The name may be different. That is one thing you should come to expect in the RV world. The product names may not be the same but in the end, they are the same product. This happens with RV antifreeze as well as these shocks. You may think you are getting something special for more money, but you are not.
When it comes to towing, there is no real difference between these two shock absorbers. They are essentially the same product except the 5100 has a zinc exterior and the 4600 has a painted exterior. The 5100 hundred will work on lifted trucks.
To learn more about these shocks and their maybe differences, just continue to read our article. It explores the issue so you can get the full story before you go out and buy a specific set of shocks. Take a few minutes to see the differences.
Let’s not delay the inevitable. The biggest difference you will find between these two shocks will be their price. The 4600 is reportedly cheaper than the 5100. When we checked Amazon, the price difference was not that much.
But many owners will not pay a few extra dollars to get a feature they will never use. That brings us to the next difference. The 4600 is for stock trucks or other vehicles. It is not for modified ones like lifted trucks.
The 5600 is made to work with lifted trucks and if you do not have one, you will not get any advantage out of the 5100s. Paying more is not going to get you something special.
Then, the zinc plating on the 5100 is supposed to help it last longer. The 4100 only comes with a painted coating so it does not have the extra protection that zinc provides the 5100.
The final difference will be in the ride. While most people driving stock trucks may not feel the difference, the 4100 is supposed to offer a smoother ride. The 5100 is supposed to have a firmer ride.
Also, the 4600 will not fit on a lifted truck. It is possible for the 5100s to lift your truck 1 to 3 inches once they are installed.
These are basically the same shocks. The slight differences you saw in the previous section do not make the 5100s better than the 4600s. Most experts say that if you are only going to drive a stock truck, then the 4600s are better than the 5100s.
More expensive does not mean the item is better. It may be better for lifted trucks but the majority of trailer owners do not drive lifted trucks nor want one.
When you compare these two shocks, you will find that everything in them is the same including the nitrogen PSI. That level is 360 for both sets of shocks. Everything else is the same except the zinc plating makes the 5100 a sturdier shock than the 4100.
Then the zinc plating makes the 5100 look better than the 4100 and the latter’s paint job is dull in comparison to the shiny zinc coating. If you are driving a lifted truck, then the 5100 will be the better of the two but for any other vehicle, the 4100 is said to be better.
It is cheaper than the 5100 and that always makes something a little better.
When it comes to towing, you may want to go with the 5100 when you are getting off the paved roads. It is a little stronger due to the zinc coating. Plus, it provides a firmer ride that can handle those off-road bumps and holes better.
But if you are sticking to the good roads, then you should stick with the 4600 shocks. They are designed for paved and smooth roads and you can’t get a smoother ride from the 5600s.
With little difference between these two types of shocks, you are going to get a good towing ability out of each of them. The problem is that the 5100s may be too tall for your stock vehicle and you may not have a choice in the matter.
If you have a lifted truck, you may not get a choice either. The 4600s will not fit. You would be stuck with the 5100s unless you went to another brand of shocks. The 4100 shocks are best for stock towing vehicles and for daily driving.
That is the other factor you need to consider when deciding between these shocks and which one to purchase.
This would be more like comparing apples to oranges. The two sets of shocks do not have the same purpose. While they are designed to run on the same roads, for the most part, the 5100 is better for off-road times.
You will get a better ride quality out of the 5100s when you take your trailer off the main roads and into the forests or open areas that have rough roads leading to them.
The 4600s are best for paved roads and if your tow vehicle is your daily driver, then this is the shock to go with. The 5600 does not do a good job for stock trucks even as a daily driver.
The valve ratings for each shock are:
Bilstein 5100 – 986.9/287.7
Bilstein 4600 – 843.0/85.4
That difference is what produces the firmer ride in the 5100 shocks. That does not make them a better shock as the firmer design is better for a certain type of road, not all roads.
