I wrote in another post about replacing the tailgate struts on my 2003 Toyota 4Runner, however several times the tailgate came crashing down on my head.
So, I have to rescind my recommendation for the aftermarket tailgate struts from eBay user: keylife.
I did go with another aftermarket tailgate strut replacement from eBay because the OEM parts are normally 5 times the cost of aftermarket ones. The build quality of the tailgate shocks I found appeared to be better and less likely to fail. Here is the item I purchased for about $50:
How to Replace Tailgate Shocks
The procedure for replacing the tailgate shocks/struts is simple. Essentially the struts are bolted held in by ball joints on each end with those ball joints bolted into the frame of the vehicle.
Using something to prop the tailgate up, you can replace each side one at a time until both struts are swapped out. In my case, I used a long piece of scrap wood that I had laying around in the garage.
New tailgate struts ready to go in. Use something to help prop up the tailgate while working on it– the tailgate will not stay up with only one side’s shock holding it.
This is the old tailgate strut that kept popping out of its ball joint. This is what caused the tailgate to keep coming down on my head.
The other side of the tailgate strut. This side needs a box wrench to remove.
Do the same thing for the other side’s tailgate strut. Remove the two bolts that hold in the bracket and ball joint.
Then remove the bottom piece with a box wrench.
These photos detail the differences between the older tailgate strut (top of photos) versus the new tailgate strut (bottom of photos). It is clear that there is a difference in the build quality. The older tailgate strut uses a normal ball joint with a small c-clip that swings around and holds the ball joint in place. This is not a structurally secure connection if the ball joint pops out.
The more secure connection is the newer part that uses what appears to be a stronger strap-life connection that holds the ball joint together.
Here are the final assembled pictures of the new StrongArm brand tailgate struts on my 2003 Toyota 4Runner. In the month now that I’ve been using them, they appear to be holding up quite well.