Next time you put your foot to the floor to accelerate away from a stop, or motor on up an on-ramp, take a second to fully appreciate what's happening. All the power created by the miracle of internal combustion going on inside the engine is smoothly making its way to the ground without the vehicle rattling
itself apart from vibration, or the engine twisting its way through the hood. Despite the engine's best efforts to twist itself out of the engine compartment, the process of acceleration is largely uneventful thanks to the system of motor mounts holding the power plant firmly in place.
How motor mounts work
One end of the system bolts to the engine, and the other end is secured to the vehicle frame or subframe. Along with holding the engine in place,
the motor mounts have another equally important function: They isolate the surrounding steel from all the vibration and shaking going on as the engine
makes power. The motor mounts simultaneously hold things down and allow for movement. Save for a few very fancy viscous fluid or hydraulic type systems,
most motor mounts accomplish this feat with just two metal parts bonded together with a rubber insulator in between. The rubber holds the two metal
mounting points together and also allows for a small amount of movement while absorbing engine vibration and preventing it from reaching the rest of the
Assessing wear and tear
Just like tires, kick balls, floor mats or anything else made of rubber that takes a beating, motor mounts can also wear out and fail. Time and
thousands of stops and starts take their toll on the rubber holding the metal of the motor mounts together. The rubber can crack, become spongy or just
plain fall apart. Liquids leaking onto the mount itself will accelerate this process. Oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, or any other leaking
liquid falling down on the engine mount will speed its demise.
Engine power modifications in conjunction with overly spirited driving can also overcome the original design specifications of the motor mount and cause
torque-induced motor mount failure. If there's a whole lot of shaking, thunking and clunking coming from under the hood when you put the pedal to the
metal, then it may be time to inspect and replace the motor mounts. If the engine is small, a good two-handed push or heave-ho may reveal way too much
movement, and daylight shining through the two halves of the broken mount.
Larger engines will require a jack and various blocks of wood in order for you to check for broken motor mounts. If a broken or cracked mount is found,
chances are the others have been overstressed and are on their way out as well. Also keep in mind that, along with the usual two engine mounts, there is a
third cousin, the transmission mount.
Follow the steps below for some handy tips for replacing engine mounts. Inspecting and replacing worn or broken engine and transmission mounts will help
the rubber meet the load.
Check for clearance against the firewall before attempting to raise the engine. Tearing radiator hoses, crimping AC lines or cracking distributor caps
should be avoided.
Secure the engine on a jack with various blocks of wood. Never jack an engine directly by the oil pan. The pan will bend and rupture.
Loosen the engine from the mount bolts. Sometimes a long extension and universal joint is the way to go.
Next, crawl under the vehicle and loosen the mount-to-frame bolts.
Jack-up the engine a little at a time and remove the motor mount.
Compare the old and new motor mounts. Transfer any heat or drip shields to the new mount.
Thread in the mount-to-frame bolts before lowering the engine. This will simplify mount alignment.
Lower the engine and fully tighten all bolts.
Front-wheel-drive vehicles often have third "dog-bone" motor mounts.