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Being able to access all areas of your vehicle is important. Your hood grants you access to the engine bay. The doors give you access to the interior. The trunk or rear hatch gives you access to the rear cargo area. When it comes to rear cargo access, many different systems are used. Some cars use a system of metal springs that will hold the trunk lid up once it is open. Others use pistons or support struts – most liftgates use this system.
Rear door lift pistons are better known as hatch support struts or trunk lid support struts. They work just like the struts on your suspension, and are essentially hollow cylinders filled with a fluid. A piston runs through the center of the assembly, creating fluid pressure and ensuring that the strut does its job (holding the hatch open unaided, but allowing you to close the hatch as well).
Over time, rear door lift pistons are subject to a considerable amount of wear and tear, just like your car’s suspension. Using your rear hatch a lot will hasten the process, but all hatch support struts will eventually need to be replaced.
Rear door lift pistons do not require any regular maintenance, they are subject to normal wear and tear and will eventually fail. Their failure can be an annoyance but will not cause any safety hazards while you are driving.
To be clear, your rear door lift pistons are a convenience feature. They’re not critical to safe driving. However, failure can be a significant annoyance, particularly if you regularly need to access the rear of your vehicle. For that reason, we recommend having the struts replaced as soon as it is practical. Since replacement can be difficult, have it done by one of our expert mechanics to ensure that removal and installation are done correctly.Additionally, have both replaced at the same time.