I’ve written about various suspension brands, but somehow I never got to make a Gabriel vs. Monroe 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 wrong? 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 rides considerably smoother and is better suited for highway driving.
That’s not to say Gabriel doesn’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.
The winner here would be Gabriel HiJackers if you want serious rear lifting. What you want to achieve with air shocks are a picked-up rear end and overall vehicle leveling.
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.
However, I suggest you don’t try to hit their limit – air shocks aren’t the 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.
Monroes might make more sense if you don’t care about higher rears that much. Cheaper, delivering a smoother ride, and with an all-weather fluid that fares better with grumpy weather.
Gas shocks: Where KYB enters the game
Gas shocks are the standard, so you have a lot of variations. I recommend:
- Monroe OESpectrum for your typical sedan
- Monroe Reflex shocks for SUVs/lighter trucks
- Gabriel’s best-selling Ultra for a wide range of vehicles
OESpectrum is Monroe’s newest gas shocks (produced from 2011 onwards.) There’s one significant advantage they have over Gabriel Ultra:
A self-lubricating, specifically designed seal keeps the Nitrogen in the tube.
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 that 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.
Choose KYB shocks over Gabriel or Monroe
As I already mentioned, there are a few circumstances where I will always recommend opting for KYB over other brands, and here is when:
- Asian cars. KYB is the certified OEM replacement for most Asian vehicles, including Toyota, Honda, etc. If you want OEM-style gas shocks, go for the Excel-G gas shocks instead of dealing with anything else.
- Heavier-duty shocks. I know some people love Monroe Load Adjusts or Gabriel’s Load Carrier. For street use, they’re more than alright. The Load Adjusts (Sensatrac) cope well with light towing too. But neither can compare with these KYB MonoMax beasts for more intense towing needs, 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.
Unlike the other two, you can even do a (little) bit of off-road driving with them. If you’re interested, I’ve said more in my KYB vs. Bilstein post.
Struts: Monroe QuickStrut vs. Gabriel ReadyMount
Both come pre-assembled, are ridiculously easy to install and feature OE-style valving. Both will give you reasonable ride control and enough firmness without getting too stiff.
Upon examining Monroe’s QuickStrut assemblies, it is evident that they have superior manufacturing, particularly regarding the bearings and bearing plates.
Additionally, the metal-to-rubber bond they use is a higher grade compared to what Gabriel ReadyMount has.
This 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 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 one-year, 10000-mile warranty on something that’s supposed to endure at least a few times more.
Luckily, 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 the following:
- 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. MaxAir (Monroe) and Hijackers (Gabriel) only have a 2-year warranty.
Pictured below: A typical Monroe monotube shock, the Monroe Reflex
Where are Monroe and Gabriel’s shocks made?
Another vital 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 manufacturing, 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. The two locations are not too shabby in terms of reputation, to be honest.
I admit that I tried searching for more info on their manufacturer regarding locations. Unfortunately, there’s not that much info. If you have any, please let me know in the comments!
Last, I mentioned that both brands are 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.
Comparison of Performance
Gabriel and Monroe shocks and struts offer different handling characteristics. When it comes to handling, personal preference plays a significant role in choosing between the two brands.
Gabriel shocks provide a firmer ride for high-performance applications or drivers who prefer a more responsive and sporty feel. On the other hand, Monroe shocks, particularly the OESpectrum line, offer a smoother and more comfortable ride, making them well-suited for everyday driving and highway cruising.
Gabriel shocks are often perceived as riding firmer, translating to a more connected feel with the road and enhanced control. However, this firmer ride may result in less cushioning on rough terrain or bumpy surfaces.
In contrast, Monroe shocks, especially the OESpectrum series, prioritize a smoother and more comfortable ride, minimizing vibrations and ensuring a plush experience even on uneven road surfaces.
Impact on Driving Experience
Gabriel and Monroe’s shocks and struts contribute to the overall driving experience in distinct ways. With their firm ride and responsive nature, Gabriel shocks can enhance road feedback, steering response, and vehicle control, appealing to drivers who value sportiness and precision. Monroe shocks prioritize comfort and smoothness, resulting in a more relaxed and composed driving experience, especially during long highway trips or daily commuting.
Compatibility and Fitment
Gabriel and Monroe shocks and struts are designed to fit various vehicle makes and models. Both brands offer compatibility with various cars, trucks, and SUVs. However, it’s essential to consult the manufacturer’s compatibility charts or refer to professional advice to ensure the right fit for your specific vehicle. Certain models or vehicle types may have specific recommendations or compatibility considerations to help guide your decision between Gabriel and Monroe products.
Factors like ride height, spring seats, shock body dimensions, and shock mounts can impact fitment. Checking for known fitment issues or seeking expert advice can help ensure a proper fit and installation.
Durability and Longevity
Customers’ feedback can shed light on the performance of these products over time and under various driving conditions. Reading about real-world experiences can explain how well the shocks and struts hold up to driving habits, road surfaces, and heavy loads.
Independent organizations or automotive experts often conduct rigorous tests to evaluate the performance and longevity of suspension components. These tests may involve simulated driving conditions, load testing, and endurance assessments. Consulting industry testing results can offer a more comprehensive view of the durability of Gabriel and Monroe products.
Several factors can influence the lifespan of shocks and struts:
- driving conditions, such as rough terrain or bumpy surfaces, can subject the suspension components to increased stress and wear;
- vehicle usage, including heavy loads or towing, may also impact longevity;
- Proper maintenance practices, such as regular inspections, timely replacement of worn-out components, and correct installation, can extend the lifespan of shocks and struts.
Considering these factors and taking appropriate measures can help maximize the durability of Gabriel and Monroe shocks and struts.
In conclusion, comparing Gabriel and Monroe shocks and struts reveals distinct differences in performance, compatibility, durability, and customer feedback.
Gabriel and Monroe offer various shocks and struts compatible with multiple vehicles makes and models. However, it’s vital to consider fitment considerations and consult compatibility charts or professional advice to ensure the right fit for your car.
Based on these considerations, it is recommended that individuals make an informed choice based on their specific vehicle needs, driving preferences, and budget. Additional resources, such as manufacturer websites or expert reviews, can provide further information for those looking to explore the topic in more detail or make a purchase decision.