Why Install After Market Shocks on your Toyota Tundra?

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Why change the stock shocks on your Toyota Tundra for a set of aftermarket units? There are actually several reasons why so many truck owners elect not to return to factory components when it comes time to replace their damping system. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons why aftermarket shock replacements are so common.

1 – Factory shocks are a compromise. Every vehicle marketed in North America, even those which are intended to provide maximum performance, have several compromises designed into their suspension systems. One of the most glaring is shock absorber specs. Stiff shocks might be great for fast reactions on the race track, planting serious power on launch or controlling body movement on an off-road trail, but they don’t cut it when it comes to comfort for the majority of drivers. The Toyota Tundra’s shocks err on the side of comfort to the degree where they don’t even come close to showcasing the limits of what the vehicle’s chassis has to offer. Aftermarket shocks provide you with the chance to match the response of your suspension with the intended purpose of your truck.

If you are going to lift your Tundra, then you will want to make sure your shock absorbers can function within spec.

2 – Factory shocks are designed for a very specific operating range. Want to lower or lift your Tundra? Be prepared to deal with reduced shock performance. When Toyota designed the Tundra’s suspension system they meant for it to be operated within a very close approximation of the stock ride height. If you decide to stray too far in either an up or down direction from that stock spec, then you will no longer benefit from optimum shock response. Once again, the aftermarket provides shock absorber answers to match your ride height plans.

3 – Factory shocks are cheaper quality but often higher cost than after market models. Remember, when Toyota prices out their replacement parts, they’re usually charging 2-20 times more than they paid for the part. They do this because, frankly, they can.

Factory/OEM parts are usually the highest quality option, but when it comes to wearable items like shocks, Toyota shocks aren’t any better than after market shocks. In fact, shocks are one of the few parts where it’s better NOT to buy a factory replacement.

4 – Factory shocks might contribute to the dreaded “bed bounce.” Some Toyota Tundra owners are plagued with bed vibration that can throw cargo around and which might also shorten the life of the body. It has been suggested that aftermarket shock absorbers can help absorb some of the vibration that causes this problem, although there has been no official word from Toyota regarding this potential fix.

There are of course other reasons why truck owners move to aftermarket shock absorbers, but these are some of the most popular. If anyone has any particular experience with aftermarket shocks and would like to recommend them for a reason we might have missed, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

Also, check out this list of available after market Toyota Tundra shocks.

Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Accessories


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  1. mk says:

    How long in normal road riding conditions can stock tundra shocks realistically last? I would guess at least 75-100K or am I totally off base? I do know if the stock shocks are anything like the crappy stock tires, then 36K at most. No way would I from the factory upgrade tires since there are cheaper and more importantly longer lasting tires aftermarket wise and the same can be true with shocks.

  2. johnny says:

    i would see 30,000 any higher, your babying your vehicle. Do the old push your truck down, and it should only bounce once. Another sign are leaky shocks or your tires are getting excessivly worn out.

    you need heavy duty shocks if your carrying bigger loads.

    Factory shocks are only designed to just make it past the warranty mark, if that. And they are not high quality.

    and like always, i disagree with jasons article.

  3. Jason says:

    mk – Johnny’s advice to test the shocks via the old “bounce test” is good – stand on the rear bumper, and without lifting your feet sort of force all your weight down on the bumper and then jump off. If the truck needs more than 1 return, it’s time.

    As for how long that will be, I’ve seen them last quite a bit longer than 30k, and I’ve seen them gone by 15k – totally depends on the user.

    Johnny – I think you’ve got it in your head that I’m always wrong…Benjamin wrote this one.

  4. mk says:

    wow, only 30-45K at most on a set of stock tundra shocks. What are they made of soft butter? I’d expect at least 60K in mostly normal hwy. riding if not more.

  5. RS says:

    Any suggestions for replacement shocks for a 2009 Tundra 4×4? I had Dr’s on my 2001 and they were nice.

  6. Jason (Admin) says:

    RS – I like Ranchos, but there’s a full list of options here: https://www.tundraheadquarters.com/blog/2010/08/06/toyota-tundra-shocks/

  7. David says:

    Today, I noticed a spot on my garage floor. I checked my Tundra and discovered the passenger side rear shock was leaking. I only have 36,300 miles on it (just out of warranty). No way I want Toyota shocks back on it — I will replace with quality shocks. This is not the first problem with this truck. This is my first and LAST Toyota.

  8. Jason (Admin) says:

    David – Toyota, like all manufacturers, uses the very least expensive shock they can. Also, not sure what warranty would do to help you. Shocks are a wear item and aren’t covered by any warranty I’m aware of.

  9. Debbie says:

    Hate to be the different opinion here, but I have a 2003 Toyota Tundra Limited with off-road factory setup and am just now replacing the shocks after 160K. Going to have Bilstiens put back on it. That’s what it originally came with. Truck does ride like a passenger vehicle and we tow our 20 ft. boat with it frequently.

  10. Jason (Admin) says:

    Debbie – No reason that factory shocks can’t perform well, we’re merely saying that after-market shocks perform better when configured correctly (and when sufficiently expensive). 🙂

  11. phil says:

    didn’t know the rear shocks to my 04 tundra 4wd were replaced. For whatever reasons, it gotten replaced. Now i put a small load(s) on the back and the back hangs. I put my dirtbike carrier and the bike, which only weight 170 lbs causes it to hang. imagine i put a camper shell that weight 4-5 hundred lbs. it would really hang. the after market shocks are KYB 4G16 and more numbers: 48531-AF080 are installed. completed a research but couldn’t find any answer if this brand is/was the right brand for my truck. Am thinking about going back to the factory stock shocks. any suggestions?

  12. Michael says:

    I have over 120,000 miles on my stock struts and shocks. All city and highway driving. I pull trailers about two or three times a year. Struggling now on how long I wait. No leakage and no noticeable change from stock. Even test drove a new 2013 to compare and no difference. I run the 18 inch wheels with 265/70 tires.

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