If you’ve ever taken your GMC Sierra 1500 off-road, then you know what it feels like to have your shock absorbers take effect. But you may have never noticed it, given how smoothly GMC trucks ride by default. Even if you haven’t paid them much mind, your shock absorbers still control the lateral motion of your vehicle when the suspension is put under pressure.

As a result, you need your truck's shock absorbers to be working at full at all times. Otherwise, you'll end up feeling every bump, even on a smoothly paved roadway. Once this or any other symptom of shock degradation begins to show, you'll know it's time to replace your GMC Sierra 1500 or Yukon’s OEM shocks.

As you’d expect, not all replacement shocks are built to fit every kind of truck. That’s why this guide discusses 7 sets of shocks that will work perfectly with a GMC Sierra 1500 or Yukon.


Preview

Product

Shock Type

Extended Length

Check Price

Bilstein 4600 Series Shock Absorbers For...

Bilstein 4600

Gas monotube

22.09"

Bilstein (24-186742) 5100 Series Rear Shock...

Bilstein (24-186742)

5100

Gas monotube

22.22”

Rough Country 2.5' Leveling Kit (fits)...

Rough Country

 28330

Gas monotube

Varies (Adjustable)

Rancho RS55265 RS55198 Pairs of Shock...

Rancho RS55265

RS55198

Gas twin-tube

25.400”

Monroe 58639 Monroe Load Adjust Shock...

Monroe 58639

Spring

23.625"

Skyjacker B8517 Black MAX Shock Absorber with...

Skyjacker B8517

Gas twin-tube

27.19”

Fox 2.0 Performance Shock Set compatible with...

Fox 2.0 980-24-664 &

980-24-963

Gas monotube

25.85”


How Shock Absorbers Work on GMC Trucks

All trucks, including those built by GMC, include a solid suspension that holds up the vehicle’s basic structure. However, because of its non-flexible nature, it can transfer vertical and lateral motion to the vehicle’s interior when encountering an obstacle. A shock absorber prevents this from happening by diminishing some of this momentum and smoothing out the vehicle’s handling in turn.

All GMC trucks come with an OEM set of shock absorbers that are often viable for several years after purchase. However, these will eventually wear down and require replacement. You'll know it is time to do so when you feel more bumps and tilts when driving your truck on or off-road. You'll want to make that replacement as soon as possible when those symptoms arise. Otherwise, your suspension may suffer unnecessary wear that cannot be reversed.


Choosing Shocks for your GMC

Vehicle Year, Make & Model

All cars and trucks utilize shocks of one kind or another. As such, there are hundreds of replacement options out there. However, you should only seek out replacement shock sets that are compatible with your vehicle’s make, model, and year. This will ensure that those shocks have a proper fitment and will perform as intended.

Compatibility information can be challenging to find at times. Often, the most complete list of compatible fitments can be found on a manufacturer’s website. Alternatively, you can ask a trusted mechanic for insight into identifying shocks that are compatible with your GMC truck.

Lifted vs. Stock Trucks

Most all shocks sold on the market are designed for use with a stock suspension. However, if you’ve had your truck’s suspension lifted, you’ll find that these shocks will not suffice. Instead, you’ll need to find shocks designed for use in a lifted truck. Most often, this kind of shock is adjustable and can be extended beyond 2”.

Truck Use and Driving Environment

The kind of shocks you buy for your truck should be based upon your regular driving habits. For example, if you regularly drive on the highway or other paved roads, you can settle for a set that replicates your OEM shocks. However, if you frequently drive off-road or often tow heavy loads, you'll want to get a shock set optimized for that amount of pressure and wear.

Shock Type

Shocks come in several different types, though the most common involve the use of a gas-filled, sealed metal tube. This tube contains a piston that lowers and rises as pressure is applied externally by the attached suspension. There may even be a twin set of these tubes in a single shock to add to their stability. Some other shock types include a reinforced spring to help manage lateral pressures applied when a truck “bounces” from side to side.

Durability

Naturally, you’ll want to pick out and install the most durable shocks available to you. That way, you won’t need to replace your truck’s shocks again for a long while. Ideally, your chosen shocks should be built from durable metals both inside and out. Also, your shocks should always include some type of corrosion-resistant coating (often made from chrome).

Ease of Installation

If you plan on installing your new shocks on your own, be sure to pick up a set that is moderately easy to install. This is especially the case if this is your first time DIYing a major component of your truck’s suspension. Usually, an easy-to-install shock set will come in a kit that includes all the necessary mounting materials as well as a user-friendly instruction guide.

