Vibrationsit's the least thing that you want to have inside the cabin of your Mazda, right? But since vibrations would unavoidably emanate from the body panels of your vehicle, you would just try to resolve the noise problem by applying sound deadening materials. Vibrations, however, is not only a problem inside your vehicle's cabin. It is also a problem for the engine's crankshaft. And to resolve this vibration problem, Mazda engineers have equipped each and every Mazda vehicle with high quality Mazda harmonic balancers.
The vibration created on the crankshaft of your Mazda's engine is called torsional vibration. It is a type of vibration emanating from the twisting of objects. As the engine fires, the front end of the crankshaft takes the largest part of the power created by the engine. This causes the front end of the shaft to move before the end does, resulting to a twisting motion. As power is removed from the shaft, it would then unwind and snap back. This twisting and snapping motion is the cause of torsional vibration and excessive amount of this vibration can be detrimental not only to the crankshaft but to other parts of the engine as well.
To avoid too much engine damage from torsional vibration, auto manufacturers have come up with the harmonic balancer (also called crank pulley damper or vibration damper). In your Mazda, the Mazda harmonic balancer can be found on the front end of the crankshaft. It is a special type of pulley that is made up of three parts: a steel inner part which is connected to the crankshaft; a steel outer part which has grooves for a belt; and a rubber disk or spring loaded friction discs, or both, in between. As the engine tries to twist the crankshaft, it ends up twisting the rubber part of the harmonic balancer instead. Thus, torsional vibration is avoided and the crankshaft turns smoothly.
With a properly working Mazda harmonic balancer, your Mazda's engine and crankshaft is guaranteed to run smoothly. However, if the balancer gets damaged, you can expect the opposite. So if you want to keep the engine running smoothly and to prevent a lot of damage in it, better give the harmonic balancer a regular check and replace it when needed.