Quality of Monroe vs. Gabriel vs. other shock absorbers?

My 2006 Ford Focus has 127,000 miles. It has been in need of struts/shock absorbers for a while.

I am looking for something a little firmer than the original equipment but not so much firmer. The most common brands on the market are Monroe and Gabriel. I have had experience with gas-charged Monroes (never tried Gabriels) about 25 years ago. I remember them to be not so impressive.

I am also looking at the baseline model KYB, which seem a little more expensive than the two common brands.

Has any of you had experience with Monroe, Gabriel, KYB or other brands in terms of their firmness and their dirability?

I’ve had experience with all brands of struts/shocks over the years.

And what I find is, that the replacement aftermarket struts/shock out-perform the original components.

So, just installing aftermarket components can improve the overall handling of the vehicle.


Looking at what’s listed on Rockauto, I might go with the KYB shocks/struts. They list a kit which also has the springs pre mounted, a big plus.

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Of the aftermarket shocks and struts, I’ve personally had cars with Monroe, Gabriel and Tokico

Monroe and Gabriel seemed about equal, nothing to brag about

Tokico seemed very stiff, and they didn’t last long. Less than 10K miles. I threw them in the metal bin and went with Monroe, until I got rid of the car a few years later

I agree with @texases . . . go with the struts that are already pre-assembled

Afterwards, get a steering alignment

Which brand offers the better warranty?

Every time some shyster mechanic tells me my car needs new struts, I say, “Cool, my Monroe struts have a lifetime warranty on the parts. How much are you going to charge for labor?”

What I usually get in response is something like, “Oh, they’re not malfunctioning, I just thought they were the original struts, and that’s why I recommended changing them.”

It’s always I sign that I’ve gone to a crooked repair shop.

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Gabriel and Monroe parts WILL be stiffer than factory simply because they design them so you can feel that you actually changed something. KYB’s, too. All aftermarket shocks and struts are built that way.

I have used KYB’s and they ride well and are a quality product. Many are built in the US. I currently have Tokico adjustable struts/shocks on my Mustang with well over 10,000 miles and I am impressed. I have also used Gabriels. They gave me no issues but they were not stiff enough to settle my Ford van’s bobbing nose. The Sachs rear replacement shocks on the wife’s car have 80,000 mile with no issues.

BTW, I was an engineer for a former GM division that made shocks and I’ve cut apart many brands of shocks and struts to see what is inside. Monroe is a bottom feeder especially their aftermarket replacement parts, Gabriel is a bit better, KYB, Showa and Boge/Sachs (now TRW) are better yet. All are OEM suppliers. Premium suppliers would be Koni or Bilstein.

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I’ve never had good luck with Monroe truck shocks. They never failed, but after a couple years they became real still.

Blistien and KYB are my choice. Never had an issue with them - even after a couple hundred thousand miles.

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I’ve heard a lot of dissatisfaction with Monroes. I use KYBs because they’re OEM to Toyota.
By the way, I think you’ll find your ride a lot firmer with new dampers no matter what reputable brand you use. New dampers make a big difference.

Out here in pickup country, I’ve always liked the fat white Gabriels best.
Each brand makes different grades of shocks so it’d be likely to be comparing apples to oranges if you get the light duty of one brand and the heavy of the other.
So it’s be Gabriel Ultra vs Monroe Sensa-Trac for your car.
Since my pickup experience leans Gabriel. . . that’s what I’d buy for a car.

Thank you very much, guys.
I am leaning toward KYBs. My Focus is the SES trim, which has the 16-inch wheels, rather than 14 or 15. So, I think I want something a little firmer.

If your current dampers are shot, new dampers will definitely firm your ride up. They can make a surprising difference. And I’m alluding to OEM replacements.

Make sure you replace the rubbery bits too, the seat springs, bumper stops, strut mounts, and boots if your struts have them. They’re dirt cheap to buy, and the spring seats and strut mounts make a big difference in the ride, handling, and road noise.

If you want to noticeably improve your steering response, reduce body roll, and reduce sensitivity to wind, without adversely affecting your ride, allow me to suggest you look for some upgraded sway bars. Note that reduced body roll keeps the tires in better contact with the road during turns, and this alone makes a noticeable difference.

Again, be sure you get new bushings with them (they usually come with the bar(s). New sway bar links on a ten year old car may or may not be needed, but check yours to be sure they’re not frozen or worn loose. IMHO upgraded sway bars might be the best suspension upgrade you can make for a daily driver.

Hey, Saturn outlook owner here. How can I figure out whether I should use OEM or KYB mounts?
The OEM mount and bearing fits together tightly, but the KYB
has a bit of slack between the mount bearing. I’m not
even sure if the old one needs replacing. The chrome plating is worn
on the Gabriel struts I bought in one egg shaped place
on the rod, and I was hearing clunking and squawking
when I hit bumps.

This tread is more than 1 year old

It’s a legitimate question, so the age of the thread is not too important. The question is unclear because I can’t tell what the poster wants to do? Is he changing the mounts, but not the struts? Or both?

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Jason, You will get much better answers/advice by starting your own thread and by actually asking clear questions. The only thing I have to offer is, my experience with Monroe Quick Struts. I Bought 4 for a 99 Camry 3 of them did not have the bearing/mount on correctly, resulting in lots of noise while driving. I somewhat blame myself for not checking them well, just a quick visual. So basically had to remove them re-do the bearing attachment and re-install. Some lessons are learned the hard way.

If you can go with Bilstein that will be your best bet in my opinion. They will outperform and handle way better than stock and give you a smoother ride at the same time on most vehicles. My second choice would be KYB. Summitracing.com normally has both those brands in stock for the lowest price most of the time. Sometimes you can find a set of all four on eBay for a little bit less. If you can get a kit with new springs and strut mounts they cost a little bit more but they make it very easy to install. I like both those brands because they make the vehicle feel more planted while giving you better performance and handling at the same time with a smoother ride. On top of not having to adjust them to get the stiffness you want. Gabriel and Monroe seem to be OEM quality or less most of the time. They might come with a lifetime warranty, but Bilstein and KYB I think will last longer in most cases.

An old thread but if its a DIY project and if a complete EZ strut kit is available, I’d make that the priority over the brand.

The alternative is using a spring compressor, which isn’t too difficult but more dangerous if something fails or slips.