DRIVER'S ASSISTANT - HUNDRED
WHICH SHOCK ABSORBERS ARE BETTER: FEATURES OF CHOICE AND RATING OF MANUFACTURERS

WHICH AUTO-REFRIGERATOR IS BETTER TO BUY IN THE CAR?

WHICH SHOCK ABSORBERS ARE BETTER: FEATURES OF CHOICE AND RATING OF MANUFACTURERS


A very popular question among motorists is which shock absorbers are better: gas or oil, or gas-oil? And he is interested not only in lovers of a comfortable ride, but also in those who consider themselves to be "racers". In fact, shock absorbers provide many important parameters of the car, and above all - handling and directional stability.
Why do we need shock absorbers in a car, how they are arranged and work, what types of shock absorbers are and what are their advantages and disadvantages - the answers to these questions will help you make the right choice among a large number of manufacturers of these products on the Russian market.

At the end of the article, as usual, you can watch a video in which the author tells and shows which shock absorbers are better to choose (gas, oil or gas-oil) and how they differ from each other.
We also recommend that you study the algorithm for checking shock absorbers for performance.

Why do cars need shock absorbers?


A shock absorber is an integral part of what provides comfort in the car body (sprung mass in technical terminology). The opposite of this term can be clearly illustrated with an old village cart on wooden wheels with a metal rim. It is easy to imagine how the passengers in such a wagon shake when driving on a rough dirt road.
To smooth out this shaking from potholes and potholes (or in technical language, to damp vibrations in the vertical plane arising from road obstacles) is the main function of shock absorbers. Schematically, the shock absorber can be represented as a spring located between the wheels of the car (the tire, by the way, is also a kind of spring in this diagram) and the body.
In general, to assess the response to the vertical impact of the road, the car can be represented as a mechanical system consisting of many weights, springs and friction knots, interconnected in a complex way and providing the required smoothness. And shock absorbers play an important role in this scheme.

Scheme of a two-tube oil shock absorber




The definition of "oil shock absorber" implies that only hydraulic oil is used as the working material in the cylinder. The dynamics of the oil shock absorber is entirely determined by the work (performance) of the bypass valves.
To expand the dynamic range and adjustment possibilities of oil shock absorbers, a kind of gas "cushion" was invented. The fact is that gases, unlike liquids, are compressed, and non-linearly (not proportional to the movement of the rod). This means that being "attached" to the "oil" part of the cylinder, they will make the dynamics of such a system richer.
The figure below shows a simplified design of a single-tube gas shock absorber.

The definition of "oil shock absorber" implies that only hydraulic oil is used as the working material in the cylinder. The dynamics of the oil shock absorber is entirely determined by the work (performance) of the bypass valves.

To expand the dynamic range and adjustment possibilities of oil shock absorbers, a kind of gas "cushion" was invented. The fact is that gases, unlike liquids, are compressed, and non-linearly (not proportional to the movement of the rod). This means that being "attached" to the "oil" part of the cylinder, they will make the dynamics of such a system richer.
The figure below shows a simplified design of a single-tube gas shock absorber.

Scheme of a single-tube gas shock absorber

Scheme of a single-tube gas shock absorber



It is clear that without the lower (gas) part, it becomes oily (only the squeezed out excess must be put somewhere, but more on that below).
And since shock absorbers filled exclusively with gas are not yet found on production cars, it is more correct to call such a design a “gas-oil shock absorber”.
For oil and gas-oil shock absorbers, the working cylinder of the device is usually two-pipe:
  1. In oil shock absorbers, excess oil comes out into the second (larger diameter) pipe through additional valves during compression, “pressed” in the second pipe by air.
  2. In gas-oil shock absorbers, a gas cushion is pumped into the second pipe instead of air (usually nitrogen under pressure).
Sometimes the gas cushion in gas-oil shock absorbers is structurally located on the side of the cylinder.

Main types of shock absorbers



In addition to a narrower range of elasticity characteristics, the cushion of air in the oil shock absorber does not effectively dissipate the heat energy released during intensive work, which sometimes leads to the boiling of the working fluid. In a gas-oil shock absorber, this effect is excluded.
Like any hydraulic technique, shock absorber cylinders require high-precision (precision) machining, a complex system of valves and seals, and for gas-oil shock absorbers this system only becomes more complicated.
Since the gas-filled part of the shock absorber significantly expands the dynamic range of the system, in general, the device assumes a softer response to road bumps than in the "oil" version - it's like a series connection of two springs: soft and hard, which in total gives a softer response than just a hard one. spring.
Interestingly, manufacturers do exactly the opposite and adjust gas shock absorbers to a greater extent for aggressive driving style and sports cars. More precisely, on well-paved roads, the gas dampers are set to a softer response from vertical influences, and on bad roads with the same settings they become stiffer.
It must be emphasized that in sports driving smoothness is far from in the first place: parameters such as handling and directional stability are much more important, which gas shock absorbers provide better than oil ones.

What brand of shock absorbers is best?


The Russian market of shock absorbers for foreign cars with a share of the main players of 10 percent or more, according to the Avtoinstruktsiya magazine, is represented by several well-known companies (diagram in the figure above):
  • KYB (Kayaba) - 35%;
  • Boge - 16%;
  • Fenox (Phenox) - 15%;
  • Monroe (Monroe) - 14%;
  • Bilstein (Bilstein) - 11%;
  • Other firms - 9%.
It is interesting that during a survey of service centers conducted by the publication "Kuzov", for the recommendations of professionals on choosing a manufacturer of high-quality shock absorbers, the picture turned out to be somewhat different.

