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Old 10-27-2010, 01:47 PM   #1
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Default harmonic balancer question

Ever since I got my idle down to a drivable level I have shaking at idle in gear. My idle is at ~850 in gear and I have replaced all motor/trans mounts, which did help a bit, but there is still a good amount of vibration. I also noticed when the engine is cold/luke warm there is a squeaky belt, especially under load. I have new alternator/powersteeting belts and I think the tension is good. The squeaking goes away fairly quickly and is accompanied by reduced shake and a slight rpm jump.I plan on doing my timing and harmonic balancer belts this weekend. I bought a kit with timing and balancer belts, tensioners, water pump, breaker bars, a crankshaft pully tool, and an acetylene torch in order to do the job right.
After doing some reading I am worried that I may need a new harmonic balancer/damper. Do these need to be replaced? Is there a way to tell if the damper itself is the culprit? I read something about trying to check for any play in the pulley by tugging at it by hand??? Thanx in advance...
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

Well assuming we're talking about the same thing I hope for your sake that you don't need a new one. (I always called them Underdrive Pulleys but I believe i've heard it called a harmonic balancer as well.) They are a BITCH to get off. In my youth i though a lightweight one would be a good idea for my Prelude so i attempted to change it. And i **** you not, i BROKE a breaker bar attempting to get it off. SO if you're going to do this get some air tools and cross your fingers because i never got mine off even with air tools to help.
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Old 10-27-2010, 02:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

yeah...I have to get it off in order to do my timing belt anyways... I've heard almost nothing but horror stories when it comes to that bolt. That's why I bought an extra 6` worth of pipe for extra extensions and plan on heating it up good before I go to town. Did you try heating up the bolt at all??? I've heard propane wont do...that acetylene is the only way to go....but I'm just repeating someone else's input.
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Old 10-27-2010, 03:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

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Originally Posted by Scrim12 View Post
Well assuming we're talking about the same thing I hope for your sake that you don't need a new one. (I always called them Underdrive Pulleys but I believe i've heard it called a harmonic balancer as well.) They are a BITCH to get off. In my youth i though a lightweight one would be a good idea for my Prelude so i attempted to change it. And i **** you not, i BROKE a breaker bar attempting to get it off. SO if you're going to do this get some air tools and cross your fingers because i never got mine off even with air tools to help.
No, harmonic balancers are not underdrive pulleys. An underdrive pulley is simply a pulley that "under-drives" the accesory belt by using a smaller pulley. To reduce the parasitic losses due to accessory belts. There are no underdrive pulleys with a harmonic balancer feature for our cars.

A harmonic damper pulley is designed to eliminate crankshaft resonance.
Your crank will deflect (twist) as the various cylinders apply torque force, and will flex back when that torque is released. This causes crankshaft vibrations, it's the nature of the beast. However, at certain engine speeds the torque loading and vibrations will be in sync with each other, and create a resonance, which can result in crankshaft failure. Simply put, a harmonic balancer is designed to absorb this resonance.

Removing the harmonic balancer is a bad idea. Good news is, if your car is shaking at idle, it's not going to be your harmonic balancer pulley.

There are no harmonic balancer belts. Because the harmonic balancer is integrated with the accessory drive pulley (crank pulley), perhaps you mean balance shaft belt?

I would check for misfiringcylinders due to dirty IACV, plugs/wires/cap/rotor etc.
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Old 10-27-2010, 04:17 PM   #5
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

Acetylene torch for what??? You plan on cutting the exhaust off for whatever reason? Are you planning on burning the crank bolt off? Doing so will destroy the seals and destroy the metallurgy of the crank bolt requiring replacment of the bolt for a new one. I would suggest the proper tools. Like using an ingersoll rand impact wrench with a compressor that has some *****.
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Old 10-27-2010, 04:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

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There are no harmonic balancer belts. Because the harmonic balancer is integrated with the accessory drive pulley (crank pulley), perhaps you mean balance shaft belt?

