Despite the fact that some auto performance enthusiasts opt not to equip their vehicles with a harmonic balancer, you can't discount this auto part's importance. When cylinders the engine fire, the crankshaft absorbs and deflects torque.The crankshaft vibrates as it releases torque and, in some engine speeds, the crankshaft's vibrations result in resonance. And where resonance is, crankshaft failure is sure to be, as well. This is where a harmonic balancer comes in handy.This auto part is designed to control and absorb crankshaft vibrations. So with a harmonic balancer in your vehicle, you can protect the crankshaft from premature damage.Sure, the additional weight on your vehicle's engine might cost you some horsepower. But it's always better to be safe on the road, right? If your vehicle still doesn't have a harmonic balancer, don't worry. You can get it from us here at Carparts.
• Dampens torsional vibrations
• Extends the crankshaft's service life
• Comes with installation instructions
Harmonic Balancer Buyer's Guide
- The harmonic balancer is a key component in any combustion engine. It helps keep the vibrations at a safe level for both the users and the car itself.
- It usually has three main layers, the inner one being rubber, and the main absorber of the vibrations, and the outer layers being metal to hold the rubber layer in place.
- Look out for unusual engine vibrations, noisy drive belts, irregular engine idling, and misaligned timing marks as these may be signs that your harmonic balancer might need a replacement. Be wary, as further serious damage might cause your engine accessories to fall off, including the engine belts and the balancer itself, leaving your car with an engine stripped of its necessary accessories.
- Make sure to find the right fit for your car, as purchasing the wrong one would be a hassle to return. Remember to consider your vehicle’s year, make, and model to ensure that you wouldn’t have to deal with the difficulties of filing a return and waiting for the product to be shipped once more.
How does a car made out of steel, aluminum, and other components not feel like a chunk of vibrating steel when you start your engine? How come the vibrations one feels when they start their engine isn’t proportional to power listed on brochures? That’s because modern cars employ a technology called the harmonic balancer, and this certain component of a car ‘magically’ reduces the vibrations of the engine.
What is a Harmonic Balancer?
A harmonic balancer is a front-end accessory attached to the crankshaft of an engine that reduces the vibrations and is most often regarded as a vibration damper due to this function. It’s essentially a rubber sandwich, as the middle part is made of rubber, while the outer layers are made of metal. The harmonic balancer often takes the image of a pulley, but their functionalities are way different. There are currently four types of harmonic balancers being produced, a liquid-type damper, an o-ring damper, a friction-type damper, and the last is the newest type, wherein the mass sits over and is attached to an elastomer ring, which is then attached to the outer housing.
How Does a Harmonic Balancer Work?
The crankshaft converts the up and down movements of the pistons into a rotational motion. This causes a lot of vibrations, but the harmonic balancer acts like a rubber absorber that prevents you from actually feeling the force exerted by the pistons onto the crankshaft. It is composed of two important elements: an inertia mass and an energy-dissipating element. The mass counteracts the movement of the crank, while the energy-dissipating element absorbs the mechanical vibrations. Working like the silent hero you thought you didn’t need, the harmonic balancer helps you enjoy the power of your car without it jarring you to the ends of tomorrow.
What are the Symptoms of a Bad Harmonic Balancer?
The harmonic balancer works hard to keep you comfortable as well as prevent the car from vibrating too much that it would affect its other components. However, due to regular wear and tear, it would show signs of needing a replacement. Listed below are the common signs you should look out for to find out whether or not your harmonic balancer is up for one:
Unusual engine vibration
Feel like your car is vibrating more than usual? It’s probably because the rubber layer of your harmonic balancer is due for replacement. It either warped from the heat or cracked due to the quick changing of temperatures. Whatever the case may be, check your harmonic balancer if you experience this.
Noisy drive belts
A harmonic balancer also affects the drive belt. If you hear it squealing or slipping, the balancer may have to be replaced.
Irregular engine idling
If your car is equipped with electronic ignition, a faulty harmonic balancer may cause it to idle poorly, as the computers in your car will notice something wrong and try to compensate for it. However, in its process of compensating, it may miscalculate over and over depending on the nature of the damage.
Misaligned timing marks
most harmonic balancers are constructed as a round piece of rubber sandwiched in between round metal pieces. To make sure that these three are aligned, they are etched with timing marks by the manufacturer. If you notice that these marks aren’t aligned, it might be because the pieces slipped from each other.
You must pay full attention to your engine’s harmonic balancer as it is vital to virtually all combustion engines. If more serious damage is sustained by your harmonic balancer, it can cause the separation of your engine belts, leaving you with compromised performance.
How Much is a Harmonic Balancer?
Purchasing a harmonic balancer replacement is tedious, and from the sounds of it, expensive. However, on Carparts.com, this fundamental component of a combustion engine goes for $8 at the very least.
