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3rd & 4th Generation (19921996 & 19972001) Toyota Camry Discussion for years: 1992-1996 & 1997-2001 Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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Old 06-25-2012, 04:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Gabriel Ultra Struts Review

Replaced the front struts this weekend with Gabriel Ultras. I purchased them from Autozone in-store. Total cost w/tax was $116 with $20 OFF coupon I got off AZ's page on Facebook. Installation wasn't bad, shouldn't be since this is my 3rd or 4th time. One thing I noticed was the strut rod were a bit shorter on them compared to the old KYB-GR2s, which required more effort since after almost completely compressing the springs I had to loosen one compressor with a wrench before I could fit a socket back on because the spring mount was interfering. Install time was probably around 2-2.5 hours start to finish.

Now on to ride quality. First I noticed when I took the struts out of the box, they had Made in Mexico stamped on the base. Not too worried since AZ has lifetime warranty.

On the first drive I immediately noticed a much smoother ride. I went over the speed bumps at my old HS, the struts rebounded once and felt softer than the KYB Excel-G struts in the rear. I don't feel the dummy dots as much, previously hitting bumps, the old struts would make the change rattle, now I barely feel the bumps I familiar with. They handle quite well too and steering feels a bit less sloppy. Best of all the vibrations I felt from the road with my old GR2s are no longer, that made me real happy. I'm sure once the completely settle they will perform even better.
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Cool thanks for the review. Some nice and affordable shocks. always love the lifetime warranty if something goes bad . let them break in a bit and give us a update.
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yeah, that summarizes it well. IMO KYBs are too harsh. They make you feel all the lane marker tiles up your spine. In Corollas they make you bounce around like the cheap econobox it is. Tokicos are better choices than KYB, but I really don't care for Asian shocks/struts.

Gabriel Ultras does what it advertises with 9 stages of inertia sensitive valving. However the newer ones made south of the boarder are softer than the old ones made in the US. The old ones were like softer Bilsteins - poor man's Bilsteins. I do wish Gabriel firms them up a bit however.
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I guess it depends on the application, but I have KYB-GR2s front struts on our 04 Nissan Quest which give an smooth ride. I plan to use the Excel-Gs on our 99 LS400 in the future.

The Excel-Gs in the rear aren't harsh, they are perfect IMO. They dampen when needed, the rear stays controlled, not extra bouncing.

The Gabriels so far are superior to the Monroes on my aunt's Solara, drove it on the highway on Friday, way to soft.

I will update this thread in 2 weeks before I leave to overseas for 1.5 months.
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Old 06-25-2012, 10:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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In my experience KYB struts mellow significantly after a few months, then stay pretty much the same. They are never as compliant as stock, but they do give better handling and are not overly harsh. I put Monroe's in my '93 and have mixed feelings about them, they do ride nicely but sometimes I do feel they are a tad soft, They certainly give a feeling of confidence even over the most beat up roads, the car would breeze over them like it was nothing. The KYB's are made in Japan and very well made I have no doubt they will outlast everything but the made in Japan originals.

I was going to put in the Gabriel's but I could not find them anywhere in my area for a decent price.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmesfun View Post
I guess it depends on the application, but I have KYB-GR2s front struts on our 04 Nissan Quest which give an smooth ride. I plan to use the Excel-Gs on our 99 LS400 in the future.

The Excel-Gs in the rear aren't harsh, they are perfect IMO. They dampen when needed, the rear stays controlled, not extra bouncing.

The Gabriels so far are superior to the Monroes on my aunt's Solara, drove it on the highway on Friday, way to soft.

I will update this thread in 2 weeks before I leave to overseas for 1.5 months.
How old are your KYBs? Just over 50K miles on mine and they are still holding up nicely. I like that they have more control and handle better than stock struts, especially on the highway. Ride quality isn't as plush, but that's the trade off for being firmer than stock.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Fronts had about 40k. The rears are new and have about 3-5k, they are warranty replacements. For about 6 months last year I had lowering springs installed. After going back to stock springs, the struts were completely messed up, gave a very harsh pojo stick ride. I was able to get replacement rear struts but the fronts were about 4 years old.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 71Corolla View Post
In my experience KYB struts mellow significantly after a few months, then stay pretty much the same. They are never as compliant as stock, but they do give better handling and are not overly harsh. I put Monroe's in my '93 and have mixed feelings about them, they do ride nicely but sometimes I do feel they are a tad soft, They certainly give a feeling of confidence even over the most beat up roads, the car would breeze over them like it was nothing. The KYB's are made in Japan and very well made I have no doubt they will outlast everything but the made in Japan originals.

I was going to put in the Gabriel's but I could not find them anywhere in my area for a decent price.
Same here, the rears just settled, I noticed after I had a trunk full of luggage and 3 passengers. I couldn't even feel the difference in weight, dampening was perfect. After I was driving solo again, the rear struts were much nicer in terms of dampening and they've been performing the same ever since.

Aren't the Excel-G's made in the USA now? and GR2s still made in Japan.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pmesfun View Post
Aren't the Excel-G's made in the USA now? and GR2s still made in Japan.
Excel-G and GR2's are the same strut, the only difference is the name which is used depending on the market they are sold in. When I ordered I got both, they were all made in Japan. I don't know which units are not made in Japan or how to tell short of looking at the actual strut.

BTW for anyone doing struts, make sure you cycle the strut through its travel 5-6 times before you assemble them. If you don't, the car will ride like it has no suspension at all for the first few miles.
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 71Corolla View Post

BTW for anyone doing struts, make sure you cycle the strut through its travel 5-6 times before you assemble them. If you don't, the car will ride like it has no suspension at all for the first few miles.
how do you cycle struts?
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:46 PM   #11 (permalink)
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how do you cycle struts?
Just press the piston down by hand and let it come up fully. I did this 5 times.
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The Monroe OE Spectrum quick struts are great too, and aren't made in Mexico.
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Old 06-26-2012, 05:39 PM   #13 (permalink)
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then from harshest to smoothest (?):

kyb > tokico > gabriel ultra > oem

i have the tokico blues on oem 15" alloys and i think they could be a little bit firmer.
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Old 06-26-2012, 07:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I think, tokico>kyb>gabriel>monroe~=oem.
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:42 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The GR2/Excel-G are OE replacements meant for stock spring rates and height, not lowering springs.
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