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Strut Mounts

1997 Ford Escort wagon. The body of the car, and I believe the front struts as well, have 240K. (I bought it at about 95K and the struts weren’t new or anything, so I assume original. The engine & trans have more like 130K or so).



I’ve had a soft sort of “thump-thump-thump” sound when I turn the wheel for a while now. I was thinking it was my pass side CV joint. I had to replace the axle anyway b/c the inner joint was bad, and was amazed that the noise stayed exactly the same! Anyway, today I determined (almost completely certain) that it is the pass side strut mount binding.



Other than this the struts seem fine - the car handles and rides well. Lately I have had very mild memory drift in the steering which, I believe, makes perfect sense if I have a strut mount problem.



I’m just wondering what to “look forward” to if I just ignore it. I know it isn’t good for the tires, but what else?



Ignoring it is really what I’d prefer to do since I’m really just keeping this car rolling long enough for my wife & I to get out of a $$ hole. I’m thinking another 20K. Of relevance - 90% of my mileage in this car on VGC interstate highways.



My other option would basically involve replacing the struts - largely b/c if I’m going to the trouble of pulling them out, I’d be hesitant to put my 240K struts & springs back in to have one blow a seal or something a few miles later.



On that note, does anyone have any experience with “Strutmaster’s” and/or their “EZ Struts”? Maybe this link will work:

http://www…9-fe-f.htm

Figuring in an alignment afterwards, I top out at about $350 and half day’s work, while avoiding taking part of my head off with a spring compressor.



So I need to get a better idea of just what the consequences of ignoring it would be to weigh that against replacement.

The only time I’ve had a bad upper mount I got a clunk going over a bump at low speed. It was clearly coming from the strut tower so not much else it could be. The complete strut assembly is a clear way to go but I thought they were a little high priced but that would take all of the guess work out of it. Don’t ignore the ball joints as being the source of the clunk also.

I don’t see a strut mount being a problem because the strut doesn’t twist, so as far as binding goes, you may have a bad ball joint which is probably getting dangerous by now. Try the alignment check first and they will check things out.

Cost-wise, I did only a quick pricing of mounts & struts (assuming re-use of springs) and I was already at about the same $$ per side. I just wonder whether that’s b/c the quality is low.

I have checked the ball joints (unloaded) and have no signs of an issue - but I’m also not an expert. My issue here would have to be binding in the ball joint rather than straight wear since the noise I hear is quite clearly coming from the spring which is binding and releasing as you steer. I spent some time with a stethoscope while turning the wheels and holding various things (like the tie rods) while feeling for vibration. The clearest feel is in the spring. The clearest noise is at the top of the tower. But these things do radiate and can be hard to pin down, so my thinking could be wrong.

My understanding is that the strut does twist - or more accurately swivels on a bearing plate which is part of the upper mount. My thinking was that the bearing plate was shot. Maybe I have that wrong?

I have this problem at the moment which is not having a shop that I trust with diagnosis. But I will give everything including the ball joints another look. Thanks

Cigroller, I Think You’re Correct. Sounds Like The Upper Strut Mount/Spring Seat With Bearing Needs To Be Replaced.

I believe you are correct. When you turn the spring is twisting because its top seat can’t turn with it because the bearing’s shot. That could make noise, cause the tracking problem, and eventually break a spring.

CSA

Yep, I think you are correct with the upper mount too. I believe that is called “spring wind”.

So I never did figure out fully what the potential long term consequences would be - except for continual decline in the condition of the mounts & associated issues - i.e. they just kept getting noisier. Then I started to get some mild binding/wobble on occasion in turns, and finally figured - well this is just stupid.

So I ordered those struts and just installed them. I haven’t had it in for alignment yet, but I have to say that the sound of silence alone was well worth the little bit of time and $$.

I will also say that I have to give credit to those OEM struts. They were the originals. I took a brief test drive on the new ones and the ride is quite similar. Admittedly these new ones are low end, but new vs. 240K miles with a similar ride - not too shabby.

Thanks to those who gave me their $.02.

Backstory if anyone is interested: the noise from the bearings was first noticeable right after I had a motor & trans dropped into this car from another. I’m guessing that the abuse they took from pulling all the weight out and then dropping it back in did something that provided the last straw for those old mounts/bearings.