2013 to 2019 Upper Strut Mount - Does not turn freely, normal? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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2013 to 2019 Upper Strut Mount - Does not turn freely, normal?


August 22, 2015
Reaction score
City, State
The Hight Desert, SoCal.
Year, Model & Trim Level
IS 2015 Explorer Sport
Hey Everyone,

Swapped out the dampeners (Bilstein & KYB) and springs (H&R) on our 15 Ex Sport a couple of weeks ago. Went pretty smooth...or so I thought. One of the things I noticed was that when torquing the 4 upper strut mount nuts to 41 ft/lbs, the upper mount (aka top hat) will not rotate freely. Matter of fact, it does not rotate at all. I've done quite a few suspensions swaps in my lifetime, never have I ever encountered this "issue". Done quite a few Mustangs, the top hats on those spin just fine. :dunno:

Tried the search function but no luck. Apologies if I missed it. I found a thread about the older EXs mounts not being able to be rotated either unless the springs are compressed, but nothing for the 5th gen. Currently have both upper nuts tightened enough (Should be 98 ft/lbs) for the mounts to turn / spin but now I am encountering a very slight clunk (only on the drivers side) when putting the vehicle in reverse (when backing out of the garage) after the EX has been sitting.

Any input will be appreciated...Thanks! :chug:

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I re-used the old strut mounts, they were still good to go. Of course soon as the noise happened, I bought new ones from Ford, just in case. It is after the fact and honestly should've followed best practice and replaced the top hats regardless of condition. However I did notice that the new parts also don't spin very freely either.

Gonna take it apart this Saturday, debating if I should mess with the passenger side as it isn't making a racket...as of yet.

Always replace mounts when replace struts and vice versa.

Just a quick update...the strut mounts have no ball bearings (at least I did not see any) and are actually 2 plastic sleeves filled with what I assume to be silicone grease in between gliding on each other. Part numbers are different though I see no visual differences between the 2015 and 2019 mounts.

Comparing the threaded shaft of the strut itself, the OEM has a wider gap between the threaded shaft and main shaft compared to the Bilsteins.

This gap allows for the strut mount to have a little bit of play, to allow the plastic (Teflon maybe?) inserts on the strut mount (which act as a bearing surface) to "float" & rotate freely when the nut is torqued down to 98 ft/lbs. (OEM strut and spec)

Without the play, the mount binds up completely. Bilstein tech support stated the strut mount nut should be torqued to 58 ft/lbs. No way to apply any torque without any binding...period.

I tested this by installing the strut mount minus the coil springs and tightened the nut and vice versa. And there is no way to just back it off a little, after a few hundred miles, both strut mounts (brand new) were clunking away.

So I installed the OEM strut and my old strut mounts with the nut torqued down to OEM spec. Perfect fit and no noises whatsoever. Good thing I did not throw them away.

Contacted Bilstein Tech Support and they are requesting pictures which are attached below.

First pic is the Bilstein strut and 2nd one is OEM.



I spoke to Bilstein Tech Support, sent pics and was told the gap on their strut is within engineering specifications. If I thread on their nylock nut snug, it will make contact with the main shaft and will actually fully seat when tightened to specifications. As for the OEM strut & associated parts, it goes without saying that everything torques up nicely without any binding, both using new top hats and the old ones. (which BTW are still good to go) The Tech Support person suggested I return the parts for a full refund if I disagree with his findings. I cannot return these as according to him, there is technically nothing wrong with the struts. My disagreement with his findings won't help me with the vendor as they are very specific with their return policy plus I have to pay for freight back. Other option is to file a PP dispute but to be honest, the vendor did not do anything and therefore, a dispute would be unwarranted. All issues are with Bilstein.

I had to make a .150 thick spacer to keep the strut nut from bottoming out and enlarged the strut mount hole a little to accomodate the width of the spacer. Ordered new grade 8 nylock nuts and will try again next weekend, hoping my mods will fix my issues. Otherwise I just wasted $268 not to mention my time and effort trying to fix this issue. I have taken apart and put together my front struts 6 times already so I am a pro at it now. (30 minutes to do both sides) I was also told I should stick with OEM struts which is not an option either as clearly there is a huge difference in how the EX drives with the Bilsteins. Hopefully my next update will be a success and that this post will help someone out if they encounter the same issues.

Thanks for reading and apologies for the long read.