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Unread 04-03-2010, 09:38 PM   #1
cmassey_2006
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HELP please: Replacing liftgate strut supports!

Okay, ever since I purchased my WK used, I've noticed that the liftgate supports were on their way out because the liftgate required that I push it all the way open, and it barely stayed up. So, today, I figured I'd spoil myself a little and spend some cash on new struts/supports for the liftgate. From looking at the struts, they seemed really simple to remove and install. All I needed was the correct torx bit to unscrew the ball joint bolts, remove the old struts, and screw in the new struts. Cake, right?

...well, not exactly. While having someone hold the liftgate all the way open, I first unscrewed the top and bottom ball joint bolts, and removed the old strut. Positioning the new strut correctly (chrome rod pointing down), I first screwed in the top bolt (which is attached to the liftgate). Then I try to screw in the bottom bolt (which attaches to the Jeep body), but the darn thing seems to be a tad too long to line the bolt up with the threaded hole! Same goes for the old strut that I had just removed. I next compared the new strut with the old, and they are the exact same length. It is as if the strut, once installed, is slightly compressed even when the liftgate is fully opened. When not installed, however, it extends slightly longer. For the life of me, I cannot figure out a way to get either the new replacement strut or the old strut installed! And there's no way that I can physically compress the strut by hand. Heck, I can't even compress the old worn out strut. Not that I expected to be able to, but I tried out of desperation and failed.

The part I purchased was from AdvancedAutoParts: Strong Arm Lift Support

Lift Support by Strong Arm - Part 6104 - Advance Auto Parts

They come with new ball joint bolts already pressed in. So, has anyone else run into this problem? I performed a search for "liftgate" and read through many threads without seeing this issue. So, maybe it's just me? Should the new replacement struts have come fully compressed and locked, to make installation possible? What am I missing here? Man, the hood shock/strut was very easy to replace, so I didn't expect the liftgate ones to be a chore.

Thanks in advance for anyone who can offer some advice/help! If I can't figure this out this weekend, then I'll take it to the dealership on Monday.

-Chris

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2006 White Jeep WK Limited 4x4: (current) 67K miles, 5.7L HEMI, auto, Quadra-drive II, factory tow hooks, hitch, skids, and many "bells and whistles"...

2007 Silver Jeep WK Laredo 4x4: (Sold) 10K miles, 3.7L V6, auto...

1998 Blue Jeep XJ 4x4: (Sold) @ 156K miles, I6, AW4 tranny, several mods...
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Unread 04-04-2010, 08:31 AM   #2
Walt
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmassey_2006 View Post
Okay, ever since I purchased my WK used, I've noticed that the liftgate supports were on their way out because the liftgate required that I push it all the way open, and it barely stayed up. So, today, I figured I'd spoil myself a little and spend some cash on new struts/supports for the liftgate. From looking at the struts, they seemed really simple to remove and install. All I needed was the correct torx bit to unscrew the ball joint bolts, remove the old struts, and screw in the new struts. Cake, right?

...well, not exactly. While having someone hold the liftgate all the way open, I first unscrewed the top and bottom ball joint bolts, and removed the old strut. Positioning the new strut correctly (chrome rod pointing down), I first screwed in the top bolt (which is attached to the liftgate). Then I try to screw in the bottom bolt (which attaches to the Jeep body), but the darn thing seems to be a tad too long to line the bolt up with the threaded hole! Same goes for the old strut that I had just removed. I next compared the new strut with the old, and they are the exact same length. It is as if the strut, once installed, is slightly compressed even when the liftgate is fully opened. When not installed, however, it extends slightly longer. For the life of me, I cannot figure out a way to get either the new replacement strut or the old strut installed! And there's no way that I can physically compress the strut by hand. Heck, I can't even compress the old worn out strut. Not that I expected to be able to, but I tried out of desperation and failed.

The part I purchased was from AdvancedAutoParts: Strong Arm Lift Support

Lift Support by Strong Arm - Part 6104 - Advance Auto Parts

They come with new ball joint bolts already pressed in. So, has anyone else run into this problem? I performed a search for "liftgate" and read through many threads without seeing this issue. So, maybe it's just me? Should the new replacement struts have come fully compressed and locked, to make installation possible? What am I missing here? Man, the hood shock/strut was very easy to replace, so I didn't expect the liftgate ones to be a chore.

