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Discussion Starter #1
The front shocks on my '04 XE 4x4 crew cab are very bouncy, and a mechanic informed me they are in need of replacement. They're Rancho, which he said is fine for off-road, but not great for a daily driver. Any recommendations of what shocks are good for a daily driver? Off-roading will be done only rarely. Comfort in traffic and on the interstate is my main concern.
 

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On my old titan I went from stock Ranchos to Bilstein 5100s and felt the ride was noticeably softer. I've heard decent things about some others on here (Seems like the KYB Gas-a-just was a popular choice if I remember correctly), but the bilsteins are the only ones I have direct experience with, and what I just ordered for mine. Actually as I'm looking more I got a set of the KYB Excel-G (half the price of gas-a-just, so maybe half the quality?) a month or two back because the shocks seemed worn out when I bought it and I'm not a fan of these. Didn't seem any different than the old rusted out ones. They were dang cheap and I believe listed as a stock replacement so I went with them, but wish I hadn't.

I will say for both of us that spring rate has a bit to do with it and the consensus seems to be that the stock torsion bars are too soft on these trucks, and loosen up over time. I may end up swapping mine but it's not the first thing on my list.

Bilstein 5100: https://www.4x4parts.com/i-22321672-bilstein-5100-series-shock-package.html
The 4 shocks individually comes out a little cheaper but then you pay shipping...

Bilstein 4600 (seems like the same thing but different colors and a little cheaper): https://www.4x4parts.com/i-18916320-frontier-heavy-duty-bilstein-front-shock.html

Or this looks like a deal, built by bilstein to be branded NISMO but I guess they aren't selling them that way any more: https://www.4x4parts.com/i-18980754-nismo-by-bilstein-shock-kit.html
I would have done those but I'm lifting mine and those are only available for stock height.

KYB Gas-a-just: https://www.summitracing.com/parts/kyb-kg5615/overview/year/2004/make/nissan/model/frontier

Good hunting!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I was looking on rockauto.com, and just about all of their shocks are under $40, and most of those are under $20. So I was a little surprised to see the prices on these. So what's the difference between a $16 shock, a $30 shock, and an $80 shock when we're talking about a daily driver?
 

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I looked quickly at Rockauto and they have the bilstein 4600 for a little cheaper but around the same price as 4x4parts. So it's not that they are getting killer deals on them. The KYB Excel-G on my truck right now feel like trash to me (listed by rockauto under 'original ride quality'). As I said above that could have some to do with the torsion bars being trash, but I've never had brand new shocks feel like that. I think I got them on ebay, maybe $120 for all 4 shipped (again, right around the rockauto price). I was excited to 'fix' my sloppy shocks for so cheap...
Come to think of it forget all that trash talk about the cheap ones... gimme a week or two I'll sell you a whole set of barely used shocks for $50 LOL (but srsly I will if you want them...)

What's the actual technical difference? I don't know. My experience is that rancho ride rough (seems similar to your complaint), bilstein ride nice, and cheap ones feel cheap. Ultimately, it's your ride and if you want a cheap fix, grab a cheap fix.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So a true you-get-what-you-pay-for situation from the sound of it. That's what I wanted to know. I think I'll be getting the Bilsteins. Thanks for the input. By the way, I like your blue paint job. I looked at a couple that color before I bought mine. One was beautiful except a completely rotted-out frame, and the other was pretty good except for some shoddily-installed add-ons and a completely and thoroughly effed-in-the-a transmission. Ended up with a silver one, which is still PFG IMO and has none of those issues.
 

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KYB GR-2/Excel-G is practically the same as the original, factory installed shock (KYB and Tokico are the OE supplier of shocks for these vehicles). It is a twin-tube design. The KYB Gas-a just shocks and Bilstein 4600 are monotube shocks, which are a better design in that they are more responsive than twin-tubes and don't fade out as much or as quickly.
 

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The only potential issue I've experienced with RockAuto parts is that most, if not all of their stock is sourced from other stores. This means that when you order parts in pairs, you might end up with two different part revisions. I've only had it happen with wiper blades, which was not really a big deal because the difference was subtle enough that nobody else noticed it. But I wouldn't want to buy 4 shocks and have one end up being different.

