3 Cheap Hood/Hatchback/Topper Mods To Save Your Noggin

Gas Lift Fixes by Briansmobile1

This is a mod more than a hack but any time you can alter original equipment to maintain its usability is a win-win scenario for you and the environment. Everyone has or knows somebody that has a vehicle and most vehicles nowadays have some type of hatchback or hood where the support solution is gas filled struts. Inevitably these gas filled struts fail with age and the failure is accelerated in hotter or colder climates. If you ever had to replace these items you know they can cost a minimum of $20 to as much as $60 a piece. Most vehicles require two, four or even eight of these costly little devices.

[Brian] from Briansmobile1 YouTube channel documented three simple and low cost solutions. We all probably know of the vice clamp solution but that is cumbersome and still an expensive solution which is not always very handy or fast. Another solution is to cut a piece of rubber hose in a kind of special way so it is easy to put on and take off the shaft and dangles from a string so it’s always available. The best solution was to use a hitch pin also connected to a string or wire. To make the hitch pin work you have to grind a couple of notches on either side of the lift shaft at just the right spot so the pin can be snapped on and prevent the shaft from retracting at your selected height.

We are sure these solutions will come in handy at some time in most everyone’s driving career. Just after the break we will link to all three of [Brian’s] handy videos on gas strut fix solutions. And if you do your own automotive repair we can definitely recommend [Brian’s] channel of over 600 vehicle repair and maintenance videos which normally come with a dose of philosophy and humor.

Hitch Pin


Vise Grip

32 thoughts on “3 Cheap Hood/Hatchback/Topper Mods To Save Your Noggin

    1. That application for a cotter pin (call it whatever you wish) is a prime candidate for failure… using it requires a willingness to part with a functional spine/neck with less than a moment’s notice. That configuration is NOT designed to be loadbearing, and using it in such a function here is just plain stupid. Of any of the options given, only the vice-grips option is trustworthy (though a notched 2×4 would also suffice if you could anchor it properly to prevent it from getting knocked sideways). For all of the fuss, give up on some non-necessity for a week or two and buy the danged replacement shocks… your life/mobility/neckfunction is worth it… doctors bills are *far* more expensive than a set of hood shocks…

  1. Honestly just get replacements at rock auto. $12.00 each for them on my grand cherokee. and I don’t have to look like a redneck when I use my jeep.

    Next up on Hack A day, dont replace that bumper, how to use a piece of wood as a bumper and bungee cords to hold the hood down. And how to replace that pesky torn drivers seat with milk crates.

  2. I’ve been making my daughter hold the hatch open for months. It’s free.
    But I found some for my Tahoe for 20 each. $40 total and I don’t get hit in the head. Took 5 minutes to replace. So now I can go places without my kids.

  3. What, no random-stick-of-custom-length? Had one in the back of the station wagon growing up, and was just thinking I need one for mine on the really cold days… it’s the only good option aside from replacement when you can’t get to the shock easily. I don’t really want to throw my back out trying to hold up the tailgate while fudging around with either of these three methods.


    1. Not everyone has the luxury of having the extra cash to fix things that aren’t a requirement of safety or locomotion on their car when and where they fail. Hood struts failed, but you need to fill the gas tank? Grab a stick and deal with it.

    2. Money money money…

      Besides in some places you NEED a car in order to getting to work an the nearby housing is hilariously expensive.
      And if you have a more “exotic” car (not common) then you can’t even score some of a salvage yard.
      Thus your only option is to be literally ripped off, or thinking outside the box.

  4. I feel a pair of vise grips should be handy in every vehicle, for those unplanned unpleasant experiences. (along with other tools, crescent wrench, screwdriver, test light, wire + tape) I’ve used the vise grips on a couple different vehicles I’ve drove. One of them ran the current for the rear window defroster through the gas springs, which apparently causes them to not last very long. After replacing them once you’re less motivated to do it the second time and just stick with the vise grips.

  5. How is this a hack? Whats next, a article on slipping a pipe over a breaker bar to increase leverage, or giving a stuck nut some heat from a torch to expand it? Also they make tools designed to keep struts from collapsing when you’re replacing them:

    And who is writing these articles? Take for instance “Another solution is to cut a piece of rubber hose in a kind of special way…” A special way? Really? He couldnt say cutting it lengthwise?

  6. I’m poor, I fall under the ‘Gas OR parts’ category. I’ve got the “Handy-object-of-convenient-length’ stashed in the back. It’s why I *hack*. I make stuff out of junk because I can’t afford to buy it :P Though I agree that it’s somewhat questionable whether this qualifies as a ‘hack.’ But it is a, perhaps, handy tip depending on your situation.

  7. Actually, I got a Suzuki swift myself and with the same problem, I found something approaching but more automatic. I used a PVC pipe cut a the right length and with a diameter slightly bigger than the gas part. I unscrew the gas system to slide the pvc pipe in, and screw it back.
    The length was measured so the pvc pipe was locking the gas part when the trunk was on max open.

  8. Funny how the spring loaded rear hatch supports on my stock 1971 FJ-40 Landcruiser still work fine and all I’ve ever done to them was clean them out and lubricate them (I figure doing that once every 40 years should suffice).

  9. The two methods involving the pin and vise-grips will damage the ram which makes the strut unrepairable, which can be a problem on older cars with oddball strut mounts that struts are no longer available for.

    A cheaper, easier, more elegant, hands-free solution than that shown in the videos is to simply bend the strut at the midpoint. This increases friction through the seal in the end of the cylinder and holds it open.

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