The overall health and conditions of a vehicle suspension system play an essential role, and it’s pivotal to the SUV, car, truck’s efficient movement. An automotive suspension system does much more than fighting vibrations and cushioning.
Each vehicle suspension component plays an essential role and works in harmony to provide a stress-free, quality ride, and seamless driving experience.
However, a few of these components are vital as the struts. Struts function as dampers to offer an even, smooth, and quality driving experience in wide driving pavements.
The strut has to be fixed on a capable mount for an optimal level of efficiency. The strut mounts are vital to the front wheel alignments and reduce noise/vibration transfer.
The strut mounts wear over time because of the loads resting on them, calling for a scheduled replacement. When this happens, it projects a couple of struts mounts failure symptoms.
This article will discuss strut mount symptoms, replacement process, and procedures.
What is a Strut Mount?
As the name suggests, a strut mount is a suspension component that connects a strut to the vehicle. As mentioned above, it reduces car noise and vibration. Automakers and aftermarket producers manufacture [front] struts with strut mount bushing or strut bearing plates, which serve as a steering pivot.
A strut mount has two sides – one side is fitted to the strut and the other side to the vehicle. It has a rubber-like material in the middle that helps insulate noise and vibrations as the car goes up and down over bumps and portholes. The primary function of a strut mount is to cushion, reduce vibrations, noise, and jarring effects from transmitting to the vehicle.
The bearing or bushing on a strut mount is a vital component that enhances the steering response and smoothness.
Strut mount failure symptoms
Since strut mount is crucial for cushioning, reducing noise/vibrations, and holding the vehicle in motion, if it fails, it’ll cause some drivability issues. Here are some of the bad strut symptoms you should watch out for.
If you hear strut mount noise over road bumps or while in motion [clunking or squeaking noise], it means you have a worn-out strut mount.
The noise occurs because two or more system components are hitting against each other because of a lack of insulation from the strut. You can also notice this noise when turning the steering wheel.
As I’ve emphasized repeatedly, strut mount cushion and reduce vehicles’ vibration. If they fail, they won’t be able to perform this function.
A lousy strut mount won’t have the potential insulation properties, causing excessive road vibration.
If there’s a crack on the rubber inside the strut mount or it has degraded, it’s time to visit your dealership for a strut replacement. Watch for this sign when you suspect a broken strut mount.
Since most manufacturers produce strut mounts with metals, they can succumb to deterioration over time, especially when exposed to moisture and continually driving on road salts.
Uneven Tire Wear
Uneven tire wear could mean you have a bad strut mount in place that needs replacement. A damaged strut mount may drag sideways as you travel and shift out of alignment, resulting in uneven tire wear.
Some automakers design the strut mount as a steering pivot. This implies that driving with a bad strut bearing could affect the steering movement, smoothness, and overall response time. Again, the steering is interlinked with suspension system components, which makes it possible for suspension failures to affect the steering system.
Strut mounts cushion a vehicle’s movement and prevent excessive movement on road bumps and on a normal driving pavement. If it damages, it will cause excessive movement and cannot keep the strut firm.
This could lead to excessive movement, even on the slightest bounce.
A good strut mount can carry the vehicle load firmly and other suspension components. A lousy one can’t, causing the struts to fail and knocking against other suspension components. This will lead to accelerated parts wear.
Strut mount replacement process
Strut mount replacement can be a lengthy process, but by following the below instructions on how to quiet noisy strut mount, a replacement will take only 10 to 20 minutes.
The strut mount is on top of the strut. Once you suspect a damaged strut mount, raise your hood and bounce your car. Check if the strut mount moves too much. If it does, there’s a lousy strut mount in place that needs replacement. It has a rubber bushing inside – and the excessive movement shows broken bushing.
