Signs of a Bad Harmonic Balancer

by Jonathan Lister
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The harmonic balancer is the unsung hero of your vehicle's engine. This component works with the camshaft sensor to keep engine components operating smoothly and belts running without slipping. The signs and symptoms of this component failing can be quite noisy. Without proper attention the problem can quickly escalate to affect multiple vehicle systems resulting in expensive repairs.

Loud Engine Vibration

The harmonic balancer in your vehicle is responsible for maintaining low vibration levels through the crankshaft and the rest of the engine. When the balancer begins to fail vibration throughout the engine block increases dramatically. This is accompanied by loud engine operation which will increase during acceleration. Vibrations may lead to other engine problems such as leaks in seals and failure of other engine parts such as the A/C compressor, alternator or water pump.

Noisy Belt Operation or Damage

The harmonic balancer also acts as a pulley for your vehicle's drive belts so when it begins to fail your engine's belts may slip, operate noisily or become damaged. You may experience this as an inability to accelerate efficiently, dips in fuel economy and engine misfiring or backfiring. Slipped belts can cause engine components like your A/C compressor to seize resulting in a ruined part and probably a melted belt or two.

Bad Ignition Timing/No Start

Without a functioning harmonic balancer your vehicle's ignition timing will be thrown off. According to the automotive diagnostic website AA1 Car, bad ignition timing is due to an erratic signal from the camshaft sensor caused by harmonic balancer's inability to stabilize the component. The condition results in your vehicle being unable to start. The car will crank, meaning your engine is doing all the procedures to attempt to start the vehicle but without the right timing the engine components cannot achieve spark ignition.

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