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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had one issue with my hood and now I've got a different one...not sure if they are related or if this is something I can fix or need to go to a shop?

History - I had a dead battery last week, left some stuff on and didn't drive for 3-4 days. When I jump-started it I found the hood wasn't wanting to latch shut securely because I guess the cold and dirt jammed the latch mechanism. I didn't realize until I noticed it bobbling up and down an inch on the highway. When I pulled over I had nothing to clean/lube the latch so I had to just open and slam it a foot or so repeatedly down until it properly latched and didn't pull back up. It was very difficult to get it to properly latch.

Now tonight I finally found my can of Lithium grease - I went out (in spite of the sub-freezing temps) and cleaned off the hood-release mechanism with some WD40 then applied the White Lithium grease so it will open/close easily. I opened/closed it a couple times to verify it was operating smoothly - it seems to work like new again now.

While I was under there after resolving the gummed up latch I figured I'd check the oil and other fluid levels because it's been a couple weeks since I did that. Half way checking stuff over I heard a POP-HISSSSSSSSSS from someplace near the passenger side firewall but before I could figure out where it was coming from the hood slammed on me (for the record it didn't feel very good) Now it is difficult to lift and won't stay open for more than a second or two before slamming super hard on its own.

Are these two incidents related - did not being fully latched cause the failure?

I assume based on the hood slamming on me it was of the piston thingies blew up but what is it called and is it something I can repair or will I need special tools that I should just go to my mechanic?
 

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2015 3.6 Premium
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In Australia we call them gas struts. Yes they can fail. Easily replaced. Just need to know what size. Hope your head is ok.
 

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2017 Outback 3.6 Touring, which replaced '05 Outback XT
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The "pop hiss" sound was the seal failing in the gas strut. When the strut failed, down went the hood. So yes, directly related.
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, with custom-added always-on auxillary power for an inverter, 3x DC jacks, and a radio transciever.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ah, ok. I guess now knowing what they are called I'll ask around and see if I can find them anywhere.

Do those need to be replaced in pairs or just one?

Lucky I was hunched over far enough it hit my body and arm instead of only my head or hand...terrifying to think if I just had my hand on the side it probably would have cut it off :S
 

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Ah, ok. I guess now knowing what they are called I'll ask around and see if I can find them anywhere.

Do those need to be replaced in pairs or just one?

Lucky I was hunched over far enough it hit my body and arm instead of only my head or hand...terrifying to think if I just had my hand on the side it probably would have cut it off :S
I only replace them in pairs if the need for replacement is age-related. Even if the seals don't have an acute failure like yours, they will bleed off a little gas year by year until they just don't have enough strength to be useful. Many hit that mark by year 10, I have never seen a single one last to 20 in useful shape.

So if the vehicle age is closer to 10 years than 0, I say do both.

OEM units are often much more expensive than aftermarkets, but not all aftermarket gas struts fit properly.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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While I was under there after resolving the gummed up latch I figured I'd check the oil and other fluid levels because it's been a couple weeks since I did that. Half way checking stuff over I heard a POP-HISSSSSSSSSS from someplace near the passenger side firewall but before I could figure out where it was coming from the hood slammed on me (for the record it didn't feel very good) Now it is difficult to lift and won't stay open for more than a second or two before slamming super hard on its own.
Different make of vehicle, different suspension situation, same sort of problem:

Oregon woman survives with arm trapped for 18 hours - NY Daily News

People see these kind of articles in the press and assume it's something made up. It isn't. I personally know this woman through my mountaineering club.

Be careful with these things, folks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Different make of vehicle, different suspension situation, same sort of problem:

Oregon woman survives with arm trapped for 18 hours - NY Daily News

People see these kind of articles in the press and assume it's something made up. It isn't. I personally know this woman through my mountaineering club. Be careful with these things, folks.
Yeah, after it happened I was kinda glad looking back that I was leaning over the car and not just had my hand sitting on the fender. Scary.

I only replace them in pairs if the need for replacement is age-related. Even if the seals don't have an acute failure like yours, they will bleed off a little gas year by year until they just don't have enough strength to be useful. Many hit that mark by year 10, I have never seen a single one last to 20 in useful shape.

So if the vehicle age is closer to 10 years than 0, I say do both.

