There are two things that I have come to count on in the Canadian winters. One is that there will be snow and I will dislike it immensely. The second is that the 13-year-old tailgate struts that hold the tailgate on my 2004 Volvo XC90 open will fail in the bitter cold – and the tailgate will hit me in the head. This is a guarantee.
So this year, on a day that was somewhat cold and the tailgate tried to kill me from above (slowly, as it wasn’t that cold) I said “that’s it! Time for new struts!” And so I picked up a set of Stabilus Volvo XC90 tailgate struts online from FCP Euro (Volvo part #30634580). As usual, the process of actually getting the struts was easy – as was the actual removal and installation.
Let’s dive right into the the replacement process.
- Open the tailgate. I’m a pretty strong guy, but really, a second person makes this job a bit easier. Once you take one strut off the door, there’s not enough strength in the second one to keep the door open. Or to keep it from dropping on your head. Either be ready – or get a helper. You’ve been warned.
- With a second person (or your other hand, tough guy) holding the door up, take a flathead screwdriver and gently pry off the two clips that hold the strut to the posts on the car. Be sure to use caution so that you don’t scratch the paint with the screwdriver. PRO TIP: Keep the new struts within reach if you’re holding the door up with your second hand. It’s just easier.
- Twist the old strut until it pops off the post. Do this for the upper and lower attachment point as needed. It’s a good idea to clean up the posts and get any old grime off them. Just a rag will do. Spray some brake cleaner on it first if you want. Just don’t get any on the paint. The new struts come with lube in the attachment points.
- Grab a new strut and attach the upper connection first. In case you took both struts off first and forget how they were on, the larger portion of the strut is in the upper position. Snap it into place. No need to take the clips off the strut.
- Attach both struts. Test. Retest. Now, wait for winter to make sure they won’t kill you.
It’s important to note that there’s likely still a fair amount of pressure in your old struts. You’re going to want to dispose of them or recycle them according to the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t be an idiot and think you can just drill a hole anywhere and drain out any oil that may be in there. If you don’t have the manufacturer’s instructions, find them online. You’ve come this far, don’t toss the struts in the trash and risk them hurting someone.
And that’s it. It’s pretty easy to replace the rear tailgate struts on your Volvo XC90.
The trick is to find a decent pair that will last a long time and won’t cost you and arm and a leg. Or a head. Bring on winter! Here are some more product photos for you to see: