Before the introduction of spring loaded hood and trunk latches, and after the manual hood "stick" was used to prop hoods open, several cars, trucks, and SUVs made in the 1990s had a series of support shocks that prop the hood and trunk open for convenience. For mechanics, the spring loaded support shocks that kept a hood open was an added perk that allowed them to work on a vehicle without being afraid to hit that metal arm, causing the hood to close without notice. However, these springs were also available on the rear trunk. Like any other spring loaded component, they were prone to wearing out or being damaged for a multitude of reasons.
What are the trunk lift support shocks?
The trunk lift support shocks help to hold the trunk up when you are trying to take items out of the trunk or place them into the trunk. This upgraded feature on many cars and SUVs allows you to avoid having to hold up the trunk and can help you to get all of the things out of the trunk without having to make a lot of trips. Usually, the trunk lift support shocks were filled with gas, which provides the tension that is needed when trying to hold up the trunk. In some instances, the gas can leak out, which will render the lift support unusable.
Whether it was due to the materials they were made from or being hit by objects that the vehicle owner attempted to put into the trunk, punctures or leaks are quite common with these trunk supports. If the trunk lift support becomes damaged, they will need to be replaced by a mechanic who is familiar with the operation of these support lifts and has the right tools available to complete the task efficiently. When they fail or begin to wear out, they will show symptoms that should alert you that they should be replaced as soon as possible. Noted below are a few of these symptoms that might indicate that a problem with the trunk lift support shocks exists and that they should be replaced.
1. Trunk lid is hard to open
The shocks are filled with gases, most of the time nitrogen, which allows the shock absorber inside the support shock to keep the trunk open under pressure. However, in some cases, the gases build up too much pressure inside of them, which causes them to create a vacuum inside the shock. This makes it very difficult to open the trunk lid as pressure is attempting to close the lid as you're opening it. This is a problem that needs to be replaced by an experienced mechanic.
2. Trunk lid does not stay open
On the opposite side of the equation, a trunk lift support shock that has expelled its gas charge will have no pressure inside to keep pressure against the trunk. As a result, the trunk spring will not hold the trunk up and the trunk might lower itself if wind is blowing against it or the weight of the trunk itself causes it to close on itself. Again, this is a situation that can't be repaired; it must be replaced in order to fix the issue correctly.
3. Trunk lid does not open at all
In a worst case scenario, the trunk lift support shock will become jammed in the closed position, which will make it very difficult to open the trunk at all. This situation is incredibly rare, but the solution is to enter the trunk from the back seat and remove the bolts that secure the trunk lift support shocks to the trunk. This will allow the trunk to open and the mechanic can replace the broken or frozen shocks easily after completing this task.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure to contact a local ASE certified mechanic to inspect and diagnose the problem you're having with your trunk. In some cases the issue is caused by a loose connection or fitting, while in other situations they'll have to replace the trunk lift support shocks.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Symptoms of Bad or Failing Trunk Lift Support Shocks and was authored by Timothy Charlet.