OEM units are often much more expensive than aftermarkets, but not all aftermarket gas struts fit properly.
Yeah, I'll have to look at some options. Auto Zone says they would have to special order them for just over $30 a piece.
 

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Gas struts are used in all kinds of applications. It might be worthwhile to look and see if McMaster-Carr or Grainger carries anything of similar dimension that would be a drop in fit.
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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And since it hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread: What was Subaru's problem with the hood's mechanical prop-rod system that has served us well for years?

Subaru has redesigned this reliable mechanical prop-rod system to now use a part we know eventually fails well before end of life of the car. It is required to hold a fairly heavy weight above a person working in the engine bay, whose attention is probably focused elsewhere. Furthermore, as the hood closes, there is a scissor action near the back where it is hinged. Finally, the hood latches as it closes, with a release that is not easy to get at from the front, trapping a victim who fails to get clear. All three of these factors played heavily into my acquaintances' loss of her lower arm and hand in the article I linked.

Knowing what I know now, I personally am very leery of placing any part of myself under a heavy weight that is held up by only hydraulics or pneumatics. And that includes not just cars lifted by floor jacks, it now includes hoods. For now, I'm tolerating tailgates - that may change.
 

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Knowing what I know now, I personally am very leery of placing any part of myself under a heavy weight that is held up by only hydraulics or pneumatics. And that includes not just cars lifted by floor jacks, it now includes hoods. For now, I'm tolerating tailgates - that may change.
Tolerating tailgates- that's probably a good way to look at it. My perspective is that things are getting better and worse at the same time.

The first car I owned that used gas struts for anything had a pair in the tailgate. Replacement cost was around $220 per strut and nobody could find a generic that fit. After 10 years everyone with that model was carrying around vise-grips to clamp onto the strut piston to keep the door open.

Now prices are down on the parts, there is now a broad selection of aftermarkets and interchange is improving.

But I have to agree that it is getting worse too- it's a bit silly to use even $20 worth of gas struts when $0.80 worth of prop-rod had it covered.
 

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And since it hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread: What was Subaru's problem with the hood's mechanical prop-rod system that has served us well for years?

Subaru has redesigned this reliable mechanical pro-rod system to now use a part we know eventually fails well before end of life of the car. It is required to hold a fairly heavy weight above a person working in the engine bay, whose attention is probably focused elsewhere.....
I'm not an industry insider, but to me, prop rods are reasonable for smaller cars with smaller hoods. As the expanse of the hood goes up, then it becomes too heavy to lift open without assistance from gas struts. Compound that with consumer complaints about the "hood is heavy to open", then even some smaller cars get gas struts.
The older spring hinge designs are more reliable and last for years. I can only recall a handful of times I've seen springs broken on those compared to the hundreds of gas strut failures. But they are heavy and consumers (and the Gov) demand better gas mileage.
There is also the concern that a prop rod can get knocked out and the hood comes slamming down. That happens too. Not sure which is the lesser of two woeful designs.
You are not alone about not trusting the gas strut. Many mechanics have a supplemental prop rod to use when the gas struts are marginal or defective, but may use them all the time regardless. A broom stick is not a good supplemental prop rod (but yeah, I've done it too).
 

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There is also the concern that a prop rod can get knocked out and the hood comes slamming down. That happens too. Not sure which is the lesser of two woeful designs.
Redundancy would be a nice feature here - i.e. a prop rod on each side available to use when backup is needed or desired. Also, a locking feature, to avoid a prop rod getting knocked out, or if a strong wind gust catches the opened hood from the front, having it fall out from underneath.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Redundancy would be a nice feature here - i.e. a prop rod on each side available to use when backup is needed or desired. Also, a locking feature, to avoid a prop rod getting knocked out, or if a strong wind gust catches the opened hood from the front, having it fall out from underneath.
Or if you can't get the ice all off and have a dead battery. I recall I had that back when my OEM battery took a crap. Hood + Ice is too much for it to hold up and you can't chip all the ice off without damaging the paint. I think I ended up jamming my ice scraper snow-brush in under there to hold it up while I worked.

You know, I wonder how difficult it'd be to retrofit a prop-rod. Design it with a hook that clips onto the metal where the hood latches for a top support and find something to bolt it to securely that is away from belts and such. That seems like it could work well.
 
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