Finding the Right Fit
Every engine is made different. Therefore, a harmonic balancer for a certain model would not necessarily fit one of a different model from the same make. For purchasing parts like this, you not only have to be particular on your vehicle’s model and make, you also have to consider the year it was released. It’s a good thing Carparts.com allows you to input your vehicle’s information on the site’s filters, narrowing your search down and making it easier for you to find the right fit.
Dorman vs. Replacement: Which Brand Yields the Better Harmonic Balancer?
Connected to the front of your car engine's crankshaft, the harmonic balancer or vibration damper is engineered to help reduce auto vibration. The Dorman and Replacement brand both claim to offer the most superior vibration reduction compared to other brands. You see, it is important to keep the balancer in top shape to avoid it being cracked or misplaced. If you find it difficult to decide which harmonic balancer is best suited for your vehicle, then check out this easy-read guide to come up with an informed decision.
Material strength and durability
While steel is generally stronger, harder, and lighter than the common iron, the alloy type nodular iron by Dorman is engineered to match the steel type Replacement's durability and tensile strength. So, the battle between a nodular iron harmonic balancer and a steel type Replacement brand results to a draw. You see, nodular iron types provide better shock absorption, but a steel type has better impact property.
WINNER: Dorman and Replacement
Equipped with a stress-resistant rubber bond, the Dorman harmonic balancer is able to endure the effects of heat better than the Replacement brand. In addition, this type provides stronger resistance to salt contamination and wearing and tearing. Though the Replacement harmonic balancer meets or exceeds the stock's resilience, Dorman offers more specific resistances to unwanted elements.
Price and Fitting
When it comes to pricing, both brands come neck-and-neck as they average around 30-100USD. You see, it is a win-win situation for the budget-conscious consumer. Not only that, both brands also boast of OE specifications for easier fitting to your auto.
WINNER: Dorman and Replacement
So far both brands fare as equal competitors in the harmonic balancer category. However, the Dorman harmonic balancer has a significant advantage with its lifetime limited warranty compared to the Replacement balancers that offer only a one-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.
When it comes to performance, both brands come close to a tie. But, the winning harmonic balancer goes to Dorman for it provides a wider range of defense against a broad range of harmful elements.
4 Easy Steps to Install a Harmonic Balancer
Yes, the harmonic balancer is not a thingamajig installed in one musical instrument; and yes, it can wear out. The harmonic balancer, the circular device made of rubber and metal on your crankshaft assembly, can go bad because of the vibrations of the engine. If you have a faulty balancer, you are likely experiencing rough engine vibrations or the parts on the crankshaft assembly are getting thrown all over. It is best to avoid driving with a damaged harmonic balancer so we listed four easy steps to help you install it.
Required skill level: Expert
Needed tools and materials
Harmonic balancer puller
Knowing your engine assembly
How the harmonic balancer is placed on the engine differs across car models and even year variations. We recommend that you consult your owner's manual or take a look at some car forums to get the general idea for your car model. However, the process of installing the balancer shouldn't gear away too much from the basic process we narrated here.
Removing the serpentine belt
To be able to reach the harmonic balancer, you first need to get the serpentine belt out of the way. To get it out, you need to loosen the tensioner (aka automatic tensioner, surf belt tensioner); there should be a lug that bolts the belt in which you need to remove.
Pulling the old balancer out
You should now be able to access the mounting bolt of the harmonic balancers. You just need the basic ratchet set to remove the bolt. With that out, all you need to do is pull the balancer out; and we mean literally. With the harmonic balancer puller, taking the part out should be a breeze.
Putting in the new balancer
If you have a re-installation tool, then this task should be easy. The tool can thread into the crank snout and has a separate bearing which forces the balancer into the assembly. If you only have a removal tool (the puller), you need to place the balancer on the crank snout and pull it down carefully. It is best to have five or more revolutions into the bolt before placing the crank bolt.
Make sure that key and keyhole are aligned properly; keep twisting the balancer until the crankshaft's key sits perfectly on the circular cutout in the center of the balancer.
Battle of the Harmonic Balancer Brands: Replacement vs. Dorman
Most people only look at the brand when they purchase something. It's just how it is; sometimes, the flashy commercials and the brand-dropping of your neighbor are just enough to persuade you into reaching for that brand's products. The same situation is true for harmonic balancers. Car owners often forget the product's fit, finish, durability, and performance when they are inside the shop. To give you second-thoughts every time you are about to put a harmonic balancer in your cart, we compared two of the leading brands. Replacement and Dorman balancers are well-received and well-recommended in car forums so we decided to see their performances firsthand.
Looking at the warranty is a good way to start the comparison; Replacement harmonic balancers are under a one-year, unlimited mileage warranty, while Dorman balancers are under a lifetime, limited warranty. By the label alone, Dorman balancers win this round because car owners can get a replacement for as long as they follow the recommended use of the harmonic balancer.