Thanks in advance for anyone who can offer some advice/help! If I can't figure this out this weekend, then I'll take it to the dealership on Monday.

-Chris
Just checked the '08 OEM WK Service Manual for you. No special tips or tricks listed. Simply says open the tailgate, remove old strut, and replace with new one (just do not try to replace it with the liftgate closed).

When we get a definitive response, this will be a good one for the Maintenance Tips & Tricks Section.
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Unread 04-04-2010, 10:15 AM   #3
cmassey_2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
Just checked the '08 OEM WK Service Manual for you. No special tips or tricks listed. Simply says open the tailgate, remove old strut, and replace with new one (just do not try to replace it with the liftgate closed).

When we get a definitive response, this will be a good one for the Maintenance Tips & Tricks Section.
Thanks, I appreciate you doing that. Unfortunately, that's similar to what my '06 OEM WK Service Manual said too:



What's confusing is that the FSM talks about using a flat-head screwdriver and prying a retainer clip on the ball socket, then pulling the strut off the ball stud. I didn't see any retainer clip, such as those on my hood strut or liftgate glass struts. The ball studs seem to have been pressed into the ball socket on the strut, so the only way to remove the strut is to unscrew the ball stud bolt out of the Jeep body using a T-40 torx bit.

Well, the top bolt went in fine, as expected:



But when I try to screw in the bottom bolt, it doesn't line up well enough to get it threaded:



And yes, I had the liftgate fully open. If I pushed up any harder I'd probably bend the hinges. The darn bolt just won't line up. I tried starting with the bottom bolt first, but the top bolt won't line up. So, it doesn't make a difference.

Here's the part I bought at Advanced Auto Parts:



And now that I look at the label on the old strut, I don't see "Mopar" or "Chrysler" or "Jeep" listed anywhere. So, they too are probably aftermarket struts installed by the previous owner. I would sure like to know how he got them on!

At any rate, I went ahead and scheduled an appt tomorrow with my local dealership, as a fallback option. I'll be swinging by there around lunch time, so hopefully they'll be kind enough to show me how they installed them (and how I overlooked some silly detail). I'll let you know what they did.

-Chris
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2007 Silver Jeep WK Laredo 4x4: (Sold) 10K miles, 3.7L V6, auto...

1998 Blue Jeep XJ 4x4: (Sold) @ 156K miles, I6, AW4 tranny, several mods...
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Unread 04-04-2010, 12:27 PM   #4
robpp
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i just looked at my 07 and i know mine are original.

it has the spring clips on both ends. none of that bolt crap you have. but it may have changed. mine has 2 ball studs on the jeep.

and according to this 05-07 is all the same:
http://www.moparpartsamerica.com/par...layCatalogid=0
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Unread 04-04-2010, 12:51 PM   #5
cmassey_2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robpp View Post
i just looked at my 07 and i know mine are original.

it has the spring clips on both ends. none of that bolt crap you have. but it may have changed. mine has 2 ball studs on the jeep.

and according to this 05-07 is all the same:
Mopar Parts for Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep: MoparPartsAmerica
Really?! No wonder I was confused. Looks like these dang aftermarket struts really are different. Okay, I'll stop by the Parts Department tomorrow first and have him show me the OEM struts. I don't care if they cost more; it's worth it if they're easier to install myself (especially since I'm about to pay the dealership to do it for me). Appreciate it, Rob!

I'm taking these Advance Auto struts back...
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2007 Silver Jeep WK Laredo 4x4: (Sold) 10K miles, 3.7L V6, auto...

1998 Blue Jeep XJ 4x4: (Sold) @ 156K miles, I6, AW4 tranny, several mods...
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Unread 04-04-2010, 09:52 PM   #6
ADJeepWK2005
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I have a set of lift gate struts on order from Autozone, I should have them Thursday, 4/8. I will let you know how the install goes. (for my 2005) For reference they were $15 a piece.
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Unread 04-05-2010, 11:45 PM   #7
cmassey_2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADJeepWK2005 View Post
I have a set of lift gate struts on order from Autozone, I should have them Thursday, 4/8. I will let you know how the install goes. (for my 2005) For reference they were $15 a piece.
Okay, you might find this useful, since you'll be doing yours Thursday. So, I picked up a pair of Mopar Liftgate Support Struts for my WK at the dealership and 4 ball stud bolts, since my Jeep didn't have those already. The OEM struts were about 3x the cost of the Advanced Auto struts @ $66.10 each, plus $6.85 (x4) for the stud bolts! You can get them for a little cheaper (before shipping costs) online:

WK Liftgate Support Struts - Item # 68025358AA, 68025359AA & 6507844AA

And they're alot cheaper here:

Mopar Parts for Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep: MoparPartsAmerica

But I had already removed one strut, so my liftgate wouldn't stay up and I use my liftgate often, so I went ahead and ate the additional cost by getting them immediately at my dealership.

