Best Shocks & Struts for Honda: Accord, CR-V & Element

by | Auto Tools, Best Of (Cars)

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 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 that might be a concern to you.

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.

Best struts and shocks for Honda CR-V, Honda Accord & Honda Element: My comparisons and insights

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:

Best shocks and struts for Honda CRV: My review

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:

Best struts for Honda Accord (2007): KYB wins here, here's why

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)!

Closing words

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 replacement. 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!

Founder of ToolingFun. Couldn't even change a lightbulb in my teenage years. Discovered the joy of DIY projects during my 2nd year in college. All about tinkering around, trying fun tools and projects, and giving my opinion on industry brands!