5 Symptoms of a Bad Flywheel in Your Car

Last Updated on December 10, 2019 by themechanic

Every car has a mechanical device called a flywheel. As you can probably guess, this device is shaped round just like a wheel. The flywheel is attached to the crankshaft in order to capture and store its rotational energy for future needs. For instance, let’s say the engine torque is not adequate at a particular time. The rotational energy stored by the flywheel will step in and supplement it. That way, the engine does not suffer from any gaps in his performance.

Basic Function

Flywheels are commonly found in manual transmission vehicles. In an automatic transmission vehicle, it has a flexplate attached to the transmission to serve this purpose. Manual vehicles use flywheels to help sustain the functionality of the gears while the clutch is used by the driver. Flywheels also do a good job of limiting the intensity of vibrations as well. If the flywheels stay functional, then you’ll have a smoother driving experience.

5 Bad Symptoms

When your flywheel starts to go bad, the symptoms will certainly cause annoyances as you’re driving. Some of the symptoms may even interfere with our ability to control the vehicle properly. To help you understand these symptoms more closely, below are the top 5 symptoms of a bad flywheel in your car. Once you discover that you have this problem, you should have the flywheel replaced right away.

1) Gear Slippage

A functional flywheel keeps the gears functioning properly when you activate the clutch. Sometimes you’ll experience gear slippage when changing to a higher gear and accelerating faster at the same time. As the clutch becomes more worn out, you’ll experience gear slippage more often. This, in turn, wears out the flywheel too. Then you’ll hear grinding sounds as the flywheel cracks or wear down from being overheated so much. 

2) Strange Burning Odor 

The interior of the vehicle will have a strange burning odor inside of it. This is a direct result of the gear slippage issue. A bad flywheel causes the clutch to function improperly, which then causes the gear slippage and burning odor issues to form. If you want to get rid of this odor, then you need to replace the flywheel and possibly the clutch too, depending on how much wear it’s suffered.

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3) Vibrating Clutch Pedal

When the clutch is activated, you may notice the clutch pedal vibrating profusely. These vibrations may also be felt coming from the entire floor too. The reason for these vibrations has to do with the spring mounts of the flywheel becoming too worn out. These spring mounts are normally responsible for reducing vibrations after the clutch is activated. But if the spring mounts are in bad shape, then they’ll fail to limit the vibrations.

4) Clutch Chatter 

When the flywheel is bad, it is possible for the clutch to basically skip over it. In other words, the clutch will grab the flywheel and then release from it repeatedly. This will cause clutch chatter, which creates symptoms like vibrations and stuttering. You’ll experience this more often when you bring the vehicle to a complete stop.

5) Dragging Clutch 

When you have a dragging clutch, it is actually the complete reverse of a slipping clutch which does not engage properly. A dragging clutch means the clutch engages but does not release fully. Gear grinding will occur at several different levels as you try switching gears. The flywheel probably has a bad bushing or bearing which is causing this to happen. The actual flywheel component may not need replacing if this is the case. You just need to replace one of its bushings or bearings.

Can You Drive with a Bad Flywheel?

If the flywheel were ever to go bad, then it would cause a lot of functionality problems with the gears. The two biggest problems would be slipping gears and the inability to change gears smoothly. A slipping gear is when you shift to another gear and it pops back to the previous gear or to neutral gear. You obviously cannot drive safely if the gears keep slipping to other gears that you don’t want to set. If this continues for too long, your clutch will suffer damage.

But if the flywheel is in very bad shape, then you will either have trouble changing gears or no ability to change them at all. However, a flywheel must be in terrible condition for these symptoms to be present. The gear slippage problem will probably happen before anything else. If you let that problem go unresolved, then your flywheel will continue to suffer wear and tear. That is what eventually leads to the problem with changing the gears.

Therefore, you cannot drive with a bad flywheel. The risk to other people’s safety and your own safety would be far too great. Furthermore, the engine depends on the rotational energy from the flywheel as well. This could potentially cause you to have power problems in addition to all the other problems with the gears and clutch.

Fortunately, the symptoms of a bad flywheel do not just happen spontaneously. The wear and tear of the flywheel is a gradual process that occurs over a period of time. This means the gear shifting issues will start out minor, but then progressively get worse. That is why you should not wait for the problem to get worse. Any issues with shifting gears should be addressed immediately by a professional auto mechanic.

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