>

How to Compress Struts – Both for Suspension and Hatches or Hoods

by James Antony | Last Updated: 24th October 2020

When it comes to gas struts on vehicles, there are two different kinds: gas-filled struts for the vehicles suspension and gas-filled struts used to hold open rear hatches and hoods. I will explain How to Compress Struts both kinds for installation.

Hood and hatch struts do not typically need to be compressed for installation as the maximum extension on the strut is used as the opening limit.

Install as follows:

  1. Open the hood or hatch to maximum capacity and prop/hold the hood or hatch at its maximum height. The strut will no longer be under compression.
  2. Next, simply unhook and remove the old strut.
  3. Slide the new strut into place and either clip or bolt, depending on the design.
  4. Lower hatch or hood and you are finished.

If this method does not work and compression is needed, simply loop a ratchet strap around the strut and tighten until compressed enough for installation.

How to Compress Struts


Next, we will discuss how to install gas filled struts for vehicle suspension.

There are four gas filled struts on a vehicle. They are attached to the suspension and are typically referred to as shock absorbers. These struts can go bad from normal ware and sometimes need to be replaced.

On average, struts will need to be replaced twice during the vehicle’s lifetimes. You can take your vehicle to a repair shop to have the trust replaced or you can do it yourself using one of our do it yourself methods below.

It will take between a one-half hour to two hours to replace each strut, depending on the style of strut being used.

Gas-filled struts for vehicle suspension take a lot of force in order to compress; some requiring over one hundred pounds of force to properly compress. Caution is advised as a strut under compression can be dangerous if not handled correctly.

How to Compress Struts

There really is no straight forward way to compress a strut for installation. In a repair shop, the suspension is lowered and is removed enough to allow the strut to be installed at maximum extension. If a maximum extension is not feasible, there are several options.

On most vehicles, the sway bar is limiting the downward travel of the lower control arm. By unhooking the sway bar link enough clearance may be achieved to replace the strut. There will still be resistance in the control arm bushings so you will have to push the control arm down.

  1. Compress the strut with a ratchet strap. To do this, loop the strap around the strut and begin ratcheting until the strut has reached the desired compression for installation.
  2. Compress the strut by hand if the strut is light enough and secure compression by using wire.
  3. If there is enough clearance in the vehicle suspension to allow the strut to be compressed after mounting one end of the strut it can then be compressed by using a floor jack and using wire to secure compression.
  4. To do this:

    1. Fasten the top mount of the strut to the vehicle’s mounting point and place the floor jack on the bottom side of the strut.
    2. Raise the floor jack to begin compressing the strut. Be careful not to compress the strut to the point of lifting the vehicle off of the jack stands.
    3. Secure with wire
  5. The final method is to fasten the bottom of the strut to the vehicle and use a pry bar to compress from the top of the strut. With this method, the strut would be compressed and pried into place. Use caution when using a pry bar to compress a strut as the strut has a tendency to slip off of the pry bar.

If you are working with a McPherson strut with the spring attached you will need a special tool in order to compress the strut as none of these methods will apply enough force to properly compress the strut. It is typically easiest to remove the sway bar link and pry the lower control arm down until clearance is achieved.

Though there is no one specific way to easily compress a gas-filled strut, taking advantage of one of the above methods should give you the results you are looking for.

Did you like our How to Compress Struts post? Please comment and don’t firget to check our other posts – Best Valve Core Removal Tool could be interesting for you!

Scroll Up