Could not replacing busted engine mounts kill me?


#1

So I drive a 97 Saab 900 SE Turbo, I paid VERY little for it as a quick beater replacement when my beloved 4runner totaled out over Thanksgiving last year. I’ve come to really enjoy this car, which is way sportier and more fun to drive than anything I’ve ever owned, but I am aware of what a poor decision it would be to pump a lot of money into repairs given its low value.

I was told my front brakes needed to be replaced, and got a quote for $380ish. Brakes are important so I figured great, let’s do it. Then the shop tells me the rear brakes will need to be done before too long so I tell them to just do them while they’ve got my car in for the front ones. Not fun but oh well, brakes are important and I so severely underpaid for the car to start with that the $700 bill still makes the car a bargain.

I go to pick up the car, and I ask if they saw anything else I need to think about. Turns out my front left engine mount is broken and I need to replace two more as well. That will cost $800 and is already a safety issue. I’ve scheduled the work to be done next week (Aug 21) when I’ll be near the mechanic shop anyway (they’re 2 hours away - the only shop where I live that works on Saabs price gouges, lied to me about other repairs that “needed” to be done, and were so rude/sexist that I was so upset I was shaking after dealing with them the last time).

My thinking is that even if it isn’t a great idea to pump $800 into this cheap of a car, it’s a very small price to pay to prevent what I perceive to be the likelihood of the engine flying out of the car and killing me. My boss, a long-time Saab driver/engineer/gearhead and a very close friend of mine, is telling me he probably wouldn’t do the repair if it were him since my catastrophe fear probably can’t even happen, and the engine would only likely drop out of the car when accelerating from a stop where it’s not likely to be dangerous to me. The guy I just started dating explained to me in detail that shifting at any speed could potentially produce enough torque to cause the engine to fly out of the car, and quite possibly right into me as I feared.

Who is right? Is a busted engine mount something very dangerous to be driving on, or does it just mean that my car might die on me as I try to pull out from a stop one day?


#2

the prices seem really high to me for the brakes.
are you sure no one else will work on it?


#3

High price for brakes that only needed shoes and pads. Motor mounts broken mean the engine and tranny are twisting around in the car. It can break things and lead to bigger problems. Will you likely be killed, No. Will it cause you to spend more money if you don’t fix it, yes. Have you checked the Mechanics Files above? Call around. Maybe you can get a better price.


#4

The chances of the engine coming out and killing you is so remote that it borders on the impossible.Its much more likely that you will do damage to the drive axles. The engine is bolted to the transaxle which is connected to the front wheels with drive axles.Broken motor mounts will put more strain on the transaxle mounting bolts and on the drive axles,but the weight of the engine, the transaxle bolts and the drive axles will all keep the engine relatively where it should be. To remove the engine from the car it has to be removed by being dropped down and removed out the bottom of the engine bay,because its just too difficult,there are too many things holding it in, to remove it by lifting it up out the top of the engine bay.

If all the bolts that connect the engine to the transaxle break then there will be significant movement of the engine,(not near enough movement to send it flying out of the car or through the firewall) but at that point it wont matter because the car wont be able to move anyway.The engine will just sit there bouncing up and down until the fuel line,plug wires etc tear away and the engine stops running.


#5

“The guy I just started dating explained to me in detail that shifting at any speed could potentially produce enough torque to cause the engine to fly out of the car, and quite possibly right into me as I feared.”

That is virtually impossible. Even if the motor mounts are completely collapsed, the engine will not let loose and kill you. The collapsed rubber will allow the engine to sag. Worst case scenario is the engine might contact the front cradle.

I think the guy you just started dating wants to be a hero, and he’s being proactive about it. He can pat himself on the back and say “I just saved your life”

The scare tactic . . .


#6

The price on the brakes may be very fair if they were serviced properly. Details help…

One thing you really need to do from here on out is to not listen to the boyfriend. The advice about the engine flying out is absolutely ridiculous and that scenario will never, ever happen.