Here’s a quick step you need to replace or fix top strut mount noise;
- Lift the vehicle and suspend it
- Remove the hubcaps and wheel cover
- Unbolt and remove the tires
- Unbolt the strut assembly, including the tie rods, stabilizer linkage, and hub housing
- Wiggle off the strut from the hub housing
- Unbolt the three or four mounting bolts
- Remove the entire strut from the vehicle
- Check the arrow mark on the old mount and mark the position
- Check if the new strut mount has the same arrow mark
- Get two compressors and tie the strut spring to compress it
- Loosen the strut mount nut and separate the mount, spring, and the strut
- Get the new strut, and place the spring back on
- If you have bellows, fix it back
- Fix the new strut mount, and tighten it
- Before torquing the mounting nut, remember to place the strut mount in the correct position.
- Unbolt the two compressors and re-torque the nut
- Fix back the strut mount following the reverse process.
For visual clarification on how to check strut mounts and the replacement process, watch this video.
Strut mount replacement cost
Getting an aftermarket strut mount is between $20 to $300. This is just for the parts alone and not for installation. The exact price of both rear and front strut mount replacement cost depends on your car make and model, your location, and how many you are replacing.
When replacing strut mounts, change them in pairs. They must have traveled the exact miles, carried the same load, and driven on the same pavement. Hence, if one fails, the other is likely wearing off.
Always change the damaged strut mount with the opposite side. Replacing strut mounts in pairs ensures an even weight capacity on the axles, offering responsive handling and equal height.
Q: How long can you drive with bad struts?
All vehicle system components have a life expectancy. Some can last the car’s life, while others go bad within a few thousand miles. Some of a vehicle’s suspension components can travel for a few hundred or thousand Miles when they wear out, whereas others call for urgent attention. Which category does the strut belong to?
When your car shocks, struts, and strut mounts fail, do not continue driving with them. Driving with defective struts and shocks compromises vehicle handling, overall stability, and poses a safety risk. You’ll experience excessive vibrations, excessive movement, poor handling, wobbly steering wheel, and uneven tire wear.
Q: Can you drive with a broken strut mount?
While it is possible to drive with a bad strut mount, please do not do it. Instead, replace it. Struts absorb road bounce on your car while driving on rough pavements. Automakers interlink struts on the front wheels with the steering wheel and are essential for alignment and overall handling.
A lousy strut will not offer you confidence on the wheel as it presents discomfort to you and your passengers. It can also cause damages to other suspension components.
Q: Can you replace strut mounts without replacing struts?
It’s unnecessary to replace both the strut mount and strut. However, when checking and replacing the strut mounts, inspect the strut itself. If the strut is bad or weak, now is the right time to replace it.
Q: How long do strut mounts last?
An OEM strut mount or high-end aftermarket strut mount will last around 7-10 years, depending on where you live and your driving habits. If you live or travel to rural areas with bad roads or go off roads on salty pavements often, you’re shortening the life expectancy of the vehicle’s strut mount.
In contrast, if you live in the city and drive your car like a ‘baby ride,’ the strut mount may last the car’s life. When checking the shocks, inspect the strut mount as well.
Q: Can I Drive My Car With a Faulty Strut Mount?
While many mechanics and experts advise you not to drive with a faulty strut mount, the truth is you can still drive with it. However, your ride will be uncomfortable.
You need to note that it’ll expose your car to uneven tire wear, makes strange noises, and can lead to accelerated system wear or cause collisions.
Q: When should I replace my strut mounts?
For optimal driving experience, inspect the strut mount when replacing the coil spring or strut because of wear or age. A failed or broken strut mount can cause several drivability issues, strange noises, and damage to other suspension components, so have a certified mechanic check and replace it.
Replacing a strut mount involves disassembling the entire spring and strut assembly. Therefore, it is much easier and cheaper to do the work once and for all than doing it twice.
Strut mounts on vehicles have enormous impacts on other suspension system components. Thus, when your car emits any of the strut mount failure symptoms discussed in this article, it’s critical to consult an ASE-certified mechanic to inspect the strut mount and the entire strut assembly.
If the technician detects a worn-out or broken strut mount, do not delay – replace it as soon as possible.