I would check for misfiringcylinders due to dirty IACV, plugs/wires/cap/rotor etc.
My apologies...It is indeed a balance shaft belt. Did you say that this belt wouldn't cause a vibration if worn? At least it's good to know that I will not need any additional parts for the timing belt change
This will be my first timing belt change since all work done on my cars until 3 months ago had timing chains. It does need to be done being that its a 92 with 85,000 miles and I'm sure pretty much everything in the car is original.
I should also mention that I have done ALOT of work on the car since it was bought a few months ago...including tune up and IACV cleaning...then replacement with a used one. I suppose if the timing belt is really worn it could create a miss, causing vibration, right? I don't have a timing light, so I'm at a loss there...any other thoughts?
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Old 10-27-2010, 04:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

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Acetylene torch for what??? You plan on cutting the exhaust off for whatever reason? Are you planning on burning the crank bolt off? Doing so will destroy the seals and destroy the metallurgy of the crank bolt requiring replacment of the bolt for a new one. I would suggest the proper tools. Like using an ingersoll rand impact wrench with a compressor that has some *****.
I would assume that heat would make the job easier...and unfortunately I don't have air tools right now. Normally I would be weary of heating up ANYTHING for loosening purposes, but it seems to be a go-to move for these impossible bolts, and seeing it done a few times surely inspires some confidence...
But I appreciate the feedback, and for now you have SURELY convinced me to hit it with propane...if anything at all, at this point
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Old 10-27-2010, 04:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

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No, harmonic balancers are not underdrive pulleys. An underdrive pulley is simply a pulley that "under-drives" the accesory belt by using a smaller pulley. To reduce the parasitic losses due to accessory belts. There are no underdrive pulleys with a harmonic balancer feature for our cars.

A harmonic damper pulley is designed to eliminate crankshaft resonance.
Your crank will deflect (twist) as the various cylinders apply torque force, and will flex back when that torque is released. This causes crankshaft vibrations, it's the nature of the beast. However, at certain engine speeds the torque loading and vibrations will be in sync with each other, and create a resonance, which can result in crankshaft failure. Simply put, a harmonic balancer is designed to absorb this resonance.

Removing the harmonic balancer is a bad idea. Good news is, if your car is shaking at idle, it's not going to be your harmonic balancer pulley.

There are no harmonic balancer belts. Because the harmonic balancer is integrated with the accessory drive pulley (crank pulley), perhaps you mean balance shaft belt?

I would check for misfiringcylinders due to dirty IACV, plugs/wires/cap/rotor etc.
Well I guess that's what i get for listening to friends that are talking out of their ***, lol.

This is similar to the piece of crap my friend sold me for $15 that i was attempting to put on.
http://www.andysautosport.com/honda/...r00010507.html

And here's something that i think you might like to get instead of a stock Harmonic Balancer.
http://www.autopartsdealer.com/ati_p...tent=APD323148
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Old 10-27-2010, 06:18 PM   #9
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

i dont know what year, trim, or motor u have buuut i do know that my 97 ex had a variable damper motor mount in the back(or sumthing like that). anyway i did a tranny swap and had to use different mounts and got a noticable vibration after. theres a vacume line and soleniod that control it. make sure they're conected and working if aplicable. about the whole crank bolt, ive owned several hondas/acuras and if the motor turns clockwise use the dang starter to break it free. its always worked for me but just tap it lol. u might wanna disable the ignition as a precaution
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Old 10-27-2010, 07:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

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I would assume that heat would make the job easier...and unfortunately I don't have air tools right now. Normally I would be weary of heating up ANYTHING for loosening purposes, but it seems to be a go-to move for these impossible bolts, and seeing it done a few times surely inspires some confidence...
But I appreciate the feedback, and for now you have SURELY convinced me to hit it with propane...if anything at all, at this point
DON'T TORCH YOUR CRANKSHAFT!!!

honbear is correct. You will effectively be annealing (softening) the metal in your crankshaft.

Yes, it is a difficult bolt to remove. No it is not impossible with the proper tools. Here is how I do them. Go down to checker/O'Reilly/Advance Auto Parts whatever you have. They will rent you a crank pulley tool. Or buy one online, if you don't have this tool, don't even waste your time trying to get it loose. Most of the time not even air tools can without it.

