Having and maintaining a good suspension system is vital to the smooth running of your vehicle.
Having worn shocks or struts causes a lot of problems including an uncomfortable drive and issues with steering, control, and braking. They shouldn’t need to be replaced regularly, however, you should certainly notice the difference when you fit a new part.
I’m going to show you the main difference between these two brands, why a shock absorber and a strut isn’t actually the same thing, the signs you need to look out for if these components need to be replaced, and what the best shocks and struts on the market are.
Main Differences Between Gabriel vs Monroe
The main differences between Gabriel vs Monroe are:
- Gabriel shocks and struts tend to ride firmer, whereas Monroe shocks often provide a smoother drive
- Gabriel models do better off-road, whereas Monroe shocks and struts are usually more suited to highway driving
- Gabriel shocks are not manufactured in the USA, whereas Monroe shock and struts are mainly manufactured in the USA
What Is a Shock Absorber and Why Do You Need One?
Having a shock absorber (or a strut as I’ll explain below) is crucial for the smooth running of your vehicle and it is an important part of the overall suspension system. A shock absorber will damp or reduce spring oscillations which means that it stabilizes the car when going over bumpy roads or sharp turns.
Without a shock absorber, your vehicle will bounce around pretty excessively and you will dread every time you get into the car. Even small bumps in the road will feel like your car is about to take off and it will cause other damage to your vehicle.
A shock absorber achieves a smooth ride by:
- Helping to keep tires in contact with the road surface
- Increasing the mileage you get from filling your tank up
- Provides better handling and control
- Prevent springs from oscillating
There are many misconceptions about what shocks do. Some people think they can increase the load you can carry on your vehicle or change the height of your car – a shock absorber doesn’t help with either of these. If you want to increase/decrease the height of your vehicle then you will need to look into different springs.
What is the Difference Between Shocks and Struts?
Shocks and struts are often used interchangeably but they are actually different components.
They both do the same job which is to help your vehicle stabilize and ensure a smooth journey as much as possible especially over uneven ground or bumpy terrain. You can’t replace a shock with a strut and you won’t be able to replace a strut with a shock.
It sounds a bit strange because they both do the same job and your suspension system will determine what your vehicle has – shocks or struts. In fact, some vehicles now have struts at the front of the vehicle and shocks installed at the rear of the vehicle.
They both look a bit different in appearance too and you will be able to tell which one is which when you see them side by side.
Signs That You Need to Replace Your Shocks or Struts
There are several common signs that you should look out for that may mean you need to replace your shocks or struts.
This is the most obvious sign that either your shocks or struts need to be replaced. If you are finding that your vehicle causes excessive bumping when driving, your shocks or struts could be worn out. Feeling every little bump on the road when you weren’t before? It could be time to look at new parts for your car.
A fluid leak underneath your car could be from a number of parts to your vehicle however it can also be a sign that you need to replace your shocks and struts. If you’re feeling bumps more than normal and you find fluid leaking then it is likely to be from your shocks or struts.
Breaking isn’t as responsive
This could be an indication that you need new brake pads however if your braking is becoming a bit less responsive or your vehicle is lunging forward when you brake, it can also be a sign that struts and shocks need to be replaced.
They aren’t directly responsible for braking performance however as they are a key component of the overall system they can have an impact on it.
You’re getting less mileage
A ballpark figure for replacing your shocks and struts is around the 50k mile mark and while this can depend on a lot of factors, this is the general guideline. Getting less mileage can be down to a number of reasons such as issues with your exhaust however replacing shocks or struts can help get more miles for your money.
Features of Gabriel vs Monroe Shocks and Struts
Let’s get into this Gabriel v Monroe shocks and struts review by looking at the key features you need to look out for before making a purchase.
Obviously whatever shocks or struts you buy are going to need to be compatible with your vehicle so it is important to check this before you buy.
The good news is that these components are among the easiest to install. Some parts of a car require a lot of experience or a mechanic to do it but shocks and struts can be put in by most people.
Both of these brands offer easy to install shocks and struts although some people have commented that Monroe shocks and struts are a bit more straightforward to put in. Much of this is going to depend on your vehicle, and some cars are going to be easier than others to replace these parts.
As I mentioned above, the general guideline for replacing shocks and struts is around the 50k mark.
Some will last a lot longer than this and others are going to need to be replaced before they get to 50k miles. A lot will depend on how much you drive and the type of roads you drive on. Continually going on bumpy and uneven terrain will wear out those components quicker.
Look out for shocks and struts that give you a decent amount of longevity because the last thing you will want to do is install them and find that you need to buy new parts just a few months down the line.
While these are essential parts to your vehicle and play a very important role in ensuring a smooth and safe ride, you don’t want to pay more than you have to.
Luckily, both Monroe and Gabriel shocks and struts are sold at very affordable prices. They are entry-level components in the market which doesn’t necessarily mean that they are of inferior quality, they just aren’t as expensive as some other brands.
If you want to keep the cost low when it comes to replacing these parts to your vehicle, both Gabriel and Monroe are dependable brands that aren’t going to break the bank.
Our Top Recommendations
Now you know what the difference is between shocks and struts and the features you should look out for – what are some of the best Gabriel and Monroe shocks and struts on the market?
#1 Monroe MA836 Max Air Adjust Shock Absorber
This shock absorber is a top notch component that is designed for vehicles that carry heavy loads or tow trailers.
It has a ½ inch piston road which means it’ll give you good longevity and also ensures a high level of performance across its lifetime as well. You shouldn’t need to replace this part very often due to its construction.
It is ideal for all weather conditions and it provides a real smooth ride by absorbing shocks, bumps and making driving over uneven and bumpy terrain as pleasant as possible.
- Easy to install – usually takes less than an hour
- Durable shocks for heavy load vehicles
- Can be inflated/deflated as required
- Can be used in all weather conditions
- Air line kit isn’t included as standard and needs to be separately purchase
#2 Gabriel 81490 Heavy Duty Gas Shock Absorber
The Gabriel 81490 Heavy Duty Gas Shock Absorber is ideal for cars and trucks and has a nitrogen gas charged makeup which results in great control and responsiveness.
These shocks are able to withstand bumps on the road and also handle uneven terrain really well. You should have a smooth and comfortable journey with these shocks. You can install these in less than an hour as well (most people take about 30-45 minutes) so you’ll have them up and running in no time.
They are great for heavy loads or towing a trailer too although don’t have the same load capacity at the Monroe MA386 models.
- High durable shocks for heavy loads
- Easy to install and should take less than 60 minutes
- Nitrogen gas charged for control and responsiveness
- Don’t carry the same load weight as the first on my list
- Aren’t the latest model on the market but have an affordable price
#3 Gabriel G57109 Strut
This strut from Gabriel – the G57109 – has a variable nine stage valve which helps to keep a consistent oil flow while it offers consistent response times with its G-force technology.
Suited for keeping the effects of bumps and shocks on the road to a minimum, the G57109 has a heavy duty compression head which will also help to absorb impacts when driving. The installation can be a bit harder than some other models. When running the airline to the struts there isn’t a lot of margin for error which may be a downside if you’re inexperienced at installation.
There are some concerns around durability as even though it comes with a bonded iron construction, some reports have found that needs replaced less than 2 years after fitting although this will depend on your driving habits and style.
- Provides consistent oil flow due to its nine stage valve
- Ensures a smooth ride even over bumpy surfaces and roads
- Heavy duty compression head and bonded iron construction
- Installation can be a bit trickier than other models
- Some issues around their longevity
#4 Monroe 139105 Quick-Strut
These struts offer an easy way to change struts on your vehicle as they don’t require you to compress the coil springs.
The 139105 Monroe Quick-Strut has a plated steel construction for added longevity, helps to improve steering with its robust bearing plate, and also provides a smooth and comfortable ride.
You will need to do an alignment after you install these struts however they are pretty easy to install yourself. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to get these onto your vehicle and they also don’t require any specialist tools to install.
- Very easy to install and don’t require any special tools
- Provide a smoother ride and better steering
- Don’t have to compress the coils yourself
- You will need an alignment after you install these struts
FAQs About Shocks and Struts
No. While shocks and struts perform the same function within the suspension system of your vehicle, they are not actually the same component and what one you need will depend on the suspension system of your vehicle.
There is no definitive number as this will depend on your driving habits and what kind of roads you are driving on. However, most shocks and struts will need to be replaced around 50,000 miles.
Yes, you should notice a big difference in how smooth your vehicle rides, how it absorbs bumps on the road and also they can help improve steering and control too.
If you are finding that your vehicle is bumping up and down excessively, has fluid leaking, braking problems or the steering feels off then these are all signs that you may need to replace these parts. It can also cause strange noises although this could also be a spark plug issue.
For the most part, yes. They shouldn’t take longer than an hour or two at most to install on your vehicle even if you have limited experience in doing this before.
Conclusion – Which is Better?
Who makes the better shocks and struts – Gabriel or Monroe?
The answer depends a lot on what you are actually using your vehicle for. Many of the shocks and struts from Gabriel often perform better on rough terrain and outside normal driving conditions like highways. Monroe’s shocks and struts usually offer a smoother ride on highways and urban environments.
That being said, as an allrounder, the Monroe MA836 Max Air Adjust Shock Absorber which I placed at number one on my list is ideal for anyone who wants to improve the performance of their vehicle. It offers a shock absorber that has been proven to provide a smoother ride, has good durability, and is also cost-effective as well.
Neither Gabriel or Monroe is at the high end of the market but the MA836 is an affordable option for most people and it works well for carrying heavy loads and everyday driving.
What shock or strut you choose is going to depend on several factors such as compatibility with your vehicle, the load weight you need, and also what kind of roads you are going to be driving on.
Monroe just edges it for me both in terms of performance as well as cost and they provide very easy to install components.