Value

Always be on the lookout for a bargain when it comes to replacement shocks. However, don't buy a set that is dirt cheap, or else you may find your vehicle's suspension and handling suffering again in the near future. Ideally, your chosen shock set should also come with a warranty that covers the part against sudden failure for at least 3 years.


7 Best Shocks for GMC Pickup Trucks Reviewed

1. Bilstein 4600

Our Top Pick

Vehicle Service Type

Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra 1500 4WD 1999-2006

Shock Type

Gas monotube

Material

Reinforced steel, chromium

Extended Length

22.09"

Collapsed Length

13.59"

First and foremost, let’s take a look at our top pick, the Bilstein 4600. These shocks are a great general-purpose option for anyone who owns a 1999-2006 GMC Sierra 1500 4WD. That's because these shocks provide excellent handling and enhanced performance through their patented upside-down monotube technology. In essence, this technology ensures that every internal piston movement is extra smooth and free of delay.

For a standard-issue set of shocks, the Bilstein 4600 also offers great extended and collapsed lengths at 22.09 inches and 13.59 inches, respectively. That’s more than enough for this model’s monotubes to fully capture your vehicle’s momentum and mitigate it before it ever reaches the vehicle’s interior. Those same tubes can stand up to long-term wear, too,  thanks to its specialized chromium exterior coating.

Drivers who love to maximize their vehicle’s customization will be pleased to see that these shock absorbers are compatible with  Bilstein’s “Ride Control” system. As a result, they can be set up to allow for customized shock adjustments on the fly.

Even if you opt for a regular installation, you’ll find these shocks easy to orient – even if it is your first time changing your own shocks. All of this comes for a reasonably affordable price. In fact, you could certainly pay more for these high quality shocks given that the Bilstein 4600 comes with a reliable lifetime warranty.

Pros

  • Upside-down monotube technology allows for more optimal piston movement
  • Wear-resistant chromium tube moves freely without added friction
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Front shocks last longer than rear shocks

2. Bilstein (24-186742) 5100

Best Rear Shocks for GMC Sierra 1500

Vehicle Service Type

Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra 1500 2007-2013

Shock Type

Gas monotube

Material

Zinc-plating, induction-hardened steel

Extended Length

22.22”

Collapsed Length

17.58”

Up next, the best rear shocks for a GMC Sierra 1500. To find that, you’ll want to check out the Bilstein 5100 set. Simply put, the rear shocks in this set are incredibly durable. They possess very high peak-to-valley tolerance, which indicates that they can remain structurally sound even under sudden, intense pressure. Their use of zinc-plating also makes them very resilient from the outside, even when exposed to excessive amounts of road salt on a day to day basis.

When it comes to performance, all four of this set’s shocks manage to cut out harsh compressions with hesitation. This is made possible by this model’s high-flow piston, which isn’t seen in other shocks from Bilstein, let alone a lesser shock brand. Combined with this brand’s already well-known gas-pressure technology, you can count on these shocks to dampen both lateral and vertical impacts without much fading at all.

Admittedly, the Bilstein 5100 set is a little pricier than other comparable shocks. But that price accounts for all of the work that has gone into each individual shock. For example, they’ve all undergone a road-style test to ensure maximum quality control. Also, these shocks come with this brand’s trusted lifetime warranty. As a result, you can buy the Bilstein 5100 set with confidence, knowing for sure that they’ll far outlast those cheaper alternatives.

Pros

  • Zinc-coating prevents oxidation and extends operable lifespan
  • High-flow piston reduces harsh compressions and improves rebound times
  • High peak-to-valley tolerance allows for enhanced structural integrity

Cons

  • May become stiff if not properly serviced

3. Rough Country 28330

Best Adjustable Shock for GMC Sierra 1500

Vehicle Service Type

1999-2006 Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra 1500 4WD

Shock Type

Gas monotube

Material

Cast iron

Extended Length

Varies (Adjustable)

Collapsed Length

Varies (Adjustable)

Finding the best adjustable shocks for a GMC Sierra 1500 used to take a mechanic’s eye for quality. But now, you simply have to pick up a set of Rough Country 28330 shocks because they manage to exceed all expectations on this front. These shocks can be used within a 1-inch adjustable range, thus allowing you to attach them to a Sierra with up to a 3-inch lift. That kind of flexibility usually comes at a price, but not so with the fully affordable Rough Country 28330 set.

All too often, lifted truck shocks like these are only optimized for either off-road driving or paved street driving. The Rough Country 28330 gives you the best of both worlds, though. In fact, its nitrogen-charged shocks provide reliable performance on many driving surfaces, including in adverse conditions. That kind of balance remains even on lifted units as well, which cannot be said of several other shock absorbers sets in this model's class.

