New Bilstein front & rear shocks on 4th Gen Expedition - new answers with experience

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SFexpy

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Hello forum,

This post hopes to provide three key answers in one place, which are unanswered elsewhere on this forum. I hope it helps those with the same questions that I had before embarking on the expensive replacement of front & rear shocks.

This forum has plenty of information for those in need of technical advice. The same goes for YouTube. However, I could not find answers to the following three product-oriented questions:

1. What is the highest quality shock / strut assembly available for non-air non-CCD shocks on 4th Gen Expedition?
2. Exactly how will the ride quality improve? There are quite a few posts with generic terms like "noticeably better" and "control" but these are not defined.
3. Which independent shops in the San Francisco Bay Area are capable and trustworthy? Plus a price indication including parts and labour.

In the absence of answers on this forum, I've decided to do my own research and to bear the cost of this experiment. Luckily all went well and I'm very happy with the result.

And these are my findings:

1. The Bilstein B8 5100 shocks seem like the highest quality option for this vehicle. After talking to my technician (see below), no other brands seem to come close in quality or be available. I didn't ask if higher B8 models would fit or work well as they're out of my budget.

2. Compared to the factory shocks, the ride quality is very different. My first impression was that of new tyres. The ride is both softer and brings more control in turns and breaking. The ride is softer under normal driving and harder under dynamic driving. At city speeds, the Bilsteins seem more willing to absorb small imperfections. They allow more body roll and more forward sway in the last inch of a stop than the factory shocks. The factory shocks were harder at low speed. Over potholes and speed bumps, the Bilsteins feel more comfortable with more bounce. The extra sway is not noticeable to anyone but the driver: not even to sensitive or pregnant passengers. This is a good place to give a big Thank You to women for their love of comfort!

Above 30 mph, however, the laternal stability of the car becomes much better than with factory springs. Once lateral forces increase beyond the residential street threshold, the car brakes and turns much faster and easier. Especially at highway speeds. There is still that willingness of a slight roll here and a slight lean there, but the feeling of stability is much higher than with the factory shocks. With the latter, the car leaned much more in sharp turns and braking. The road contact feels more seamless with the Bilsteins.

I would compare the factory shocks to wearing a winter glove: quite hard on the outside but occassionally deforms and lets slip. The Bilsteins are like wearing a leather glove: soft contact with control.

3. Before deciding on Faxon Garage, I've enquired with two ASE-certified shops in the Bay Area: Franks' Auto Service in Walnut Creek and 5 Star Auto Service in Belmont. Both were booked out for weeks (made me hoop the online booking system), took repeated calls to quote an estimate and then it was off by thousands. I'm sure these are good guys doing great work, but neither of them could give any recommendations or experience on selecting the best shocks, other than checking which model fits and which doesn't. I can do that myself on Autozone.com

I've then called a couple more independent shops in the Bay Area. Faxon Garage seemed to have some of the best reviews and pricing. It was a bit out of the way for me but they were the only shop able to discuss equipment options at different price and quality levels. I was so happy to go with them. The work took half a day longer due to stuck & rusty bolts in the upper assembly but these guys stuck to their price. Very cool. My quote for all fours shocks was $2'500 incl. parts and labour plus tax and alignment. Being 5 - 10% of the car's value, this was not an easy decision. But I'm very happy with my choice of the mechanic and with how the Bilsteins perform.

May reading and courage bring good things to you.
 

jastevenson

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Great post, very helpful! My crappy factory shocks are leaking at <50k and dealer wants 3k to replace them.

I also find the factory shocks to be extremely harsh in city driving (although good on the highway).

Have you found any negatives to the Bilsteins compared with the factory shocks? My priority is simply a smooth ride.

Thanks again for your comments!
 
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SFexpy

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Great post, very helpful! My crappy factory shocks are leaking at <50k and dealer wants 3k to replace them.

I also find the factory shocks to be extremely harsh in city driving (although good on the highway).

Have you found any negatives to the Bilsteins compared with the factory shocks? My priority is simply a smooth ride.

Thanks again for your comments!
Thanks Ja, I think you will prefer the Bilsteins. They are smoother over road imperfections than the factory shocks. It’s not like getting bigger tires but they are smoother.
To answer if I noticed any negatives: not yet. I think they are just better than the factory shocks all around.
Hope you can get it all done to your satisfaction.
 

rmillis

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Thank you, such a great post. Will get Bilstein once my shocks start to wear out.
 

