Even though you might never think of it, sometimes the gas struts on your vehicle can go bad. Gas struts can perform several functions, including aiding suspension and keeping the hood open. Taking the bad strut off takes no time and is pretty easy. Getting the new one on, however, requires some creative problem solving.
Thankfully, you have stumbled upon this article which will detail the process of compressing a gas strut for installation. Compressing the strut is the hardest part of the replacement process. Once you get it compressed, the rest of the installation will go very smoothly.
What are Compression Gas Springs?
Compression gas springs, also called gas struts, generate force within themselves to apply pressure and adjust with force. They help with lifting, damping and counterbalancing on a variety of applications. You can find them on motor vehicles helping to keep the hood open or aiding the suspension system.
Additionally, many home doors use them to keep the door from closing too quickly and slapping. They can hold things open with enough give not to break, while keeping their desired function. You can typically find two types of gas springs on your motor vehicle.
Gas Struts for Vehicle Suspension
Also known as shock absorbers, these struts help create a smoother ride for your vehicle. Attached to the underside of your vehicle as part of the suspension system, they absorb impact from bumps. These have a spring that goes around them on the outside to help with impact absorption.
Gas Struts for Hatches and Hoods
Less important are the gas springs that keep your trunk hatch or hood open. They function in the same manner to give pressure on these doors, keeping them open. When a hatch or hood spring goes you can replace it at your leisure, whereas when a suspension spring goes you should correct that issue as soon as you can.
Installing Hood and Hatch Struts
You do not usually have to compress these gas struts for installation, since you can open the hood or hatch to the maximum length of the strut. You will know your old strut needs replacing when your hood or hatch no longer stays open by itself.
To start, remove the old strut with a wrench of the correct size. Next, prop open the hood or hatch in a stable manner. You can use a plank of wood or have a helper keep the door open while you perform the installation. Next, line up the new strut where the old one went and install the correct screens and bolts. Test the hood or hatch a few times to make sure it works.
Installing Suspension Struts
These gas springs require a bit more effort, since you need to compress them in order to install them. Start by elevating your vehicle to look underneath it and remove the old strut. Once complete, you may need to manually compress the new strut to get it to fit.
On some vehicles you can unhook the sway bar and create enough clearance to install the new strap. If you cannot create enough clearance, you will need to compress the strut. Be very, very careful since a compressed strut holds a lot of tension and can cause a lot of damage if that tension gets loose.
Gas struts may require over 100 pounds of force in order to compress. Use a ratchet strap in order to achieve the force needed for compression. Start by hooking the end hooks of the strap to each end of the strut. Once firmly in place, start tightening the strap until you get the gas strut to the desired length. Install the new spring in place of the old one, and release the strap once you have the spring securely bolted in place.
You can also use a floor jack to compress the strut. In this case, install the top mount of the strut to the vehicle and position the bottom mount on the floor jack. Start raising the floor jack to compress the strut to the desired length. Finally, secure the wire for installation.
Can you Refill a Gas Spring?
You can always refill a limp gas spring, but it usually costs about the same or less just to buy a new one for replacement.
Are Gas Springs Dangerous?
Gas springs only pose a danger when compressed. In this state, they hold a lot of energy which can cause damage when let out unintentionally or at the wrong time. Start clear of either end of the gas spring in case your compression method fails and the spring extends.
With a little ingenuity, you can save a trip to the mechanic and replace your gas struts yourself. All you need is a ratchet strap or a floor jack for your suspension springs, and a little bit of elbow grease. Check out our blog for additional vehicle maintenance tips.