The crankshaft pulley drives a lot of components on the crankshaft with the help of drive belts. It mostly distributes power, but it’s also used to dampen engine vibrations.
Also known as a harmonic balance wheel or crankshaft sheave, the crankshaft pulley is attached to the engine’s crankshaft. It’s also connected to the other components on the crankshaft through the drive belts.
The crankshaft pulley mostly ensures that power is distributed to several engine components so they can operate in sync and allow the vehicle to run without a hitch. As the crankshaft rotates to move the wheels, the crankshaft pulley attached to it also turns to move the drive belts. This will produce the mechanical power and torque needed to power up various components like the power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, and alternator.
Aside from vehicle power distribution, the crankshaft pulley also dampens vibrations on the crankshaft. Doing this extends the lifespan of several key engine components.
The crankshaft pulley is designed to last as long as the engine does. However, the vibrations and heat coming from the engine can shorten its lifespan to 50,000 miles or less than a decade. Most crankshaft pulleys fail after their rubber isolation ring breaks down due to heat and high temperature. If there’s an engine oil leak or coolant leak, the leaking lubricant can also contaminate the crankshaft pulley and speed up its deterioration.
A worn-out crankshaft pulley can lead to excessive engine vibrations, alternator and power steering pump failure, and damaged transmission components.
Once a crankshaft pulley fails, it won’t be able to prevent the crankshaft and engine from vibrating excessively. The engine will shake more violently at high speeds, which can put you at risk when you’re driving on the highway.
If the crankshaft pulley fails, the alternator it powers won’t be able to provide the electrical energy needed by parts like headlights, tail lights, and air conditioning and ignition systems.
Like the alternator, the power steering pump is driven by the crankshaft pulley through a drive belt. If the crankshaft pulley is faulty, the power steering pump won’t be able to pump hydraulic pressure in your steering wheel, preventing you from enjoying your vehicle’s power steering.
Too much engine vibration can also damage parts like the bearings, gears, and input shafts, which may stop working properly. This can lead to other bigger problems like transmission fluid leak and difficulty in shifting gears.
You may also notice that your engine speed is inconsistent while it’s idle.This happens because the faulty crankshaft pulley isn’t dampening the engine’s excessive shaking.
A bad crankshaft pulley can also produce squealing noises as it rotates along with the crankshaft.
Too much heat can make the surface seal brittle. Once this happens, the engine crankcase pressure may force oil to seep through the loose seal, creating oil leaks in the engine.
Replacing your bad crankshaft pulley is doable if you have plenty of DIY auto repair experience.You should have proper equipment and tools like a car jack, bolt remover, wrenches, and a crankshaft pulley tool. However, if you haven’t done complex auto repairs before, you should take your car to an auto mechanic and let a professional install a new crankshaft pulley for you.
Make sure to buy a heavy-duty steel or aluminum crankshaft pulley replacement. You can also purchase a crankshaft pulley with a chrome, black, or machined finish. Most aftermarket crankshaft pulleys also come with a product warranty to guarantee consumer protection.
Get the crankshaft pulley you need at CarParts.com. Just type in your vehicle’s year, make, and model to find parts and accessories that are perfect for your ride.