#7

“The guy I just started dating explained to me in detail that shifting at any speed could potentially produce enough torque to cause the engine to fly out of the car, and quite possibly right into me as I feared.”

I don’t know about anybody else, but I would LOVE to hear those details.


#8

“One thing you really need to do from here on out is to not listen to the boyfriend”

Yes, he is the boyfriend, not the mechanic

And he has an overactive imagination


#9

well I could see fuel lines being ruptured with really bad results, so I think its very dangerous even if the engine just bounces around under the hood.


#10

Open the hood, put the parking brake on, and look at the top of the engine while shifting from DRIVE to REVERSE. If you can see the engine move more than an inch, you may need new mount(s). (If it’s a manual, torque the engine a little in 1st and reverse.) Also, broken engine mounts usually look broken (tears in the rubber).


#11

I’ve come to really enjoy this car, which is way sportier and more fun to drive than anything I’ve ever owned

The engine isn’t going to come out but there’s a reason they bolt it down. If it was OK to let it move around, they would drop it onto pins and not use bolts. It’s important to get the mounts replaced but not super urgent. I would drive gently and avoid jack rabbit starts until you get it fixed. Shop around, $800 seems like a boatload of cash for the mounts…


#12

Consensus seems to be that it is the right call to get them fixed, but that I do not need to be afraid to drive my car in the meantime. So thank you, that has been very helpful!

As for the details on the flying-engine speculation, dude, I already forget, it just sounded like a fairly thought-out explanation from an otherwise intelligent person versus my blind/ignorant fear based solely on my imagination, which is why I came here to find a bunch of other minds to bounce the idea off of. I believe his angle was that he was worried about me driving around with fixable and potentially dangerous car issues, not that he saw a window to be the hero by showering me in fear.

Just to clarify, my mechanic said it was a safety issue, which is the information I used to make my decision to have the work done instead of blowing it off. I’m not blindly trusting the boyfriend, but was looking for more input after getting such opposite reactions from people I generally see as smart folks who care about me.

wesw/knfenimore, if you think that’s bad, my local shop quoted me $500 for just the front. After telling me $450 a month before when I had them adjust the clutch cable.


#13

Your new date apparently knows how to put gas in the car and change radio stations, that’s it. Don’t listen to him.

My concern on the mounts would be this. A mount is broken, if another breaks could the engine shift enough to bind the accelerator cable @ the engine?


#14

The snowball effect of a broken car can kill you. Problems don’t stay small and Murphy should be respected.


#15

I have a different perspective on the cost. The cost of the repair should never be weighed against the market value of the car, but rather against the alternative choices. If you spend $1000 getting this cars into good shape, that needs to be weighed against the alternatives. To replace it with a car in known comparable shape might cost, say, $7,000. So the $1000 turns out to be a good investment over all.

I’ll add that Saabs can be more expensive for parts than many other cars because aftermarket replacement parts aren’t as readily available as they are for, say, Toyotas, Hondas, and Buicks. Saabs can be really weird and even parts generally considered generic can be hard to find. But if you like the car and it’s in good shape, IMHO it’d be foolish not to fix it.


#16

I’m in agreement with mountainbike. Right now you know what you have and the outlay up to this point along with the engine mounts is not that bad.
Wade into another car and there’s always the possibility that it could be a much bigger headache.

The behind the wheel fun factor is always worth something too… :slight_smile:


#17

The engine mounts are designed specifically to NOT let the engine “fly out” when they have failed. Big ugly failure points have been designed out of most cars because lawyers live in the pavement cracks watching for this stuff. Ain’t gonna happen!

This link might help you find a more reputable Saab service center;
http://www.saabparts.com/en-us/usa/the-company/service-centers/find-service-centers/


#18

So I just got a second opinion who told me that my engine mounts were fine. fml


#19

That`s good news! all that worrying for nothing.


#20

Excellent; and just proves why another opinion is always a good idea.

It could be that someone saw some weather checking in the rubber of the mounts and considered them bad even though some weather checking is normal with aged rubber.

Thanks for posting back with an update. :slight_smile: