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.