This article is very timely for me because just yesterday,Ihad to take my daughter's '02 Dodge Neon in to my mechanic for a similar issue. My daughter told me a loud squealing had abruptly started 2 days ago.Examining the belts, I could see that they were (over-)due to be replaced. It's good that I let her drive my car to school and take hers into the shop, because I soon discovered the problem went significantly deeper.The belts were shot because the pulley tensioner had frozen and was no longer turning. The Serpentine was dragging over the tensioner, causing extreme friction and now, a catastrophic failure. The heat destroyed the tensioner pulley which had literally melted off its shaft bushing.
All of this happened because about 12 months ago, he (my long-time trusted mechanic) had advised that the center engine mount was broken, and needed replacement. Since it was estimated to cost several hundred dollars to replace due to the transverse mounted orientation, I asked if she could continue to drive it without risk. His professional response, was "Yes, but the engine torque will eventually cause other, seemingly un-related complications at any time". I had forgotten about the advice until yesterday.Today, My daughter has a new tensioner, new serpentine, and a new center engine mount, and the car runs smoother than it ever has. And the cost to replace the mount was "parts" only, since the major labor cost was already incurred in the tensioner repair.
This story brings to mind my father's 1970 Olds Delta 88. He got the smaller engine, a 350 V8. It had an automatic and all the other power options. I drove a 1969 Austin Healey, a 1969 MG B and a 1973 Triumph 750. All very small engines. When all of those were down, I would borrow the Olds (which by then was my parent's third car). My father offered to sell it to me for $25, but I declined. Whenever I borrowed it I would run out of cash. I was used to getting at least 25 MPG in the city and the Olds got 10.
Well, being used to manual transmissions I was at a light and wanted to rev the engine to impress someone. So, i put it in neutral and revved it. It didn't run well for a week after that. We had to do a complete tune-up.
We never had the engine mount fail, but I did burn out a wheel bearing trying to get out of a snowy parking lot once. The weight distribution was just terrible for that.
The Station Wagon ran smoother with good engine mounts too.
Yeah, it was a "big engine" by many of today's automobile standards, but not near as big as some of the V8s in that era. The 1964 Vista Cruiser Station Wagon I was driving had the high-performance 330 cid Cutlass Rocket V8 . . . not near as big as the 385 hp 425 cid (predecessor to the 455 cid) V8 in my Dad's 4600# Toronado.
Ironically with lower gearing and 3600# weight, that 1964 station wagon was actually quicker than the Toronado, or my 1995 Cobra Mustang. (But it was not near as quick as my 3000# 327cid SB Chevy V8 powered Corvair.) It's worth noting, with it's higher-compression engine (10.25:1) using 97 octane premium, the station wagon got as high as 24 mpg on the highway with a fresh tune-up and keeping my foot out of the 4 barrel carburator.
Hey, Dave, you really has a V8 Corvair? How on earth does a V8 engine fit into a Corvair engine compartment. My first car was a Corvair, and it had a tiny engine compartment. I loved that little car, but it certainly had a handful of its own problems.
Ouch! That reminds me of my own engine mount nightmare on a Nissan Sentra some 20-odd years ago. I was pretty broke, so could not afford expensive car repairs. Apparently, a transmission fluid leak was slowly destroying first one, and then two of my four engine mount gaskets. For reasons I still can't understand, my mechanic decided to interpret my "I can't afford expensive car repairs so whatever can wait should" statement to mean these, also. But he also didn't tell me about the problem! I discovered it when I moved to Northern California, got a new mechanic, and asked why there was this vibration at 65 mph. It was pricey to repair, but sure made a difference.
Had. Yes, I had a V8 Corvair. From 1974 to 1976, I built and painted the 1969 Chevrolet Corvair with the Kelmark Conversion Kit (Later renamed Mid-Engineering) to put the 327 Small block Chevrolet V8. This increased the horsepower from the stock 110 hp 164 cid flat 6, to 325 hp, 327 cid V8. I rebuilt the suspension, rewired the dash, repainted it red, and installed a black interior. The V8 Corvair in it's heyday was a daily driver, autocrossed, run at Lime Rock, and entered into shows. 0-60 mph was around 5.2 seconds.
The configuration had the engine in a cut-out where the back seat had been, on a steel box tube frame under a van type engine cover that I fiberglassed-up and carpeted. The radiator was in the old rear engine compartment, but was marginal on cooling above 50-55 mph even with three electric fans in the fiberglass shroud. The kit used the Corvair manual transaxle, turned-around and running backwards. (The V8 ran clockwise, while the Corvair flat 6 ran C'Clockwise.) The 1966 to 1969 four speed saginaw transaxles were the strongest, but even with the custom input shaft, racing u joints, four spyder differential gearset, and special oiling provisions, the transmission would fail about every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. I twisted 1 input shaft, 2 mainshafts, 4 clutch gears, 1 ring & pinion, and one set of u joints out of it from 1975 to 1984.
The engine went into a 1969 Camaro project in 1984. I was in the process of matching a 1985 4 bolt main 350 cid SB V8 to a 1966 Olds Toronado 425 THM Transaxle to the set-up, with a front radiator, when a job and location change encouraged the car projects sale. I sold a 1958 Devin (Triumph frame and 1974 Capri V6) to a stranger, the Corvair to a buddy in 1990 without the engine and transaxle. I believe the body was stripped and scrapped. I later sold the 350 engine and Transaxle in Memphis, TN. Alas, the break, and part-out demise of many project cars.
It's my impression that engine mounts always fail sooner or later, because of the decay of the rubber that's involved. I had a reliable Camry where one of the mounts was bad, and it was too expensive to fix, so I just left it. But it definitely left an imbalance.
The other point is that real-world engine mount experience is never like those car shows on Spike TV, where they make a really nice bracket with a couple of bolt holes so it can't torque, and then they cushion it with a rain forest's worth of rubber. On real cars, most of the engine mounts don't seem to be all that well made.
It seems that motor mounts can fail quickly in a highly stressed racing application; however, usually in a more modest street application it seems that the rubber holds-up well; unless, exposed to oil or other petroleum based liquids. Lacking that degrading oil or ATF element, I have seen motor mounts last for the life of very high mileage cars.
The wide range in design seems to be whether the motor mount solely relies upon the bonded rubber to hold the engine assembly, or if there is an interlocking metal feature to back-up the connection. The Chevrolet V8 "Safety Mounts" from about the mid 1970s on have that interlock. The Chevrolet Corvair flat 6 mounts had that interlock. The Ford Taurus sub-frame has that interlock (they just have a corrosion salt trap that makes the steel portions potentially unreliable; unless, the galvanized recall part is installed.) The 1964 Oldsmobile V8 mount had no steel interlock, just the bonded rubber. From the readers comments it sounds like other vehicles such as the Econoline van also had no metal interlock back-up of the rubber attachment.
Clearly, it could be very bad when engines or sub-assemblies fall-out onto the road, or even when the engine can shift causing the throttle to pull-on harder and the transmission linkage to lock-up. This is why there were NHTSB discussions with GM in the early 1970s. This regulatory oversight probably facilitated the upgraded Chevrolet V8 motor mount design in the late 1970s.
"The engine had been sitting in the car without any attachments, except hoses and the throttle linkage." Yikes! Sounds like it was one hard expressway stop away from a catastrophe. The scary part is that engine mounts can fail so inconspicuously and dangerously at the same time.
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