Anyway, here's how my install went:

NOTE: The liftgate is heavier once a strut is removed, so it would make the process easier if you have someone hold the liftgate open, allowing you to have both hands free to work on the removal and install. Do only one side at a time to make the liftgate somewhat lighter for the person holding it.

1.) Here's a photo of what the new struts and hardware look like:



As you can see, they are a different design than the aftermarket ones at Advanced Auto. Just like the hood and liftgate glass struts, they have a ball socket end which pops onto a ball stud and is held in place by a retaining clip ("C" clip).

2.) After removing the old strut from one side (see FSM instructions photo in earlier post), install the ball stud bolts (if you don't already have them) using a 1/2" deep socket. Don't torque them down too much or you risk stripping the threaded hole in the sheet metal.





3.) With the black/chrome rod pointing down, push the bottom ball socket end onto the ball stud until it pops into place.

4.) Now here's where I ran into a little problem. Just like my aftermarket struts wouldn't line up because they were slightly too long, these were the same way, making it difficult to get the ball socket end over the ball stud. It extended too far past the ball stud. I tried with all my strength to compress the socket just far enough to be popped into place. Well, like last time, these things are very highly pressurized and impossible to compress by hand. My brother, being a little bigger than me couldn't make it compress, even a tiny bit, either.

So, the only solution I could come up with was to loosen (NOT REMOVE) the 13mm bolts attaching the liftgate to the hinge brackets. Again, don't remove those bolts completely or else the liftgate may come off its mount, causing possible damage and making it harder to reinstall. After loosening the bolts about 4-6 turns, my brother was able to lift the liftgate just high enough so that I could snap the top ball socket end onto the ball stud.



In this photo you can see my brother holding the liftgate up after I had loosened the 13mm bolts. I had already installed the right strut, so I was in the process of removing the old left strut when this photo was taken. I placed microfiber towels between the liftgate and Jeep body as a precautionary measure.


5.) Once both new struts have been installed, make sure the loosened liftgate is perfectly aligned before tightening the 13mm bolts back down. My brother and I had to pull the liftgate towards us (towards the rear of the Jeep), because the liftgate slid forward slightly after loosening the hinge bolts. Once it looks lined up okay, then go ahead and tighten the 13mm bolts. Again, don't crank down hard on those bolts or you risk over-tightening and stripping the holes in the liftgate. It's just sheet metal, so use appropriate force.

After installing the new struts, my liftgate now goes up on its own and stays up. It gives me that new Jeep feeling. Sure, it wasn't as easy as I had hoped it would be, but with a buddy helping you, it's not that bad.

I hope this helps someone else in the future. Maybe there's some special tool designed to compress these struts to make installation a whole lot easier (eg., giant C-clamp, maybe?). If anyone has found a better/easier way of installing these liftgate support struts, please feel free to post it here.

Thanks,
-Chris
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2007 Silver Jeep WK Laredo 4x4: (Sold) 10K miles, 3.7L V6, auto...

1998 Blue Jeep XJ 4x4: (Sold) @ 156K miles, I6, AW4 tranny, several mods...
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Unread 04-06-2010, 08:13 AM   #8
brutusjeep
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Not sure why you had so many issues. I used a 2x4 to hold up the lift gate. Took about 15min and I was done.
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Unread 04-06-2010, 08:40 AM   #9
cmassey_2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brutusjeep View Post
Not sure why you had so many issues. I used a 2x4 to hold up the lift gate. Took about 15min and I was done.
Yeah, that's all I thought I would have to do. But even with the liftgate held fully open the struts were about maybe 1/2" too long to be simply pushed down over the ball stud. I'm starting to think this is an isolated case for my WK because:

1) The FSM never mentions having to loosen the liftgate bolts to install new struts.

2) After searching the web and these forums, I cannot find a single person who had the same problem I did.

