Crankshaft Pulley: Symptoms Of Failure And How To Fix It

Crankshaft Pulley: Symptoms Of Failure And How To Fix It

Have you ever thought about the consequences of a bad crankshaft pulley in your vehicle? Needless to say, it’s disastrous. It’s linked to the harmonic balancer, a component tasked with absorbing vibrations from the engine of a car during faster acceleration. Thus, a poor crankshaft pulley alters the harmonic balancer’s capacity to absorb these vibrations when you get up to speed. Feeling irregular vibrations in your car? This might have done. Here’s how to identify the signs and fix a broken pulley.

Assume you are also experiencing alternator failure, power steering pump failure, and uneven idle engine speed. This is when you have to consider changing the crankshaft pulley of your vehicle. Chances are, that is what is causing these issues.

Let’s learn more about this crucial component of the car, what happens when it breaks down, and how to repair or replace it.

What Is A Crankshaft Pulley?

Connected to the engine’s harmonic balance, the crankshaft pulley drives the accessories inside the engine using a system of belts or a rubber belt, based on the type and year of the car in question.

Before the mid-’80s, most automakers globally used a V-belts system to drive the component accessories of the engine. Through technological development, the industry was able to switch to a serpentine belt, a single belt that was used by the crankshaft pulley to direct power to all the engine compartment systems.

The serpentine belt system is made with a surface able to drive a single belt whereas a V-belt system relies on a crank pulley able to drive from 1 to 4 V-belts.

Belt-Driven System

A standard automotive engine features a belt-driven system to deliver charge for the electrical unit, hydraulic pressure, heating system for the power steering system, and coolant circulation to the engine.

Optional parts of the belt-driven system include heavy hydraulic pumps and an air conditioning compressor for tow vehicles and pickup trucks plus supercharger units for performance vehicles. The crankshaft pulley drives off these components.

Some automobiles additionally employ flying magnets installed in or on the pulley to activate the ignition system. In most situations, the crankshaft of the engine is composed of hefty cast iron, and in more high-performance engines, it is built of solid steel. The crankshaft snout has to be extremely sturdy to bear the force of mounting the crankshaft pulley.

Had the crankshaft pulley been given space to wobble, its belts would readily throw off of the pulley. Therefore, the components that rely on the pulley’s driving power would fail. Luckily, the thread-locking liquids and factory-stock fasteners are generally fail-proof. Moreover, it normally stays secured and in position for the entirety of the vehicle’s life.

The crankshaft pulley rotates at revolutions same as that of the operating engine. Meanwhile, the numerous belt-driven parts spin at a speed faster than the engines. This is done by switching the different pulley sizes with numerous sized pulleys to alter the final drive ratio and bring up a more efficient part drive speed.

Through different-sized pulleys being placed on the engine components, these components can all turn at different speeds while being rotated by one drive pulley.

Crankshaft Pulley Location

The crankshaft pulley is generally found on the edge of the crankshaft, similar to what its name suggests. This wheel-shaped device has grooves that latch onto the crankshaft. On that note, the crankshaft converts linear or straight movements to the piston.

Bad Crankshaft Pulley Symptoms

Naturally, a vehicle will display signs of decay when any of its components go bad. These are the symptoms of a bad crankshaft pulley.

1. Engine Vibration

The first and most prominent sign of a bad crankshaft pulley is engine vibration. Unless you do not pay any attention to the performance and operations of your vehicle, you will notice the vibrations ripping through the car.

As the pulley is directed connected to the harmonic balance, the equipment that helps absorb shocks from the engine, the car has nothing to cushion the engine from the vibrations. This defect makes the shaking worse with each second.

2. Irregular Engine Idle

When you sit with your car in Park mode, you recognize and get familiar with the “idle” sound. When that’s off, it could be linked to the failure of the crankshaft pulley.

Uneven engine RPMs signal a failed crankshaft pulley since the dampener faces more pressure, particularly in Park mode. You may notice the revolutions of your engine fluctuate frequently.

3. Dead Alternator

An alternator is responsible for charging the battery and running accessories while the crankshaft pulley has to supply power to this part. When it fails no power is produced and the alternator cannot turn anymore. You will notice the signs of a dead car battery.

In addition, the light may flicker and you will face difficulties in keeping the vehicle on for too long.

4. Failed Power Steering Pump

A power steering pump regulates the flow of hydraulic fluid in your vehicle’s system to keep the steering up and running. If the power steering crashes, you will need extra effort to run your vehicle. You may think that system needs more fluid but that’s not the case.

5. Damaged Internal Engine Parts Or Transmission

If you let the engine vibrations persist without getting them fixed for a prolonged period, it will lead to internal engine or transmission damage. It can damage the crankshaft bearings (worst case scenario), not to mention how your vehicle’s transmission is full of parts that cannot handle that level of vibrations. The bearings, input shaft, and gears are all vulnerable to damage.

When the transmission fails, you may notice leaking fluid, trouble shifting, and whining noises.

