Living in Japan, one of my first plant tours was Honda’s automotive plant in Sayama. It’s one of their biggest domestic factories, where they manufacture the Accord and CR-V…among others, of course.
I was able to witness how much love goes into producing every single vehicle. It was fantastic.
Today I’ll be focusing on the best shock and strut replacements for three different Honda models. The Accord and CR-V I could see there and one additional guest – Honda Element.
➥➥ For CR-V shocks, I recommend considering Bilstein’s B6 4600 series. KYB and Monroe aren’t as good in the SUV shocks market compared to what Bilstein offers for the price.
If you need struts, a Monroe strut assembly will do the job. It achieves OEM-like performance and provides decent dampening.
➥➥ For Accord: I’d go with Monroe’s QuickStrut assembly for older models (2000-2002) OR the standard Excel G goodness from KYB for a newer Accord (2007+).
My personal opinion, but I believe KYB offer more refined performance. Firmer ride without being too stiff compared to Monroe. The better option overall for Japanese cars. 🙂
➥➥ For Honda Element, I’d definitely stick to KYB over Monroe. Once again, a set of Excel G will make the most sense if you want to go aftermarket over OEM with your suspension worries.
Additional options can be Sensen struts if you’re on the thrifty side or Gabriel struts if you can find good deals on Ebay.
Will I explain why I made these exact choices? Of course. But let’s first cover a few important details. You can skip to whichever section interests you from the Table of Contents: [toc]
Going aftermarket vs OEM with your Honda
This dilemma isn’t only limited to Honda, of course. There’s always a lot of talk among car owners of any kind.
In the case of Honda models, the decision has always been easy for me.
Aftermarket shocks and struts can literally cost half than what you’d pay for OEM parts. Normally, the fit would be a concern, I agree.
However, Honda is an Asian car. Guess who makes perfect fitting replacements for asian cars?
Yep, that’s KYB. Their aftermarket shocks fit exactly like your OEMs would do. That’s the whole point of their manufacture and partnerships with leading brands like Toyota.
And frankly, even with Bilstein or Monroe, you don’t need to tinker around too much anyways.
Will they ride firmer? It depends. Monroe try to imitate the OEM dampening/soft rides, KYB are a bit firmer. Bilstein shocks ride the smoothes on SUVs and uneven terrain as I’ve pointed out in my KYB vs Bilstein overview.
Installing the shocks/strut replacements yourself or getting them installed
Totally up to you, but it really seems more intimidating than it is. Except if you have some serious rust around your shocks or there are other severe complications.
If your shocks are just shot by mileage, you’ll be done in several hours to a day of work (depending on experience). Strut assemblies will make things even easier for those without any serious DIY experience.
Seriously, don’t be scared. Or if you are, check the pals over at DriveAccord who shared their own experiences DIYing the replacement process.
It’ll save you quite a bit of money too. Here’s an example video with the Accord:
Best struts & shocks for Honda CRV
Starting with shocks, it’s easy to understand why I’d go for the Bilstein 4600 series.
Elegant monotube construction with digressive valving, good plating and sturdier construction than you can get with any Monroe or KYB shock.
These also ride smoother than Koni, Monroe or KYB shock replacements. All in all, these are Bilstein’s balanced manufacture for urban-dwelling SUVs. Neat design, easy installation:
Here’s the correct Bilstein front shock and if you need it – the corresponding rear 4600 shock.
If you’re searching for struts…
As I said, Monroe’s strut assemblies make a lot of sense in general situations.
They’re affordable without being cheap in construction, minimize squeals/noises and give you decent control over your ride. Monroe’s assembly’s best selling points are the quickness and ease of installation. It’s unbeatable.
Monroe front assemblies – on the left you need this one, and on the right you can get this one.
That said, with the CR-V you can also go with OEM struts if needed too.
Best aftermarket struts for Honda Accord
OK, now this might depend on the Accord model you have. For earlier 2000, 2001 or 2002 Accord, once again you can grab the respective Monroe QuickStrut Assembly.
If you can, however, I’d advise you to go KYB.
This is easy with the 2007 Accord where KYB has the Excel G ready to kickstart your ride into comfort and control:
I mentioned it before, but KYB are the replacement for asian car brands. They work together with car makers – including Honda, to ensure their struts and shocks are a perfect fit for various models.
Sure, they ride a bit firmer than a true OEM, but that gives you a little bit more control.
The Teflon coated piston band and general construction are also great. They make sure you get a longer life out of these little buddies. In no way is this construction comparable to higher-end Bilstein parts, but then again Bilsteins focus more on more demanding performance like SUV/4WD/offroad.
