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When a modern car goes over a bump, the impact is managed by the coil spring and the bounce is managed by the shock absorber. The assembly of the coilover and shock absorber is called the ‘strut’. If the top mount fails, not only will it be extremely uncomfortable, but it will damage your car too.
The strut top mount is the mount that connects the strut to the chassis. It has a rubber bushing to prevent any excessive vibrations making their way to your seat. You can easily locate them by looking under your hood - they’re directly above the front wheels on each side. The top mounts hold the springs and absorbers in place and control the angle that they operate at.
Without the top mount, it can lead to excessive bumps, jolts and damage to your suspension and car. If they fail then it can lead to poor steering, braking and comfort. It will also mean you fail a WoF and you don’t want that.
If you notice any excessive play in the top mount when moving the car forwards, back or side to side then it can mean that the top mount needs to be replaced. When going over small bumps if you notice that there is a chattering sound, then it can mean there is excessive play and you may need the top mount replaced. Most of the time, when changing springs and absorbers the top mounts will be checked and often preemptively replaced.
The mechanic will loosen the wheels and undo the bolts inside the engine bay on the affected sides and hoist the car up. They will then unbolt the entire strut from the vehicle and remove it. The springs will be compressed to take the load off the top mount and then the top mount can be removed. The new mount will be put in place and the strut reconnected to the lower mounting position and lined up with the top. The wheels will be put back on and lowered down. The wheels will then be tightened as well as the bolts for the top mount. The car will be test driven and may be given a wheel alignment if required.
The top mounts themselves are pretty common, you should expect to pay between $220 and $500 for a top mount to be replaced.
Typically the top mount won’t need replacing unless it breaks. They are regularly serviced with the springs and shocks. If they do need replacing then it is something worth doing as a damaged one can lead to other problems down the road.
A broken strut top mount affects braking, turning and stability. These are 3 things you don’t want affected and as such, if something goes wrong with your strut then it needs fixing.
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