Crankshaft Pulley Wobbles

Although a crankshaft pulley is resistant to damage to the point of destruction, there might be a time in the vehicle’s service life when this component requires repair or replacement. One of the symptoms of a bad crankshaft pulley is wobbling.

Causes Of Crankshaft Pulley Wobbling

  • Worn out or damaged rubber belt
  • Inadequately tightened crank bolts
  • Failure in either part of the two-part assembly
  • Badly made pulley
  • Incorrect length of belt or number of grooves
  • Over-tightened drive belt
  • Damaged fan-belt pulleys
  • Normal aging

How To Remove A Crankshaft Pulley With Puller

Although removal of a crankshaft pulley isn’t the most expensive repair you may have to do on a vehicle, you can try doing it by yourself. Beware: You will need general know-how of vehicles for the job. DO NOT attempt any fixes on your car if you have no prior experience handling something like this.

A key piece of equipment for the process is a crankshaft pulley tool, also known as a puller. We also have a removal method that does not use the puller so stay tuned for that.

What You Will Need

Before you start, gather all your materials and tools in one place. You will need:

  • Puller kit
  • Impact wrench
  • Lug wrench
  • Bolt remover tool
  • Carjack

Step-By-Step Guide

Now, let’s learn how you can remove the crankshaft pulley with a puller.

1. Find The Vehicle’s Crankshaft Pulley

The first thing to do when removing the crankshaft pulley is to find the component first. We already mentioned where the crankshaft pulley generally stays. It should be on the left side of the engine compartment. Check the driver’s side too. Other times, it may be located on the bottom front part of the engine.

2. Prepare To Dismantle Your Vehicle’s Wheel

Use a lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts from the wheel you want to remove. You have to do this step before raising the car’s wheel from the floor. Unless you do that, the wheel may turn once when you apply pressure on the lug wrench. If your vehicle features a standard transmission, leave the car in gear and it will lock up.

However, for automatic transmissions, the engine may just continue shipping along. Therefore, not allowing the removal of the bolt. This is when you will need an impact wrench. If you do not own that tool, ask a mechanic to loosen the bolts for you.

Electric impact wrenches get these bolts off too but they may not work as well. Shift your car to “Park” and use the car jack to raise your vehicle’s wheel. Place the stand right below the frame of the car, which is located close to the wheel you have to remove. Finally, lower your car when it has settled into the jack stand.

This makes it easier and safer to remove the crankshaft pulley.

3. Disassemble The Bolt

You want to rid the pulley once the bolt is gone. However, since the crankshaft pulley is secured tightly to place, this step will not be easy. For this, you will need the puller kit we mentioned before. Fortunately, this tool is cheap and goes for as low as $19.

Take the rod, repeatedly screw it into the primary puller section and clasp it into the end part so it pushes up against it. Next, do the same thing on the other side so it comes up against the crankshaft. You may observe four small threaded holes in a normal car, which is a benefit because you can push bolts into them.

When the puller assembly is made, place it over and take one nut bolt and place it into the little hole. Screw one more bolt into the hole located on the other end.

Now that both holes are snug, take a socket and hook it up with a wrench, turning it till it comes off.

4. Dismantle The Crankshaft Pulley

When the bolts are off, remove the crankshaft pulley of your vehicle. For this, you have to remove the timing cover.

How To Remove It Without A Puller

Safety should always be the primary concern when you are taking up an automotive repair project but in this case, it’s especially important. Put on your hand gloves, safety gear, and eyeglasses for overall protection against broken bits, fumes, hot oil, and glass. Then, park your car on a plain surface, turn the engine off, and switch to Park mode. Activate the parking brake.

Step 1: Remove The Serpentine Belt

Firstly, you must take off the serpentine belt, otherwise known as the alternator/accessories belt or drive belt, to get to the harmonic balancer. For this, remove your vehicle’s engine covers well as the plastic guards or shrouds used to protect the engine function area.

Then, find the serpentine belt under the spring tension to apply pressure to the belt, which confirms that it is fastened.

After that, press the tensioner in the opposite direction of the spring using a wrench socket. This enables its release. Pull off the belt from the pulley nearest to it. Now, remove the drive belt at the bottom of the pulley. This also counts as the first step to removing the harmonic balancer.

Step 2: Find The Center Bolt

You can find the center bolt in front of the crankshaft. This part secures the harmonic balancer in place. As the center bolt is rather tight, it needs the help of other tools to be loosened from the place.

Step 3: Unfasten/Remove The Center Bolt

Loosen up the center bolt by using a socket. It breaks the bolt free after positioning the socket on top of the bolt. In case this does not work, you can try placing the socket over the bolt securely and starting the engine to turn and loosen the bolt.

Step 4: Take Off The Pulley

Although most people prefer to use a puller to remove a defective crankshaft, the corresponding pulley can be removed with a socket and cheater bar. Hold the cheater bar on the opposite end of the socket and place the socket on the inner bolt. Snap it in place and rotate the cheater bar in the engine’s direction. Check to see which way the vehicle’s engine spins.

Attempt to secure it against a hard surface inside the engine compartment. When you start the engine, the bolt that secures the pulley will begin to turn. After that, start the engine. The bolt is now loose. You can remove the bolt by hand once it has loosened somewhat.

