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Engine mount replacement on VX Commodore

Discussion in 'VT - VX Holden Commodore (1997 - 2002)' started by Chad_L, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. Chad_L

    Chad_L New Member

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    Hello All,
    I wanted to share my experience with changing the engine mounts on my VX. An inspection had revealed that they had sagged quite badly (after 345,000 km!) to the point where they would not be passed for rego.

    First up I'll admit that I had the luxury of an inspection pit, however the principles are the same so while a pit is convenient, the method I used doesn't require one.

    Each engine mount has four studs; two on the bottom and two on the top. The top set are arranged diagonally, so one is closer to the oil sump than the other. I'll call the stud (and nut) closest to the sump the "sump side", and the other stud (and nut) the "wheel side". The nuts that go on these studs are 15mm.

    Here's a picture of the diagonal stud pattern on the top of the (old) mount.
    Engine mount stud pattern.JPG

    How to actually remove the nuts on these studs is a big topic in a lot of threads, because they appear hard to access. So I did two things to get them off:
    1) For the sump side nuts, I bought a cheap 15mm ring spanner from Supercheap ($1.60!!) and, using a blowtorch, heated it and bent it to between 30 and 45 degrees.
    2) For the wheel side nuts, I was surprised to find that these are actually quite accessible through the engine bay with a normal ring spanner straight from my toolbox.

    About the bent spanner.....
    First up, I don't claim to be the inventor of this procedure. Anyway, a normal spanner will not fit to allow you to loosen the sump side nuts. The oil sump is right in the way. So, with your supercheap ring spanner, get it as close to the nut as you can and put a chalk mark where you need to bend it to clear the sump. Stick the ring end in the vice, then hold the blowtorch flame on the spanner where the mark is until it is orange hot. Quickly get a pair of large pliers or even a shifter and pull the open end of the spanner until it is at 45 degrees. Seriously, this is worth doing; if you or a mate has a blow torch it takes all of 2 minutes.

    Here's the result. Mine ended up at about 30 degrees but this is only just enough. Bend yours a bit further as mine only just fitted.
    bent spanner small.JPG

    The spanner can now slip over the sump side nuts without hitting the sump. Here a problem arises - because the spanner is bent it tends to not only rotate when you pull on it, but the ring also tends to ride up over the nut and slip off, damaging it. Get two pieces of wood or similar and use them as levers to push against the straight bit of the spanner near the ring, so that it only rotates and doesn't slip off the nut. In this way you can at least loosen it enough to be able to use the spanner by hand to remove the nut.

    Here's the spanner in use on the driver's side
    spanner drivers side.JPG

    and on the passenger's side
    spanner passenger side.JPG

    Perhaps you could use a stubby spanner, or instead of heating a cheap one just cut it off to the desired length. But the stubby spanners aren't very cheap, and I also found that bending one left me plenty of grip which made it easy to use the spanner to run the nuts down their threads when they were too tight for finger tightening, but still easy to turn with a spanner. Up to you.

    For all the different techniques discussed on forums for loosening the wheel side nuts, I was pretty amazed to discover that they are quite accessible from the engine bay. Don't get me wrong, I did feel like I had to extrude myself between the tangle of fittings and cables to get the spanner in place, and then there was a bit of teeth-gritting as I tried to get enough torque on the spanner to get the nuts to crack, but just persevere and you'll make it.

    Look hard and you'll see the ring spanner (not the bent one) on the passenger's side nut
    passenger side wheel side nuts.JPG

    and on the driver's side nut
    Drivers side wheel side nuts.JPG

    The nuts on the underside of the mounts are straight forward as they can be accessed from underneath the car. Just make sure you use a LONG 15mm socket - a "normal" length one will not go far enough over the nut before the square drive on the ratchet strikes the head of the stud, and you won't really get sufficient grip. For the record I did try it, and I spent most of the time scurrying after the socket after it flew off the nut.

    I removed all the nuts, which left the engine resting on the mounts ready to be lifted. Before lifting, make sure there are no cables or hoses pulled tight over the engine.

    I lifted the engine with a trolley jack by pushing on the oil sump. I used a block of wood between the jack and sump, as widely recommended, but I was worried about the raised ring you can see in the picture:
    sump ring.JPG
    Even with a block of wood under the sump, much of the jack's force would be pushing against the raised parts of this ring and I thought this could over stress it. So I used some very soft fibre-board packing either side of the ring so that I could be sure the jacking force would be evenly distributed. Even cardboard, sufficiently thick, would do the job.

    Here's the jack in place. You can see the packing as well.
    jack and pack.JPG

    I had a mate check the engine from the engine bay (to make sure cables weren't being pulled etc) while I jacked it up very gently from below. Initially the car's entire front end will lift as the jack takes the engine's weight off the suspension. Keep going and suddenly the engine will lift off the mounts.

