Car Engine

Bad Harmonic Balancer Symptoms (8 Signs)

Mike Cross
Updated Sep 1, 2021
Bad Harmonic Balancer Symptoms

Harmonic balancers play an integral role in protecting your vehicle’s engine from harmonic vibrations.

Through this protection, your engine is kept safe from damaging vibrations that could cause damage to your vehicle.

You’ll find the crankshaft harmonic balancer connected to the engine. It’s found on almost all rotating internal combustion engines, so these symptoms will be as relevant to you as ever.

Knowing what to look for in a bad harmonic balancer is a key skill to have for anyone who cares about the health of their engine.

Bad Harmonic Balancer Symptoms
Bad Harmonic Balancer Symptoms

8 Symptoms of Bad Harmonic Balancer

Let’s dive into the symptoms of a bad harmonic balancer.

1. Out Of Place Timing Marks

Timing marks can be a great indicator of a bad harmonic balancer. They’re difficult to miss and you can rest assured that nothing else would have created such markings.

Most harmonic balancers found in vehicles are relatively simple. They’re made of two pieces of metal that sandwich a rubber layer in between. The rubber layer helps absorb vibrations to keep your vehicle’s engine in top-notch shape.

If the layers were to come apart, you could see misaligned timing marks along with the pulley. When the layers aren’t malfunctioning, the marks are typically found at the front of the pulley. If the layers have been separated you could expect the marks to shift and see them misaligned.

2. An Irritably Loud Engine

Your vehicle is oftentimes much like your girlfriend, it’s best to listen to her.

Crankshaft harmonic balancers tend to make a lot of noise and commotion in your engine bay when it begins to wear down. It may be loose, falling apart, rusty, or have more serious issues.

Because a loud engine isn’t unique to bar harmonic balancers, use this as a secondary indicator to ensure you’re not misdiagnosing your vehicle.

If you find that you’re experiencing one or more of the other symptoms, but still aren’t sure, a loud engine can further validate that your harmonic balancer has something wrong with it.

Your Harmonic Balancer Has Left The Show. This is perhaps the most serious issue that could occur to your vehicle.

Sometimes, if your harmonic balancer is displaying symptoms or is wearing out, it can degrade to the point where it dislodges itself from its proper position.

If this happens, be prepared for a potentially deadly situation.

Your engine timing will be immediately affected and cause numerous belts to detach as well.

In the end, your vehicle will stop functioning and come to a halt. You’ll end up with a hefty bill for numerous other mechanical failures that had occurred and you could potentially lose your life.

This is one of the most important reasons you should be able to recognize the symptoms of a bad harmonic balancer. In the end, it could save your life.

3. Worn Rubber Rings

Worn rubber rings are a positive symptom of a bad harmonic balancer because they are directly affected when it begins to fail.

The rubber rings are located between the inner hub and the outer ring. If your harmonic balancer is going bad, they’ll be easy to spot.

Look to see if they’re going bad to get a better understanding of whether your crankshaft harmonic balancer is becoming an issue.

Keep in mind that other conditions such as heat, cold, mud, and other general debris could also affect the rubber rings.

4. Moving Outer Rings

While you’re in the vicinity of the rubber rings, checking the outer rings as well may prove to be useful.

Remove the fan belt and try to move the ring in or out. If you’re able to move it, that will indicate that your harmonic balancer has gone bad.

5. Cracked Rubber Insulator

In between the inner hub and outer ring will lie the rubber insulator.

Take a light and carefully inspect the insulator and look for any cracks or signs of destruction.

If you find signs of wear, you’ll need to replace your harmonic balancer.

6. Check The Pulse

If you didn’t know, most engines have what mechanics may describe as a ‘heartbeat.’ It’s the sound it makes when it’s properly functioning and idling.

It may be an extremely small difference, but if something sounds weird or unusual compared to the normal idling sounds, it could indicate a bad harmonic balancer.

Vehicles that have an electronic ignition are known to be easier to tell the difference.

7. If It Wobbles It’s Wrong

Mechanic check Bad Harmonic Balancer
Mechanic check bad harmonic balancer

A wobbly harmonic balancer is an easy method to determine if the balancer has gone bad.

Simply grab a flashlight and pop the hood of your vehicle. Shine the light directly onto the balancer and check if it’s going in and out while still rotating.

If the balancer is wobbling, even a little, it has gone bad.

8. Vibrating Engine

Noticing your engine vibrating an abnormal amount is one of the first symptoms you may find occurring with a bad harmonic balancer.

You’ll notice it first because the vibration is exactly what your harmonic balancer is designed to reduce. If your balancer is failing, of course, your vehicle’s engine is going to vibrate more.

It’s important to know this because if your harmonic balancer is going bad, you’ll put yourself more at risk the faster you drive your vehicle. With an increase of speed comes an increase in vibrations.

If your engine vibrates too much, you may soon find yourself with a fully dislodged crankshaft harmonic balancer, which can be an incredibly dangerous situation.

In Conclusion

Knowing the symptoms of a bad harmonic balancer is incredibly important for anyone who finds themselves constantly driving a vehicle – which should be almost everyone reading this.

If you’re working on your vehicle, ensure that you double-check all of the symptoms before beginning to repair your vehicle.

Some of the symptoms of a bad harmonic balancer may also be shared with other serious problems. It’s always a good idea to make sure you know all the ins and outs of what the symptoms to look for when trying to fix your vehicle.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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One comment on “Bad Harmonic Balancer Symptoms (8 Signs)”

  1. hi,my mechanic replaced the harmonic balancer in my 2002 ford mustang. but after that my car losses power and slows down when accelerating. he told me to wait until the car resets. it has been already 2 weeks and i don't see any improvement. what do you think it could be the problem?

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