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An engine mount is a mount. For your engine. Still with me? Okay, let’s dig a little bit deeper here, so you can get a better understanding of how your car works. Cars have multiple engine mounts, often two. One part of the mount is connected to the engine, while the other part of the mount is connected to the frame of the car. The purpose of the engine mounts is twofold. First, the mounts hold the engine up. Hopefully, you don’t need to be told that engine's don't simply float under your the hood of your car. Engines are heavy, and need to be held up some way or another. That’s the job of the mounts. Second, the mounts decrease the vibrations that you feel from inside the cabin of the car. As the engine does its job, it vibrates, as a powerful piece of machinery tends to do. The mounts, which serve as the middleman between the engine and the frame of the car, take those vibrations right on the chin, rather than letting them make it to you. Just think of the mounts as your own personal offensive line. Engine mounts feature a strong rubber material, which helps absorb the vibrations, but also avoids the engine from having friction with metal. Many modern engine mounts are filled with liquid, which serves to provide an extra layer of vibration absorption. Mounts are a pretty durable part of your car, and it’s not rare to go the whole life of the car without ever having to change the mount. However, as is often the case with cars, wear and tear can lead to not great things happening to your engine mounts. When that’s the case, the mount can crack, break, or fail completely. Not good, as you could probably surmise. So, what sets a left engine mount apart? Well, aside from the fact that it's on the left side, depending on the way the engine is facing, the left engine mount may take the most impact, and therefore be the most likely mount to fail...or it may take the least. It really just depends on the configuration of your car.
All right, it’s time for your first test. In the last chapter, we talked about how engine mounts are responsible for absorbing vibrations and impact from the engine, to keep your ride as smooth as possible. So, what do you think happens when one of those mounts - let’s say the left engine mount - is unable to do its job? If you guessed that it might create vibrations, well you would be correct. If your left engine mount begins to fail or goes out, the entire cabin may vibrate, which sounds a lot more fun that it actually is. Trust me. So, if you’re noticing your seats, steering wheel, and dashboard shaking like there’s a mini earthquake in your car, it may be a left engine mount that is failing on the job.
Okay, ready for your second lesson in cars? Weird noises are bad. I know, this is truly life-changing news. A busted left engine mount is likely to result in a much noisier car. At first you may hear a rattle, due to the engine being a bit loose. Then you’ll hear a clunking noise, specifically when you put the car into gear. Eventually that clunking noise will show up during pretty much everything you do in your car, such as speeding up, slowing down, or driving over any imperfections in the road. When you hear a noise that’s wrong with your car, it’s time to get the car serviced. And if that noise is a rattling or clunking, you may have a funky left engine mount.
A good number of modern cars use liquid in the center of their engine mounts, to provide maximum absorption levels. If the left engine mount breaks, then it's likely that you might lose some fluid. In general, fluid under your car is never a good thing. It could be the result of many different issues, including a faulty left engine mount. Get it looked at.
In general, it’s pretty darn urgent. Once your left engine mount fails completely, your engine will not have the support it needs, and you should not drive your car a single mile.
When the left engine mount first starts to go, however, it’s safe to drive for short distances. But those short distances should be to get the mount replaced.
Don’t take your chances, and don’t push it. Get your left engine mount replaced as soon as you notice it’s acting up.
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