Gabriel vs Monroe: Shocks & Struts

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I’ve written about various suspension brands, but somehow I never got to do a Monroe vs Gabriel comparison. Well, the time has finally come to discuss their shocks and struts.

Both are affordable, entry-level aftermarket brands. Does that mean they’re bad? Not at all, but I’ll mention when other shocks like KYB make more sense.

Comfort-wise, Gabriel shocks ride firmer…even stiff sometimes. Monroe OESpectrum (check latest prices) ride considerably smoother and are better suited for highway driving.

That’s not to say Gabriel don’t have their strong points with heavier load classics like their Load Carrier shocks.

Today, I’ll be looking at both brands’:

  • Air shocks
  • Gas shocks (compared vs KYB too)
  • Strut assemblies

Some of the results might surprise you.

Monroe Quickstrut

The industry standard in passenger car struts. Made in the US, rides smooth, a very reasonable price tag too.

Gabriel vs Monroe Air shocks

The winner here would be Gabriel HiJackers (some reviews here) if you’re looking for serious rear lifting. What you want to achieve with air shocks is a picked up rear end and overall vehicle leveling, after all.

They go from 25 to 200 psi, while Monroe’s Max Air shocks clock at 20 to 150 psi. Weight-wise, both support up to 1100 lbs so you’re getting the same deal.

I suggest you don’t try to hit their limit, however – air shocks aren’t the most sturdy shock absorber type out there. I don’t like air shocks compared to gas ones, but they work fine. Especially on some older models for that quality retro feeling.

If you don’t care about higher rears that much, Monroes might make more sense. Cheaper, delivering smoother ride and with an all weather fluid that fares better with grumpy weather.

Monroe Max Air

The leading air shocks. Affordable, long-lasting rod design and all weather fluid. A bargain.

Made up your mind that you prefer for the higher psi Gabriel?

Don’t fret about installation. Monroe is famous for their quick and simple installation process. However, with air shocks things are nearly identical, so a pair of Hijackers won’t be that much more complicated.

Here’s a good installation tutorial:

Gas shocks:
Where KYB enters the game

Gas shocks are the standard, so you have a lot of variations. I recommend:

OESpectrum are Monroe’s newest gas shocks (produced from 2011 onwards.) There’s one important advantage they have over Gabriel Ultra:

What keeps the Nitrogen in the tube is a self-lubricating, specifically designed seal.

A more secure approach to keeping things tight and long-lasting compared to how Ultra shocks get manufactured. In most other regards, Gabriel Ultra achieves the same performance/feel so you can go for them too.

The Reflex shocks fare alright with light trucks on the street only. If you plan on towing or going offroad, I don’t recommend them.

Important: when to pick KYB shocks over both Gabriel or Monroe!

First case – Asian cars. KYB is the certified OEM replacement for most Asian cars, including Toyota, Honda etc.

If you want OEM-style gas shocks, go for these Excel-G shocks instead of dealing with anything else. They fit like a glove, fare better with cornering and allow for superior vehicle handling.

The second case would be heavier-duty shocks. I know some people love Monroe Load Adjusts or Gabriel’s Load Carrier.

For street use, they’re more than alright. In fact, the Load Adjusts (Sensatrac) cope well with light towing too.

Neither of these can compare with these KYB MonoMax beasts for more intense towing needs, really heavy-loaded vehicles or when venturing  off the beaten path.

Better ride control and steering response, sturdier monotube manufacture, and way more power if you plan on towing stuff.

You can even do a (little) bit of offroad driving with them, unlike the other two. I’ve said more in my KYB vs Bilstein post if you’re interested.

KYB MonoMax

Awesome for bigger loads. Better ride control, sturdier monotube design and superior towing power.

Struts:
Monroe QuickStrut
vs Gabriel ReadyMount

Both of them come pre-assembled, are ridiculously easy to install and feature OE-style valving. Both will give you good ride control and enough firmness without things getting too stiff.

Once again, though, Monroe has an ace up their sleeve. Looking at their their QuickStrut assemblies, we see better manufacture with both the bearings and the bearing plate.

Additionally, the metal-to-rubber bond they use is higher grade compared to what Gabriel ReadyMount has.

This exact bonding is responsible for noise and wobbles – meaning you get a quiet ride with tighter vehicle control.

That isn’t to say that Gabriels are that inferior or something. After all, with these struts you also get the ease of installation you saw in the video above.

Yet if we’re speaking in general terms, Monroe users seem to be a bit more satisfied with the outcome after installing a set of these 🙂

Monroe vs Gabriel:
Talking about their warranty

A main worry about any set of shocks/struts is mileage. What if after 5000 miles your shocks draw their last breath (gas)?

Nobody wants a 1 year, 10000 mile warranty on something that’s supposed to endure at least a few times more.

Luckily, both Monroe and Gabriel offer a limited lifetime warranty on most of their products.

Shocks/struts covered by Monroe’s lifetime warranty are:

  • Monroe OESpectrum

  • Monroe Reflex

  • Monroe QuickStrut

  • Monroe GasMagnum

Gabriel’s lifetime warranty covers:

  • Ultra shocks and struts

  • ReadyMount struts

ProGuard shocks have a 5 year/60000 mile warranty.

Air shocks with both brands are a bit of a disappointment. Both MaxAir (Monroe) and Hijackers (Gabriel) only have a 2-year warranty.

Pictured below: A typical Monroe monotube shock, the Monroe Reflex.

Monroe Reflex: A typical monotube shock that battles it out against Gabriel Ultra

Where are Monroe and Gabriel shocks made?

Another important thing to keep in mind, right. However – it’s not the country of origin that matters, but the choice of facilities. You can have good Chinese manufacture too, as long as everything is up to R&D standards.

In any case, as far as I know, Monroe manufactures some stuff locally in the US. Their mother company – Tenneco, has the higher-grade Rancho brand scattered across factories from Mexico to distant Asian lands.

Gabriel vs Monroe shocks and struts: A tale of two shock absorber brands for the regular guy

Gabriel diversifies a bit more. I’ve seen reports about them getting manufactured in Mexico too, as well as in Canada. Two locations that are not too shabby in terms of reputation, to be honest.

I admit that I tried searching for more info on their manufacture in terms of locations. Unfortunately, there’s not that much info. If you have any, please let me know in the comments!

Last but not least – I mentioned that both brands are rather entry-level suspension choices. I also have a Monroe vs Bilstein review, but there’s only one meeting point of these brands – the Sensatrac from Monroe, and Bilstein’s 4600 HD.

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!