Shocks | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Active Member
May 20, 2013
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City, State
Saint Joseph
Year, Model & Trim Level
1994 Explorer XLT
Hey is anyone using a set of these Gabriel shocks????


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I just ordered shocks yesterday, and after some research I believe the general consensus is that the Gabriel Shocks aren't very good. Go with some Bilstien's, or Monroe. Also Rock Auto has good prices if you choose to go with Monroe.

I'm using the Monroe coil over shocks and find them great.

That's interesting - I knew they made load carrier and air shocks for the rear, didn't know they made load carrier shocks for the front.

I would say in general, that having shocks carry the load of the suspension is not a good idea. Shocks are meant to control motion by providing resistance, not to handle the weight of the vehicle.

Keep in mind that forcing the shocks to carry ANY weight puts that weight on the bolts. These load carrier shocks put that weight on the radius arm stud that is notorious for snapping off, sometimes just because the nut was stuck on. It could easily break off if these are used, possibly while driving.

Rather than load carrier shocks, if you need/want to lift the front suspension some, either get new coil springs (Moog makes some, part # CC868 that are good), or you can even just use big washers to stick under the coil springs and get just the exact amount of lift you need to get back to stock height.

Then get some decent shocks and you'll have a suspension that should perform great.

I never thought about the load being transferred to the shock bolt. I think that they would be fine for the rear.

Using them (or air shocks) in the rear is "popular" because people don't know any other way to level the vehicle when towing a heavy load - or the leaf springs are sagging but they just want a cheap cosmetic fix.

I had air shocks in the rear for awhile, but I never really knew how poorly they did as shocks until I installed slightly longer shackles instead, and got some Bilstein shocks. The difference in handling was extremely noticable.

If the rear end is sagging, I'd say get some shackles. Warrior makes them, part number WAR123, and they are slightly longer than the stock Explorer shackles. They are made for another vehicle, and so they have 1/2" bolt holes you need to drill out and get 14mm or 9/16" bolts for, but they are perfect for this. Of course Warrior also makes the WAR153 shackles for the Explorer, but that lifts the rear 1.5 inches, which is too much unless you also lift the front that much.

After the shackles and the Bilsteins, the rear not only doesn't sag, it doesn't sag even when a heavy trailer is on there and the interior is loaded down with cargo. No air shocks or load assist shocks needed.

I am not looking to raise the rear or level the rear. I am just interested in a heavier spring rate. I wouldn't consider this load assist if I could find some heavy duty rear springs. Factory springs are rated at 1250 lbs, the Gabriel site says the rear load assist shock are a constant rate of 500 lbs. If the rear was sagging I would just replace the spring.

Since they're just leaf springs, can't you add a leaf to get a "heavier duty" spring?

The three-spring pack with overload spring (the thick stiff spring on the bottom) found on the 4-door Explorers is the heaviest rated leaf spring you can get for the Explorer. It will handle a towing load of over 3 tons. The only thing a heavier rated spring is going to do is make it ride like a dump truck. The heavier rated spring is going to require a heavier rated shock, and so it's going to ride even worse.

So the question is, WHY do you want (or think you need) a heavier rated spring?

You MIGHT get a slightly heavier rated spring getting a newer set off a newer model Explorer (up to about 98-01 still fits the 91-94's, the spring sizes are the same).

There are also "helper springs" that attach to existing springs to "help" them in carrying heavy loads:


You CAN get custom springs made, just the same as the off-road rigs do, but with thicker, multiple leaf springs for a heavier rate. It's going to cost hundreds of dollars for each spring. Like I said though, it's just going to ride like a dump truck and not increase anything. The towing capacity of the Explorer is limited by the torque of the engine and what the transmission can withstand. The stock leaf springs can handle more than the engine and transmission can take, at least for extended periods.

I want a heavier spring rate because my X is like driving jello. I would rather drive a dump truck than something that feels like riding on a block of flubber.
The only other thing I can think of is a helper coil spring. I wouldn't buy the kits that are out there. Summit Racing offers a huge amount of coil springs and all the hardware you would ever need to mount them up.

It's probably not anything to do with the springs, just the bushings and the shocks.

If you want it to handle very firmly, get the polyurethane bushings, and really good shocks.

Bilsteins will make it super-firm, like near sports-car levels. KYB Monomax or Gas-a-just shocks are pretty firm as well. Even Monroe Reflex shocks are decent and firmer than regular shocks.

Putting on "helper" springs won't help much if at all, if the vehicle isn't carrying a heavy load to put additional weight on those "helper" springs.

I too am using the Monroe coil over shocks and they work well, but I think Anime has a very keen point in that the mounting points for the front shocks are a weak link, and while it may be arguable for the rear shock, as I believe the upper rear shock mounts are weak, but his comment is valid, IMO.

I recently replace all my suspension bushing with poly and it was a transformation from bad to quite good. I never realized how bad until I installed the poly's. I purchased a master kit from Energy Suspension. My shocks are within a a year old and all that is original are the rear springs.

In sharing that, I recommend new shocks and bushings and possibly longer shackles, before trying less desirable band-aid fixes so you are not treating the symptoms of a problem instead of solving the root problem.

Ditto. May not be the ideal solution, but have many satisfied users for less than $85 a pair. Search, very positive reviews.

They aren't ideal for fixing sag if the leaf springs are bad, but my springs were still fine. They lifted the rear about an inch overall after settling. They have a very very firm ride though.

I have set of Bilsteins and the ride is stiffer, but they eliminated body sway. I think they will last longer and Explorer drivers need to consider the rollover tendency of the Explorer.

As far as leaf springs, you could consider an add-a-leaf mod. I have considered this since the Explorer tends to lean left due to single drivers over the years. mine has a noticeable lean.

As far as leaf springs, you could consider an add-a-leaf mod. I have considered this since the Explorer tends to lean left due to single drivers over the years. mine has a noticeable lean.

The lean is mostly due to the constant weight of the fuel tank, which is much heavier than the driver.

Rather than an add-a-leaf, one fix is to swap the leaf springs side-to-side. It can be a tough job to remove the leaf spring bolts, especially from the front hangers, but results in a reduced lean. Adding some ballast on the passenger side rear (say, a full tool box) can help take care of the rest.

That is right, I forgot about the fuel load on that side. The spare tire is taking up room where the tank should be located.