    I lifted the engine as far as I dared, then had my mate rock the engine slightly to one side so I could pull out the passenger's side mount (but you could do the driver's side first if you wanted). It took some fiddling but I got it eventually.

    Here's an old mount, next to a new one. Note the damage and the difference in length! (Ignore the callipers in the background - they aren't actually measuring anything).
    old and new small.JPG

    Now, the old mount was of course compressed a bit, so the new mount was taller than the old one. I struggled to get the new one in, and eventually decided to cut off the rounded ends off the bottom studs, plus two or three turns of thread, to shorten them (and dressed the ends with a file). I figured this was ok because the studs are plenty long as it is. I was then able to finally slip the mount into place, again with my mate rocking the engine a little to give me some extra room. I found that the bottom studs had to be fitted into their holes first, then the engine could be lowered down into the top studs once the engine mount was in place. Here's a rough sketch of what I mean:
    sketch.JPG

    The passenger's side mount was installed first, then the driver's side (but the order doesn't matter). Once in, I loosely fitted the nuts to the bottom studs, making sure I could still wiggle the mounts. The engine was then lowered very very slowly down onto the mounts by backing off the release screw on the jack slightly, letting the engine lower a little, then tightening the screw. Each time I checked the position of the mounts to make sure that the studs on the top of the mounts were going into the holes in the engine brackets.

    With the engine lowered completely and the mounts taking its weight, it's a simple job to put the nuts on and tighten them all back up. Again use the lever arrangement on the bent spanner to get the sump side nuts as tight as you reasonably can.

    All up, about 4-5 hours, but the time spent is small compared to the experience gained and the unique satisfaction you feel at having done something worthwhile for yourself. Hope this has been helpful!

    Chad
     

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  2. mpower

    mpower Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the writeup - good to know this procedure for DIY really hasn't changed that much in the last 50-60 years! Last car I had to change mounts on was an HR, same method basically just jack the engine to get the weight off the bolts undo bolts and replace - GM, if something works - don't change it please!!
     
  3. kais3r

    kais3r New Member

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    Any benefit to changing the mounts besides passing roadworthy? Did it improve the feel of the car or remove any noises in the transmission or drive train etc?
     
  4. acarmody

    acarmody Donati..Whoa Green

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    Depending on the condition of the mounts, you can have bad vibrations through the car, and if they have failed completely the engine can knock on the chassis rails.
     
  5. mpower

    mpower Well-Known Member

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    engine mounts absorb vibration and depending on the type of mount (some are liquid filled and can leak) they perish over time.

    Always something worth checking out every couple of years.
     
  6. b0tch

    b0tch Member

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    Did you replace with original holden mounts, which are oil filled, or solid ones?

    I replaced mine last year when i bought my calais with solid ones, and it seems ok. The give away was drips of the oil on my driveway!! Cant really compare vibration levels with good condition oil filled ones though.

    Did you manage to do it without moving the a/c compressor? Did you take the whole mount setup off the drivers side? It is held on by three 19mm bolts and were a real PITA to do.

    Good write up though....very helpful to those who are planning on replacing theirs in the near future.

    As you said, there's a sense of satisfaction doing something like this at home.
     
  7. Chad_L

    Chad_L New Member

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    Hi botch,
    I do not believe the replacement mounts were original Holden, but they are oil filled. Here is the ebay link to the mounts themselves (let me know if it doesn't work).

    Holden VN VP VR VS VT VX Commodore V6 Engine Mounts X2 | eBay

    I can't say that I have noticed any difference in the quality of the ride. I changed them because the engine was getting close to the chassis (but not quite touching).

    I did not have to remove the a/c compressor (something I was keen to avoid), nor did I remove the bracket on the driver's side. I know that some threads have stated that these must be removed, but I found that this was not necessary.

    Per my original post, the "wheel side" nuts can be accessed with a standard ring spanner from the engine bay. The "sump side" nuts can be accessed using the bent spanner. (You could use a stubby spanner if you wished).

    Thanks for the feedback on the write-up!

    Chad
     
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  8. Chad_L

    Chad_L New Member

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    Hi Kais3r,
    I did not notice any improvement in the feel of the car, nor did it remove any noises. I just did it because the engine was sitting close to the chassis.

    Having said that, the car makes plenty of other noises (tyre wear - that's the next task!) so any improvement from the engine mount change would probably go un-noticed!

    Chad
     
  9. kais3r

    kais3r New Member

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    Ok thanks for all the input, one of my engine mounts is low but not too bad, got quoted $400 to replace all at a mechanic, I wouldn't even try it myself, I researched a bit though and supposedly the mounts are sensitive to position and need to be very accurately placed, just something I remember reading, may or may not be as extreme as it sounded.

    Chad, do you just need new tyres or do you have a wear issue, I have a lot of experience with my own tyres and their config to help with that if you want to ask you're welcome to.
     
  10. Sabbath'

    Sabbath' Redblock Jesus

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    Nut closest to sump i use a ratcheting stubby 15mm spanner. I put it on and then use a prybar to crack the nut. Reason i use a ratcheting one is that you dont need to worry about repositioning it to get the spanner onto the nut.

    The outer one i reach up and over just the starter with a ratchet and socket.

    Drivers side, same for the inner with the ratcheting one. Outer one i get from the top with a normal 15mm.

    I also take the engine cover off to avoid breaking it or crimping stuff when the motor is lifted.

    If you dont have a ratcheting spanner though, a normal stubby will do, but you might have issues lining it up on the nut. So what i did was get a normal 15mm and cut it shorter than the stubby. Then with the prybar the length isnt an issue.

    Good writeup though. They're not the most straightforward part to change but with a bit of perseverence you can get there.
     
  11. NeddyBear

    NeddyBear Veteran Mountain Biker

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    We replaced ours and the transmission mount at 180,000 ks, Pedders did the task for bugger all and used the genuine Holden mounts, not the crappy ebay stuff.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2014
  12. kais3r

    kais3r New Member

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    What's bugger all $?
     
  13. Chad_L

    Chad_L New Member

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    Hi Kais3r,
    I encourage you to have a go yourself, both for the cost saving (the mounts were about $55) and the great experience you gain. Get yourself a cheap 15mm ring spanner, a decent socket and ratchet set and a jack and you're tooled up! Having done it I can't imagine the position of the mounts being too critical apart from making sure you get the studs in the holes of course!

    I certainly need new tyres, but I am not sure whether it is due to an abnormal wear issue or whether it's just good old fashioned big kilometres. All four have wear, so I hope it is the latter. I'll soon find out though..... :). Thankyou for your offer of help - I will let you know if I come across an issue.

    Chad
     
  14. Chad_L

    Chad_L New Member

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    Hi bOtch,
    I replied to your message yesterday but it doesn't appear to have made it...
    Anyway, the mounts were not replaced with genuine Holden ones, but they were fluid filled. They cost about $55 from ebay, P&H included.

    I did not have to remove the A/C compressor, as I was able to access the wheel side nuts from the engine bay. I also did not have to remove the driver's side mount bracket as, again, the nuts on the engine mount were accessible. Not having to remove the compressor or the mount bracket made the operation much easier!

    Thanks for the positive feedback and Im glad you got something out of it.
    Chad
     
  15. jgtoranalc

    jgtoranalc Member

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    Real easy to do....very basic stuff. I also suggest to do it yourself.
    Just remember to use Safety Stands if your doing it on the ground, Place stands under the Chassis on both sides and continue to use the Trolley Jack to lift engine.

    They are not necessarily sensitive to position as all you do is place the studs into the holes and place nuts on them. You don't need to measure the engine to chassis/body. Just fit and tighten. Holden has already done all of the measurements for you by designing the Vehicle before the Vehicle was even built.
     
  16. b0tch

    b0tch Member

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    Ah good stuff....i had to move the ac compressor as i wasnt willing to cut a spanner down and dont have a blow torch. Unfortunately for me, someone had previously rounded one of the nuts directly behind the serpentine belt, so i spent the best part of 2 hours with a small file filing the nut off just to move the compressor!

    The rest went somewhat straight forward, just time consuming. It took me about 6-7 hours, but the first 2 was on the ac.

    I started straight after work, got to bed at about midnight that night....

    About a week later i was under the car for something else and saw the 4 nuts holding the mounts to the k-frame were loose! Glad i caught it before something went wrong!

    I got my mounts from Repco, but solid ones instead of oil filled.
     
  17. evilopinions

    evilopinions New Member

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    What is an estimated cost you should look at by getting them replaced at a mechanic ?
    I need them replaced.
    I live in melbourne
     
  18. b0tch

    b0tch Member

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    Couple of hundred maybe...a mate of mine had his done and paid about $350 or so.
     
  19. hotrod

    hotrod Banned

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    120-150 a side ..... plus mounts

    or 2-3hr of your own time doing it. I got 2 mounts delivered for 32 bucks from ebay ....(transgold brand) super cheap have the same ones 54 each.
     
  20. hotrod

    hotrod Banned

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    could just follow this thread .


    Changing Engine mounts ECOTEC V6 (THE EASY WAY)

    or

    Thread: Changing 3.8 V6 Engine Mounts (VS-VY)
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014

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