Question about a Complete Strut Assembly

I have a 2004 Saturn Ion. The shocks/struts have never been replaced. I got two Unity 11270 assemblies ( I’m in the middle of the repair. Everything is going great. I really just have a minor question.

The top mount on the Saturn is a single bolt with the pin to keep it from pivoting. The Unity comes with a cap that goes on top to accommodate that. My question is this. On the old assembly, the cap goes flush with the top ring. On the new assembly, there is a little rubber tab that sticks out to the side that appears to prevent a flush seal. What do I do? 1) Snip the little tabs off 2) Just screw as tight as I can down over those tabs until it is flush? Or 3) accept it not flush? Thanks for any help.

Isn’t that cap for shipping purposes? I don’t think you can install the strut with the cap in place, the stud must go through the body to be able to install the retaining nut.

To be more clear in the images, I’ve highlighted the little tabs.

There is a cap that is a separate piece that has the mounting bolt and pin that comes through the frame under the hood. That cap needs to be bolted with the supplied bolts to the top of the assembly. It doesn’t ship bolted because some cars use a three-bolt mount at top. Mine doesn’t. So, I think I’m clear on these. But that rubber interior (gasket?) has those tiny little rubber buttons coming out of the side of it. Before I just brute hard crank the bolts down to squish those things, I want to make sure that’s the correct move.

Take a look at the picture f the old assembly. There is a cap that has the bolt and pin emerging, and it has four small bolts holding it to the assembly. My new ones ship with that cap separate. You can see that in the picture with the cap on top. It’s a separate piece with the bolt and pin. But, there is that wee bit of rubber. Snip? Leave it and crush it? Leave it and allow it to limit how much I can bolt down?

Unless the replacement struts came with instructions that requires modifications to struts before installation, I wouldn’t do a thing and install them.


In the photo where you highlighted the “tabs” inside the green oval, it isn’t clear what you are referring to. There’s nothing there that looks like a “tab” which would interfere with the mount, at least as far as I can see. Do you mean those three metal discs? Is there something on the frame that would interfere with those?

Any modification you do to the ass’y not consistent with the written instructions provided could result in an unsafe situation. Since there’s quite a bit of ambiguity what the issue is, what I’d do in this situation is take the strut back to the parts store where you bought it, plop it on the counter, and ask. They probably have heard this question hundreds of times and know the answer already.

The severe rusting on the old strut crown leaves me wondering if the strut tower may be corroded badly. !/4 to !/2 the weight of the car will be hammering against that tower and the strut might come through.

Ok, I looked at the photo again, this time with the image at full res and see the tab now. It does seem to poke out a bit beyond the metal rings. And the metal rings just fit inside the mount enclosure I guess. hmm … well, that’s a tough one. I’d still take it back to the parts store and ask them.


The OP didn’t get the struts from a local parts store.

They were ordered from the site OP provided.

Don’t you look at the details that the OP provides?


I’m in Rod Knox’s camp on this. Due to the severity of the rust on the strut in the picture I have to wonder if the rest of the car is dissolving.

That’s pretty nasty looking.

I’d leave the tabs on and torque the mounting bolts to spec.

I think you should cut off the tabs. If you install it with them on, it will be noisy (I think) because the mount won’t be properly pre-loaded. Also as the rubber tabs creep (if you leave them on) the cap will get loose and make even more noise.

Ironically, my first thought when seeing those tabs was they were intentionally there to take up any slack or give at the top of the strut mount.

Looking at the website for (the maker of those struts), it looks like they’re very open to questions, via phone or email. They’re located in Florida. It might be easiest to just call them.

The rust under the car is fine, actually, but I appreciate the concern. I’ve been all over and up in there since it’s been apart. There is only normal superficial rust, and nothing that alarms me.

Regarding the OP, I went ahead and tried the suggestion from @Tester. I just placed the single-bolt mount cap on and slowly ratcheted down the attaching bolts alternating around. As it turns out, those rubbery tabs just squish right down. I was surprised. By finger feel, they didn’t seem to have enough give. But, under pressure, they flattened right up enough to satisfy me that it was flush. Honestly, if I opened it up, they’d probably crimp off from having been under pressure.

I suspect their purpose is to hold that dampener (or gasket?) thing in place in case you use a different kind of mount. Or, maybe they serve some role in holding the part in place while you screw the cap down? I can’t imagine removing those tabs to get a perfect flush would be a terrible thing to do, but it doesn’t seem necessary. Check out the pic. Let me know what you think.

Also, the car drives beautifully now. The Saturn has 120K. I hope to get another 80K out of it.

Looks good, go with that.

Thanks for posting the outcome OP. Good job getting your car back on the road , now with a smooth like-new ride.

That is just normal rust in the northeast om an 11 year old car. If it is severe enough, there are lots of shops that will weld in new shock towers.