Aside from that though, it's a good source for cheap parts, and sometimes the only option once your vehicle is old enough that local junkyards are empty and the chain stores need to special order for you anyway.
 

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The only potential issue I've experienced with RockAuto parts is that most, if not all of their stock is sourced from other stores. This means that when you order parts in pairs, you might end up with two different part revisions.
Not saying you're wrong but i ordered a quite a bit of parts from there a few months ago. Upper & Lower Control Arms, Center Link, Bushings, Tie Rods, Sway Bar Links, etc.. and my order was perfect. Only thing I noticed was that some things came from different warehouses but like my Control Arms for example or any part that was a pair came from the same warehouse.

Just get the Bilsteins tho dude, move on with your life and enjoy them for 50k +. They're a smooth ride. Consensus is that they're an upgrade to oems and I'd definitely second that opinion. They're very nice.
 

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So a true you-get-what-you-pay-for situation from the sound of it. That's what I wanted to know. I think I'll be getting the Bilsteins. Thanks for the input. By the way, I like your blue paint job. I looked at a couple that color before I bought mine. One was beautiful except a completely rotted-out frame, and the other was pretty good except for some shoddily-installed add-ons and a completely and thoroughly effed-in-the-a transmission. Ended up with a silver one, which is still PFG IMO and has none of those issues.
Yeah it's a good color and my other truck is blue too, but not matching blue :-/
I was in a hurry when I bought it which I know is a bad idea but it had all this recent work done by a shop and blah blah thought it was a good deal. Wasn't terrible but I've definitely found more things I should have noticed at the time. Oh and the A/C blew out on my way home from buying it, that pissed me right off.

Anyway I think you'll like the bilsteins, not the cheapest thing out there but not the most expensive either, and they should be trouble free for quite a while.


KYB GR-2/Excel-G is practically the same as the original, factory installed shock (KYB and Tokico are the OE supplier of shocks for these vehicles). It is a twin-tube design. The KYB Gas-a just shocks and Bilstein 4600 are monotube shocks, which are a better design in that they are more responsive than twin-tubes and don't fade out as much or as quickly.
I just couldn't believe how easy the KYB were to compress by hand and they didn't pop back out quickly either. They ship compressed with a plastic band around them. One of the plastic bands fell off before I was ready and I thought oh sh**, but turns out I could squish 'em back down without hardly trying...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
What happened to the AC? Mine had a leaking hose that the dealer had to have known about, because it would've had to have been recharged the day I bought it. It worked great on the 100 mile drive home. Then nothing the next day. No cooling, no pressure.

I bought a set of gauges/hoses/manifold on Amazon for $36. Also an assortment of AC o-rings and a new dryer/accumulator. It had UV dye already in it, so it was easy to find the leaking hose. Oh, and I grabbed a bottle of PAG 100 oil to put on the new o-rings. Anyway, less than $100 invested including refrigerant to do the repairs and recharge. You can 'borrow' a vacuum pump from the parts store to vac it down, but there's like a $300 deposit. I was able to borrow one from work.

If your compressor is out, it's a little more work and a little more cost, but you could do it yourself and save like $1000. There's really not that much to it if you break it down.
 

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Does this all still apply to a lifted truck? Like a 3" suspension lift? I put the Ranchos on mine and I have chipped teeth now.
I would say yes. My experience with ranchos was on an "off-road edition" Titan. I don't know if they technically boasted that as lifted but it definitely sat higher than the stock version. The ranchos even worn out felt pretty stiff and the change to bilstein softened the ride in my opinion.
As I said a couple times, how stiff or soft your springs/t-bars are also has a lot to do with stiff ride, as well as travel. If you did the 3" suspension lift you should have new control arms to give you some down travel, but if not that will be an issue no matter what shocks you run. And depending which lift you got some of them come with new t-bars, most of which are 30% higher spring rate (read: 30% stiffer), so that could be what you're feeling.
Lot of factors, but I'm not a big fan of rancho.


