Tailgate gas strut fail? Pallet wood car repair solution - 2 methods

We live in an age of mass production, although I prefer to think of it as an age of mass assembly. Goods are made from a series of mass-produced 'outsourced' components, the difference often being that the durability of some components is less than the expected working life of the whole. As is frequently the case one component malfunction renders the product useless which is why so much stuff ends up as landfill.  

Shooting brake - Hunting for pallets

This is our Peugeot 405 break and apart from being a great little workhorse, we've just returned from our visit to family in Scotland and seen much younger cars defeated by the seasonal deluge. Mechanically very sound, it was the 'little' annoying things that started to fail just a few years after we purchased it second-hand.

Golden Sebright rooster and friends

What I wish to share is a simple solution to a less serious component malfunction but one which occurs often in ageing motor vehicles, the failing of a tailgate gas strut. Often tailgates are supported by two of these struts but I have found the need to just make the change to one side only. I must just add that this is not just a fault that happens with old cars, I recently saw a new car with the same problem!


With the failure of the gas struts I had originally held the tailgate open with a pallet wood plank which was not perfect in that it was very easy to dislodge whilst loading, resulting in hurried grasps to prevent concussion.

Gas strut problems and solutions

I finally realised that by jamming a block between the top of the gas strut cylinder and the piston mounting, the weight of the tailgate would hold the block in place and could not fall. 

Pallet wood car repairs
To ensure a snug, secure fit, I made the block with a groove to fit around the piston.

Pallet wood tailgate gas strut repair - safety cord




Type 1

This (pictured above) is the simplest one to make as all you need is: a saw, drill and drill bit, screwdriver and screws, wood.

Using pallet wood to repair a tailgate gas strut

The block is made of three pieces of wood cut to the same length. I used pallet wood (of course) 

Wood pieces needed for gas strut repair

I selected one piece that was slightly thicker than the gas strut piston, this would act as the 'spacer' between the other two pieces. This middle piece was an offcut and was only about 15mm wide but it would be possible to obtain a narrow piece like this simply by splitting down a pallet plank.

Simple pallet wood gas strut repair

The narrower spacer piece was placed on top of one of the broader pieces and two screw clearance holes were drilled through them both. The third piece was placed on top so as to form the 'U' channel and fixed with screws. You could use a waterproof wood glue prior to screwing the block together.

Gas strut repair with pallet wood and minimum tools

After checking the block for fit on the strut, I drilled another hole through the block and attached a cord so that I wouldn't lose it.

Gas strut repair - attaching a cord

Type 2

In one way this block is less complicated in that it only uses one piece of wood, but it requires the use of a router

Using a router for a gas strut repair

I selected a piece of timber about 28mm by 30mm (11/8" x 1¼” approx) and used the router to cut a lengthways slot along the central axis of the narrower side to a depth of about 15mm (5/8"). The block was then cut to the desired length. 

Golden Sebright Rooster

I've used this system for over three years now and have never considered buying new gas struts as this works really well. Even Bob gave it his seal of approval. I've also furnished a farmer friend of ours with an extra long block to supplement his failed gas strut on the rear window of his tractor cab.

It is also possible to make the slot in the block using a circular saw, I merely set the cutting depth and made several lengthways passes moving the cutting guide by a blade's width at every pass. The result has been satisfactory but overall I have found that the one cut with the router to be the easiest to make.

Now, if you'd like to, sit back and watch the film.

If you've enjoyed this article and found it useful please feel free to share it or to comment and/or make observations. All the very best and until next time,


© Andy Colley 2014


  1. Easier than a block of wood is to use a piece of PVC conduit. I used 25mm diameter which is slightly larger than the cylinder. When closing simply lift the door a bit and slip the conduit up over the cylinder. To keep open just help the conduit to wedge in under the cylinder, as you do with your block

    1. Thanks for a great idea for using PVC conduit instead of wood. We have had so many major drainage works going on here in this village that there is always offcuts of the stuff about! Sorry to be so late getting back to you. I am just now going through the whole blog to see what I have missed. I don't think we get the comment notifications we used to get for some reason! All the very best, Andy

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