Chevy Cruze Bilstein B6 HD Shock/Strut Review

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Thread: Chevy Cruze Bilstein B6 HD Shock/Strut Review

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    Chevy Cruze Bilstein B6 HD Shock/Strut Review

    I've had the opportunity to put about 100 miles on the Bilstein B6 HD shocks that I purchased for my 2012 Cruze Eco MT6, and feel that I can give a good review. For those who are unfamiliar with these, Bilstein has three shock replacement options for the Cruze; the Bilstein B4 (OE Replacements), Bilstein B6 HD (a heavy duty shock), and the Bilstein B8 (a heavy duty shock designed to be used with lowering springs). Since I have no desire to reduce my ride height with the roads we have around here but did want to upgrade, I went with the Bilstein B6 HD.


    Introduction

    The reason I began looking for a replacement set of shocks is that I began to notice a degradation in vehicle stability and comfort. When driving over a highway overpass, for example, I'd hit uneven pavement that sometimes had lane-wide gaps or bumps, and the suspension in the front would bottom out. Most people might not notice what I did, but when the shocks crash through the jounce bumpers, you can definitely notice it happening. On a particular road I always travel to buy car parts, there's a railroad track which everyone slows down on. In the Cruze, I would bottom out the front suspension very noticeably at the posted 35mph speed limit. It was unnerving. Furthermore, when turning over uneven pavement, the vehicle would rock left and right a bit, but overshoot the simple uneven pavement in an attempt to stabilize itself. Braking exhibited more nose dive than usual as well.

    This could be written off as worn shocks, and some of it undoubtedly is. I have 66k miles on the vehicle now, with about 50k miles on the actual shocks (they were replaced by GM under warranty due to noise early on), but my shocks at 50k miles did not exhibit any of the typical symptoms that "completely worn" shocks do. It is generally stable on the highway (doesn't "float,"), and rides comfortably.


    The Visual Difference
    An immediate difference can be seen visually in the shocks. The Bilstein shock is longer, and contains a built-in jounce bumper in the shock itself, so you need to remove yours when installing. This does not affect ride height. The strut shaft is MUCH larger in diameter.



    The rears were not as big of a difference, measuring a shaft diameter of 12mm stock and 14mm on the Bilsteins, but it is still an increase nonetheless.



    Aside from the obvious visual differences, the vehicle maintained the same front ride height, but gained about 1/2" of ride height in the rear. I've read about this happening with other cars, as this is a pressurized gas shock. Since I have a sound system in the trunk, I don't mind the increase at all and expect it to settle a little over time.


    The Driving Difference
    The initial driving experience was nothing short of remarkable. I had read other reviews people posted of these shocks on other vehicles where the vehicle was described as "taut," and I think that term defines the change quite accurately. The vehicle simply feels more composed, more controlled, more predictable, and more stable.

    I have a couple of places where I bottom out the suspension on a regular basis. The first is the railroad tracks mentioned above, and the second is a transition between two surfaces going over a highway overpass. First thing I did once I installed these is go out for a drive on those same surfaces. The highway transition was such a big difference that I didn't even notice it. When I approached the railroad tracks, I felt a little crazy since everyone was slowing down to 25mph in the 35mph zone, and I was accelerating to 40mph. Went over the railroad tracks and barely felt it. The car didn't have the usual nosedive, slam on the jounce bumpers, bounce back up, and level off again. It just kind of rolled over the uneven pavement as if I was driving on a cloud.

    This all came as a surprise because on lighter irregularities in the road, the suspension now feels more sporty. Instead of calling it stiff, I'd refer back to the "taut" reference. While you certainly feel more of the road with these shocks than with OE shocks, you feel less of that road on large anomalies, and even the small road anomalies aren't what I'd call "stiff." On the highway, your bead isn't bouncing back and forth as if the suspension was welded; it simply follows the road more securely as if there was some magnetic force pulling the car to the road. That is, until you hit a big hole or bump in the ground and the car just gracefully absorbs it without making you cringe.

    I was very deliberate in not wanting to lower the car. I like how cars feel more planted due to the reduction in body sway, but don't like the harshness you get with the reduction in suspension travel. I feel that with these shocks, I got every bit of sporty handling one would out of lowering springs, but without all the harshness.

    On a scientific level, the purpose of the shocks is to control suspension travel; the purpose of the springs is to suspend your vehicle's weight. These shocks more strongly limit suspension travel, so you feel more of the small bumps on the road instead of the suspension absorbing them, but in return, the suspension doesn't bottom out and make you wish you'd have slammed on the brakes earlier when going over much larger bumps in the road. The result is almost an oxymoron; sporty, but comfortable; taut. I felt like I was driving a tuned European car.