Although both Replacement and Dorman balancers are made of steel, the latter takes this round as well. Dorman balancers undergo ductile steel construction which improve tensile and resistance to impact. They also have stress-resistant rubber bonds that are great against salt and ozone, which Replacement balancers lack.
Both brands are OE replacement parts so a perfect fit relies on you getting the right part for your car. A slight difference between the brands is that some Dorman balancers can be installed in more than one car model or year variation. Meanwhile, Replacement focused on manufacturing balancers that are specially manufactured for a single car model. However, this doesn't give Replacement much of an edge over Dorman. We looked at the Dorman balancers and found that the balancers are replacement parts that follow the part number. Hence, its fit is not based on the car model but on the stock part number of the balancer.
WINNER: Replacement and Dorman
The better brand
Even though Dorman balancers can cost twice as much as Replacement balancers, their quality and durability are enough for us to name it as the "better brand". Rather than simply aiming to replace the stock parts, Dorman balancers were made to improve the performance of the part by using special rubber and steel. The warranty is also a huge plus for Dorman in this battle.
Tips when Buying a Harmonic Balancer
The harmonic balancer goes by different names (crank pulley damper, torsional damper, crankshaft damper, and vibration damper). Whatever you want to call it, it doesn't change the fact that it saves the crankshaft from the tremendous amount of force it has to deal with as the cylinders fire and generate torque that's transferred to the crank. Just imagine the hard work and pressure the crankshaft has to endure just to convert engine power into rotational motion and turn the car's wheels. If you'll be tossing your old harmonic balancer into the bin, you'd want to replace it with something just as good or even better, making sure that the replacement can effectively dampen vibrations and protect the crankshaft.
New vs. used
It's better to buy a new harmonic balancer than take a risk on a used one. A used balancer is cheaper, but you're not sure how long this will last. Before you know it, you may have to buy a new one or pay more for the costly repair of the crankshaft that didn't get the dampening action it needs.
For day-to-day driving or for racing
You can get a harmonic balancer for street use or for racing applications. Be sure to find one that suits your car's performance needs.
A harmonic balancer should match the OE specs. You can also get an upgrade without having to spend more. Just make sure that whether it's new, used, or an aftermarket upgrade, the balancer fits your vehicle's system perfectly. Consult a user or vehicle manual to be sure.
It doesn't hurt to shop around and compare. Some well-known brands offer great warranty coverage. The balancer may also come with different hardware bits such as bolts, washers, and woodruff keys. Know exactly what you'll get.
TipsExposed to heat, cold, oil, and other chemicals, you'd want to get a balancer that's highly rated for its resistance to wear and tear. Independent product reviews and legit user ratings will lead you to the right choice. Some car experts make recommendations for specific applications or makes and models. Take note of that.Not just the specs but also the price matters. You don't always have to spend more just to get a highly reliable auto part. Some aftermarket options actually give you greater value for money. Just go for top-rated brands. If you'll get the more expensive balancer, make sure it's worth the extra cost.
With these tips, you can definitely narrow down the long list of choices and make up your mind in no time.
Clear, Easy Steps for Replacing a Harmonic Balancer
Converting engine power into rotational movement to turn the wheels is not an easy feat. As the crankshaft does it job, there's tremendous force acting upon it. Good thing the harmonic balancer is there to dampen vibrations, making sure that the crankshaft won't crack or fail. Without a good balancer, engine vibrations will be harder to bear for the crankshaft. The belt may come apart as well. If you have to replace it, then here are the easy steps to follow:
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- New harmonic balancer
- Pulley puller
- Harmonic balancer installer
- Harmonic balancer installer adapter
- Harmonic balancer installer bearing
- Harmonic balancer installer driver
Step 1: Pop the hood and look for the harmonic balancer. Check for signs of rough spots or damage. This will be a lot easier if you use a flashlight and a mirror.
Step 2: Detach the belt from the crankshaft pulley. The pulley can be a part of the harmonic balancer. Check your vehicle manual to be sure.
Step 3: To remove the mounting bolt of the harmonic balancer, use a socket and ratchet. The right tool will make sure you can take out the bolt easily, without causing damage.
Step 4: Take out the harmonic balancer from the crankshaft. You need a pulley puller for this.
Step 5: Before you install the replacement, compare it first with the old balancer. See if it's compatible with your car's system or makes a suitable match for the stock part. Are the bolt holes on the same spots? Is it of the right size? Does it have the same timing marks? If the answer to these questions is yes, then you've got a perfect match. Proceed with installation.
Step 6: Consult the manufacturer's torque specs, as you install the new harmonic balancer.
Step 7: Go for a test drive to see if the new harmonic balancer is installed properly and if it works as soon as you crank up the engine.