How do I…Replace weak or failed lift support struts?
With time and age, the pressurized gas — used to provide the force that extends the cylinder out of the strut body — will leak out, and the effectiveness and weight capacity of the strut will diminish.
Gas-pressurized lift supports, or “gas struts,” are the most common way for automakers to keep tailgates and liftgate glass raised. The struts also aid in opening these components.
With time and age, the pressurized gas — used to provide the force that extends the cylinder out of the strut body — will leak out, and the effectiveness and weight capacity of the strut will diminish. It can be a safety issue, as cold temperatures have an appreciable effect on gas pressure, so a strut (or pair of struts) that seemed to do the job well enough in warmer weather might suddenly prove insufficient to hold up a heavy hood or tailgate on cooler day. An unexpected closure could prove a nuisance, or it could cause significant injury if your head or hand is in the way.
Fortunately, in most cases, non-power-operated struts are easy to replace. Better yet, aftermarket replacements exist as an alternative to dealer parts.
Changing any of these units is far easier with an assistant there to support the weight of the lifted component. While it’s true that with some creativity and caution it can be done solo, make no mistake; even a small strut can support a surprising amount of weight.
Gas struts are usually held in place by one of three methods: bolts and eyelets, ball studs and clips, or threaded ball studs. The latter is generally the most awkward to deal with as it requires loosening and unthreading the studs from the vehicle’s body and the corresponding body part while they’re still captive in sockets at the ends of the strut. Care must be taken when installing the new ball studs not to cross-thread them.
Bolt and eyelet is self-explanatory; there are holes at the ends of the strut, and bolts go through them. The most popular style is ball stud and clip. There are retaining clips that must be pried off with a small screwdriver or pick before the strut’s sockets can be disengaged from the balls. Reinstallation is as quick and easy as snapping the new strut onto the existing ball studs.
Unless otherwise indicated, struts should always be installed in the same orientation as the originals, usually rod downwards when closed.