The flywheel is a crucial component in the inner workings of an internal combustion engine. It plays a vital role in the engine’s operation and its failure can cause severe problems for the car. In this article, we will discuss the function of the flywheel, the signs of a flywheel problem, and the importance of proper maintenance.
What Does the Flywheel Do?
Flywheel is a heavy wheel attached to a rotating shaft so as to smooth out the delivery of power from a motor to a machine. The inertia of the flywheel opposes and moderates fluctuations in the speed of the engine and stores the excess energy for intermittent use.
An internal combustion engine is powered by a series of explosions that occur in the cylinders. The flywheel is a large, heavy wheel that is attached to the back of the crankshaft. The main function of a flywheel is to smooth out the power produced by the engine and to act as a buffer between the engine and the transmission.
It serves several important functions, including:
- Flywheel Smooth Out Delivery of Power. The flywheel stores kinetic energy in the form of rotational motion, which helps to smooth out the delivery of power from the engine to the transmission.
- It regulates the speed of the engine. The flywheel helps to regulate the speed of the engine by absorbing and releasing energy as needed. This helps to reduce the amount of vibration and noise produced by the engine.
- It allows for an electric starter. In some engines, the flywheel is used to help spin the engine during starting, which makes it easier to turn the engine over.
- It helps clutch in engagement and disengagement. The flywheel is also connected to the clutch, which is used to engage and disengage the engine from the transmission. When the clutch pedal is depressed, the flywheel separates from the clutch plate, allowing the engine to rotate independently of the transmission.
The flywheel is typically made of cast iron or steel and is connected to the crankshaft of the engine. Its weight and size are carefully designed to store and release energy in a smooth manner. It’s an important part of the engine and in the case of a damaged flywheel, it may cause vibration, and noise and can even damage the clutch and transmission.
What happens when the flywheel fails?
A damaged flywheel will make it much more difficult to change gears as the clutch plate may not disengage properly. Cracked flywheel discs are more likely to warp, causing clutch and transmission problems.
However, there are several factors that can contribute to premature wear and failure of the flywheel.
- Improper maintenance. This can include not installing components such as a new starter or clutch properly, which can cause other parts to become damaged or misaligned. Additionally, if the clutch becomes damaged and is not replaced in a timely manner, it can affect the flywheel as well.
- Driving habits. For example, rough engine starts, heavy loads, driving in the wrong gear, and slow cranking speeds can all contribute to flywheel damage.
- Overheating. When the flywheel becomes overheated, it can crack or warp, which can cause significant damage to the engine. This is often caused by a slipping clutch, which can result in the flywheel not spinning at the correct speed.
Symptoms of a bad flywheel
Unfortunately, flywheels don’t last forever. Due to constant use in the vehicle, they gradually wear out. When your flywheel is too worn or damaged, you will experience some noticeable symptoms that you cannot ignore.
1. Slipping Gears
When the flywheel fails, it can cause the gears to slip, which means the engine revs but the car does not move at the same speed. This can happen when shifting gears or during acceleration. The gears may appear to engage but then slip out of gear causing a loss of power to the wheels.
This can happen when the flywheel becomes worn or damaged and is not able to provide proper support for the gears. It can also happen if the flywheel is not properly aligned with the transmission.
2. Cannot Change Gears
If the flywheel becomes damaged, it may become difficult or impossible to change gears, which can make driving the vehicle very difficult. The gears may not engage properly or may become stuck in a certain gear.
The gears may also become difficult to shift, requiring more force than usual to change gears. This can be caused by issues with the flywheel such as warping, imbalance, or worn-out teeth.
3. Burning Odor
A damaged flywheel can cause a burning odor to come from the clutch or transmission area. This odor can be caused by friction between the flywheel and the clutch, which can generate heat and cause burning.
The clutch disc and pressure plate may also show signs of wear and tear, which can cause a burning smell. This is due to the flywheel’s failure to provide proper support for the clutch and transmission, causing the clutch to slip and generate more heat than normal.
4. Vibrations of the Clutch (Clutch Chatter)
A damaged flywheel can cause vibrations or chattering noise when the clutch is engaged. This can be caused by uneven wear on the flywheel surface, which can affect the smoothness of the clutch engagement.
The chatter is caused by the irregular surface of the flywheel, this can cause the clutch to engage and disengage rapidly and unevenly, causing the vibration. This can be dangerous and can lead to further damage to the clutch and transmission.
5. Unable to Start, or Inconsistent Starts
A damaged flywheel can cause issues with starting the engine. It can be hard to start the engine, or it may stall immediately after starting.
The flywheel is responsible for providing support for the crankshaft, which is necessary for starting the engine. If the flywheel is damaged, it may not be able to provide the proper support, making it difficult to start the engine.
6. Engine Stalling
If the flywheel is damaged, it can cause the engine to stall while driving. This can be dangerous and can happen when the flywheel is not providing the proper support for the crankshaft.
This can be caused by issues such as warping, imbalance, or worn-out teeth on the flywheel. The engine may stall when the flywheel fails to provide the proper support and the crankshaft becomes misaligned.
7. Engine Vibrations with Clutch Engaged
A damaged flywheel can cause the engine to vibrate when the clutch is engaged. This can be caused by a warp or an imbalance in the flywheel, which can affect the smooth operation of the engine and transmission.
The vibration can be felt in the clutch pedal and the transmission. The engine may also make a knocking or clunking noise. The vibration can cause the gears to become misaligned and cause the gears to slip or become difficult to shift.
Overall, a flywheel failure can cause a variety of issues related to the engine and transmission. If you suspect that your flywheel is damaged, it’s important to have it inspected and repaired by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the engine and transmission.
Importance of Proper Maintenance
Proper maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and proper function of your flywheel. A flywheel that is not properly maintained can wear out quickly and cause significant problems for the car. Some of the most important maintenance tasks include:
- Regular inspections. It is important to have your flywheel inspected on a regular basis to ensure that it is in good working condition.
- Proper lubrication. The flywheel must be properly lubricated to ensure smooth operation and prevent wear and tear.
- Balance. The flywheel should be balanced to ensure smooth operation.
- Replacement. If a flywheel is damaged or worn out, it should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the engine or transmission.