DIY this easy repair for your vehicle
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to raise your hood or trunk only to have it fall right back down because the lift strut is broken. The lift strut is the rod that holds open the hood when you need to inspect the inner workings of your car. Fortunately, replacing the lift strut is easy enough to do on your own. It’s an affordable DIY project, too, so you can tackle the fix yourself if your strut snaps or if you simply want to get your vehicle ready for the season.
Check the number of lift struts you have
Some vehicles have a single lift strut. In that case, the strut typically unfolds and lifts from the side, while the end secures itself to a divot in the middle of the hood. Other automobiles have two lift struts under the hood for extra stability.
If you have two struts, then you need to check both of them. To save time and aggravation down the line, it’s not a bad idea to replace both struts at the same time. They’re probably the same age, so the other side has experienced the same amount of wear and tear. Taking care of even the small parts is an essential aspect of car maintenance. You might as well switch out both of them while you’re working under the hood.
Gather the tools you need—and a helping hand
Before you replace the lift strut(s), you need to gather up your tools. First of all, do your due diligence to make sure you buy the right replacement strut. You want to ensure that it will be the right fit for your vehicle. Bear in mind that you may also want to replace the struts as a part of routine car maintenance, or if you’re getting it ready for a major move or to ship overseas.
In addition to the replacement struts, you also need:
- Workman’s gloves
- A flathead screwdriver
- A ratchet and socket
- A pair of needle-nose pliers.
Because you’ll be working under the hood while removing the part that physically holds it up, you need a stand-in, as well. Ask a friend to help you by holding up the hood as you work. Failing that, you can prop open the hood with a broom handle or another rod.
Remove the existing lift struts and hardware
Check for a retaining clip, which holds the strut in place. Prying it off is easy, but you may have to experiment with different tools. In some vehicles, you can pull the retaining clip with your pliers. In other designs, you may need to pry it free with the help of your screwdriver. If neither method works to pull the strut free, then you may need to give it a yank. Dirty struts can get stuck. Consider that a reminder to clean under the hood during your car maintenance routine.
Once that’s done, you can move onto the place where the strut attaches to the fender. It should be bolted to the fender. You’ll need your ratchet and the right bit to unscrew the bolts. If the strut is held in place with another retaining clip, then you can use the pliers or screwdrivers on that, as well.
Fit the new strut
Fit the new strut into place at the fender. Fasten the bolts to hold the lift strut in place, but don’t tighten it just yet. The next step is to extend the strut. You may need to lower your hood to ensure that the hood fitting is aligned with the lift strut. It should fit into the ball joint without a problem.
Secure it in place
Now you’re ready to secure the strut. Once the strut is properly aligned with the ball joint in the hood divot, you can apply the retaining clip to hold it in place. Moving down, you’re finally ready to tighten the bolts at the fender connection.
Repeat as needed and check your work
If you have two lift struts under the hood, then you can repeat the process with the second one. After both of the struts are properly placed and secure, you need to do a lift test. As carefully as possible, pull out the struts, hook them to the hood, and check to see if they can hold the weight and remain in alignment.
DIY simple car repairs to save money
You may be wondering, why go to all that trouble myself when I can just take my car to a mechanic and get him or her to do it for me? Well, the simple answer is that DIY repairs for common car breakdowns save money, and they’re often easier than you might think! Anyone can change a tire or oil; lift struts fall into the same category. Even if you’re not an avid amateur mechanic, these simple steps will help you change your own struts easily. The only investment you need to make is purchasing your replacement lift struts, which you can find online or in a local auto parts store, and a little time.
No matter how well you care for your car, they experience a lot of wear and tear, which means that some parts will inevitably start to wear out. If you’re prepared to replace or repair them yourself, you’ll be able to save money while keeping your car running better longer. And you might be surprised how fun it can be! There’s an incredible sense of accomplishment that comes from repairing your own vehicle, and the usability of a well-maintained car is its own reward.
Now you know what to do the next time your lift strut gives you a problem. You’re all set to change your own struts!
Jordan McDowell is a writer and content strategist. He specializes in technically oriented B2B and B2C content for a number of digital companies such as LiftSupportsDepot.com, your one-stop online source for lift supports, gas struts, props, and cylinders.