It's a hex that fits inside the pulley, I stick a 26" 1/2" drive breaker bar into the tool, and wedge it into the concrete. Then I select the appropriate 1/2" drive socket (Do not attempt with anything 3/8" drive. You will break it.) preferably with a warranty (Breaking a socket is a possibility). I use an 18" breaker bar for the bolt, situate it so that you can stand on it, and then apply a judicious amount of downward force. Don't worry, your sockets will break long before that bolt does.


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Well I guess that's what i get for listening to friends that are talking out of their ***, lol.

This is similar to the piece of crap my friend sold me for $15 that i was attempting to put on.
http://www.andysautosport.com/honda/...r00010507.html

Research research research is my advice. But aftermarket underdrive pulleys delete the harmonic balancing feature that is present in the stock crankshaft pulley.

And here's something that i think you might like to get instead of a stock Harmonic Balancer.
http://www.autopartsdealer.com/ati_p...tent=APD323148
I don't see the point really, of deleting all of my belts. Especially since the car won't run without an alternator. You are better off getting a lighter flywheel if you want to get rid of crank inertia. Those are good for 10-15 pounds of weight reduction, and won't cause your crank to resonate.
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Old 10-27-2010, 07:45 PM   #11
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

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i dont know what year, trim, or motor u have buuut i do know that my 97 ex had a variable damper motor mount in the back(or sumthing like that). anyway i did a tranny swap and had to use different mounts and got a noticable vibration after. theres a vacume line and soleniod that control it. make sure they're conected and working if aplicable. about the whole crank bolt, ive owned several hondas/acuras and if the motor turns clockwise use the dang starter to break it free. its always worked for me but just tap it lol. u might wanna disable the ignition as a precaution
Yes, I have that mount and replaced it over the weekend. It is all hooked up and so far I don't hear any clicking when I stop and idle, which seems to be the tell-tale for a bum control valve or mount. I was debating buying the mount without the solenoid but didn't want to deal with any problems it might cause. The thing was a MAJOR pain as it was.
Also, I have a 92 lx, and the rotation is counter-clockwise...so using the starter is definitely not the way for me lol. I think I'd be too freaked to do that anyway...


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DON'T TORCH YOUR CRANKSHAFT!!!

honbear is correct. You will effectively be annealing (softening) the metal in your crankshaft.

Yes, it is a difficult bolt to remove. No it is not impossible with the proper tools. Here is how I do them. Go down to checker/O'Reilly/Advance Auto Parts whatever you have. They will rent you a crank pulley tool. Or buy one online, if you don't have this tool, don't even waste your time trying to get it loose. Most of the time not even air tools can without it.

It's a hex that fits inside the pulley, I stick a 26" 1/2" drive breaker bar into the tool, and wedge it into the concrete. Then I select the appropriate 1/2" drive socket (Do not attempt with anything 3/8" drive. You will break it.) preferably with a warranty (Breaking a socket is a possibility). I use an 18" breaker bar for the bolt, situate it so that you can stand on it, and then apply a judicious amount of downward force. Don't worry, your sockets will break long before that bolt does.
Roger that. Thanx to you both for the heads up. There was alot of hype on that bolt so I guess I'm just expecting the worst. But when it really comes down to it, I haven't yet met a bolt that I couldn't free with some patience, pb blaster, and the right hand tools =D
With that being said, I prepared for the worst. I got a length of 30" pipe, another of 37", a 26" breaker bar and two sets of deep sockets...all 1/2" drive. I also just got my crank pulley tool in the mail yesterday. I plan on doing it just as you said above. I'm not sure if you used a jack or jack stand on the end of the breaker bar to help, but that seemed like a good setup that I saw a couple of times.

Again...cant thank you guys enough...good stuff.

