How to Install a Crankshaft Pulley

A crankshaft pulley is located at the base of an engine. It is a small but important component that facilitates proper engine function. The crankshaft pulley has a direct impact on various aspects, including the effective running of the coolant pump, spark plugs, engine battery charging, the air-conditioning pump, and the power steering pump.

In most vehicles, the crankshaft pulley comes attached with a harmonic balancer, also known as a dampener. The harmonic balancer is an important attachment, as it reduces the multiple vibrations from the crankshaft. By effectively absorbing these, the harmonic balancer makes sure that the crankshaft is not dislodged because of the vibrations, usually resulting from running engines. The harmonic balancer is typically attached to the crankshaft pulley with adhesive. Over time this adhesive can lose strength. It can come loose, fall off, or fail. A failed harmonic balancer shifts the vibration shock to the crankshaft. It affects the above-mentioned functions, and as a result, it affects the engine functioning. In such a scenario, the car will need a new crankshaft pulley installed. Here’s how to do the auto repair yourself.

Step 1 – Disconnect the Battery

The first step to install a crankshaft pulley is to disconnect the car battery. At this point, you should also pull out the cable that is attached to the battery’s negative terminal. It is important to wait at least a minute and a half between disconnecting the cable and proceeding with the next step. If you don’t, you may activate the vehicle’s airbags. This wait is not essential in all cars, especially the older makes, however, most modern cars will require that you wait at least a minute before proceeding.

Step 2 – Remove the Tire

Locate the crankshaft pulley inside your engine and you will see how removing the tire helps you gain access to it. Lift the front section of the car up on a floor jack. Once the car is secure, remove the lug nuts and the tire. You may need a special socket if you have locking lug nuts. When the tire comes off, keep it aside.

Step 3 – Remove the Splash Shield

Once you remove the wheel, it is time to remove the splash shield. The splash shield usually stands on the wheel well and is held together by rivets. These are easily removed using a regular screwdriver. Keep the separated parts safe, as you will have to reattach them post installation. It’s a good idea to take pictures along the way if there is any question about how things will go back together. Also label any hardware you remove. You will see the crankshaft pulley right behind the removed guard.

Step 4 – Install and Connect

With the splash shield removed, you now need to replace the crankshaft pulley. First, remove the old crankshaft pulley. You will find that this is secured or threaded by means of the crankshaft and may require some special tools. In modern cars with automatic transmission, the main bolt that holds the pulley in place will spin endlessly if you try to remove it. An impact wrench is best for this job and you may need to ask your mechanic to loosen it if you don’t have one. With the bolt off, you likely will not be able to remove the pulley by hand. Instead, use a crankshaft pulley kit to remove the pulley.

Once the old one is removed, you can reattach, or re-thread, the new pulley into place in the same manner. When you are sure that the new pulley is held firmly in place, fasten the splash shield back on, followed by the tire. Next, remove the floor jack and attach the disconnected cable and battery.

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