Curious about something

A neighbor hit a curb at a high speed, 60 to 80 mph. The badly damaged vehicle was delivered to his driveway by flatbed about 2 a.m. last night.

Of course, everything in the front suspension is broken… both axles, control arms, etc.

What I’m curious about is that the bottom of the engine can now be seen only a few inches from the ground. It’s very obviously dropped significantly but not detached and actually on the ground.

I’m thinking the force of the impact may have broken several motor mounts? If so, why wouldn’t the engine dropped out entirely?

Just curious.

My guess, the engine is on a frame rail or crossmember.
What I don’t understand why people, like your neighbor, have vehicle towed to their homes rather than a repair facility. I have had two cars towed, one a snapped axle, the other a burnt out wheel bearing. Both were towed directly to shops to be repaired.

When I was with the fire department most of the vehicle accident calls after midnight were alcohol related. With a 2am tow, the time fits. A logical person would tow the car to a shop, the tow company knows the local shops that can handle the work. The car can always be towed to another shop later. An upset impaired person will muddle thru thinking about what to tell the wife, insurance company etc. His buddies have a cousin who can fix the car cheap to keep it off the insurance radar. Lots of reasons to tow it home. In the AM when they sober up and look at the car through hangover eyes they will wonder what to do next.

Engine mounts are designed so that if the rubber is torn apart, the metal portion forms a cage that does not allow it to fall out. It is a backup to avoid the rather catastrophic things that can happen as the engine falls mostly free. Plus there are a lot of things attached to the engine that get in the way of it falling out.

In the 60s engine mounts were little more than square rubber blocks bonded to brackets. If the rubber tore loose, the engine could move quite far. Easy to identify a bad mount but the throttle could bind and stick wide open. Bad thing!


Chevy was notorious for that “feature”. When it became obvious that they had a significant problem with their motor mounts, they did a recall. But, instead of installing improved motor mounts, they had their mechanics install a couple of pieces of aircraft cable to keep the engine from falling so far that the throttle would stick open.

+1… It’s like a V shape. The engine drops in. If the mounts break the narrow portion of the V prevents if from falling further.

Probably because it’s beyond fixing. I was rear-ended back when I was in college. My Vega was totaled. I had it towed to my house so I could remove the new am/fm cassette, CB radio and a few other things. When I was done I called a salvage yard and they came and picked it up for free.

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What type of vehicle? Where was curb that he hit it at 60mph? Hit it square? And then into storefront? Or middle of big parking lot? Glancing blow on highway? How did he damage both front wheels that way? Sounds like good story.

RE towing. When my car was totaled it went to a holding yard at the towing facility. Insurance company could verify the condition. A few days later I went to retrieve personal property.

RE motor mounts. Have had a few. My 59 Pontiac jammed the throttle wide open.

Thank you for explanations about how the engine is secured.

To answer several questions and speculations as best I know from second hand limited info from family members …

Vehicle was towed home because the owner / neighbor is a young mechanic who expects to do the repairs himself.

No alcohol involved. Apparently dropped something and made the horrid mistake of leaning down to retrieve the item.

Don’t know what angle the curb hit was. Airbag didn’t deploy. Rear tire driver’s side is flat along with front damage to all things suspension related.

The owner / neighbor and his wife are truly nice, solid young people in their early twenties. Thankfully, his distracted action that caused the accident didn’t harm anyone else as too easily could have happened. And, hopefully, lesson learned.


I remember it being a short lenth of chain.

Yes, it is possible that it was a short length of chain, rather than aircraft cable.
Either way, it was a very low-tech solution to GM’s failing motor mount problem.

A guy I knew in college in the mid 70’s had a big Chevy that had that “fix” installed. It did indeed look like a loop of heavy cable. I don’t remember if there were more than one but I wondered at the time what problem it was supposed to solve.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that it was two lengths of aircraft cable, but for GM to take this $5 approach to dealing with fairly frequent cases of wide-open throttle after their faulty motor mounts collapsed was pretty appalling, IMHO. The motor mounts would still collapse, but because of this jury-rigged “remedy”, at least you were able to drive relatively safely to a shop where you could have the motor mounts replaced on your own dime.

And these towing yards charge $20 or more per day for “storage” to keep your car there. Towing it home means no storage charges, especially if there will be an insurance claim which might take a while to resolve.

Not limited to GM, Our 62 Studebaker with a 289 had same type motor mounts, same problem when it failed.

If there is insurance involved they would be the one to pay storage charges if any.

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Yep, cost me nothing, the towing company gets the scrap value of the car.

GM is not the only one to cheap out onrecalls. Friernds of mine have a 2009 Ford Tarus. It was recalled because the4 DOT3 brake fluid was eating the insides of brake components. The “Fix” was to replace the DOTe3 Fluid with DOT4. They got a call from the dealer that corrosion had already happened and they needed to replace a $1000+ part for $1400 because the recall only covered the fluid.

With that kind of damage and the speed involved it’s not out of line to think that the car may not be worth fixing.

Suspension and steering takes that kind of impact the subframe and the floor pan it’s attached to could very well be tweaked.
I’ve seen several surprises over the years when pulling up the carpet a bit in the front floors and seeing a buckled floor pan.

Happened when my son wrecked his Camaro. The car did not look bad at all during a cursory inspection but a careful check later led to finding a buckled firewall, buckled floor pan, and buckled inner fender. Meaning; a total wreck.
A pro body man bought it with intentions to repair it but even he got cold feet and decided to just part it out.

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Most manufactures used “sandwich” type engine mounts, after they tear apart, under hard acceleration the left side of the engine lifts causing the accelerator rod to open the throttle.

I have had several engine mounts break on my Mopars, when the engine lifts, the plastic fan shroud is torn to pieces. The engine did not run away because these cars had a throttle cable, not a throttle rod.

GM could have replaced the throttle rod with a throttle cable so that after the engine mounts had expired the engine would not run away. Instead they chose to anchor the left side of the engine to the upper control arm shaft, knowing that people with older vehicle would continue driving with broken engine mounts, the cable was a permanent fix.