What happened to the AC? Mine had a leaking hose that the dealer had to have known about, because it would've had to have been recharged the day I bought it. It worked great on the 100 mile drive home. Then nothing the next day. No cooling, no pressure.

I bought a set of gauges/hoses/manifold on Amazon for $36. Also an assortment of AC o-rings and a new dryer/accumulator. It had UV dye already in it, so it was easy to find the leaking hose. Oh, and I grabbed a bottle of PAG 100 oil to put on the new o-rings. Anyway, less than $100 invested including refrigerant to do the repairs and recharge. You can 'borrow' a vacuum pump from the parts store to vac it down, but there's like a $300 deposit. I was able to borrow one from work.

If your compressor is out, it's a little more work and a little more cost, but you could do it yourself and save like $1000. There's really not that much to it if you break it down.
I tested it on my test drive, on and off a couple times and it was working fine. Then I didn't even realize it was on but I had the vent set to defrost because it was rainy and fogging up. As I was slowing for a turn it started to bog down and then I had a nasty belt squeal (seems like it must have been the compressor seizing up). Belt popped and the engine returned to 'normal' but with nasty burnt rubber smell. I pulled into a lot to find the AC belt shredded, but looked it up and that's the only thing on that belt. So I went ahead and drove it home. Checked the tensioner and the ac compressor and both spun freely. Replaced the belt and ran it for a while with no incident. Tried the AC and the compressor kicked in but no cold air. Looked closer and my condenser got hit by something at some point, so I wonder if it's kinked and wouldn't let enough thru, which jammed up the compressor. I guess I'm hoping that's all it is, but I haven't taken the time to figure it out yet.

AAAND weather's cooling off a little and my lift just came in, so...priorities ;)😃
 

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I did replace the UCAs but used the stock torsion bars. I may try the Bilsteins and hopefully that helps. I know a lifted truck has to give up some ride quality, but I didn't realize the Bilstein shocks were so much better than Rancho.
 

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I did replace the UCAs but used the stock torsion bars. I may try the Bilsteins and hopefully that helps. I know a lifted truck has to give up some ride quality, but I didn't realize the Bilstein shocks were so much better than Rancho.
It's all pretty subjective and I personally think there's a lot of 'placebo' effect. Not sure I buy the guys who change to bilstein or fox shocks and say the ride is completely different, but at the same time I did have that experience so who knows...

I don't know if I have the patience for it but I want to install my new control arms and put in the low pro bump stops without changing where the T-bars are set and see if the ride changes from how it is now. Then I can go in change the shocks and see how that changes, then adjust and re-index t-bars. When I was looking at starting the install last night I was looking and with where I have my bars right now (about 1.5" above stock height) I have maybe 1/2" of down travel on the control arm, so when I roll over any kind of drop in the road there's almost no extension to keep the tires down before the body comes down with them. If I can manage it it will be cool to try and test what the increase in travel does, and then the shocks, then re-index the bars. Might work because they're all kinda separate from each other, like the shock would be a little easier with the control arm out but it was pretty dang easy to change with them on so I don't think I'd lose much time other than jacking up and down and putting the tire on and off. I'll post updates whichever way I go.
 

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I see the Bilstein has a heavy-duty model (the yellow one with purple boot). Would that ride any different than the standard Bilstein?
 

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TLDR answer: they're pretty similar from what I know.
I don't know about a 'heavy-duty model'. The bilstein 4600 is yellow and blue (picture below), bilstein 5100 is silver with blue/yellow writing maybe. Don't remember if it was this thread I already talked about this but on 4x4parts.com site the description of the 2 models is EXACTLY the same (including something about compression rate or pressure or something), the only difference is the color scheme and dust boot. 4600 has a plastic sleeve type dust boot, 5100 has an optional rubber dust boot. If I remember right when I had a titan, the 4600 was a stock height replacement shock, and the 5100 worked for small lifts (up to maybe 3"). On the frontier, I see both models with a stock height option or a lifted up to 3" option. Really don't know the difference in this case. But the 5100 is probably better, because it's "500" more than the 4600...right?
 

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