Looking for a slightly softer ride than the Bilstein HD

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363
Location
Va
I currently have the Bilstein HD's all the way around on my 2002 Envoy, which need replacement. I like the HD's, but would really like something between the stock shocks which are very soft, and the HD's. I thought of going back to stock which were OEM Bilsteins, just not sure what version they were. Curious if anyone has gone through this and what their outcomes were. The HD's aren't overly stiff, but curious what options are avail.
 
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2,306
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
See if you can get KYB gas-a-just for that vehicle. I bet you can, and they typically aren't pricey. I have an SUV in that category (Acura SLX aka Isuzu Trooper, replaced by isuzu Ascender/GMC Envoy). Ran stock shocks, top line Monroes, never got fooled to run Rancheros and the over-priced off road defective nonsense. OEM were OK but too soft, wore out by 100k. Monroe's felt good but wore out in 20k miles. KYB gas-a-just hit the sweet spot; have had them a while now. Don't wear out fast; a very clear reason they are Toyota/Lexus OE and have been a LONG time. I would never have thought to put Bilstein HDs on that - I would expect controlled ride, but short life. I have run them and Boge TG in Audis and cars but that's not the vehicle for them. I also see the KYB Excel G spec'd for this vehicle - avoid. Performance car shocks in a vehicle like this just don't work well or hold up. Also, look into changing your rear springs. It's been a while and AFAIK, these things came softly sprung from the get-go to appease soccer moms. Even Moog springs in the rear would likely be a big improvement. (I have Old Man Emu heavy offroad springs in the rear of mine and love it - firm but not too hard at all in town). I would bet factory springs from 2002 have about met their life now. Or did so maybe three to five years ago, actually.
 
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i6pwr

Thread starter
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363
Location
Va
I do have a set of OE springs to go back in...I agree, safe bet they are way past their prime. One reason I went with the HD Bilsteins was the overall heft of this platform...4720 lbs with just a tank of gas, no driver. The stock shocks just didn't feel right, albeit very smooth at highway cruising... but the HD's controlled the ride quite well, but over smaller bumps they didn't have that bump compliance I was hoping for.
 
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2,306
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
Quote
One reason I went with the HD Bilsteins was the overall heft of this platform...4720 lbs with just a tank of gas, no driver. The stock shocks just didn't feel right, albeit very smooth at highway cruising... but the HD's controlled the ride quite well, but over smaller bumps they didn't have that bump compliance I was hoping for.
I didn't realize it weighed quite that much, though it's not that much more than I would have guessed. I think I understand what you are saying, but I think you are mixing the job a spring does with the job the shock does. In general: a) the spring controls the ride height, bears the weight of the vehicle. It dictates compression over bumps, with input from the shock. b) the shock is just a hydraulic pump that dampens the spring movement. it does not set ride height or absolute firmness. c) If you install shocks and it alters your height at any corner, the spring is toast. Shocks shouldn't do that. Based on what you said, " but over smaller bumps they didn't have that bump compliance I was hoping for," it sounds like you mean they were dampening the spring too much and making it feel harsh. That's mostly a function of the spring, which controls the body/weight of the vehicle, wanting to bounce/oscillate too much and the spring fighting it. I think it sounds like you had soft springs and firm shocks. If the Bilsteins don't have insane miles on them, maybe keep them and change the springs. I bought my acura in 2010 (1998 model). The factory shocks AND springs were then toast ( it is 4,400lbs curb weight i think). I am betting the follow-on model envoy/aschender was similarly sprung, and by now, even if you've changed the shocks, the springs are just mush. Probably were years ago. I actually think your shocks may be just fine, depending upon how long they've been in there and what kind of miles/roads.
 
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2,224
Location
Lyndhurst NJ
The B4 from bilstein are generally more of an OE replacement, and they do make sport B4s that are a bit firmer. I went with those on the TDI, was a good ride without being overly firm the B6 on the M5, which literally raised the car up about a half in for 500 miles until they settled. The front strut shaft was also at least twice as thick on the B6, so there is a difference in build also.
 
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5,651
Location
Iowa
I put a set Bilstein 4600s on a friend's Trailblazer, along with some Michelin Defender LTX tires and it rode beautifully. I was worried that it would be too form, but it was really an OE level of ride quality.
 

i6pwr

Thread starter
Messages
363
Location
Va
Sorry to not quote each reply, I did get a lot of miles out of each set of shocks, this set has approx 150K miles. I'll give it a good bounce and watch how long it takes to settle, they bounce a few times..lol. Tires are actually Defender LTX about half worn. About the springs, they are 17 YO with nearly 300K miles, I guess I'm overlooking their ENTIRE job and slightly ignoring their overall metallurgy at this point. I bet new springs and HD shocks would be a world of difference, I do remember the HD's new felt similar to our 2014 Highlander which is on the cusp of firm but not harsh, the Envoy new had more of a pillow top ride over light bumps. You're right, I bet springs would make the largest improvement right now over the shocks...but they all need to be replaced at this point. Edited to add: I do like the HD Bilsteins, but wish they were just slightly softer over the lighter bumps and ripples. I will call and see if they can modify a new set.
 
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2,021
Location
CA
Originally Posted by Lubener
The springs have the biggest impact on ride quality, stiff or soft.
Who told you that?
 
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2,306
Location
Seattle-ish, WA
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You're right, I bet springs would make the largest improvement right now over the shocks...but they all need to be replaced at this point.
Yeah, if there are 300k on the springs and 150k on the shocks, change them both. Waste to do one or the other (presuming I am reading your post correctly).
 
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