Rating of shock absorbers recommended by mechanics of independent service stations in Moscow



With firms such as KYB, Bilstein, and Boge leading the way, Monroe is only 5% of the time pros recommend it, even though the firm's market share is nearly three times higher. And they practically do not recommend the Belarusian brand Fenox, the share of products of which is very significant - 15%.
To figure out which shock absorbers are better to put, it is necessary to briefly dwell on the characteristics of the leading players in the Russian market.
  • KYB (Kayaba) - the products of the Japanese concern are popular not only in Russia, but also in Europe due to their high quality and reliability at a relatively low price level. Shock absorbers of this company can be found on the conveyors of well-known European automakers. The gas-oil shock absorber of the Ultra SR series is especially popular with Russian sports driving enthusiasts;
  • Bilstein (Bilstein) is a world famous German company that has been producing shock absorbers for over 50 years. It was here that the design of a single-tube gas-filled shock absorber was developed. Bilstein products are installed on European premium brands: BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, Maseratti, Jaguar;
  • Boge (God) - the brand belongs to the concern ZF Friedrichshafen AG (Germany) - one of the world's oldest manufacturers of shock absorbers. Recently moved to another well-known brand - SACHS and now the same type of products are produced under two brands. The concern's products cover more than 90% of the range of world automakers. On the Russian market, a 1-year warranty is provided, regardless of mileage;
  • Monroe (Monroe) is an American company whose products are probably best known in Europe and are intended for 99% of the world's makes and models of cars. Monroe's latest Sensatrac series gas shock absorbers deliver superior handling performance and instant response to changing driving conditions;
  • Koni (Horses) - shock absorbers - this is the only product of the Dutch company for almost 70 years. The main distinguishing feature of Koni shock absorbers is the ability to adjust the stiffness parameters, adapting the car both to external conditions and to the individual characteristics of the driver and the manner of driving the car.
But are all major manufacturers of shock absorbers widely represented on the Russian market? The figure below shows the top six players in this market in the US according to a survey by Ranker.

The first three consists of participants in the Russian rating. But the products of the American Fox Racing and the Swedish Ohlins are specific - they are designed for motorcycles, ATVs and SUVs. The American Rancho Suspension in Russia is quite well-known and specializes in the supply of products for popular pickup trucks and large SUVs in the USA. A few years ago, Rancho was acquired by Tenneco, which in turn owns the Monroe trademark.
Thus, the first three shock absorber manufacturers with a high reputation for Russia are KYB , Monroe and Bilstein .
As for the objective characteristics provided by shock absorbers and affecting the safety, handling and comfort of the car, they look like the following according to the manufacturers themselves.
Braking distance at a speed of 40 km / h:
  • Bilstein - 8.0 meters;
  • Monroe - 8.5 meters;
  • KYB - 9.0 meters.
The differences are quite significant, if you remember that in a critical situation, centimeters of stopping distance are important.
Rear axle drift 90° (tight turn mode):
  • Bilstein - 59 km / h;
  • Monroe - 52 km / h;
  • KYB - 48 km / h.
Tests for smoothness (characteristics closely related to subjective comfort) and directional stability are carried out in relation to each specific car model, therefore, it is possible to compare shock absorbers from different manufacturers only for specific cars.
Interestingly, such tests sometimes give paradoxical results: venerable firms can lose out to outsiders, both in individual indicators and in aggregate test results.

Which shock absorbers to choose for a car?
Which shock absorbers to choose for a car?


And yet, which shock absorbers to choose? Given the variety of designs, a wide range of loads and significant differences in the characteristics of different models of cars, as well as individual characteristics of the driving style, one should not expect monosyllabic answers to this question.
It is necessary to rely, first of all, on the recommendations of the car manufacturer, both in terms of characteristics and in terms of shock absorber manufacturers. If the owner wants to change the dynamics of the car at the expense of shock absorbers (or there is no way to follow the manufacturer's recommendations exactly), general considerations on how to choose shock absorbers for a car can be formulated as follows:
Selection by type (oil, gas, gas-oil):
  • For those who prefer comfort, a quiet ride, reliability and affordable prices, two-pipe oil shock absorbers are suitable;
  • If you want comfort requirements combined with improved cornering dynamics, and the cost and reliability of the part are in a reasonable range, then twin-tube gas-oil shock absorbers are the right choice;
  • Single-tube gas shock absorbers are designed for aggressive driving enthusiasts who prefer the handling of the car to a smooth ride.
By the way, the age of the car is also an important factor in making a decision. It is hardly advisable to install expensive gas shock absorbers on cars of venerable age with high mileage: the elastic characteristics of the suspension and the strength of the body deteriorate over time, and instead of the expected one, you can get the opposite effect.
Choice by manufacturer (which company shock absorbers are better):
  • If the car belongs to the budget segment, and there is no need to test it in sports modes, and funds for maintenance are limited, shock absorbers from the Russian company SAAZ or the Belarusian Fenox may well be suitable;
  • Those who appreciate quality and are ready to pay for it (even if the car does not belong to expensive foreign cars) should pay attention to the products of KYB, Monroe and Boge (Sachs);
  • The products of Bilstein and KONI (the aristocrats in the world of shock absorbers) are recommended by experts for both sports driving enthusiasts and owners of premium cars.
And, of course, you need to beware of fakes: if the price for Bilstein products in the store is the same as for the Belarusian Fenox, then something is wrong with such a seller (and not with respect to Fenox). And the recipe for verification is the presence of a certificate of conformity, a warranty card and the correspondence of a unique serial number to the data on the official website of the manufacturer.

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