Stuff We Use: Trunk Struts

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

On our never-ending quest to improve this place by listening to feedback from the B&B, we are taking a new tack with these product posts, choosing instead to focus on items we have actually used or purchased with our own meagre income. After all, if we’re giving you the truth about cars, we ought to give you the truth about car accessories.

Like the last installment in this series, the following post is a tad different than most of the other Stuff We Use missives. Instead of a universal product like battery boosters or jack stands, we would like to walk readers through the installation of a replacement part on one of our cars just the other week.

Hands up if you’ve ever loaded the trunk of a sedan or coupe full to the brim, tried to close the lid, and promptly crushed a number of items you just carefully stowed away thanks to huge trunk lid swing arms which rudely intrude into the cargo area. One, two, *mumbles* - OK, it’s not just me, then.

Back in the bad old days, and even on some vehicles rolling out of the factory today, these infernal trunk hinges can do a big number on the side of yer suitcase or those dozen eggs you just got from the store. Fortunately, car makers have long since come up with a solution – use gas-filled struts to raise and lower a trunk lid instead of space stealing hinges. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for bed-wetting accountants to poke their nose into this equation and nix the idea, since struts are more costly than simple metal hinges.

Ironically, my 2018 Dodge Challenger uses both, either confirming that bean counters were looking the other way when they developed this thing or the crew at Dodge were steadfastly committed to making sure the Challenger really did have a curb weight comparable to that of a small moon. The scissor-type metal hinges tuck into the recessed rails around the trunk opening, as do the gas-filled struts which do a good job of preventing the whole thing from falling on my head guillotine style whilst I remove groceries from the cargo area.

Or, they used to do a good job, that is. In the recent weeks and months, the trunk lid would reliably fail to open all the way or close far too easily (usually on my noggin) in windy conditions. Experience told me this was in no small part to worn trunk struts, so I hit up eBay Motors to find a pair and set about replacing the things.

Finding ones to fit the Challenger was a relatively simple task since items like this can be commoditized across several different models. The struts showed up in a wrapped white box, a good enough theft deterrent compared to some shippers who send off stuff like this in a padded manila envelope which can be easily ripped asunder. Ask me how I know.

It’s never a bad idea to take a look at the new items before trying to remove the old, since clips and springs and hidden screws can sometimes conspire to ruin your day. These particular units were held in place on both ends with a simple metal c-clip retainer, meaning all I had to do was slide the business end of a flathead screwdriver between that clip and the strut at the point where the unit mounted onto the car. These photos show what I’m on about.

With the metal clip evicted, it was easy to gently pry each end of the strut away from its spherical mounting points on the Challenger. Fun fact: there is not enough gumption in the remaining strut to prevent the lid from falling on your head, so either be creative with your other arm or wedge something in place to keep the lid open temporarily. This being Canada, I used a hockey stick.

Installation of the new strut was made easier by ever so slightly loosening the retainer clip before sliding it onto the spherical mounting point. It was also at this time that curiousity got the better of me and I intentionally installed the thing upside down just to see if it would still work. Surprise – it did. Still, I flipped the strut back around the right way after this experiment; there were huge UP arrows painted on its surface in case there was any question in which direction it was supposed to go. Rinse and repeat for the other side.

In all, this parts replacement took about 10 minutes, leading us to give it a 1-of-5 score in terms of overall difficulty. The sole tool required is a flat screwdriver, hockey stick notwithstanding, and the net result was a trunk lid which now pops open easily – and stays open until I tell it otherwise.

[Images © Matthew Guy/]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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3 of 16 comments
  • Blueice Blueice on Jun 06, 2024

    How much is the industry saving by removing AM from radios??

    Perhaps it is a new government unit credit inducement.

    Have you seen all of those screws holding the rear plate, which

    are in the State of Rust? The cost saving was .66 cents per unit,

    which all went to executive board.

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jun 09, 2024

    I have an '18 Challenger too, use my trunk daily, and just like my '10 Challenger, and my '08 Charger, the factory struts soon weakened to the point I got conked on the head when it was under 50 degrees outside. You can't hold the trunk open and pick up a heavy or awkwardly shaped object, so getting nailed was a constant threat. I bought new factory struts for the two older cars, and within a year was getting conked or coming close to getting conked. I finally bought a set of enhanced power struts and I wish I had done it back about 2010 when my Charger "got me" the first time. I've had them for over 19 months and they still are stronger then the factory ones. Once the lid is up, it stays up, even at about 0 degrees F.

    • VoGhost VoGhost on Jun 09, 2024

      "Dodge: If you weren't brain damaged when you bought one, we'll do our best!"