No matter how smooth sailing your car might be while it’s new, the moment it crosses that certain mileage threshold, jolts and bumps will be a part of your everyday commute. A car’s suspension struts and shock absorbers, which are meant to dampen the vibrations and insulate road noise, get stiff and weary over time, resulting in a loud, clunky noise.
While replacing the noisy struts and stiff shock absorbers seem the logical solution, sometimes they are not the ones at fault. Strut mounts – sandwiched discs that secure the coil spring and front strut to the car’s chassis, ought to be the prime suspect for your car’s bumpiness.
Besides causing a loud metallic clunking, bad strut mounts could have dangerous impacts on your driving. From diagnosing the noise to fixing the struts, this guide features four effective methods to quiet noisy strut mounts.
To quiet noisy strut mounts, ensure the shock absorber and strut mount nuts are fully secured. If you hear loud clinking noise, lubricate the strut mount spring and seat insulator to smoothen the compressions. Reinforce the rubber vibration insulator on the strut mount to dampen the vibrations and jerks from the road.
Diagnosing the Bad Strut Mount Noise
Unless you are driving on a rugged off-road patch, consistent jolty vibrations and squeaking noises from the car’s underfloor should never be taken lightly. Anyone with a slight understanding of how a car suspension works would know that constant squealing and howling noises are often a work of the damaged strut mount.
The strut mount may seem minor compared to the entire suspension assembly, but driving with a cracked strut can compromise your safety. When the hollow clinking from under your car turns into loud banging noise as you stride through bumps and potholes, you’re probably dealing with a damaged strut mount.
Similarly, if you have dysfunctional struts, you might hear the same squealing sounds when you turn the steering wheel. Strut mounts have insulation padding layered on top, which soaks up parts of the vibrations from the ground. However, as the padding wears off with time, you will start noticing severe jolts and vibrations, especially on uneven roads.
5 Bad Strut Mount Symptoms
While it’s nothing uncommon for cars to make humming sounds once they go past their recommended mileage, noises associated with strut suspension are too alarming to ignore. Besides the rugged and chaotic riding experience, driving a car with squeaky suspension can also damage the car’s mechanics.
But how do you figure out what’s causing all the rattling under floor? Is it the loose or stiffy coil springs, or the strut mount is damaged? We have lined up some common symptoms indicating a bad strut mount.
- Intense Vibrations
What protects your vehicle from the bumps and vibrations from the road is the suspension unit. But if you feel the jitter in your well-padded seats and steering wheel, something’s wrong with the suspension assembly and possibly the strut mounts.
Since assessing the root cause of the intense vibrations is hard, you’d need to look at the strut mounts. If the suspension mechanics seem alien to you, consider requesting a professional’s help.
- Distorted Tire Alignment
Besides making loud rattling noises, a damaged or cracked strut mount distorts the tire alignment. If you struggle to drive in a straight line, even on a smoothly paved road, one of the strut mounts in your car has broken down. You may feel your vehicle pulling toward one side, making you tussle with the steering wheel to keep it straight.
In case the electric power steering doesn’t let you feel much of a pull, try taking your hands off the wheel when you hit the straight road on a highway. The car typically shifts towards the side in the absence of a perfectly working strut. Unless the car stays aligned on the path, it might be time to get your strut suspension checked.
- Stiff and Noisy Steering
Although a steering wheel helps gauge the tire alignment, the metric doesn’t hold every time. Sometimes, the wheel gets too loose/fluid or becomes too stiff to steer at turns, indicating a malfunctioned strut suspension. It is often accompanied by a loud creaking sound, which makes it easy to distinguish the issue.
A stiff steering wheel could also mean running short of power steering fluid in the system or having a flat tire. However, most of the time, it’s linked to a cracked strut mount.
- Excessive Movement
In case you are unsure whether to label strut mounts or the spring coils for the cause of vibrations, there’s an easy way out. Open the car’s hood and locate the strut mounts through your engine. Now press the vehicle downwards to see if the mounts shake. If the movement seems unusually excessive, you might be looking at broken strut mounts.
- Strut Corrosion
Whether it’s the suspension assembly or strut mounts, corrosion always means bad news. It often indicates that certain vehicle parts are beyond their limitations, requiring a replacement. So, if you detect signs of corrosion on the strut mounts or anywhere else on the suspension assembly, replace it immediately. Otherwise, you’ll be putting your life at risk.
How to Fix Noisy Strut Mounts – 4 Effective Methods
Most professional mechanics recommend replacing the strut mount if it squeaks or clamors, but you may not need to head to the workshop just yet. Unless the strut mount is corroded or makes intense vibrations, you can quiet noisy strut mounts by these four practical methods:
1. Fasten the Strut Mount Bolts
Due to the constant thrusts and vibrations from the road, the threaded studs supporting strut mounts become loose. These unclasped bolts allow room for wobbling, which leads to clunking strut mount noise.
Since the strut mount bolts are located on the top, they are easy to access and tighten. All you need is a torque wrench to fasten the nuts back in place, making sure the mount is secured. Don’t forget to consult the vehicle’s manual to determine the torque you must exert.
Fastening the strut mount bolts would only reduce the noise temporarily, as the nuts might loosen again due to the rattle. Make sure to secure the bolts every once in a while as part of a regular maintenance check or when you hear the clunking.
2. Lubricate the Strut Mount Spring
Even though strut mounts lack any high-friction points that would need oiling, the coil springs that bind the strut mounts do require proper lubrication. Unlike typical coil springs that compress and expand in a straight line, strut springs also rotate on the strut insulation or spring seat insulator.
If the seat insulator is left unlubricated, it may cause the coil spring to jerk, generating a loud grinding noise. The easiest way to lubricate the spring seat insulator is with a dry silicone spray – a lubrication spray – and let it sit for 24 hours.
Other lubricants like the WD-40 might not offer the same results, as they are more focused on reducing rust on metal parts. If coil bearings are the ones making the clunking noises, it is better if you replace them instead of applying lubricants.
3. Secure the Shock Mount Nut
Unlike strut mount bolts, shock mount nuts are less likely to become loose and wobbly. But if they do, shock mount nuts could be the main contributor to the suspension noise. It is supported by a nut instated at the end of the shaft, which may loosen up due to constant jerks from the ground.
Since you need to hold the shaft to tighten the loose nut, you’d need two torque wrenches to secure the shock mount nut. But the process could become much simpler if you have a shock absorber strut nut kit.
4. Reinforce the Rubber Vibrator Insulator
The rubber vibration insulators muffle any bumps that travel past the coil springs in shock absorbers. But as they wear off over time, the metal plates start colliding with others, resulting in a grinding noise.
Despite the commotion it causes, reinforcing the rubber vibration insulator is relatively easy. Apply a coat of the urethane adhesive windshield onto all nooks and crannies on the spring seat insulator.
Consider removing the strut mount from the suspension assembly to apply a thorough adhesive layer. Let it dry for 24 hours to bring the desired rubber insulation texture.
Strut Mount Replacement – What You Need to Know
Sometimes, strut mounts get deteriorate beyond repair. Besides letting in excessive clamoring noise, bad strut mounts are incredibly risky. If you see visible cracks and deterioration marks on the mount, do what the mechanics suggest, replace the strut mount.
Replacing strut mount might not seem as difficult, if you know your way around tools. The process involves removing the entire suspension assembly, detaching the worn strut, replacing the strut mount, and installing the suspension unit back on. So, make sure you have plenty of free time before initiating the project.
People Also Asked
This FAQ section addresses a few common questions:
Is it okay to drive with a damaged strut mount?
Driving with a damaged strut mount is extremely risky, even on an unbusy paved highway. Either replace or repair the strut mount before setting out on a journey.
How much does a strut mount replacement cost?
Replacing a strut mount costs between $120 – $250, depending on the quality of the strut mount and labor charges. The labor rates might fluctuate based on your location and the amount of work required.