You know your strut nut is loose when it starts producing a squeaking noise. The surprising thing is that most struts mounts do not fail catastrophically. Only your mechanic can help you diagnose a loose strut nut.
However, this article will help you figure out all the signs you need to look for in order to diagnose a loose strut nut.
What Happens if a Strut Nut is Loose?
Let’s begin by discussing what can go wrong if your strut nut is loose.
- The Vehicle Bounces:
The most common thing that happens when your strut nut is loose is that your vehicle begins to bounce and move excessively. This is because the strut nut helps cushion the impact of bumps on the road. If it is loose, it will not be able to do its job effectively.
- The Front-End Dives and/or the Rear Squats:
The strut nut is also responsible for maintaining the structure and geometry of the vehicle. Therefore, when it is loose, it causes the front end of the vehicle to dive or the rear end to squat. This causes the vehicle to lose its structure which can lead to balance issues.
- The Vehicle Exhibits Signs of Body Roll:
When turning into a corner, the car shows signs of a body roll. This means the weight of the car is thrown towards the outside corner. Which causes the body but not the wheels of your car to roll in that direction. This can cause a loss of balance.
- You Hear Unusual Noises:
The most common outcome of a loose strut nut is squeaking and clunking noises coming from the car when you’re driving. Unusual noises don’t always mean that there is a loose strut nut but they are surely one of the reasons for all the noise.
- Loss of Control Over Steering Wheel
Loose strut nuts reduce your control over the steering wheel. Your steering wheel might feel harder than normal and hence, more difficult to steer. This is very dangerous because you need complete control over the steering wheel for a safe drive.
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Major Causes of Loosening of Strut Nuts
Having discussed the outcomes of a loose strut nut, let us now move on to the factors that cause the strut nut to become loose.
- Excessive Vibration:
One of the major causes of loosening of strut nuts is excessive vibration in the car. If you are driving on a rough path and there is excessive vibration in your car, this might cause the strut nut of your car to come loose.
Some vibrations will not do a lot of harm, however, if this is done a number of times, it is possible that the strut nut might come loose.
If the strut nut has not been properly tightened, it is probable that it will come loose very soon. This is because it does not have the right clamp force to keep the sections together.
Once the nut has been embedded, design engineers specify a break-in period. During this time the nut relaxes a little bit. This happens because of the micro-embedding of the strut nut into the surface.
However, if there is an issue with the design, the nut will not be able to achieve the proper clamp force and it will come loose.
Alternating loads from machinery can cause mechanical shocks. This is basically a sudden force that is applied onto the strut nut which causes it to slip. This constant slippage may finally lead to a loose strut nut.
- Thermal Expansion:
If the joint and strut nut are made of different materials, the differences in temperature may cause the materials to expand at a different rate. This may cause the strut nut to become loose.
- Gasket Creep:
Usually, there is a flexible and thin gasket between the joint’s surface and the bolt head. This reduces friction between the two and in turn reduces wear and tear. Over time, the gasket may lose its springiness due to corrosive chemicals or high heat.
Another reason for the deterioration of the gasket creep is the uneven tightening of strut nuts. This crushes the gasket creep and leads to loss of clamp force.
This causes the strut nut to become loose and causes several problems during driving such as excessive movement and loss of control over the steering wheel.
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What Does a Loose Strut Nut Sound Like?
If your strut nut is loose, you will hear a squeaking noise when you turn the steering wheel. In addition, you will also notice clunking noises when hitting irregularities on the road such as potholes or speed bumps.
You can hear this noise because the loose strut nut causes the two metal parts to hit each other. This is because they lose the rubber insulation that keeps them from rubbing against one another.
How Long Does It Take for New Strut Nuts to Settle?
It may take up to 5 weeks for new strut nuts to settle. They will settle in properly once you have driven the car for about 500 to 1,000 miles. During the settling process, it is recommended that the weight of the entire vehicle is placed on the suspension components. We also recommend a 1,000-mile alignment check.
Can You Tighten a Loose Strut Nut?
Yes, it is possible to tighten a loose strut nut. You can either take the car to a mechanic or try to tighten the strut nut yourself. However, if you are doing it for the first time, it is recommended that you do it under the supervision of a skilled mechanic.
How To Fix a Loose Strut Nut Yourself?
Follow the steps below to tighten a loose strut nut yourself:
- Take a 9-mm open wrench setup. This allows you to hold the nut steady while you fasten it.
- Place the nut onto the coil-over and align it properly.
- Use the wrench to spin the nut while holding down on it so that it does not move from its position.
- Tighten the nut properly until it does not twist anymore and you’re done.
- Can you drive with a broken strut bolt?
Answer: It is possible to drive with a broken or loose strut nut. However, it is not safe to do so. You will not have to face much trouble if you are driving on a straight road. However, if you were to hit road irregularities, you will hear a lot of noise and there is also a danger of you losing control of your car.
- What do bad struts feel like?
Answer: If the strut nut of your car is loose, it will cause the car to lean when turning corners and to squat upon hard braking or acceleration. The steering wheel may also feel difficult to turn or notchy.
- Can you over-tighten strut mounts?
Answer: Yes, it is possible to over-tighten strut mounts and nuts. This mainly happens when you use an electric impact wrench or an air wrench to tighten the strut nuts. These wrenches will make the torque higher than required. This can lead to damage to the internal structure of the car.