Are OE Shock Absorbers Better Than Aftermarket Shocks?

When your shock absorbers fail, which type of replacement shocks offers the best value and quality? There are two types on the market: OEM and aftermarket. We’ll discuss each one, but first let’s briefly talk about what shock absorbers are.

A shock absorber is a hydraulic cylinder installed behind each wheel. Its absorbs most of the impact when your tires hit a bump. It also controls how quickly your tire returns to the road. Contrary to popular belief, shocks aren’t the same thing as struts, even though both parts serve the same purpose. Read more about shock absorbers and how they differ from struts here.

Replace honda shockImage credit: Texas8th

What Are OEM Shocks?

Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement shocks are the same exact shocks that came in your Honda when it was new. This means that when you buy OEM replacement shocks, you’re getting high-quality parts that are precisely designed for your Honda. It can’t get any better than that.

What Are Aftermarket Shocks?

Aftermarket shocks aren’t guaranteed in quality and fitment like OEM shocks are. They’re produced by manufacturers that determine the quality, design, and materials of their shocks. Some manufacturers produce premium aftermarket shocks that are precisely engineered and made with the highest quality materials. Other manufacturers prefer to cut corners. But they are all pretty good at advertising, so it's tough to tell the difference between quality shocks and sub-standard shocks.

You’ll have to do a ton of research on different aftermarket shock brands to determine:

  1. Quality.
  2. If they are engineered for your specific vehicle.
  3. Warranty.

Even after doing all that research, there’s no guarantee you’ll find aftermarket shocks that are comparable to OEM ones.

Why OEM is the Safer Choice

OEM honda shock

The choice between OEM and aftermarket often comes down to quality, cost, and functionality. OEM usually wins in all three departments for the following reasons:

  • Guaranteed quality and precise fitment: Honda spends thousands of engineering and testing hours tuning shocks specifically for each vehicle they sell. With OEM shocks, you know exactly what you’re getting: a well-built part that’s unique to your specific Honda model. Aftermarket shock manufacturers just don't have the resources to thoroughly tune shocks for every vehicle on the market.
  • Affordability in the long run: Like all Honda parts, OEM shock absorbers are inexpensive when you purchase from an authorized reseller like And, they’re more affordable in the long run. A cheap set of aftermarket shocks may cost less upfront, but they’ll fail after a year or two. OEM shocks, on the other hand, will to last two or three times as long.
  • Factory warranty: OEM shocks are covered by Honda’s 3-year/36,000-mile factory warranty. Most aftermarket shocks don’t come with a warranty. Those that do, however, are usually covered for only a year.

The Most Common Problems That Come With Cheap Aftermarket Shocks

Here are the most common problems that come with cheap aftermarket shock absorbers:

  • Leaks: Cheap aftermarket shock absorbers aren’t well sealed. That means more oil will seep out than usual.
  • Early failure: Cheap aftermarket shocks are prone to leaks and they tend to blow out after hitting a big enough bump. They’ll need to be replaced sooner than expected.
  • Poor performance: Cheap aftermarket shocks are commonly sold based on vehicle size. This is too generalized to guarantee optimal performance. It’s always better to get a set of shocks that are tuned for your specific vehicle, like OEM shocks, to ensure longevity and great performance.

When to Consider Aftermarket Shocks

In most cases, you’re strongly encouraged to use OEM shocks. But, sometimes a set of quality aftermarket shocks is the better solution. This only applies to specific situations that may wear out your OEM shocks faster than usual, such as:

  • Off-roading: OEM shocks are engineered to provide a balance between ride, handling, and durability for daily driving. Quality off-roading shocks, on the other hand, are built to take a lot of abuse off road. If you have a Honda that’s primarily used off road, then you’d be better off upgrading to good aftermarket shocks.
  • Heavy towing or hauling: Heavy duty shocks are necessary when you add a lot of weight to the equation. OEM shocks will wear out quicker if you use your Honda vehicle to tow and/or haul cargo on a regular basis.

Key Takeaway

OEM shocks come out on top for daily driving. Aftermarket shocks are best suited for towing or off-roading. They are overkill unless you’re putting your Honda through tough situations on a regular basis. If you need aftermarket shocks, don’t settle for anything less than the best.