I have managed to replace the gas struts on my FR-V with some aftermarket parts. First, a disclaimer: The aftermarket parts are not Honda parts, nor are they intended for the FR-V. However, they do appear to be working fine and what follows is how I did it. You use this advice at your own risk.
- Difficulty Level:
As mentioned in another thread, the original Honda parts are £81.40 each (I'm assuming this is ex-VAT so they are more likely pushing £100 each). These contain the connectors on both ends to allow you to fit them to the car, making it a 5 minute job to replace them. However, there are after-market struts for a fraction of the cost. I wanted to see what I could do.
All the advice is to replace them in pairs, so I opted to do that and buy two new struts.
The best site with the most info I found was Car Gas Struts .co.uk and they had some advice on how to measure struts. They had every model except the FR-V and it soon became clear why....
I measured the struts as per the guide on the site, and found them to be 515mm long, with a stroke of 200mm:
This correlated with the replacement struts for the Honda Civic here:
Honda Civic MkVI Hatch 5DR Car Gas Struts - 01/96 > 12/00
DISCLAIMER: These struts are designed for the Civic tailgate which is smaller and lighter than the FR-V one. However, nothing ventured....
When they arrived, the difference was mainly that the size of the "barrel" was smaller than that of the original FR-V one. Here they are, with the new one top, the old one bottom:
There's a fair bit of difference. However, these only cost £54 the pair, including VAT and (very quick) delivery.
Next up was getting the ends off the old struts. This is where the fun starts.
First, there was no way that I could prise the ball out of the sockets on either end. I later found out there was a retaining ring on each end which wasn't a split ring, and I couldn't prise it out no matter how hard I tried. My main focus was in not ruining the ball joint bits, because I needed to re-use them. I decided to carefully hack-saw the socket to prise it open and free the ball:
It was at this point I spotted the retaining ring and sawed through that. I had to cut it with the hacksaw. It's probably machine pressed in originally.
Here it is, with the retaining ridge indicated. Note, it's NOT a split ring. I cut through it from the outside then pulled it out with long-nosed pliers.
Once I had sawn the sockets on each end and pulled out the ball joints, I had what I needed:
All that was left was to re-construct the new struts using the old ends. Fortunately the new struts had a simple push-on to the ball and a retaining clip accessible from the outside. Here's one of them:
And that was it! Two new struts for £54.
On fitting, I found that it was easier to attach the bottom triangular plate first, then remove the ball from the top socket and fit that to the car before pushing on the socket and adding the retaining clip.
They work fine and lift the tailgate no problems at all. I'm aware that their expected lifespan is probably shorter than OEM replacements because they are not specified for the FR-V but I'm also aware that Car Gas Struts will do you custom made struts, so I'm retaining the old ones so that if the new ones fail after a few years I can get new ones made up to the original spec.
Also, the hard work in "freeing" the connectors is now done. If I do end up with new struts any time, I can quickly (less than 10 seconds!!) remove the current struts from the ball joints without having to remove them [ball joints] from the car.