Bilstein 4600 vs. 5100 Shocks: Full Review & Comparison

Bilstein 4600 vs. 5100 Shocks: Full Review & Comparison
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Buckle up, ladies and gents! Today, we’re diving into the wonderful world of Bilstein shocks. More specifically, the showdown of the century: Bilstein 4600 vs. 5100. As a car enthusiast, I’ve been asked countless times about these two shock series, and it’s time to put the rumors to rest. 

Today, we’ll explore the similarities and the differences and ultimately determine which one reigns supreme. So sit back, relax, and get ready for a full review and comparison of the Bilstein 4600 vs. 5100 shocks to help you decide which is better for your needs and preferences. 

Let’s get this show on the road!

Quick Recap: Bilstein Shocks 101

Here’s a discussion starter: contrary to popular belief, the 5100s being more expensive doesn’t mean they’re better. In fact, for general purposes, I’d recommend you go with Bilstein 4600 HD shocks.

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BILSTEIN’S BALANCED SHOCK
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12/02/2023 12:14 am GMT

Bilstein 4600 Review

Oh boy, let’s talk about the Bilstein 4600 Heavy Duty shocks. These bad boys have been making waves in the truck community, and for a good reason. They’re the Swiss Army Knife of shocks – versatile, reliable, and affordable. But don’t just take my word for it – the Bilstein 4600 reviews speak for themselves. Some folks claim they feel like they’re riding on a cloud, while others say they’ve noticed a significant improvement in their truck’s handling and stability.

So if you’re in the market for a shock that delivers the goods for general purposes without breaking the bank, the Bilstein 4600 is your go-to choice. Get ready to feel like you’re gliding on air!

Bilstein 4600 Key Features & Benefits

  • Monotube gas-pressure design for consistent performance and handling
  • Digressive valving adjusts to different road conditions for a smoother ride
  • Heavy-duty construction for maximum support and stability
  • Improved handling and steering response, especially under heavy loads or when towing
  • Enhanced shock absorption to prevent bouncing, bottoming out, and other road impacts
  • Long-lasting performance and durability, thanks to high-quality materials and advanced engineering
  • Easy to install with no modifications required, high-quality OE replacement.

 

Bilstein 5100 Review

Now, let’s talk about the Bilstein 5100 shocks, shall we? These are like the shiny new toy on the block – sleek, stylish, and packed with performance. And let me tell you, the Bilstein 5100 reviews don’t disappoint. Folks are raving about the improved ride quality, especially on rough terrains or bumpy roads. Some are even saying it’s like they’re driving a completely different vehicle altogether!

The adjustable height feature also allows for a more customized driving experience, making it a popular choice for off-roading enthusiasts. And let’s not forget about the sleek design – these shocks look like they mean business. So, if you want to upgrade your truck’s style and performance in one fell swoop and tackle any terrain like a boss, the Bilstein 5100 series is the way to go.

Bilstein 5100 Key Features & Benefits

  • 46mm monotube design, ensuring consistent, fade-free performance in all conditions.
  • Customizable vehicle height for improved off-road capability (up to 2.75 In)
  • Enhanced shock absorption for better handling, especially on rough terrains
  • Reduced body roll and improved steering response, thanks to the digressive piston design
  • Easy to install, a convenient upgrade for any truck or SUV.

 

Bilstein 5100 vs. 4600 Shocks: Key Differences 

These two shocks differ in three fundamental ways:

  • Ride height: The Bilstein Heavy Duty 4600 series shocks fit only stock-height vehicles. Bilstein 5100 shocks, on the other hand, support lifted trucks, usually up to 3 inches of a suspension lift or so.
  • Durability: 5100s come with additional zinc plating. This helps protect the tube from debris, as you’ll usually see these shocks in off-road trucks.
  • Ride feel: Bilstein 4600 yellow and blue shocks will ride way smoother, while the 5100 shocks go for a noticeably firmer feel with their valving.

This means that if you’re looking for a shock that offers great performance for towing, light offroading, or just regular cruising, the Bilstein Heavy Duty 4600 is your go-to shock absorber for general purposes and stock trucks. It will save you a few bucks compared to the 5100 and deliver top-notch performance for the average driver. I’ve got a set of these installed:

bilstein 4600

For lifted, heavier trucks you want to take on dirt adventures – heavy duty 5100s are the way to go. The firmer, stiffer control you’d have on larger wheels, even on gravel roads, will make you fall in love with their performance.

Let’s dive deeper and elaborate on each point in more detail to understand why. 

Bilstein 4600 vs. 5100 Shocks: On-Ride Height & Truck Specifics

As we mentioned, this isn’t a matter of more expensive shocks being better just for the sake of price. Say, you have a stock-height Silverado. Even if you want to slap a pair of 5100s on it, this isn’t even a possibility. They won’t fit – unlike a good set of 4600 shocks like these.  Likewise, if you try installing 4600s on a lifted F-250, they won’t fit. This is a task for the height-adjustable 5100 series.

Note that, in general, 5100 shocks will lift your vehicle by ~1.5” to 3” depending on your vehicle. This lift comes mainly from the rear pair of 5100s, which features a slightly elongated body to allow height increase.

Here’s a good video that explains this in more detail:

The Zinc Advantage: Bilstein 4600 vs. 5100 Shock Body Differences

These two shock series are mostly the same in terms of internal components. Rod size, piston size, and even their PSI of nitrogen are the same, clocking at 360 to thwart the dreaded shock fade and shock oil foaming. One exception would be their valving, but we’ll get to that later. So what’s the difference, then?

The major difference that makes a sturdier shock is the Bilstein 5100  and its outer construction – the zinc coating it comes with. You can easily notice it as this is why 5100s  front and rear shocks feature a sleek chrome appearance:

31nnFa2PDJL. SL500

Compared to this enhanced shock protection, Bilstein 4600 series shocks stick to a simply painted coating. Like other manufacturers’ painted shocks, the yellow body paint will eventually start chipping away.

I’ve seen a lot of people who like their shocks staying fresh and good-looking. With the 5100 monotubes, the zinc finish will achieve that, along with its metal shock body and black boot. After all, it protects the monotube from gravel roads or just general debris.

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  • Zinc-plating protects from offroad damage and debris.
  • Specially designed for lifted vehicles & 4WD.
  • Firm ride control, ready to tackle any rough terrain
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12/01/2023 11:13 pm GMT

Bilstein 5100 vs. 4600 Series: Opposites in Terms of Ride Feel

To most, ride comfort would probably be the most significant difference between the two shock series from our favorite German manufacturer. The heavy-duty 5100 shock series hits way firmer in terms of ride characteristics. Why? Because of the different valving settings.

For example, here are their valve ratings (rebound/compression points on front shocks):

  • Bilstein 5100 – 986.9/287.7
  • Bilstein 4600 – 843.0/85.4

The higher numbers translate to a firmer ride when your vehicle goes through any damping on the road. Additionally, the valving you’ll see with 5100 series shocks is stiffer to accommodate the extra weight of larger wheels or tires and aid body roll on lifted rigs.

Are Bilstein 5100 shocks stiff? Yes, yet with more mods, the amount of vehicle control you need also increases, and driving through the gravel and endless off-road obstacles would go wrong if you had too soft handling. Hence, the firmer and tighter-controlled ride quality you get with the 5100 series. Here’s a Bilstein 5100 review on a strictly off-road Dodge Ram (check the exact fit shocks) after 100k miles

On the other hand, Bilstein 4600 HD doesn’t need this extra stiffness. These shocks were made for daily driver needs – street/highway use or some light off-roading. Dampening is easier on flatter surfaces with occasional potholes, and the stock height application doesn’t deal with heavy mods requiring more control.

Load capacity also plays a role in ride quality. On empty or lower loads, the Bilstein 5100 series would ride even stiffer – some might even find this firmer ride quality low and uncomfortable for normal driving conditions. This would be the forte of 4600 shocks, as they would deliver a way smoother ride experience. For stock-height vehicles with heavier loads, you can also consider KYB Monomax, as I’ve mentioned in the KYB vs Bilstein shocks review.

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  • Balanced shock for stock height SUVs/light trucks.
  • Good for towing, drives smoother than 5100.
  • Comes with great warranty too.
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12/02/2023 12:14 am GMT

Bilstein 5100 vs. 4600 Manufacturing: Where Are They Made?

