coil-over shock absorber. Some coilovers are adjustable while others are not.

Rough Country Vertex vs King Piggyback

The Rough Country Vertex coilover is longer than the King and has a thicker spring, though the length isn’t the most important detail. The RC is adjustable, with a knob numbered from 1 to 10, while the King has no adjustability. With the knob, you can change the damping characteristics with the turn of a knob, although most people keep the knob at 1. The King has a heavier spring. Check out the RC kit with Vertex shocks and the King shocks featured below.

 

 

Shop Truck & Jeep Suspensions at Custom Offsets

The products listed are just examples for one vehicle. Custom Offsets sells many different suspension types that cover most years, makes, and models. Shop suspensions on our website.