How to check engine mounts

What are engine mounts?

Because the engine is heavy it can emit very strong vibrations when starting and driving that can be uncomfortable for the driver. The purpose of the engine mounts is to solve that problem.

Engine mounts are special parts that attach the engine and transmission to the frame, or to the vehicle’s body. They absorb engine vibrations and keep it relatively static. This position protects the engine from road bumps, sudden jolts, and impacts.

Symptoms of bad engine mounts

Many drivers do not know what damages these mounts may have. Engine mounts are very durable parts. Usually, they require a replacement at about 85,000 – 100,000 km or 52,000 – 62,000 miles.

But if you do notice increased vibrations that are coming from the engine compartment start by checking these mounts first, they may be the culprit.

These symptoms are:

How to check bad engine mounts?

There are some ways to check engine mounts, but this depends on their type, whether they are traditional rubber-metal engine mounts or hydraulic mounts. Depending on the car make and model, mounts can be installed in different places. 

For example, most Mazda cars have right, left and rear engine mounts. Other cars, like Renault have right, front and rear mounts.

Checking the rubber-metal engine mounts

The first method that we will describe is the simplest method to check the mounts but this will give you the least information about them.

  • Ask another person to help you;
  • Open the hood and tell the assistant to start the engine;
  • Check to see if the engine has strong shakes and vibrations when it starts, if it does, most likely the mounts are bad.
  • Tell the assistant to shift in reverse and let the car roll for 1 meter. If you see that the engine changes its position slightly or vibrates then the mounts are damaged.

This method works best to check the upper engine mounts that are visible in the engine compartment when you open the hood. But not all cars have these kinds of mounts installed. Other cars have mounts under the engine, and you should check them using the next method.

The second method requires you to have a jack, or the have access to a lifter or a vehicle inspection pit. Also you will need to have a pry bar or a strong lever.

  1. Raise the vehicle with a jack, or lift it. Don’t forget to secure the car if you are using a jack;
  2. Use the pry bar to support the engine and lift its weight off the mounts;
  3. Begin to examine the engine mounts for damage. Look for traces of structural damage, such as tears, cracks in the rubber layer, peeling of rubber from the metal part. During the inspection, special attention should be paid to the joints between rubber and metal.

If in the visual inspection you can’t see anything, you should ask another person to help you. With a crowbar or a lever, ask your assistant to move the engine slightly around each mount.

If there is a noticeable clearance in the mount, you just need to tighten it better. Or you can also detect a tear between the rubber support and its metal part. If you see damage to the mountings the only solution is to replace them.

If you don’t see anything even after performing the tests above then you should check the other car parts responsible for strong vibrations such as exhaust pipe, transmission, and even the injectors.

Checking the hydraulic engine mounts

Hydraulic engine mounts are installed in newer car models. The first method that I described above for checking the rubber-metal mounts can be applied to the hydraulic mounts as well. In addition, when inspecting them see if you spot fluid leaks on the mount’s body. Because of the leaks, hydraulic engine mounts are easier to check than regular ones.

The easiest way to check the upper engine mounts is to apply the emergency brake and to try to move the car. Any driver will be able to notice the engine shakes and the stroke of the rod in the support.

If you have an automatic car, you can check the hydraulic engine mounts with the help of another person. Ask him to put the shifter in drive mode or reverse to see in which position of the shifter the engine vibrates the most, while you are watching the engine compartment.

Pay attention to the engine to see which side sags at that moment and you will be able to identify the damaged mount.

Hydraulic mounts that use electronic vacuum cushion control can be checked by starting the engine and then opening the oil cap so that the knocks can be heard clearly. Then, you need to find the vacuum hoses for each engine mount, take them out, and pinch them with a finger.

If the knocking disappears, then there is a gap in the mount. Because of depressurization, knocking sounds are heard.

What happens if you drive with bad engine mounts?

Although, engine mounts are resistant are their replacement is made rarely. Driving with damaged mounts can damage, not only the engine in the long run due to the strong vibrations and shakes but also other car parts near as well.

How much does a motor mount cost to replace?

Depending on the car brand and whether the mounts are traditional or hydraulic, prices can vary between $250 and $650 with labor included. Avoid buying used engine mounts from junkyard, because all you are doing is throwing money away.

How much does it take to replace the engine mounts?

Replacing engine mounts is not an easy task. Often cars have three engine mounts and for each mount 1-2 hours is required for replacing.

Conclusion

Engine mounts work best when the engine vibrates most: when starting, accelerating and braking. Driving on bad roads will wear the mounts faster, but if do encounter damage to engine mounts, replacing them can get rid you of many headaches and comfort problems caused by the loud sounds emitted by their faults.

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