This is a common question with many suspension brands. Rest easy. Bilstein doesn’t outsource to subpar facilities – all Bilstein suspension is top-quality.

Both shock series are manufactured in Germany or the US, as most of their aftermarket shocks are. I think for the 5100s, the brand splits the production 50/50 between these two locations. Maybe it’s the same for the 4600? Tough, long-lasting, well-performing German quality – what more can one say? Bilstein sticks to US-only production with their more extreme absorbers like the 5160, as noted in their review.

On top of that, both the Bilstein 5100 series and Heavy Duty 4600 series come with a limited lifetime warranty that shields you from any manufacturer defects for the shock’s entire lifespan. Yep, you read that right – Bilstein has got your back and your shocks for the long haul. So, go ahead and hit those rough terrains or tow that hefty load with confidence because with Bilstein, you can trust that you’re covered.

Bilstein Suspension Battle: Choosing the Correct Shock Series for Your Ride

Well, there it is. Hopefully, that was a comprehensive take on how the brand’s most popular shock absorbers differ from each other and which one would fit your needs best. All in all, the Bilstein 4600 vs. 5100 battle has no winners or losers – both reign in their own lands.

In my opinion, there’s zero doubt why Bilstein continues to be the top brand for most people riding light or heavy trucks alike. They might seem a bit more expensive if you’re used to, for example, Monroe shocks. Yet despite the price difference, the difference in performance and longevity is tangible – you won’t regret spending a few bucks more on proper suspension for maximum strength and excellent performance instead of having generic stock shocks. 

That said, for extreme off-road – like, really extreme dirt rides, you might want to look into my Bilstein vs. Fox shocks comparison. But for casual, stock-height trucks or moderate off-road adventure, Bilstein was, is, and will continue to be king – awesome all-around!

FAQ

Should I Get Bilstein 5100 or 4600?

It depends on your needs and preferences. The Bilstein 4600 is an excellent choice for general driving and light off-roading, while the Bilstein 5100 shocks offer more adjustability and are better suited for heavy-duty off-roading.

However, many prefer the 5100s because the shortest 5100s are built for 0 to 2 inches of suspension lift, giving you the option to run them on your stock-height truck and still have the possibility of a lift later on – they can handle whatever road you decide to take.

Are Bilstein 5100 Shocks Worth the Money?

Yes, they are! The Bilstein 5100 universal shocks offer exceptional performance, durability, and adjustability, making them a great investment for anyone looking to improve their vehicle’s off-road capabilities.

Are Bilstein 4600 Worth It?

Absolutely! The Bilstein 4600 shocks are a fantastic upgrade for anyone looking to improve their vehicle’s handling, stability, and overall ride quality. They offer exceptional performance and durability at an affordable price for general driving needs.

Do Bilstein 4600 Shocks Lift Your Truck?

No, they do not. The Bilstein 4600 series are shocks for stock-height vehicles and improve handling and comfort, but they do not provide any lift to your vehicle.

Is Bilstein 4600 Good for Towing?

Yes, it is! The Bilstein 4600 shocks are designed to handle the additional weight and stress of towing, providing improved stability, handling, and comfort while on the road.

Why are BILSTEIN shocks the best

Are BILSTEIN Shocks Better than Fox Shocks?

Again, it depends on your needs and preferences. Both Bilstein and Fox shocks are known for their exceptional performance and durability, but Bilstein is often considered the gold standard in shock technology due to their versatility, design, quality, and long-standing reputation.

How Long Do Bilstein 5100s last?

The Bilstein 5100 shocks are designed to last for many years, with some users reporting 50,000 to 100,000 miles or more of reliable use. The exact lifespan will depend on factors such as driving conditions, maintenance, and usage.

Are Bilstein Shocks Better than OEM?

In most cases, yes. Bilstein shocks are often considered an upgrade over OEM aftermarket shocks due to their superior performance, durability, and technology. They are designed to provide better handling, stability, and comfort, making them a popular choice among drivers looking to improve their vehicle’s performance.

 



bilstein 4600 vs 5100 comparison
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