I would like to note that many users of the Rough Country 28330 set have complained about its torsion keys. To that end, they believe that those components put too much pressure on a truck's axels. While I haven't seen this problem in action, I do think it is something you should watch for when fine-tuning your truck's leveling.

Pros

  • Nitrogen-charged shocks provide balanced performance off-road and on the highway
  • Cast iron tube is ultra-durable, even through a decade or more of wear
  • Adjustable within a 1” range

Cons

  • Torsion keys put extra pressure on axels

4. Rancho RS55265 RS55198

Best Shocks for Stock Height GMC Sierra

Vehicle Service Type

GMC Sierra 2007-2018

Shock Type

Gas twin-tube

Material

N/A

Extended Length

25.400”

Collapsed Length

15.650”

Most folks drive a truck that has not had its height modified. It only makes sense to know about the best shocks for a stock height GMC Sierra. To that end, you should know about the Rancho RS55265 RS5519. This shock set provides a vast length range between its extended and collapsed positions. In fact, they are just short of having a full 10" movement range, which is remarkable for a non-racing style shock. These shocks even have ten-stage valving to ensure that they perform perfectly at any level of compression.

This model’s twin-tube construction deserves your attention as well. That includes the Rancho RS55265 RS5519’s nitro-carburized piston rod, which is super durable in its own right. It won't ever stick in place either, given that it is banded with a unique Fluon ring. It is also connected to a self-lubricating internal seal that prevents internal friction from breaking down these shocks from the inside.

Speaking of protection, these Rancho RS55265 RS5519 are also adequately protected from the outside. This can be seen with their red protective boots, which prevent dirt and dust from accumulating on these shocks’ moving components. Each end also includes a rebound bumper to prevent a sudden full compression from bending your new shocks out of shape.

Pros

  • Progressive engagement valving allows for a more consistent compression cycle
  • Self-lubricating internal seal prevents internal wear
  • Fluon-banded piston ensures key component never sticks in place

Cons

  • Generally provide a “soft” ride

5. Monroe 58639

Best Shocks for GMC Yukon

Vehicle Service Type

GMC Yukon (Precise years not listed)

Shock Type

Spring

Material

Heavy gauge steel

Extended Length

23.625"

Collapsed Length

15”

The GMC Sierra is a great truck; there's no question about it. But some folks prefer the GMC Yukon, and I can't fault them for it. For those drivers, I present the best shocks for a GMC Yukon - the Monroe 58639. These shocks feature a fully calibrated coil spring that can compress to as tight a length as 15”. But even in that state, these shocks can deaden a full 1,100 lbs. of pressure without failing. That enhanced durability is also a credit to the heavy gauge steel construction.

These shocks are prepared for whatever the road throws at them as well. For example, they utilize a set of fully displaced valves that can automatically adjust each shock's pressure based upon the current road conditions. Along the same lines, these shocks are filled with a specialized all-weather fluid. As such, you can be confident that neither heat of summer nor cold of winter will cause these shocks to de-pressurize.

I must say, I was a little surprised to see that Monroe hasn’t listed a full compatibility range for their 58639 model. Even so, I know that most modern GMC Yukons can use them without any risk of damage or poor performance.

Pros

  • All-weather fluid contains special modifiers that prevent reaction to heat or cold
  • Calibrated coil spring reduces harshness on impacts
  • Full displaced valving automatically adjusts to road conditions to provide consistent ride handling

Cons

  • Lacks listing for precise model year compatibilities

6. Skyjacker B8517

Packed with Features

Vehicle Service Type

Shock Type

Gas twin-tube

Material

Sintered iron, chrome plating

Extended Length

27.19”

Collapsed Length

16.16”

Here’s another one of the best shock sets for a GMC Sierra 1500 that may be worth your investment. To be specific, the Skyjacker B8517 set is full of unique components that really show what modern replacement shocks are capable of. This set's use of advanced foam-cell technology is a prime example. It eliminates air from inside the shocks while enhancing oil expansion during compression at the same time! That's a remarkable dual threat.

The Skyjacker B8517 set also shows that extra attention paid to durability is always a worthwhile venture. This can be seen in this model’s 360° arc-welded end mounts and 180° directional mounts. Both mount sets are durable beyond all expectations and aren’t likely to ever fail due to extreme stress. This model’s heavy-duty compression head and DOM tubing also play a role in this self-preservation, making these some of the longest-lasting shocks for a GMC Sierra.

Of course, all of this quality doesn't come for free. The Skyjacker B8517 shocks cost a fair bit more than a similarly equipped competitor. Worse yet, they only come in individual packs. But as long as you’re willing to put down the money, these shocks will take care of you and your prized Sierra for the long-haul.