    On braking, I had 1/3 the amount of nose dive I used to, and it was much more gradual than before. While making quick turning maneuvers, there was less body sway, and the vehicle responded to drive input more quickly and more accurately. Going over uneven pavement while turning, when my Cruze used to rock left and right trying to settle back to a resting position, the shocks kept the vehicle riding level and stable. All in all, the vehicle feels much more confident.

    I'll admit, this is the first time I've owned a vehicle that had a truly good set of shocks, so it was a bit of a revelation for me, but I can wholeheardly give this upgrade a solid recommendation for anyone looking to improve the ride comfort of their vehicle without turning it into a land yacht, and improve the handling of their vehicle without clenching their buttocks whenever they see a large bump or pothole in the road.


    Conclusion
    The Bilstein B6 HD shocks are an all-around solid upgrade for the Gen1 Chevy Cruze and will be my go-to replacement shock for any vehicle I own in the future. For those of you with lowered springs, look into the B8 shocks.

    Both the Bilstein B6 HD and the Bilstein B8 shocks are available from order from the BNR Website:

    B6 HD: Bilstein B6 HD Shocks
    B8 Sport: Bilstein B8 Sport Shocks
    Last edited by XtremeRevolution; 02-11-2017 at 08:54 PM.

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  3. #2
    Learning about my Cruze
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    How much do they cost...?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MB2014LT2 View Post
    How much do they cost...?
    I can't disclose the price I paid for them, but as soon as they show up on the BNR website, I'll be able to let you know. Expect somewhere in the range of $600 for all 4, give or take.

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    Nicely done Xtreme. Your usual high quality work.

    In the early 1990s GM started offering Bilsteins as optional on the already hot 9C1 police pursuit vehicles. As I recall they were a $200 option at the time.

    My 1999 Tahoe PPV came with Bilsteins as stock. I remember talking to an engineer at Bilstein at that time, and they made three shocks for GM to place on the GMT400s all with different jounce and rebound numbers.

    Did you by any chance obtain similar numbers for the B4, B6 and B8 models?

    Would you know of the other applications that Bilstein recommends the B4, B6 and B8 for?

    Do you have the Z-link rear suspension?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tomko View Post
    Nicely done Xtreme. Your usual high quality work.

    In the early 1990s GM started offering Bilsteins as optional on the already hot 9C1 police pursuit vehicles. As I recall they were a $200 option at the time.

    My 1999 Tahoe PPV came with Bilsteins as stock. I remember talking to an engineer at Bilstein at that time, and they made three shocks for GM to place on the GMT400s all with different jounce and rebound numbers.

    Did you by any chance obtain similar numbers for the B4, B6 and B8 models?

    Would you know of the other applications that Bilstein recommends the B4, B6 and B8 for?

    Do you have the Z-link rear suspension?
    Thank you.

    I don't have the numbers for the B4, but the numbers for the B6 HD (there is no B6 Comfort for the Cruze) and the B8 are:


    B6 (HD)
    OEM Replacement:
    Front Left: 35-171669
    Front Right: 35-171676
    Rear: 24-171687


    B8(Sport)
    For Lowering Springs:
    Front Left: 35-171690
    Front Right: 35-171706
    Rear: 24-171717

    Courtesy of Cass23VSU4: Who makes a nice quality replacement shock and strut?

    B4 is an OEM replacement shock similar to what you'd get in a KYB Excel-G, for example. B6 HD is a sporty OEM upgrade for stock ride height vehicles. B8 is for vehicles with lowered suspension.

    I do not have Z-link rear. I contemplated adding it but it would require a new axle, and there aren't enough of these cars in junkyards for me to run out and pull an axle off of one.

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    I must say that it's days like today, with ice bumps and potholes all over the road, that I truly appreciate the Z-link the most.

    The rest of the year when the road is smooth, the difference is negligible.
    Tomko

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    Once I have a spring that doesn't allow the car to lean so far it shoves the front ground effects into the ground (on a 20mph turn in my subdivison), I am excited to see how my '81 handles, as I have brand new B6 shocks as well.

    While the shaft sizes weren't any different - the fact they didn't come out of the box fully compressed like the OEM front shocks came out of my car was a plus (they also weren't attached at the top)...**** of a quality product.



    When the time comes, these will likely be my strut/shock of choice.

    I do with they were available for my Cavalier.
    Last edited by MP81; 01-24-2017 at 07:32 PM.
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    How are you finding the Bilsteins after a couple of weeks of commuting?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davep View Post
    How are you finding the Bilsteins after a couple of weeks of commuting?
    I work from home full time, but they've been excellent. I have about 200 miles on them since I installed them 2 weeks ago and the ride hasn't changed. I still have a bit more ride height in the rear than before, which is great since I have a sound system that weighed the rear down a little. Either that, or I lost a bit of ride height on the front. No complaints either way.

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    Here's a picture of how the car sits now.



    Sent from my BlackBerry PRIV using Tapatalk

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