Skip to Content

RV Cabinet Door Struts: Tips For Repair & Replacement

RV Cabinet Door Struts: Tips For Repair & Replacement

RV cabinet door struts are great because they hold your RV’s cabinet doors open while we browse, retrieve, or put away items. But over time, these cabinet door struts can fail, frequently at a common point.

In this post, we’ll look at how the struts on your RV cabinet doors work, and how to repair (super easy/super cheap!) and replace them (a bit less easy & cheap).

This is a great little DIY project with many benefits (ever been clobbered by a cabinet door with a failed strut?), so let’s get right to it!

What Are RV Cabinet Door Struts?

These support struts, (sometimes referred to as “RV cabinet door shocks”), are similar to the struts that you might find on a car’s hatchback door. They’re installed on horizontally hinged cabinet doors, anywhere doors are hinged at the top (i.e the cabinet door opens up) instead of on the side (where the cabinet door will open from/to the left/right). When the cabinet is open, they act as supports for the overhead cabinet doors in your RV.

While there may be many different types of RV cabinet door latches for securing the doors closed, the support struts that help hold them open are pretty much the same for all RVs.

The RV cabinet door strut holds your overhead cabinet doors up

The RV cabinet door struts that hold your overhead cabinet doors open can fail over time and use.

A cabinet door strut has a small cylinder that typically contains a strong spring and a piston that helps to lift and hold the door open. This type of strut is not specific to cabinet doors and may also be seen in many other applications, including RV exterior storage bays (though these are often gas struts, where compressed gas replaces the spring, and are usually larger & stronger to account for heavier doors and wind).

How Do I Fix My RV Cabinet Doors?

There are a couple of ways to fix RV cabinet doors.

Repair Your Camper Cabinet Door Struts

Depending on the problem, you may be able to simply repair the struts for a free and easy fix.

We’ll provide a simple tutorial for that process in just a moment.

Replace the Struts on Your RV Cabinet Doors

Alternatively, completely replacing the struts on your RV cabinet doors is an option. Fortunately, RV cabinet door strut installation is neither difficult nor expensive and doesn’t really require much in the way of installation instructions. There are typically just two mounting screws that secure the spring-loaded strut to both the door and the cabinet frame.

RV Cabinet Door Strut Repair

Typical struts used in RVs will have a rivet at the hinge point. This rivet acts to allow the strut to pivot as you open and close the door. But, it can loosen and suffer from metal fatigue over time. This is actually the most common failure point, and that’s actually good news because it’s a quick and easy (and very cheap) fix!

Having lived full-time in our RV for a couple of decades now, we’ve had several of these fail at the rivet. The clue is the loud “bang” that occurs when the rivet finally breaks and the strut can no longer hold the cabinet door up.

We’ve repaired our RV cabinet door struts this way more than once, and always with excellent success, so we know it works well.

All you need is a pop rivet gun (handy for many repairs around the rig) and a pop rivet. That’s it!

Sale
Arrow Fastener RHT300 Professional Swivel Head Rivet Tool, Red
  • This is easy to install and easy to use
  • This product is manufactured in Switzerland
STANLEY Pop Rivet Tool, Swivel Head (MR77C)
  • The pop rivet tool sets rivets at right angle or straight-on, with a simple twist of rivet head
  • The riveter tool has rugged die-cast metal construction for long life

Pop Rivets:

Stanley R120 Rivet Pack Assortment
  • Assorted pack contains 120 aluminum and steel rivets in the most popular sizes
  • Re-useable, full-visibility packaging simplifies product selection and storage

For a quick and easy video tutorial, have a look at this 3-minute video of us repairing one of the support struts on our RV cabinet:

RV Cabinet Door Strut Replacement

When replacing a support strut, you can either order the replacement(s) online (available on Amazon) or pick them up at a local RV parts store. The spring-loaded struts typically used for interior cabinet doors are fairly universal in size and strength.

For most interior RV cabinets, you’ll need only one strut to support the door. Though sometimes on larger cabinet doors, they may be two, one on each side of the door.

Hamilton Bowes RV - Cabinet Hardware Door Strut Spring Loaded - Set of Two (2 Pack) - Metal
  • RV Door Strut
  • Used to hold spring-loaded cabinet doors in open position

What Does “N” or “lbs” Mean on a Gas Strut?

While the small, spring-loaded struts commonly used for RV cabinets don’t generally have a force rating, gas struts that are more typically used for exterior storage bay doors do. Generally, you’ll see the force of a gas strut/spring expressed in Newton or pounds.

You’ll find that European gas springs or struts use the letter “N” for Newton, and American-made gas struts use the abbreviation “lbs” for pounds.

For reference (and conversion), 100N is equivalent to 22.5 lbs of force.

For example, the following cabinet struts are rated at 100N/22.5lbs. They come in lengths of 10.5 inches, 8 inches, and 7 inches, but all lengths are rated with the same force of 100N/22.5lbs.

Sale
DerBlue 4 Pcs 100N/22.5lb Gas Strut Lift Support Cabinet Door Lift Pneumatic Support
  • 1. Force:100N/22.5lb (Per Strut);Length: :10.5 inch,Support opens lids to a Maximum angle of 100 degrees.
  • 2.Easy to install, durable and stable. Round metal mounting plate: the contact area of the cabinet body is larger, three point positioning,...

These are likely overkill for use on a typical interior cabinet door, but they are definitely appropriate for use on exterior/basement compartment doors.

How Do You Measure for Cabinet Struts?

The general rule of thumb is that you want your strut to be about 55% of the height of the door you’re trying to hold open.

Let’s say you have a cabinet door that’s 12 inches in height. 55% of 12 is 6.6, so you’d want to buy a strut that’s about 6” long. So, basically, we’re looking at half the door height plus a bit more when determining the appropriate strut length.

How Do You Install Struts on a Cabinet Door?

Lift the Door to 90°

If you have an assistant handy, it’s helpful to have someone hold the door open for you while you take measurements.

Measure

Measure 2 ½ inches in from the edge of your cabinet door on the hinge side. Here, make marks 2 inches in length across the side of the door.

Next, measure along the first mark perpendicularly and place a mark at the 1-inch point.

Your lines should intersect at the center of the bracket that will hold the strut to the cabinet door.

Center the Bracket

On the cylinder end of the strut, (which is the large part of the assembly), center the bracket of the cylinder over the center mark you’ve drawn.

Note that the cylinder’s piston should emerge from the cylinder diagonally and downward toward the cabinet.

On the end of the cylinder, you’ll see an oval-shaped bracket with two holes in it. Center this bracket on your mark. The oval should be perpendicular to the side of the door.

Secure the Bracket

Secure the bracket to the door using the included screws.

Situate the Piston

Pull the piston all the way out, extending the cylinder. Bring the bottom of the piston 2” inside the face frame of the cabinet and attach it with the provided screws.

That’s it! You’ve replaced your own cabinet door strut!

Have You Repaired or Replaced Struts For Your RV Cabinet Door?

Let us know in the comments if you’ve repaired or replaced any of your RV cabinet’s support struts. How long did your struts last and what was the failure point that caused the need for your cabinet door repair or replacement?

Geek Out With Us Every Week

Join our newsletter to learn about all things RV-related. Every week we offer free tips, tricks, product reviews, and more to our online community of RVers. So, whether this is your first time on the road or you’re a seasoned expert, we’d love for you to geek out with us!

We'd Love It If You Shared This!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Neal Davis

Saturday 2nd of July 2022

Such a timely article! Thank you! Ahead of trading our 2016 American Revolution for a 2022 Newmar New Aire (finally, next week!), I bought replacement struts for the two cabinets that bookend our front television. Your video spurred me to install the replacements. Yes, it was quite easy once I understood that the clip holding them in place did not have to open far to remove the old struts. The replacements just popped into place, so no manipulation of the clip needed then. It is amazing how difficult compressing the piston by hand is, yet much easier after it is installed onto the door.

Hope to get westward far enough in the next few years to meet you two. 🙂

Pat Parker

Friday 1st of July 2022

Great information! Very Helpful. ThankYou.

TheRVgeeks

Friday 1st of July 2022

Thanks, Pat!

DW/ND

Friday 1st of July 2022

Good info..... I have a little different question; you mentioned the N and lbs for gas struts..... how do you check a gas strut to see if it is working properly? I have an 18' electric awning which is almost new - but the right side (motor end) has difficulty in extending the arms. I suspect the strut is not applying the force needed to assist the motor. (It's a Dometic 9100 or 9200).

PS: With regard to interior cabinets - I also added self closing hinges.

TheRVgeeks

Friday 1st of July 2022

We have a similar, almost new (about the same age) Dometic awning and have had similar troubles. We'd suggest first checking to be sure that the fabric is aligned correctly and not pulling the awning arms either forward/backward, as that can cause them to bind when fully closed, making it so that the awning doesn't extend correctly when you push the button. You can usually tell if the fabric is off alignment if you can see that the edge is forming a spiral, instead of lining up with each subsequent roll of the tube. On one end, you'll see the spiral, on the other end, you won't.

If that's the problem, you can re-align it by moving the attachment point of the fabric on the roller tube forward/back OR on the side of the RV (there should be screws that normally keep it from sliding in the awning rail, but they come out sometimes).

Hope that helps... because we're not sure (1) how to test a gas strut to see if it's working properly or (2) how to get the struts off a Dometic powered awning!

Jeff

Friday 1st of July 2022

Thanks for this information. I have 2 cabinets that are 9" tall that have no opener hardware. The Hamilton Bowes hardware is 6.25c long. Too long? Also, one end has a bracket but the other end is just an open pipe. Do I need something else?

TheRVgeeks

Friday 1st of July 2022

Hi Jeff. No... not too long. We have some very short doors, too, that are using the standard struts. The bracket end attaches to the door (on ours that open up, it's mounted very close to the hinge/top side of the door) and then the open pipe end should have a screw hole through it that you screw into the side of the cabinet frame inside the door (on our short doors, that happens down low, close to the bottom of the opening in the cabinet face.

Looks like this:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

PLEASE NOTE: We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We participate in the Amazon affiliate program, which provides a means for us to earn a small commission by linking to products there. But our opinions are our own and we only link to products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence.