PAT GOSS: If you have an SUV or even a regular passenger car, and you notice that maybe the hood, or the hatch, one or the other, that it doesn’t stay up like it used to, it may slowly come down. Well, that’s because you may have worn prop struts, these are gas-charged struts that hold the hatch or the hood open, and to give us some pointers about these, we have our online parts guru, Mr. Tom Taylor. Welcome back to Goss’ Garage.

TOM TAYLOR: Thanks for having me, Pat.

PAT GOSS: Absolutely. Alright, whatcha got for us here?

TOM TAYLOR: Like you said, the struts have been on hatchbacks for a long time, since the ‘80s, but just over the last 10-15 years, they’ve been added to hoods also, and that’s created a surprising problem. The engine compartment gets hot, and gas expands when it gets hot, so the strut may stay open when the engine compartment is hot, but you drive it into your shop and it’s 20-30 degrees in your shop, because you’re in Minnesota or Wisconsin, somewhere cold.. um, the strut cools down, the pressure drops, and the hood comes down real fast, can hit you right in the head, causing damage to the car, or damage to a person.

PAT GOSS: Well, let me tell you, I think this applies to a lot of areas, we see it here in Maryland, even on summer days, because the difference in temperature between the engine compartment and the ambient temperature.

TOM TAYLOR: Sure, yeah, air-conditioned shop. They’ve, uh, the tool industry has come up with some great tools to prevent those sudden closures. This is a clamp that uses soft aluminum, soft brass, so you clamp it on the steel rod, it won’t hurt the rod and the strut can’t close.

PAT GOSS: Okay, also has a tag so you don’t forget it.

TOM TAYLOR: Yeah, you don’t want to try to slam a hood that’s propped up with one of these clamps.

PAT GOSS: Alright, over here you have a tool that every one of my technicians, in both shops, it’s mandatory that they use them.

TOM TAYLOR: Oh good. It’s just a simple prop rod that you can adjust to different heights, more insurance that that hood won’t come down suddenly.

PAT GOSS: Okay, and believe it or not, most people have no idea how heavy a hood or a hatch can be, until it hits them in the head.

TOM TAYLOR: Right, yeah, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a professional mechanic, you may not know how old the struts are, may not know the history of the vehicle, so using either of these tools or both is good insurance.

PAT GOSS: Alright, Tom, thank you so much. And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line, right here at MotorWeek.