Although leaking oil is a clear sign of trouble, not every vehicle maintenance item makes itself none quite so easily. For example, clutch wear is a gradual process. And timing belts last so long, some owners may forget about them entirely. Until they break, of course. However, maintenance doesn’t have to be just about maintaining your car. If your brakes need replacing, you can upgrade them. If your tires are worn, consider buying ones that grip better. And there’s one more often-ignored part that can also be upgraded: your engine mounts.
What are engine mounts?
Your engine mounts, aka ‘motor mounts,’ do what their name implies, Autoblog explains. They attach the engine to your vehicle’s chassis. Cars, SUVs, trucks, motorcycles—they all have engine mounts. However, these aren’t simple bolts or screws.
On road-going cars and bikes, motor mounts combine metal and rubber components. The rubber is there to shield the occupants from the engine’s vibrations. No engine is ever perfectly smooth as it revs up. Without the rubber, NVH would be significantly worse. In addition, ItStillRuns explains, engine mounts keep the engine properly aligned for the most efficient energy transfer to the transmission.
Unfortunately, although that rubber is how engine mounts do their job, it’s still rubber. That means, like gaskets, seals, bushings, or tires, it eventually wears out. And, while it absorbs vibration, it does so because it has ‘give.’ Which isn’t preferable if you’re trying to improve handling. Regardless of the reason, after enough time and/or miles, your motor mounts will likely need to be replaced.
When and how should you replace them?
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There are some signs your engine mounts need to be replaced. If the rubber parts are worn or breaking down, the engine will start moving around more in the engine bay. This causes loud impact sounds and excessive vibration; the engine may even visibly lift under braking or acceleration.
Usually, Cars.com reports, changing motor mounts is a job recommended for a mechanic. However, it is possible to change your own engine mounts, Advance Auto Parts, and 2CarPros report. And you don’t necessarily need specialized tools.
First, raise the front of the car, and secure it on jack stands. Next, remove the wheels, for ease-of-access. Replacing the motor mounts requires supporting and lifting the engine securely. So, you’ll have to find a strong, sturdy part from which to do so. But you can’t lift the engine directly with a jack, because that could cause damage. Instead, use a woodblock, or something similar, to distribute the pressure more evenly.
After that, it’s just a matter of removing the old mounts and securely installing the new ones.
Pricing and cost savings
Obviously, if you don’t feel comfortable performing this kind of maintenance/repair, feel free to go to your trusted mechanic. However, know that doing so will increase the cost.
Engine mounts, even the stiffer, higher-end ones, aren’t particularly expensive. For example, 2 ‘competition motor mounts’ for my NB Miata cost $108. Even a set of autocross-level motor mounts only costs about $250. It’s a similar price for something like a Honda Civic Si. Those stiffer mounts will increase NVH somewhat, but they’ll also make the car feel more rigid, which improves driver confidence.
But, if I was to take my NB to a shop, replacing the engine mounts would cost me double or even triple that. And that’s assuming none of the old bolts are hard to remove, and the engine lifts up without obstruction.
So, if you want to make your car feel sharper, and are confident in your wrenching skills, save some money and change your own engine mounts.
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