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Old 06-02-2005, 04:01 PM   #1
stu
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1997 SW2
Default 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

A newcomer to this site, I found Saternalia a few weeks ago on a web search. The vibration in the passenger compartment of my "97 SW2 had become so rough that I feared an engine failure was imminent. Having eliminated some potential causes of rough running (subject for another thread), I discovered all of the threads on replacing the various motor mounts on the S-series.

I would like to share my experience for the benefit of others, and thank the following who have contributed to this and the How-To forums over the last few years: Madpogue, Razorback, Luke, Qlara, Wolfman, Saturnmeister, 94sc2boy, Saturn-eh (fellow Canuck) and AuxMike (love the 4"X4" pics).

At 205,000 km (~128,000 miles), the vibration and noise in the passenger compartment of my wagon was intolerable. Having convinced myself that the engine was operating OK for its age, I turned to the advice of the above contributors. Pricing on OEM components is a little stiff here in Canada; so I was reluctant to replace any parts unnecessarily. That meant assessing current parts condition and exploring my options for replacement parts.

My first observation was that the upper motor mount had badly deteriorated. Wolfman's advice to use only OEM here took me to the Saturn dealer. Interestingly enough, the nearest dealer offered both a current replacement (expensive and likely the upgrade mentioned in these posts) and an aftermarket, not as expensive, and the twin of the existing mount. Having puchased the vehicle with 72,000 km on it, I suspect that it still had the factory original. I purchased the upgrade.

Having read in these posts the function of the two dogbones, and upon inspection of the transaxle torque strut, I decided to invest in these as well as a transaxle mount (thanks Luke). A call to a local aftermarket source discovered them at much less than OEM price, with next morning delivery. Ordered them, and picked up all mounts plus aftermarket serpentine belt and idler pulley (thanks Qlara & Wolfman); since removing the wheel well splash shield anyway, it's a good time to replace these.

Having benefitted from the experiences of others (Luke, AuxMike), I jacked & blocked the lower control arms, with wheels off. I positioned an hydraulic jack and board under the oilpan and wheeljack and board under the tranny. By loosening all bolts, replacing one component at a time, getting the engine high enough to replace the dogbone and motor mount, and leaving the tranny mount until last with a fairly straight vertical lift, I was pleased how smoothly & quickly things went. Motor mount studs were easily reused, blue Loctite applied and all fasteners torqued to spec. With only the nut on the down-bolt of the tranny-mount left to tighten, I was concerned when I could not feel progressive tightening through the torque wrench. I was ticked off when the bolt twisted off at less than 30 ft-lbs of torque

Fast forward: return Anchor tranny mount to parts outlet; replace with OEM fron Saturn dealership shelf.

Moral of Story: I had noticed that the steel of the cheap tranny mount was so soft that a couple of the threads were dinged when I picked it up. I straightened them up with a file before installing the part. This part was made in India, unlike the Anchor tranny mount shown by 94sc2boy in his pic of 02-01-05, which was made in Korea. If you are obliged to use this part, do not attempt to apply 35 ft-lbs of torque. I have confirmed that the OEM part will take 50 ft-lbs of torque with no damage.

The dogbones from Anchor were manufactured in Korea. Although the steel is less substantial than the originals, I am hopeful that they will last, as it was the rubber, especially at the cylindrical end, showing much fatigue on mine. I intend to drive this vehicle for a while, and will post if these parts fail prematurely.

Performance: Passenger compartment vibration is gone. Noise is reduced. Launch is surprisingly improved, as torque is now being applied to driveline (I guess).

Is there still a little vibration in engine at idle? Yes; subject for a future post.

Hope this interests/helps some of you.

stu
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Old 06-02-2005, 06:18 PM   #2
eljefino
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Default Re: 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

Yes, new mounts make a world of difference. You sound like the kind of guy who'll also like new struts all around... but that's the subject of another day.

The saturn system is slightly odd among front-drivers: Except the earliest years, there's nothing bracing the front of the powertrain against the bumper/radiator support. Most other front-drivers I see have a dogbone thing in front. For the leverage involved, I would suspect the saturn system to be mildy under-engineered. Consider one's mounts to be wear parts and replace them at regular intervals for maximum driving satisfaction.

I'm a minority in being satisfied with my "anchor" mounts... for the price. Rockauto.com has a top mount, the one that usually goes bad first, for around $21 plus $6 shipping. If your dealer has turned crooked and overpriced or you just want to keep a beater on the road... their top mount isn't dreadful.
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Old 06-02-2005, 09:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

excellent work, you'll find that an S-Sat will run forever quite cheaply if you can do your own labor.

can you mail order from USA?
saturnparts.com (AW Golden dealership) is great to work with
Matt Goll is the Saturn parts guy and he's excellent
their prices are discounted below list and they only charge the actual shipping cost via UPS
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Old 06-03-2005, 07:18 AM   #4
stu
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Default Re: 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

Quote:
Originally Posted by eljefino
Yes, new mounts make a world of difference. You sound like the kind of guy who'll also like new struts all around... but that's the subject of another day.

