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Good Vibrations? Not when they come from engine mounts.

When I drove a race car, I loved the experience of romping on the gas pedal and watching the 327 engine in my Camaro jump. So much power waiting for the race track when they dropped the green flag. 

However, because this is not Ford VS. Ferrari, and I’m actually just a Fairbanks woman who likes to drive really fast (and in circles), it so happened that all that jumping around was just my engine mounts, or motor mounts having degraded to the point that one of them was broken.

My motor was literally about to jump right past the hood. I didn’t know this at the time. I went out on the racetrack and had a ball throwing that car into slides around every corner. But something curious happened whenever I mashed on the right pedal and turned left real hard: it shifted gears all by itself. 

I thought I had a transmission problem. But what I actually had was a broken motor mount. 

The transmission mounts or “couples” directly to the engine, becoming one continuous hulk of cast metals. When I accelerated and drifted sideways—banging through pot holes in the track—the left motor mount, which was broken, allowed the engine to lift off the cradle of the car and forced the transmission to take flight with it! 

This experience is what mechanics call a “drive-ability” problem. When your vehicle behaves in unexpected ways while the engine is running, you take it to a local mechanic shop and tell them your story, complete with noises and body gestures, naturally. 

Car shops that employ professional mechanics have processes by which these noises and unexpected actions can be traced to their root, and repaired. With motor mount issues, it is baffling how many mysteries they create for both the mechanic and driver.

My race car experience had us believe that the transmission was our culprit. An incorrect diagnosis would have caused us to rebuild the transmission! Upon replacing the transmission, we would have discovered the expensive way that the Camaro would have misbehaved in the exact same way.

Engine mounts are a combination of steel and hard nylon/rubber or polyester cushions that absorb the natural movement caused by firing cylinders. Over time, and with use, the rubber compound degrades slowly, causing an often imperceptible onset of vibration or other symptoms. 

Most drivers don’t notice problems when their vehicles behave, incrementally, in unusual ways. The symptoms present so gradually that there is nothing to mark a change in performance. 

Damaged engine mounts most often appear with “impact noises”.  Clanging, banging, heavy vibration, chugging, rattling, lurching, to name a few. If left undiagnosed, a broken motor mount will damage other engine or transmission components. 

The most common symptom of engine or transmission mount failure is a shudder upon acceleration. It is a vibration experienced by the driver. If the car is a stick shift, you will see the handle vibrating significantly. Sometimes it can be felt in the seat and often in the feet, especially if you are a tall person and your feet touch the firewall behind the brake pedal.

What are the most common vehicles we see with broken engine and transmission mounting brackets in modern cars? Here is a list we have compiled:

  • Honda Civic (1995- present) sixth to tenth generation
  • Honda Odyssey 2.2 L, 4 Cylinder 1995, 1997
  • Honda Odyssey 3.5 L V6 2001-2014
  • Honda Accord 1996-2019  sixth to tenth generation
  • Toyota Sienna 3.0L V6 1998-2003
  • Toyota Sienna 3.3L V6, 2004-2010
  • Toyota Camry 
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Ford Focus

If you are experiencing any of these issues, see us, your local Fairbanks Car Shop! We enjoy the process of diagnosing engine problems. When customers call us up and say, “My car is making this humming, vibrating, whistling noise…” we get excited! We know we can help.

Come, make one of our Fairbanks auto mechanics, your mechanic. [email protected]