Well, the top washer/plate is not supposed to be concave (or convex if you flip it over), which makes me think someone cranked down on it way too much.
As far as saying I would replace it right away, I guess pictures like this are influencing my decision:
, on Flickr
And, just to be clear, I did not say it was un-driveable. I said he should not drive it until the RSM's are replaced. If your wife is in labor, or your kid has a bleeding head wound, then drive it. Otherwise, stop driving, and fix it.
But, if I am in the minority here, then that is fine. I would not risk additional damage to the shock.
I mentioned sheet metal tearing because there have been photos posted on here, that I could not dig up, of that entire area tearing in some of the worst cases, and cracks developing around the bolt holes at best. They do sell those reinforcement plates for the RSM's for a reason.
If you figure the costs of repairing the sheet metal in that area, I would stop driving, and replace the mounts, rather than risk damage. It is always easy to debate possibilities, and to say that it "shouldn't be a problem" when it is not your car.
I will not hand out advice like that, plain and simple. I have seen and read about RSM failures associated with cracking or tearing sheet metal in that area, so my advice is and will always be to stop driving, and replace the part, because of the potential for more damage.
The OP can listen or not, and he has to make the final decision. Personally, I think it is irresponsible to tell someone they "should be OK". Err on the side of caution, and assume that the person posting is not able to make an informed decision or to evaluate the risk properly. The fact that he asked is pretty good proof of that, and I don't want additional damage to his car because I guessed that it would be OK.
I was polite about it, and I did not get all "Mango dramatic" (sorry Mango
) with him and say "You are an idiot if you don't replace the entire rear suspension". I simply said that, in my opinion, he should stop driving it, and replace the mounts. After all, we are only talking about $70 worth of parts.
Unless I can crawl in his trunk, and look for myself, I will advise the most cautious approach. But, maybe that is just me.