Whats your thoughts on changing the seal while I'm in there...needed? no? ...or a might-as-well item? lol
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Old 10-27-2010, 09:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

For the breaker bar, I used a normal socket with a 1" extension for clearance. Didn't have any issues. Try to avoid using extensions if you can, torsion forces will reduce the net torque on the bolt itself, and you can twist them off. I've twisted off adapters on head bolts before. if you have a couple of breakers bars and elbow grease it will come out. Just be patient, and apply steady, even force. It will make a lot of noise, just a heads up.
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Old 10-27-2010, 09:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

I helped my brother change his timing belt and water pump awhile back. We used a 1/2" drive socket on a breaker bar with a 4 foot pipe and we both stood on it and it popped the crankshaft pulley bolt loose after we bounced on it a few times. I don't ever remember running into a bolt that tight.
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Old 10-27-2010, 11:26 PM   #14
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

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DON'T TORCH YOUR CRANKSHAFT!!!
Go down to checker/O'Reilly/Advance Auto Parts whatever you have. They will rent you a crank pulley tool.
Just to let you guys know, when you go down to Kragen or Autozone, they don't call it a crank holding tool they call it a harmonic balancer holder tool. Those morons won't know what you're talking about unless you talk to someone that knows their ****. Just ask for the harmonic balancer holder tool
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I'm pretty sure they are engaged at all times.
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Old 10-28-2010, 01:21 AM   #15
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Just to let you guys know, when you go down to Kragen or Autozone, they don't call it a crank holding tool they call it a harmonic balancer holder tool. Those morons won't know what you're talking about unless you talk to someone that knows their ****. Just ask for the harmonic balancer holder tool
got mine online...but it's labeled a "crank pulley holder" on packaging...
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:00 AM   #16
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

They are the same thing. The harmonic balancer is integrated with the crankshaft pulley. They are the same thing.
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:31 AM   #17
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

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got mine online...but it's labeled a "crank pulley holder" on packaging...
Ya, when you buy them of course it's gonna be labled as crank pulley holder, but for some reason when you go to rent them they will tell you they don't have one because they need to be looked up as harmonic balancer pulley holder.
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I'm pretty sure they are engaged at all times.
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:17 PM   #18
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Ya, when you buy them of course it's gonna be labled as crank pulley holder, but for some reason when you go to rent them they will tell you they don't have one because they need to be looked up as harmonic balancer pulley holder.
lol. yeah, that's par for the course huh... I actually had to prove to a guy once in a parts store that my car had a FITV!!! He didn't believe me until I brought him outside and explained it's function. THEN he found it on his comp! At least he admitted to learning something new


Ok, so finally, I'm left with a couple of questions...
~Is the crankshaft seal considered a maintenece item along with the timing belt?...like the water pump and such... Is it an easy job (just popping it out and replacing)?
~Also, what's anyone's thoughts on the solenoid control valve (???) that's tucked onto the firewall feeding the rear mount being the culprit for the shaking?
I know that mount uses a signal from the comp to tell the mount to loosen up at idle...and the shaking seems to vary, shaking my whole arm sometimes and then smoothing out. THE SHAKING WILL NOT VARY DURING A STOP. It may shake alot sitting at one light and as soon as I stop up at the next a few feet away it may hardly shake at all. It's strange. Does anyone know of a few quick tests? The manual makes use of a vacuum gauge and I don't have one.
I was really hoping to change my timing and balance shaft belts and pray it would get rid of the shaking, but I'm stuck on thinking there's a problem with that dumb rear mount....
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Old 10-28-2010, 09:01 PM   #19
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