The saturn system is slightly odd among front-drivers: Except the earliest years, there's nothing bracing the front of the powertrain against the bumper/radiator support. Most other front-drivers I see have a dogbone thing in front. For the leverage involved, I would suspect the saturn system to be mildy under-engineered. Consider one's mounts to be wear parts and replace them at regular intervals for maximum driving satisfaction.

I'm a minority in being satisfied with my "anchor" mounts... for the price. Rockauto.com has a top mount, the one that usually goes bad first, for around $21 plus $6 shipping. If your dealer has turned crooked and overpriced or you just want to keep a beater on the road... their top mount isn't dreadful.
Thanks for your comments, Eljefino. I am learning about some of the quirks of the SW2. Perhaps frequent replacement of the top motor mount with aftermarket would prove cost-effective, depending on the availability of time.

When I returned the tranny mount to the parts outlet and complained that the quality of part didn't allow for the application of specified torque, he commented that there was obviously a reason that their parts were cheaper. Now I better understand that it is not just reduced labor cost and minimal advertising and cheaper distribution channels that permit low pricing.

I'll keep the struts in mind.

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Old 06-03-2005, 07:35 AM   #5
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Default Re: 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Murray
excellent work, you'll find that an S-Sat will run forever quite cheaply if you can do your own labor.

can you mail order from USA?
saturnparts.com (AW Golden dealership) is great to work with
Matt Goll is the Saturn parts guy and he's excellent
their prices are discounted below list and they only charge the actual shipping cost via UPS
Bill, thanks for the response. It is possible to get most anything across the border. However, currency exchange and the application of duty and perhaps provincial &/or federal tax(es) plus shipping can quickly erode any potential savings on parts otherwise available from dealers.

Unlike my old Pontiac and Chev trucks that I have driven in the past, Saturn seems to be treated more as an import in Canada than as a domestic (whatever that means anymore). Unlike in the US, there was not enough anticipated sales to support dedicated dealerships; so, they were rolled in with Saab and Isuzu. I would not have purchased a used Saturn if there had not been a dealership close by. However, I feel that there is a premium attached to replacement parts for being in housed in the same facility as the more exotic cousins. Not sure; could be wrong. I hope to learn from some other Canadians on this forum what parts sources are working for them.

As for doing the labor myself, my first cars as a very young guy were '62 MG Midget, '65 Pontiac and '72 MGB. You learned a lot about cars keeping those on the road on a low budget. Technology has changed over the years; but I am once again trying to keep an aging car in operable condition.

I really appreciate the info-sharing on this forum, as my SW2 has demonstrated many symptoms described by others.

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Old 06-03-2005, 07:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

Quote:
Originally Posted by stu
Is there still a little vibration in engine at idle? Yes; subject for a future post.

Hope this interests/helps some of you.

stu
If you get this figured out let me know. I just finished replacing all 4 of my motor mounts to get rid of a vibration at idle. The vibration is a lot better, but still there.
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Old 06-03-2005, 09:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flop
If you get this figured out let me know. I just finished replacing all 4 of my motor mounts to get rid of a vibration at idle. The vibration is a lot better, but still there.
Possibly just due to the motor running a bit rough? Why not try an intake/head (top engine) cleaning with either a spray in product, or better yet vacuum some top engine cleaner in through the manifold. It will help smooth out idle and allow the car to run better and possibly even improve mpg. Maybe grab a new TB gasket and pull that off and clean it as well. While doing all this you might as well do the piston soak since the car is gonna smoke a bit when first started. While the plugs are out check to make sure they're in good shape and correctly gapped. This would be a great time to put in a new OEM only PCV valve if you haven't done so recently. You can also do the internal steam cleaning instead of some of the above.. Lots more info on this in the how-to section.
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Old 06-03-2005, 10:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

Quote:
Originally Posted by Applefool
Possibly just due to the motor running a bit rough? Why not try an intake/head (top engine) cleaning with either a spray in product, or better yet vacuum some top engine cleaner in through the manifold. It will help smooth out idle and allow the car to run better and possibly even improve mpg. Maybe grab a new TB gasket and pull that off and clean it as well. While doing all this you might as well do the piston soak since the car is gonna smoke a bit when first started. While the plugs are out check to make sure they're in good shape and correctly gapped. This would be a great time to put in a new OEM only PCV valve if you haven't done so recently. You can also do the internal steam cleaning instead of some of the above.. Lots more info on this in the how-to section.
I hope this isn't getting too far off topic... I have a vibration at idle with constant RPMs, right around 800. I have removed and cleaned the throttle body, as well as replaced the ECTS and PCV valve. I've averaged between 37 and 41 mpg on my last three tanks of gas, so I can't complain about that. I replaced my spark plugs and wires almost 2 years ago. So I guess there's a chance they need to be replaced.
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: 97 SW2 Torque Axis Mount System

Remember that the S-Sat does not have balance shafts like the Ecotec and most of the newer 2 liter and up 4 cyl engines.
Any 4 cylinder engine without them is going to have some "vibe".

The tradeoff is lighter engine weight and less friction loss and parts complexity.
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