What are gas struts and how can you change them?

Have you ever noticed that you can lift the lid of your boot with only a single finger? With all the metal, glass and trim in the boot, how can this be possible? The answer is simple: gas struts.

Gas struts are piston-like hinges that support the boot lid at either side, and they don’t just appear on cars, they make our lives a whole lot easier in a wide variety of ways. For example, the majority of office chairs feature gas struts, and they’re even on kitchen cupboards. Gas struts help us in ways we completely take for granted. Here we look at what they are andhow you can change them.

Why Do We Need Them?

Without gas struts on the boot of a car, we wouldn’t be able to use boots like we do today. Firstly, they would be incredibly heavy to lift, and secondly, there would be nothing to keep it in the air as you loaded your shopping, making it an incredibly laborious task. Plus, due to the weight of the metal, you’d probably cause a lot of damage.

How Do They Work?

In essence, a gas strut acts as a sturdy bicycle pump, except it is one that is filled with pressurised nitrogen gas and oil, which are sealed so that it cannot escape. Here, the oil acts as a lubricant which slows and sooths movement, while the gas allows the spring to store energy.

Also, just like in a bicycle pump, there is a tight-fitting piston mounted on a rod that can slide back and forth inside a cylinder. However, unlike in a bicycle pump, this is made from steel, not plastic. If you’re interested in even more about how these gas struts work, see this blog post.

Can You Change Them?

Fitting new gas struts is simpler than it appears. First, you’ll need to remove the old ones, which admittedly can be slightly fiddly. You’ll need a screwdriver to lift the metal cap, but then you can simply pull the strut away from the ball stud.

Once you’ve checked your new gas struts (which can easily be bought online from places like SGS Engineering), then you’re ready to fit them. This should be simple too, as if they have plastic ball joints you’ll be able to fit them in the same way you removed the old ones (just in reverse). If it has a metal ball joint, the process is slightly more tricky, because you have to remove the metal safety clip and then push the cup over the stud on the vehicle. 

So, there we have it, all you need to know about what a gas strut does on your car, and how you can replace it.

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