Looking for a complete corner assembly?
Best struts for Honda Element
KYB, Monroe, Gabriel all have good mid-budget options here. If you want to go the cheaper route, Sensen have this set for 2003-2006 Honda Element. Sensen get a lot of flack online, but they’re decent…for their price. Don’t expect wonders from them, though.
Once again, I’d recommend you to think about just getting Excel G struts. OEM-like dampening, firmer ride control and not too expensive either.
It’s like you got a cheaper, better OEM replacement, seriously.
Gabriel also manufacture good stuff for the Honda Element. Might be a bit to hard by, though, so you’ll need to snoop around on Ebay or local shops to see whether they have some available. Just saying that it’s another good option for your $$$.
As far as Monroe goes, the usual suspect for Element is their Sensatrac. Decent, but I’ve seen other people mention that it’s not that impressive. For cheaper setups, Sensen might even make more sense (blasphemy, I know)!
The following are some factors to consider when selecting the best shocks and struts system for your Honda car.
You should consider the environment and nature of the road you wish to drive. Rough roads require strong heavy-duty shock systems, while smooth tarmacked roads require less advanced systems. Selecting based on the terrain will reduce the need for frequent maintenance and replacements. For example, air suspension systems give smoother rides on rough terrain. They are, however, more costly than other systems. Hydraulic systems last longer and work better when driving at high speeds. They offer better handling and control to prevent accidents.
Expected hauling load
If you are planning to use your car to haul or tow heavy loads on your trail, you may need to settle for shock systems designed to carry heavy loads. This is because shocks and struts are subjected to high-level strains when the vehicle tows or hauls heavy loads. It is good to consider this to avoid failures or breakdowns, especially when on road trips.
You may want to consider the price of the shocks and struts replacements. The more money you spend, the stronger and more durable the shocks will likely be. On the other hand, you may get less durable shocks if you are on a low budget. You can ask the seller for your car’s most cost-effective but robust suspension system. Make sure you invest in the best for better results.
Struts are usually more expensive than shocks due to the increased number of components. They are, however, better as they can withstand rough terrain, even hauling or towing heavy loads.
High-quality shocks can withstand wearing and failure for more than 50,000 miles. This means a minimal need for frequent replacements or repairs. However, if you constantly drive on rough roads, the shocks are more likely to wear out faster; therefore, you may want to settle for stronger systems. Select shocks with systems designed to withstand heavy loads and rough terrain.
How often should you replace your shocks?
After driving for between 50,000 to 100,000 miles, you should schedule a replacement. That’s almost equivalent to five or ten years of use. Shocks start wearing out after 50,000 miles depending on the terrain you drive. Replacements are crucial to give you a smooth ride regardless of ground conditions.
You can tell whether replacements are needed by checking for instability, excessive bouncing of tires, or unusual tire wear. The replacement service may take between two or three hours.
Do you need both struts and shocks?
Shocks and struts systems are not fitted in all vehicle types. Some cars have only struts while others have shocks. Struts are made of the complete suspension assembly, while shocks are the general suspension. You can work with either system, and the rides will still be smooth.
Maintenance for shocks and struts?
Shocks, struts, and the whole suspension system should be tested and inspected by a qualified mechanic once or twice a year. The test should be done with your car on the ground, not on the jack or hoist. Then, the car can be bounced at corners and released to tell the correct condition of the suspension system.
Are shocks more expensive than struts?
Shocks are usually less expensive as compared to struts. This is because shock systems are less complicated. Struts are made stronger than shocks as they carry many load-bearing parts. Expensive suspension systems are more durable and offer better resistance to factors that may cause unsmooth rides.
How many shock systems are available?
Shock systems include the hydraulic system, single-acting shock absorbers, double-acting, friction, telescopic, and lever-type shocks. All systems behave differently depending on the terrain present. They all, however, work to shield you from shocks and provide smoother rides.
Well, hope that was extensive and helpful enough.
There’s always a lot of room for discussion on suspension replacements. KYB, Bilstein, Monroe, Koni, Gabriel, Sensen…the list is never-ending.
I’m curious what your own experiences have been regarding OEM vs aftermarket replacements. Which did you choose? How did that impact your ride?
If you have a favorite brand and any additional recommendations, do let me know in the comments!
Additionally, I have a similar post – this time outlining a few good brake pad Honda replacements for select models. Check it out if your pads and rotors are nearing the end of their days!