Drag the pulley out with a large screwdriver. You can also use a 34″ or 12″ impact gun to complete the task. It will be more difficult with the impact gun, as we already stated.

This method for removing a puller can also be used to remove a harmonic balancer. It also shows how to remove a power steering pulley without the need for a puller.

Crankshaft Pulley Stuck: What To Do?

What to do when the crankshaft pulley is stuck? Let’s discuss!

Find A Breaker Bar

Use a 3-foot breaker to bust open the bolt. You can use a longer breaker bar if that’s handy for you. Make sure you use a strong tool that won’t snap mid-way.

Get A Strong Impact Gun

Crankshaft Pulley

You can rent a ¾” or ½” impact drive. Use that to snap the stuck pullet. Get a plug-in variant as you may have to spend 8 to 10 minutes working the bolt. Additionally, try to spray a little lubricant on the crankshaft pulley to loosen it up a little. You can do this in intervals when you hammer down the bolt.

Bump The Starter

Utilize the starter motor to free up the bolt. Put the socket over the bolt and shove the end of the ratchet onto the ground. Make sure that when the pulley starts to rotate, the ratchet is placed in a way that allows the bolt to turn counterclockwise. As a result, it will be able to loosen the pulley bolt.

Pro Tips To Remove Crankshaft Pulley

Check out these tips and tricks to remove a crankshaft pulley like a pro.

  • You can also use a bolt-removing tool to take off the bolt’s head. Simply place an end of the tool and loosen the bolt with an impact wrench. Using the bolts provided in the tool, you can fasten the bolt remover tool. Repeat this step until the pulley has been released from the compartment.
  • A ½” drive impact gun is a great tool to remove rigid crankshaft pulley bolts. We have also found a torque wrench to be helpful in this case.
  • Always refer to the vehicle’s service manual before attempting part removal on your car. Carefully follow all the safety precautions before raising and supporting the front section of your car.
  • You will find it is quite easy to remove the crankshaft pulley once the splash shield (or a Toyota Highlander catalytic converter shield) and right front wheel are off.
  • You can put the tip of a big flathead screwdriver in the middle of the splash guards and related rivets. Apply pressure on the screwdriver’s handle to take out the rivets from the splash guard. Once it comes loose, remove the splash guard.
  • Slippage can cause misalignment between the drive ring and the central hub. This can result in the crankshaft pulley wobbling. Furthermore, it can cause a consistent slip while seeming to work just fine. You can prevent this by knowing how to dismantle a crankshaft pulley and replace it.
  • Never remove the crankshaft pulley with a jaw-type puller tool. This tool causes the rubber bonding ring to tear or tip as the outer edge sustains excessive pressure. Only get a good puller kit for the job. You can find them on Amazon or at your local auto-stop.

Crankshaft Pulley Replacement

To replace a crankshaft pulley, you have to spend between $350 and $400, based on the make, model, and year of your car as well as the labor costs. A new crankshaft pulley generally goes for $240 while the labor costs will set you back $150 (on average).

Crankshaft Pulley

You may save yourself a few dollars by getting an aftermarket part. Luxury car parts are naturally more expensive so that will increase your costs if you have one.

If you wanted to replace the crankshaft pulley yourself, the job isn’t that complicated.

  • Take off all the engine drive belts.
  • Remove the crankshaft pulley bolt with a pulley holder and high torque impact wrench.
  • Take off the old pulley.
  • Put in the new crankshaft pulley.
  • Reposition the bolt and fasten it.
  • Reassemble all the engine drive belts.

Final Words

As a poor crankshaft pulley produces an uneven idle power, speed, alternator failure, steering pump failure, and engine vibration, it may cause damage to it. Why not replace the crankshaft pulley rather than ignore the issue? It will save you time, energy, and money you might have to spend later on.

Always make sure to do a full checkup of your vehicle during regular maintenance (as well as understand how to reset maintenance light on Toyota Corolla). Never ignore the seemingly minor issues for a long time. They can exacerbate and result in more damage in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How To Remove Crankshaft Pulley

A crankshaft pulley can easily be removed with a puller tool. You can also do it without the tool. Follow the instructions given above.

How To Remove Crankshaft Pulley Bolt Without Impact Gun

You can use a breaker bar to remove the crankshaft pulley without using an impact gun. Follow this video tutorial.

How To Stop The Crankshaft Pulley From Turning

A strap wrench can be used to keep the crankshaft pulley from turning. This sort of wrench has a strap that goes across the pulley and locks it in place.

How To Remove Crankshaft Pulley Without A Puller

A strap wrench is the best tool to use if you don’t have a puller. We have already discussed the steps earlier.

Is A Crankshaft Pulley Bolt Reverse Thread

The crankshaft pulley bolt is a regular thread; counterclockwise unfastens the bolt. To remove the crankshaft pulley, the motor rotates towards the other end against the directions of bolt removal to make sure it will not back out. The water pump and oil damage can be damaged if you rotate the crankshaft the wrong way.

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