Recently the weather has turned cold and you may have noticed that your trunk lid is not staying up as well as it once did. You may even be using a broomstick or a pair of Vise Grips to keep it up while the groceries are unloaded. Does this situation sound familiar?
I have been battling weak trunk lift supports for a couple years now on my 2005 Hyundai Elantra hatchback. They seem to work okay in the warmer weather but this winter its time to retire them after 7 years of heavy lifting.
The procedure for replacing a cars trunk shocks is very similar for most cars. This is an easy DIY project that can save you at least $50 or more and will only take about 15 mins, even for a novice handyman who owns just a screwdriver.
Replacing gas strut lift supports on virtually any vehicle
WARNING: Before you begin, understand that your trunk lid is very heavy. In fact, it is deceptively heavy as I found out when I pulled my arm out by trying to support the trunk with one arm while removing the lift supports. Do not attempt this job on your own. An unsupported trunk lid can slam down, causing serious injury or death. I like to use three precautionary measures while replacing these.
- Support trunk lid with a sturdy piece of wood or metal pole. Tightly wedge the stick between the trunk lid and the bottom of the trunk. Place in an area that is less likely to be bumped and always be aware of its location while performing this job.
- Provide additional support by tightly locking the existing gas springs with a couple pair of locking pliers (Vice Grips). Do not use locking pliers on new springs as it will likely damage the seal or shaft, rendering them unusable.
- Have an assistant place their hands under the lid, without touching it, as a safety backup just in case the support stick and or Vice Grips fail.
Support the trunk lid
This is perhaps the most important step because it has to do with your safety. The last thing that you want is to get your head whacked off by a swinging piece chunk of metal and glass. Use the above mentioned precautionary measures before you begin to disassemble any components. Support with Vice Grips, a support stick and a helper. These trunk lids can weigh several hundred pounds!
Located and remove retaining clips
Work on one side at a time. Locate the retaining clips and pry out using a small flat head screwdriver. There should be a small recessed area where a screwdriver will fit into perfectly. It may take a bit of maneuvering to get these out but they will eventually come out.
Firmly grip the lift support and push outward (towards the opposite facing support). They should pop out of the 10mm ball socket. Be extra careful during this step to ensure that the lid does not come down on you. This is one of the more vulnerable points during the operation. Discard old unit and do not attempt to dismantle. These are under extreme pressure and filled with nitrogen gas.
These shocks typically come with a dab of grease. If not, place a pea sized dab of multi-purpose grease into the socket. Place new unit into position and press socket into ball. They should snap right in. Once end is in, you may have to adjust the trunk lid in order to get the other end in.
Repeat the same procedure on the other side, ensuring that the lid is supported at all times. Close slowly to ensure that they struts are sized properly and not too long in the compressed position. Notice in the picture that the trunk lid on my Elantra does not close all the way. This was what the Strongarm 6518 looks like when installed. The 3/4″ extra length causes a 4″-6″ gap. Order the correct part to avoid this dilemma.
Once completed, you should notice a considerable difference in the lifting and holding performance of your lid.
Why do my trunk lift support struts not work in the winter?
I’m not an engineer by any stretch of the imagination but I believe I have a general explanation for this. Lift supports are usually filled with nitrogen gas and are under 1500 lbs or more of pressure. The summer months are especially difficult on these because the interior temperatures of your vehicle can reach 150 degrees or even higher. Combine this with the fact that they spend most of their time in the compressed position. Eventually, the heat and intense pressure will take its toll and they will begin to leak and ultimately fail.
As gas leaks out, the lifts become weaker. In the cooler months, this becomes more evident as the cooler temperatures cause the gas to become less dense thereby resulting in less lift.
Can I replace just one lift support?
Being a real tightwad, I’m constantly searching for ways to save a dollar or two. When it comes to replacing lift supports, this is one area that you should not skimp on. By replacing one, your trunk lid may begin working but this will put more stress on the new support, causing premature failure. Because of this, it is recommended that you replace both at the same time.
Is it okay to buy used gas springs from a junk yard?
These gas charged devices have a limited life and will eventually fail. From my experience, I’ve learned that these usually last 5 years or less. The hotter the region is that you live in, the shorter life expectancy you can expect. Purchasing used gas springs from the junkyard is okay only under 3 conditions:
- The junked car is only a year or two old
- They can be purchased for less than half the new cost
- You intend on selling your vehicle in the next couple years
Unless you meet these three criteria I wouldn’t consider purchasing used from a junkyard.
Why are they so expensive?
For some vehicles these can be quite costly, running $100 or more each. Avoid paying too much by purchasing OE replacements made by manufactures such as StrongArm. These aftermarket parts can greatly reduce your replacement cost and are often just as good as the OE parts. As with most factory replacement parts, you can expect to pay a premium.
Which StrongArm part number fits my Elantra GT?
UPDATE 2-18-13: Although the Strong Arm 4280 worked well, I found a puddle of water in my trunk and discovered that the arm was a hair too long, preventing a tight seal at the base of the trunk. Now I know, the OE part is the only way to go.
I purchased my lift supports from Lift Support Depot and spoke with Toni concerning the problem. She was great when it came to finding an OE replacement at a reasonable price. Excellent customer service and the best price around!
If you own a 2005 Hyundai Elantra GT (and some other years), the information that I am about to present is going to save you quite a bit of headache.
Look on your original gas strut for the part number. If is reads 81771-2D211 you may have cross referenced this to Strongarm part number 6518. I did this and ordered a set. When they arrived I tried to install them, only to find out that the trunk would not close all the way. Several sellers on Ebay cross referenced the Hyundai part number and came up with the same StrongArm part number.
The Strongarm D-6518 is not even a close match to 81771-2D211. There is a 3/4″ difference in the collapsed position, which causes the trunk not to close all the way(see above picture).
Before you go out and spend a couple hundred dollars on the OE replacements, try the Strongarm 4280. These universal gas struts are able to support up to 150 lbs each and will only set you back about $31 if ordered on Ebay.
It is important to note that not all replacement lift supports are created equal. I tried the Strongarm D 4247 because they met the expanded and collapsed dimensions. Unbeknownst, these only support 50 lbs each and will not hold up the heavy hatch lid.
That being said, save yourself all of the headache and order a set of 4280’s despite what others tell you. And remember, Safety first.