Pros

  • 360° arc-welded end mounts and 180° directional mounts provide installation integrity
  • Foam-cell technology eliminates air from shocks and enhanced oil expansion during compression
  • Heavy-duty compression head and DOM tubing reduce internal wear

Cons

  • Only sold individually

7. Fox 2.0 980-24-664/980-24-963

Best Fox Shocks for GMC Sierra 1500

Vehicle Service Type

2011-2015 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra

Shock Type

Gas monotube

Material

Anodized billet aluminum, chrome plating, heat-treated alloy steel

Extended Length

25.85”

Collapsed Length

16.25”

Finally, let’s turn our attention to one of this industry’s most trusted brands to discover the best Fox shocks for a GMC Sierra 1500. In my opinion, that award should go to this set of Fox 2.0 shocks. Initially, these shocks were designed with racing in mind. Their 16.25 inch to 25.85-inch compression-to-extension length range shows that to be the case. But since then, that performance capability has been repackaged to fit on most any 2011-2015 GMC Sierra.

This model’s overall durability also speaks to its origins in a high-stress environment. Given what these shocks were originally made to do, it shouldn’t surprise you that their unique piston construction allows for an ultra-reliable ride quality. Moreover, the heat-treated alloy steel shaft attached to that piston has been coated with chrome to prevent its deterioration over time.

Though it won’t likely ever be needed, it is impressive that these shocks include a redundant sealing pack system. Their presence prevents a sudden failure in one seal from causing total unit failure. While I do wish that Fox gave a little more protection for these shocks in the form of a more extended warranty, I can look past it, given everything else these shocks put forth.

Pros

  • “Internal Floating Piston” ensures a predicable ride quality
  • Heat-treated alloy steel shaft protected by chrome plating
  • Redundant sealing pack system prevents sudden failures

Cons

  • Brief 1-year warranty is hard to file a claim with

When to Change GMC Shocks

Several symptoms can key you into the fact that a shock change is necessary. One obvious sign is that your truck’s handling has become unusually bumpy. This includes on “smooth” roads, such as on the highway or in town. In the same setting, if you are experiencing a steering or braking delay, your shocks may be causing the problem.

Some fluid leaks can also signal that your existing shocks have broken and will soon fail entirely. Finally, if you notice any kinds of unusual tire wear patterns, you might discover that a damaged shock is the culprit. A trained mechanic can help diagnose these and other symptoms connected to a failing shock absorber.


Replacing Shocks on a GMC Trucks

Though utilizing a mechanic is always advised, you can replace your own shocks if you have experience performing other kinds of large-scale truck maintenance. The first step in this process involves obtaining a truck jack and safely using it to lift the front or back end of your vehicle. Then, you’ll need to remove the wheel on the appropriate side so that you can access the shock absorber in need of replacement. You’ll then begin the process of removing the old shock by loosening its mounting bolts.

You can continue to follow this process by watching this video.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How long do shock absorbers last?

A shock absorbers lifespan generally depends on how often they are strenuously utilized. In other words, if your truck is regularly used off-road, then you can expect your shocks to last as few as 4 years. However, trucks driven on paved roads typically only need shock replacements every 10 years.

How often should I check and change my shocks?

Ideally, you should have your shocks checked every year when you go in for routine maintenance. This can help identify any problems before they impact your truck’s suspension. However, if you put a lot of wear on your shocks through regular off-road driving, a shock check-up might be warranted every 6 months. In any case, your shocks should be changed as soon as a problem with them arises, regardless of how long you’ve had them.

How long does it take to change truck shocks?

Experienced DIY mechanics can often change a shock in a matter of hours, so long as they have the appropriate tools available to them. However, an individual who has never changed their own shocks may need to set aside an entire afternoon or evening to get the job done right. A trained mechanic can also replace your shocks in just a few hours, so long as they have the right part on hand in advance.

Should I replace all 4 shocks at the same time?

In almost all cases, yes. This will ensure that both the front and back ends of your truck remain balanced and responsive when it comes to shock absorption. If you only change a couple of shocks at a time, your vehicle may experience dipping that puts further strain on the older shocks.


Conclusion

As you can now see, there are a lot of great options out there when it comes to replacement shocks for a GMC Sierra or Yukon. Each of the models covered in this guide will perform well for you, so they are entirely worth the investment when it comes time to replace your truck's shocks. Many of these models are affordably priced, too, so you can be sure that you're saving money while getting a high-quality product.

Speaking of high quality products, I want to give one last shout out to our top pick, the Bilstein 4600. These shocks utilize upside-down monotube technology to ensure a smooth piston movement, even as the unit ages. It’s also built with wear-resistant chromium, so you can be confident that it will remain sturdy and operable through many years of service.