Pawpaw

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I had Bilstein 4600's years ago on a 2004 F150 I had. These were the same internally as the 5100's except no leveling option on the fronts. They were a big improvement over the OEM shocks. Went with the 5100's on a '13 F150 and set the fronts at 1-1/2 inches of height gain. Very impressed with the Bilsteins from years past and when my OEM's wear out I'll probably go the Bilstein route again on my current Expedition. Pic is the '13 F150 with Bilsteins front and rear.


grand isle 2-4-16 012.JPG
 

MeBu

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Hello forum,

This post hopes to provide three key answers in one place, which are unanswered elsewhere on this forum. I hope it helps those with the same questions that I had before embarking on the expensive replacement of front & rear shocks.

This forum has plenty of information for those in need of technical advice. The same goes for YouTube. However, I could not find answers to the following three product-oriented questions:

1. What is the highest quality shock / strut assembly available for non-air non-CCD shocks on 4th Gen Expedition?
2. Exactly how will the ride quality improve? There are quite a few posts with generic terms like "noticeably better" and "control" but these are not defined.
3. Which independent shops in the San Francisco Bay Area are capable and trustworthy? Plus a price indication including parts and labour.

In the absence of answers on this forum, I've decided to do my own research and to bear the cost of this experiment. Luckily all went well and I'm very happy with the result.

And these are my findings:

1. The Bilstein B8 5100 shocks seem like the highest quality option for this vehicle. After talking to my technician (see below), no other brands seem to come close in quality or be available. I didn't ask if higher B8 models would fit or work well as they're out of my budget.

2. Compared to the factory shocks, the ride quality is very different. My first impression was that of new tyres. The ride is both softer and brings more control in turns and breaking. The ride is softer under normal driving and harder under dynamic driving. At city speeds, the Bilsteins seem more willing to absorb small imperfections. They allow more body roll and more forward sway in the last inch of a stop than the factory shocks. The factory shocks were harder at low speed. Over potholes and speed bumps, the Bilsteins feel more comfortable with more bounce. The extra sway is not noticeable to anyone but the driver: not even to sensitive or pregnant passengers. This is a good place to give a big Thank You to women for their love of comfort!

Above 30 mph, however, the laternal stability of the car becomes much better than with factory springs. Once lateral forces increase beyond the residential street threshold, the car brakes and turns much faster and easier. Especially at highway speeds. There is still that willingness of a slight roll here and a slight lean there, but the feeling of stability is much higher than with the factory shocks. With the latter, the car leaned much more in sharp turns and braking. The road contact feels more seamless with the Bilsteins.

I would compare the factory shocks to wearing a winter glove: quite hard on the outside but occassionally deforms and lets slip. The Bilsteins are like wearing a leather glove: soft contact with control.

3. Before deciding on Faxon Garage, I've enquired with two ASE-certified shops in the Bay Area: Franks' Auto Service in Walnut Creek and 5 Star Auto Service in Belmont. Both were booked out for weeks (made me hoop the online booking system), took repeated calls to quote an estimate and then it was off by thousands. I'm sure these are good guys doing great work, but neither of them could give any recommendations or experience on selecting the best shocks, other than checking which model fits and which doesn't. I can do that myself on Autozone.com

I've then called a couple more independent shops in the Bay Area. Faxon Garage seemed to have some of the best reviews and pricing. It was a bit out of the way for me but they were the only shop able to discuss equipment options at different price and quality levels. I was so happy to go with them. The work took half a day longer due to stuck & rusty bolts in the upper assembly but these guys stuck to their price. Very cool. My quote for all fours shocks was $2'500 incl. parts and labour plus tax and alignment. Being 5 - 10% of the car's value, this was not an easy decision. But I'm very happy with my choice of the mechanic and with how the Bilsteins perform.

May reading and courage bring good things to you.
 

MeBu

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Thank you for taking the time to share this info. I am in the market for new shocks all around, I have 95k miles on my 2018 and the ride has gotten pretty rough in the past couple months. I'm hoping to keep my expy for a couple more years so need to invest in the shocks/struts.
 

tri650

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I just purchased the 5100's for my 17. I saw a build on Mount Zion Off Road of a 2017 build with Bilstein 5100's and also SPC upper control arms. I'm curious about the addition of the upper control arms. I sent them a note on their build to get their reasoning. Will let you know what I find.
 
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