(Updated on January 3, 2021)
There are many moving parts in your vehicle. As the car drives along, it’s constantly being jolted by the impact of the road.
Why then don’t we notice all the knocks and noise? That’s thanks to your suspension. The suspension helps to insulate you from vibrations and sound and strut mounts play a big role in that. However, strut mounts typically don’t last forever.
Fortunately, symptoms of a bad strut mount make it easy to diagnose in most cases. Keep reading to understand what to look for and to get an idea of average replacement cost if it comes to that.
What is a Strut Mount?
Struts are simple parts that keep the suspension attached and in the right position. One end is bolted into the body of the car, and the other is attached to the strut assembly. The mount is an essential part of your suspension system.
The strut mount, or strut plate, is what keeps the suspension firmly in place. Some mounts also have a strut bearing or plate that makes it possible to pivot the steering. If this crucial component is damaged, the suspension can’t do its job as well as it should.
Top 9 Bad Strut Mount Symptoms
1) A Noisy Strut Mount
Do you hear a clunking sound like metal on metal? It is likely because the rubber in the mount has disintegrated to the point of it being no longer able to provide a barrier between the mount and the strut itself.
2) Not So Good Vibrations
If you fee like you’re teeth are chattering when driving your car, your suspension needs work. Check the upper strut mount first and asses its condition. Generally, the vibrations will be a lot more intense than normal.
3) Steering Issues
By steering issues, we mean that it is too stiff, too loose, or making a noise. None of these are healthy. The steering may seem completely unrelated, but it’s interlinked with the suspension system.
4) Tire Alignment Issues
Does it feel as though your car is pulling to one side? Do this test to make sure.
Take a drive down a long, straight street when it’s not too busy. Drive as normal. When you hit the straight, take your hands off the wheel.
If the car drives straight as an arrow, the tires are correctly aligned. If there’s something wrong with your suspension (possibly a strut mount), tires, or brakes, the car is likely to pull towards the side that’s working correctly. Check your strut mount or other components on that corner to confirm the issue.
5) Tire Wear
Another check is how your tires wear. Are they wearing evenly? If not, it may be an indication that the corresponding strut mount needs replacement.
Symptoms six through nine below are some visual checks you should perform.
6) Excessive Movement
Open the hood and locate the mount. Now, press down on the car and see what happens. Does the mount move a lot?
It’s normal for it to move a little, but too much movement is a concern.
7) Damaged Components
The mount keeps the strut in the correct location. If the mount is giving way, the strut is not contained. It could lead to it knocking against other parts and damaging them.
You’ll also notice that components within the car need to be tightened more often than usual.
8) Rubber in Poor Condition
Look at the rubber on the inside of the mount. You should be able to do this without unscrewing it. If it looks like it’s disintegrating or is cracking, it’s time to have it replaced.
Corrosion of these parts means that they’re beyond their limitations. You could hope that things go well and that the strut will hold but are you really willing to put your family’s safety at risk?
Strut Mount Replacement Cost
The make and model of the car play a considerable role in the replacement cost. It’s the industry standard to replace the struts in pairs but a failed strut mount can be replaced on its own.
Replacing a strut mount will cost you somewhere in the range of $120 to $250 total (parts & labor). The strut mount itself will only cost around $40 to $100 in parts.
Since replacing a strut mount means the actual strut has to be removed, compressed, and reinstalled along with the strut mount, 1 to 1.5 hours of labor per strut mount is necessary. At typical rates, expect to pay around $80 to $150 in labor.
If both strut mounts are showing signs of wear, it’s worth it in most cases to also replace the corresponding struts since it’s not any extra labor to do so. This way you’ll avoid hundreds of dollars in labor to replace failing struts in the future.
If you have a spring compressor (or can borrow one) and are able to do the work yourself, you can save a lot of money in labor.
But before you rush out to change your strut mount, we recommend handing this over to a professional. Taking the struts out is something that you must do carefully. The struts are under a fair amount of pressure, and if you release that pressure too fast, it could fly out and cause severe injury or even death.
We’re supportive of DIY solutions, but we do prefer safe options. For us, this falls under the category of “Leave it to the professionals.”
How Long Do Strut Mounts Last?
A correctly installed strut should last at least ten years, depending on where you live. If you’re in a rural area and go off-roading often or live in a coastal area or where road salt is used in the winter, you’re dooming the mounts to a shorter lifespan. If you live in a city, with smooth roads, the mounts might last a lifetime.
When you take your car in to check the shocks, get the struts checked as well. Many people opt to replace their struts and mounts at the same time.
Can I Drive My Car With a Faulty Strut Mount?
If your suspension is out, you can still, technically, drive your car. You’re not going to enjoy the ride much, though. What’s more important is that your vehicle is not protected from an uneven road surface and could deteriorate quickly or cause an accident.
Every little vibration will register. The other parts in the vehicle come under strain and might end up rubbing against each other. They’ll wear out faster and get damaged more easily.
The car also won’t be as responsive as it should. Our advice is to drive it straight to the mechanic until it’s fixed.