The human body and the modern car have many similarities; in this case, we both need harmony in order to function properly. Enter the harmonic balancer, a car component that characterizes the term "positive vibrations." These balancers are designed to prolong engine life by reducing wear on the main bearings and main journals, preventing crankshaft failure. Also called a vibration dampener, it's connected to the front of the crankshaft, dissipating excessive vibration that might cause damage to the equipment. What kind of excessive vibration? Well, read on.
Here's a general overview of how harmonic balancers work: each time a cylinder fires, the connecting rod pounds the crankshaft journal as the resulting force turns the crankshaft, causing energy to be dispersed through the engine. The front of the crankshaft (where the balancer is located) takes the brunt of this force, so it often moves before the back of the crankshaft. This results in a twisting motion. Naturally, the halfway twisted shaft unwinds and snaps back in the opposite direction. The balancer is there to even things out, dampening the excess vibrations that may derail engine timing and damage the crankshaft.
A car harmonic balancer is made up of three parts. First is the inner hub that's bolted to the crankshaft. Next is the balancer's center: a rubber ring that dampens crankshaft vibrations and connects to the outer hub. This hub connects to the timing marks and pulley cuts for the belts. When power from the cylinder hits the front of the crankshaft, it tries to twist the heavy part of the balancer, but only ends up twisting the rubber dampening discs that connect the two hubs of the balancer. Thus, the front of the crankshaft cannot speed up as much; instead, the force is utilized to twirl the rubber and speed up the balancer wheel, keeping the crankshaft's operation in control.
When and if the car harmonic balancer fails, bad things can happen to your car. What causes this failure? Age is the number one factor. But another is the deterioration of its parts, especially if they're overworked due to poor engine conditions. The rubber can dry out and crack, separating from the metal sections. This will lead to a condition where the outer grooved ring will spin separately from the hub. Once this happens, replacement is inevitable. In fact, the peripheral damage caused might even necessitate repairs to the crankshaft itself-both tedious and expensive.
You can prevent these issues by inspecting the condition of your harmonic balancer regularly. And should you need a new balancer, don't hesitate to order a replacement from Parts Train right away; because as we said, both the driver and the vehicle need harmony in order to perform their function properly. And while you're here, go ahead and browse our catalog for anything else you need to keep your car running on positive vibrations and optimum conditions.