Car engines depend on fuel to generate power for various components of the vehicle, especially the wheels underneath. In fact, there are several mechanical systems as well as electrical systems which depend on engine power to function properly. There is one mechanical system called a crankshaft pulley which helps distribute this engine power to other systems.
The crankshaft pulley is connected to the crankshaft, which is a device that transforms the pistons’ linear motion into rotational motion. In layman terms, the crankshaft takes engine power and transmits it to the wheels which move the vehicle. While this is going on, the crankshaft pulley uses accessory belts to power other components of the vehicle, such as the alternator and power steering pump. In addition, the crankshaft pulley also reduces the vibrations which exist in the accessory belts. That way, the other connected systems will not get damaged by them.
Bad Crankshaft Pulley/Harmonic Balancer Symptoms
The car crankshaft pulley may seem like a minor part in a vehicle, but it is actually a very important part because this part contains harmonic balancer and connected to another important moving parts. If the crankshaft pulley were to go bad, it could spell trouble for the entire operation of the vehicle. You would surely notice a lot of diverse symptoms, some worse than others. But you should replace your crankshaft pulley as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.
Below are the top 5 symptoms of a bad car crankshaft pulley/harmonic balancer
1) Engine Vibrations
The first symptom that will likely come up are engine vibrations. As we mention above, every crankshaft pulley usually contains a harmonic balancer. This harmonic balancer is designed to absorb the vibrations of the engine as you accelerate faster. But if the balancer starts to go bad for any reason, the vibrations won’t be absorbed anymore. This will cause the engine to shake profusely the faster you go.
2) Alternator Failure
The crankshaft pulley is responsible for powering the alternator. So naturally, if the crankshaft pulley goes bad, then you can expect the alternator to stop working. This problem will reveal itself with all your lights flickering and eventually shutting off entirely. If it’s too bad, your vehicle won’t stay on for very long after you start it up.
3) Power Steering Pump Failure
The power steering pump is another component which is powered by the crankshaft pulley. The function of the power steering pump is to pump hydraulic fluid so that hydraulic pressure can be generated in the steering system. That way, you’ll be able to steer the vehicle with minimal effort. But if the power steering pump goes bad, then you won’t have an easy time steering the vehicle.
4) Transmission Damage
If the engine vibrations go on for too long, they will eventually start damaging the transmission system. This means that the bearings, input shaft, and gears may all take damage from the vibrations. Once your transmission goes bad from the damage, you’ll experience a whole new set of symptoms. This includes whining noises, difficulty shifting gears, leaky transmission fluid, and so many other bad symptoms you can’t tolerate for too long.
5) Irregular Idle Engine Speed
When your vehicle is parked or stopped with the engine running, you may experience irregular engine speed. The crankshaft pulley’s dampener is under more stress when the engine is idle. If the dampener has gone bad, then the engine speed will be all over the place.
Crankshaft Pulley/Harmonic Balancer Replacement Cost
The cost to replace a bad crankshaft pulley/harmonic balancer is anywhere from $350 to $400. The cost of labor is around $150 to $180 and the cost of parts is around $200 to $220. It is not the most expensive replacement job, but it is not too cheap either. You may be able to reduce the cost of labor if you can shop around and find a more affordable auto mechanic.
Summary job done:
- Remove all engine drive belts
- Remove crankshaft pulley bolt (usually using high torque impact wrench and pulley holder)
- Remove old pulley using a puller
- Install new crankshaft pulley
- Install and tight the bolt
- Install all engine drive belts
The labor cost and price of a crankshaft pulley/harmonic balancer part may vary, depend on make, model and year of the car.