A bad vacuum solenoid is a much more likely culprit. I've heard of people breaking balance shaft belts and not noticing until they did a timing belt or something. The balance shafts cancel out a second order vibration that is inherent in the design of I4 engines. Due to uneven piston acceleration the motor vibrates at a frequency twice the crank speed. However, it wouldn't be a bit huge steering wheel shaking, and the engine mounts would absorb most of it if they are in working condition.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:07 AM   #20
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Thanx for the imput guys....especially you chkn pikl.
I attempted to do my timing/balancer belts over the weekend and I must say firstly... people have definitely hyped up that crankshaft bolt. It was a VERY tight bolt, but had it off in about 20 minutes of steady, heavy torquing, and the right hand tools
On another note...In all of my homework I did NOT realize how much of a pain that damn little tensioner adjusting nut was going to be! Everything else was a piece of cake aside from that adjusting nut. In fact, it was so bad I couldn't get it loose, and then...worst case scenario...i ended up stripping it!
I did exactly what you're not supposed to do and slipped the old belts off and the new ones on without getting the tensioners loose. I tried not to stretch them as best I could and lining up all of the marks on the cogs was no picnic, but all seems well and I figured at least I will have new belts on...
I wasn't able to get the tensioners off, which I bought and wanted to replace. And I also couldn't get the water pump off because the tensioners block one of the mounting bolts for it.
I managed to snap my front wishbone mount and replaced that...again. There is also still vibration in the steering wheel at idle in gear, which I'm suspecting more and more to be either a power steering issue, or that little solenoid control valve.
I will probably replace that control valve soon, and will post back, but was wondering...how the hell will I ever manage to get that stripped tensioner adjusting nut off ???? There is not much room at all to get to it at all...
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Old 11-01-2010, 05:58 PM   #21
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

What were you using on the adjusting bolt to begin with. Also to be sure, exactly what year, model, engine are we dealing with, sorry missed the other post? Most of mine (3rd and 5th gen 4 cyl) have come off with a good 1/4 drive ratchet/socket-SIX point- and a little piece of pipe.
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:58 PM   #22
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

Pull the covers off and get at it with a vicegrips. It should be fairly easy, seeing as it is a large nut projecting into open space. If that doesn't work, you're in luck. There are tools known as nutcrackers, the basically crack the nut in two so that the halves may be removed.

Last edited by chikin pickle; 11-01-2010 at 10:25 PM.
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Old 11-05-2010, 02:54 AM   #23
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What were you using on the adjusting bolt to begin with. Also to be sure, exactly what year, model, engine are we dealing with, sorry missed the other post? Most of mine (3rd and 5th gen 4 cyl) have come off with a good 1/4 drive ratchet/socket-SIX point- and a little piece of pipe.
I was using a 14mm box wrench with an extension and it ended up slipping and stripping. It's a 92 accord LX with a 2.2L... Eventually, I ended up lowering the engine enought to get at it from the wheel well with a 14mm socket, but it was too little too late...
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Old 11-05-2010, 02:56 AM   #24
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Pull the covers off and get at it with a vicegrips. It should be fairly easy, seeing as it is a large nut projecting into open space. If that doesn't work, you're in luck. There are tools known as nutcrackers, the basically crack the nut in two so that the halves may be removed.
I did give the vice grips a try a few times... the thing wouldn't budge. I will have to look into that nutcracker...thanx, all the advice has been very helpful.
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Old 11-06-2010, 07:52 PM   #25
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Default Re: harmonic balancer question

Wouldnt an underdrive pulley be "larger" than its counterpart there by turning the accessory slower. For number sake lets say the crank pulley and the alternator pulley are both 4' diameter, if you put a smaller pulley on the alternator you would be turning the alternator faster and using more power to accommodate the friction. If you went with a larger pulley for each revolution of the crank the alternator would turn less than one revolution using less HP to turn it.
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No, harmonic balancers are not underdrive pulleys. An underdrive pulley is simply a pulley that "under-drives" the accesory belt by using a smaller pulley. To reduce the parasitic losses due to accessory belts. There are no underdrive pulleys with a harmonic balancer feature for our cars.

A harmonic damper pulley is designed to eliminate crankshaft resonance.
Your crank will deflect (twist) as the various cylinders apply torque force, and will flex back when that torque is released. This causes crankshaft vibrations, it's the nature of the beast. However, at certain engine speeds the torque loading and vibrations will be in sync with each other, and create a resonance, which can result in crankshaft failure. Simply put, a harmonic balancer is designed to absorb this resonance.

Removing the harmonic balancer is a bad idea. Good news is, if your car is shaking at idle, it's not going to be your harmonic balancer pulley.

There are no harmonic balancer belts. Because the harmonic balancer is integrated with the accessory drive pulley (crank pulley), perhaps you mean balance shaft belt?

I would check for misfiringcylinders due to dirty IACV, plugs/wires/cap/rotor etc.
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