Bilstein B8 review, my thoughts and opinions after using a set of Bilstein B8 dampers for over 10 years and over 150,000 miles.
I would recommend Bilstein B8 shocks/dampers to anyone who has H&R/Eibach/(high quality) lowering springs and wants to upgrade their suspension further.
Before I start I think it is absolutely crucial to state that in no way should anyone be considering Bilstein B8 or B6 dampers for use with the car’s original springs. It is perfectly safe to do so but if you want to improve the stability of your car you should fit H&R or Eibach springs before anything else.
Bilstein B8 Review
The major points as I see them.
Bilstein B8 Price
Versus the standard replacement dampers ie the Bilstein B4, the Bilstein B8s are around 3 times the price. Having said that Bilstein B8 dampers are around the same price as other sport dampers from Spax, Koni, KYB and Sachs.
Can the extra cost be justified?
If you have a set of sport springs/lowering springs already and if you want to increase suspension stability even more, while still have a relatively comfy ride, then in my opinion, yes.
Simply because similar dampers from Koni, Spax, KYB, Sachs etc cost around the same price.
Plus, the only other option if you want more stability is going for a set of coilovers but coilovers come with massive downsides. (I have done a separate video and article detailing why I think coilovers on a road car are a bad idea. You can see it here).
Why Choose Bilstein B8?
You have fitted lowering springs and you want the maximum amount of travel. The Bilstein B8 (or a shortened damper from another brand) is what you need.
You have fitted lowering springs and you want to increase the stability even more. Vs Bilstein B4 (and other original replacement dampers) the B8s are firmer.
Bilstein B8 Review – Service Life
A big part of the buying decision, at least for me, is if I am paying three times as much for the Bilstein B8 vs B4, are the B8s going to last as long?
In my experience I can say absolutey yes. As I said at the start, I have been using the same set of Bilstein B8s for over ten years and they performed as well at the start as they did until the end (which happened two days ago).
What happened at the “end”? – (The long story)
I have been hearing a knock coming from the front suspension for a few months. I have checked everything and nothing seemed to be loose or worn out and there didn’t feel like there was anything wrong with the suspension ie no wandering or pulling to one side.
But one day big vibrations started coming through the suspension when driving over sharp bumps and only when the front left wheel went over the bumps.
For all the world it felt like the damper had completely stopped working but in normal driving on normal roads the suspension felt basically normal. Only sharp bumps caused an issue.
Taking the front left wheel off revealed the problem, oil all over the damper and parts of the inner fender. A semi explosion of the damper seals.
Given that this set of Bilstein B8 dampers have done 150,000 miles+ I am not in a bit disappointed by this failure.
These B8s were used with lowering springs that were far too low, for years and the car is driven on bumpy roads constantly. I’m surprised they lasted this long.
And even though the damper seals (on one damper) have completely given up, the damper is still doing a decent job on normal roads!
In summary, the service life, in my experience, is not an issue, the Bilstein B8 dampers appear to be incredibly well made.
Bilstein B8 Review – Performance & Ride Comfort
I don’t think there is any way someone could think these dampers were fitted to the car from the factory. The ride is very firm but not uncomfortable, like say, a set of coilovers.
For sure there is a compromise to be made with ride comfort. But what you get in return is brilliant body control.
In my experience, for a day to day road car, on roads which are not like a billiard table, I think the combination of quality lowering springs and the B8s is a fantastic strut and spring combination. You still have decent ride comfort and body control is almost total.
Want to upgrade your stock suspension but worried about an uncomfortable ride?
First, just fit new lowering springs from H&R or Eibach. If your dampers are old, buy new standard replacement dampers like the Bilstein B4.
Try out this setup, 90% of people are probably going to be super satisfied and won’t want to go any further.
If you still want more control, then swap out the B4s for B6s or B8s.
Doing it in this order gives you the most comfortable & stable set up at the lowest price.
What I wouldn’t do
Under no circumstances would I recommend fitting Bilstein B6 or B8 with the car’s standard springs. The ride will be harder but the body roll will be barely changed versus just fitting decent springs.
The springs have a far bigger impact on suspension stability than dampers.