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! Let’s talk about their shocks and struts.

To be clear – both are ultra-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 – like the OESpectrum line, are considerably smoother and better suited for highway driving.

Here are a few recommendations.

Gabriel vs Monroe Air shocks

The winner here would be Gabriel HiJackers if you’re looking for some 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 the 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.

Both are a quick 1-hour install even for beginner DIYers. I don’t like air shocks compared to gas ones, but they work fine – especially on some older models. Retro stuff.

Note: HiJackers have good prices on AutoAnything too.

If you don’t care about higher rears that much, however, 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.

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.

Second case – heavier duty shocks. I know some people love Monroe Load Adjusts or Gabriel’s Load Carrier. For street use, they’re alright.

Neither of them can compare with these KYB’s MonoMax beasts in the long run and 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 brands. I’ve talked about them 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 with. With their QuickStruts assemblies, the bearings and bearing plate are better manufactured here.

Additionally, the metal-to-rubber bond they use is higher grade. This exact ‘bonding’ is responsible for noise and wobbles – meaning you get less of both if you go with the Monroe QuickStrut.

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.

Gabriel vs Monroe shocks & struts: Why I think Monroe is better for struts, but gas shocks call for KYB actually.

Where are Monroe and Gabriel shocks made?

Another important thing to keep in mind, right. Keep in mind that 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 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!

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!