Both shocks are designed for trucks that tow heavy roads but the ride quality will differ slightly depending on the nature of your tow vehicle. One is better in one situation while the other is better in another.
If you are driving your F250 empty every day, you should get a lot stiffer and rougher ride if you have the 5100s on your truck. This set of shocks is better with heavier loads as well as rougher terrain.
Most people that own an F250 that we came across recommended the 4600s over the 5100s. That is if you use your truck as a daily driver and it sits empty most of the time.
But, which ones you put on your vehicle depends on what you want out of the shocks. You may like that rougher ride the 5100 brings or not. The ones that will work best for you are the ones that will provide the ride and support you want and need.
The one difference we have not mentioned yet is that the 5100 is supposed to be adjustable. It is supposed to give you about a 1 to 3-inch lift if you adjust them and put them on your stock truck
If that adjustment is important to you, then the 5100s would be the better shock for you to put on your F3250. That is if you want to pay the higher price for them.
These shocks may not be built Ram tough but they can be tough on their own. They are very durable shocks with the 5100 able to last to 75,000 miles approx or more.
But it depends on the type of ride you want. If you want firm all the way, then the 5100s will do the job. But if you want smooth, then go with the 4600s. There is very little difference between these two shocks so this is also like comparing 6 of one and a half dozen of another.
You can talk to your mechanic or Ram dealer to see which one they recommend for your vehicle. The one you would buy would depend on the type of roads you will be traveling when you go camping.
Also, the one you buy may depend on where you like your products made. The 4600 is said to be made in Germany while the 5100 is said to be made in America. If you want American-made products on your vehicle then go with the 5600.
You are not going to get anything different from these shocks if you put them on a Dodge Ram or an F250. These shocks will work the same on either vehicle.
Here are some words direct from Bilstein--
“Our B6 4600 shock is for stock height vehicles while the B8 5100 is for lifted/leveled applications. If your truck is at the stock ride height you would want to use our B6 4600 shock. If you have lift components installed on your truck and need a longer shock then you would want to use the B8 5100s. Both shocks are equally as durable and neither is better than the other.”
That goes for all makes and models of trucks you can purchase or will buy in the near future. That quote came from a Toyota discussion forum. In other words, you can debate this topic over and over, and for any model and make of truck there is and this will be the same answer for all of them.
No matter which one you buy, one set of shocks is made for a stock vehicle and the other for a lifted vehicle. Everything else will generally be the same. While you will get a firmer ride out of the 5100s, they are not better than the 4600s.
You may think you are getting a better shock for the higher price but in reality, you are not.
The price you pay will depend on the outlet that is selling them. We checked and not too many came up in the search results but to get an idea, you can go over to Amazon and see their prices.
The 4600 shocks were priced under $90 depending on the type of shock you are looking for. The shocks made for Ford & GM vehicles were the same price at around $84 each.
The 5100s were priced at $90 or higher depending on which vehicle they were designed to be installed. You may be able to come up with better prices when you shop around.
However, you do need to decide if you want to pay more for a shock that has a feature you may never use.
For those people who do not like products made in China or South East Asia, there is some good news. It is reported that Bilstein is a German company and they do not contract out to inferior companies to build their products.
It has been reported that the company splits its production with factories in Germany making some of their shocks and factories in America making other models
The company has been making automotive parts for over 100 years now and you can benefit from the top German engineering the country is famous for. As we reported earlier, the 4600s are supposed to be the ones made in Germany while the 5100s are made in the US.
Check the packaging to make sure you know where they are made. It should say on the label their point of origin. While the price may be high for the products, it may be better than the cheaper versions you can buy.
It is a good feeling to think you are getting something better and special when you pay more for a shock or other products. However, that feeling may not last when you find out you paid more for the same thing.
Bilstein shocks are good, they are just not different from each other except in small ways. It may not be worth paying the extra money, especially when the ride is not smoother with the more expensive option.
If you drive a stock truck, go with the 4600 and save. You are not losing out because you paid less.