While an automobile is speeding down the highway, imagine how much torque is being generated by the engine’s cylinders. Without a harmonic balancer to keep the car’s crankshaft secure, the vibrations would cause it to suffer damage.
Although this device is built quite solidly, it does have several internal components that can deteriorate over time.
Especially given the amount of pressure and tension that is constantly being put on the harmonic balancer; the longer a vehicle runs, the more the part becomes prone to failure.
A harmonic balancer is a rather expensive part compared to most, so it’s in the best interest of a car user to keep it well-maintained. The replacement operation is a bit complicated but will need to be done if the balancer becomes damaged.
Harmonic Balancer Replacement Prices
Harmonic balancer prices range from $7.52 to $783.99. This part doesn’t have many variations – thus, the only price influencing factors are the location of purchase and the brands. Some retail outlets may also sell performance parts which are made of higher-quality materials compared to standard OEM parts.
Here are some of the most popular brands and their estimated price ranges:
- ACDelco: $27.86 to $493.52
- Corteco: $189.95
- Crown: $41.74 to $174.64
- DNJ: $47.97
- OPGI: $138.36 to $271.19
- Pioneer Automotive: $32.19 to $377.81
- Rein: $42.83 to $57.85
As the total cost will also include labor fees and vary depending on the year, make, and model of the vehicle, here are several estimated price ranges based on car type:
|2008 Volvo S80||$202|
|2011 Volvo S40||$404|
|2014 Hyundai Sonata||$139|
|2009 Lexus IS250||$165|
|2011 Acura RL||$155|
|2008 Porsche Cayman||$589|
Where to Replace A Harmonic Balancer?
Harmonic balancers can be replaced at any automotive repair shop or car dealership. Independent shops are plentiful in most cities and offer lower prices for repairs. We’ve researched different top-rated automotive services and provided a few, sorted by state.
Keep in mind that some independent auto shops may decline to take the repair job on a vehicle, as store management usually calculates whether it is financially viable or not:
- The Garage Auto Repair – Broken Arrow, OK
- Rusty’s Garage – Woodland, TX
- Automotive Service Garage – Sarasota, FL
- Bob’s Garage – Westfield, IN
- Victory Auto Service & Glass – Maplewood, MN
- Eagle Tire & Auto Repair Center – Helena, MT
On the other hand, a car dealership has many service bays compared to other auto shops which mean that a car owner won’t have to wait long to have an issue taken care of. They also specialize in specific brands of cars. In exchange, a consumer usually ends up paying a higher price for the repair.
The cost of harmonic balancer replacement, when calculated including the labor fee, comes out to about $70 to $392. For the budding do-it-yourselfers out there who love to penny pinch and learn new things at the same time, we’ve included a walkthrough on how to replace a harmonic balancer at the last section
What Does A Harmonic Balancer Do?
A harmonic balancer is a drive accessory that is attached to the end of the crankshaft and works to absorb the vibrations that are created by the engine. Without it, the vibrations caused by an engine’s pistons would cause damage to the crankshaft.
In many vehicles, the harmonic balancer serves a double purpose; also acting as the crankshaft pulley that turns the serpentine belt which drives other systems such as the alternator and water pump. A damaged crankshaft on these vehicle types would also cause the serpentine belt and every other connected component to stop working.
The part is known by many names – some call it a crankshaft damper, a torsional damper, harmonic damper, crank pulley damper, vibration damper, crankshaft pulley or crankshaft balancer. The word ‘dampener’ may also be interchanged with ‘damper’ in most cases. It’s a circular device made of rubber and metal and is bolted to the front of the crankshaft.
On most vehicles, the harmonic balancer is part of the crank pulley. The crank pulley has a piece of rubber inside of it which is what enables the part to absorb the vibrations sent from the engine.
Harmonic balancers don’t usually wear out as fast as traditional pulleys or belt tensioners. But they do have a limited lifespan and will eventually need to be replaced.
Many automobile enthusiasts believe that the harmonic balancer is an unnecessary part and only serves to reduce engine performance due to its mass. This is not exactly correct and removal of the balancer from the engine could be setting up the crankshaft for failure.
Symptoms of A Malfunctioning Harmonic Balancer
Given the importance of the harmonic balancer in a vehicle, it is in a car owner’s best interest to know how to identify possible faulty or bad parts. This will help to prevent small problems from becoming big ones.
In the event that the damage is done and it’s too late to save the part, at least an owner will know which component is causing the problem so that they can be fix it themselves. The following is a list of symptoms which indicate a bad harmonic balancer for car users to watch out for:
- Deterioration – Visible signs of deterioration are some of the most obvious symptoms of a failing harmonic balancer. The outer ring or balancer hub might be cracked or warped. This happens over time due to intense engine vibrations as well as the presence of foreign elements such as dirt, oil, grease, chemicals, cold, and heat. If a harmonic balancer has already reached this state, it needs to be replaced.
- Leakage – As time goes by, the oil seal and the timing cover on the harmonic balancer will become so worn out that it might actually meld with the metal. When this happens, oil and other contaminants can freely enter and corrode the part.
- Loose Parts – When the rubber piece on the inside of the outer ring and inner hub becomes corroded, the outer ring may visibly wobble or become disjointed.
- Vibrations – As the main purpose of the harmonic balancer is to dampen vibrations created by the engine, if the vehicle’s engine shakes excessively while running, there’s a high chance that the balancer has become damaged or is simply old. If this symptom is experienced while driving, it’s recommended to have the vehicle inspected immediately to avoid damage to the engine.
- Noises – Serpentine and other drive belts are also connected to the crankshaft pulley. So, if the squealing noises are heard coming from the engine, it could be a sign that something with the harmonic balancer or other connected components has malfunctioned.
- Decreased Performance – Poor engine performance may be attributed to any number of issues; with a bad harmonic balancer being one of them. This issue is most prominent on late model vehicles that use electronic ignition and can also manifest as irregularity while the engine is idling.
Harmonic Balancer Preventive Maintenance Tips
The rubber material inside of the harmonic balancer is what gives up first, in the majority of cases. Corrosion can cause it to deteriorate which will make the crankshaft crack under the pressure, throw the serpentine belt off its track or cause an engine to produce noticeably rough vibrations.
In order to prevent these conditions from happening, a measure of preventive maintenance must be taken. If the service life of the harmonic balancer hasn’t yet been exceeded, there are several things that can be done to diagnose and maintain the part:
- Conduct a visual inspection of the engine and damper housing. Take note of any signs of damage. If evidence is discovered that indicates a damaged harmonic balancer, there’s a very high chance that it needs to be replaced.
- Look for signs of fluid leakage, especially while the balancer is still in place. Any type of leaking whatsoever will warrant a replacement.
- If the harmonic balancer can be removed from the crankshaft, try to shake it back and forth. If a rattling or clunking sound is heard, the part has an internally damaged component and has reached the end of its life.
- A gear hotplate or component heating oven can be used to heat up the damper to around 180°F, which is its standard operating temperature. Heating up the harmonic balancer in this way can reveal leaks.
A good car owner will stick to a routine maintenance inspection schedule in order to identify any of the symptoms and save money by avoiding unnecessary replacements.