So, I find your statement very interesting. Could you please do me a huge favor? With your liftgate fully opened, could you measure the distance from the bottom of the tailgate to the bumper step pad? I would like to compare your measurement to mine. I'd appreciate it!

Maybe something happened while the previous owner had my Jeep that caused the door stops for the liftgate to get out of adjustment or something else that would hinder its ability to open to factory spec?

At any rate, they're installed now, and should last a few years.

-Chris
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2006 White Jeep WK Limited 4x4: (current) 67K miles, 5.7L HEMI, auto, Quadra-drive II, factory tow hooks, hitch, skids, and many "bells and whistles"...

2007 Silver Jeep WK Laredo 4x4: (Sold) 10K miles, 3.7L V6, auto...

1998 Blue Jeep XJ 4x4: (Sold) @ 156K miles, I6, AW4 tranny, several mods...

Last edited by cmassey_2006; 04-06-2010 at 09:17 AM.. Reason: Measuring from the bottom of the liftgate to the floor won't be an accurate comparison because of variances in vehicle height
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Unread 04-08-2010, 07:57 AM   #10
steve06hemi
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from the edge of my foot pad to the edge of the gate door is 51 inches.
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Unread 04-08-2010, 09:56 AM   #11
brutusjeep
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I was able to get 52". Hope that helps.
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Unread 04-08-2010, 02:40 PM   #12
wrenchbendr
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51" here measuring from the edge of the foot pad to the edge of the liftgate
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Unread 04-10-2010, 11:35 AM   #13
cmassey_2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrenchbendr View Post
51" here measuring from the edge of the foot pad to the edge of the liftgate
Same here. Thanks for measuring. Have you replaced your liftgate struts yet?



Brutus: Thanks for doing that. Either yours is the correct factor spec liftgate height or ours is. Maybe there were variances from the factory?
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2006 White Jeep WK Limited 4x4: (current) 67K miles, 5.7L HEMI, auto, Quadra-drive II, factory tow hooks, hitch, skids, and many "bells and whistles"...

2007 Silver Jeep WK Laredo 4x4: (Sold) 10K miles, 3.7L V6, auto...

1998 Blue Jeep XJ 4x4: (Sold) @ 156K miles, I6, AW4 tranny, several mods...
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Unread 04-10-2010, 08:42 PM   #14
brutusjeep
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Not sure why I have the extra inch but I will take it.
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Unread 04-11-2010, 02:16 PM   #15
ADJeepWK2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmassey_2006 View Post
Thanks, I appreciate you doing that. Unfortunately, that's similar to what my '06 OEM WK Service Manual said too:



What's confusing is that the FSM talks about using a flat-head screwdriver and prying a retainer clip on the ball socket, then pulling the strut off the ball stud. I didn't see any retainer clip, such as those on my hood strut or liftgate glass struts. The ball studs seem to have been pressed into the ball socket on the strut, so the only way to remove the strut is to unscrew the ball stud bolt out of the Jeep body using a T-40 torx bit.

Well, the top bolt went in fine, as expected:



But when I try to screw in the bottom bolt, it doesn't line up well enough to get it threaded:



And yes, I had the liftgate fully open. If I pushed up any harder I'd probably bend the hinges. The darn bolt just won't line up. I tried starting with the bottom bolt first, but the top bolt won't line up. So, it doesn't make a difference.

Here's the part I bought at Advanced Auto Parts:



And now that I look at the label on the old strut, I don't see "Mopar" or "Chrysler" or "Jeep" listed anywhere. So, they too are probably aftermarket struts installed by the previous owner. I would sure like to know how he got them on!

At any rate, I went ahead and scheduled an appt tomorrow with my local dealership, as a fallback option. I'll be swinging by there around lunch time, so hopefully they'll be kind enough to show me how they installed them (and how I overlooked some silly detail). I'll let you know what they did.

-Chris
I replaced the struts on my 2005 Friday and the replacements were just like the ones you got here. (I got them from Autozone) I did have a little trouble with them being a little long (less then a 1/2") I ended up taking both originals off first and then I could open the gate just a little further to put the new parts on. After I reapleced both and opened and closed the door, I found the struts to be the same length as the originals taken off. I also think the design I see in the other posts with studs that stay mounted is superior to these.

My original parts had AVM printed on them not Mopar or Jeep. I believe these are the original factory struts put on the vehicle. I bought it new with less then 50 miles.
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