Harmonic balancer - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


1992-1999 Series I L27 (1992-1994 SE,SLE, SSE) & Series II L36 (1995-1999 SE, SSE, SLE) and common problems for the Series I and II L67 (all supercharged models 92-99) Including Olds 88's, Olds LSS's and Buick Lesabres Please use General Chat for non-mechanical issues, and Performance and Brainstorming for improvements.

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Old 07-25-2004, 12:00 AM   #1
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Default Harmonic balancer

I have a '92 SSEI with 127,000 miles on the clock. This evening when I started the car, there was a loud rattling noise coming from the engine compartment. I open the hood but couldn't really tell where the noise was coming from.

The noise is most noticeable at idle or in park. The car drives fine.

I did a search on the site and I think the noise may be coming from the harmoni balancer. There are no trouble codes or warning lights. Oil pressure is fine. Water temperature is fine. I can't tell if the rubber seal is broken from looking down into the engine compartment.

It may be a few days before I can get it into a garage. Will this be a big problem? I plan to do about 35 miles of highway driving. Will this hurt the engine?

Thanks in advance for any advise!
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Old 07-25-2004, 10:19 AM   #2
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What has happened is that the outer ring of the balancer had broken free from the rubber that connects it to the hub. This outer ring is what the belts ride on. The rattling that you are hearing is the slipping of this outer ring on the hub. Last time I replaced mine it cost me about $200-$250 CAD and of course requires a puller. Would I drive it like this? I don't recommend it although I have seen some people drive it for over a week like that. Taking chances that it flies apart and damages other things are not my cup of tea. A little advice here...If the crank sensor has not been changed in that car, spend the extra bit of cash and get it done because you have to pull the balancer to get at it and being a 92, you are living on borrowed time, they all eventually fail!
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Old 07-25-2004, 10:30 AM   #3
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Thanks for the information!

When I look down at the balancer, I don't see any wobbling while the car is running. The balancer is tight against the belt. Some threads mention that you can, with effort, move the balancer with your hand to see if it'* loose. That doen't seem to be the case. Evrything appears to be tight.

Are there any other indications that the balancer is going bad?
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Old 07-25-2004, 11:56 AM   #4
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The rattle is only at idle in park? Try something for me. Take off your SC belt, and try it again. Don't run it too long, as you won't have a water pump, but see if the rattle goes away. If it does, kill the ignition, and work the SC pulley back and forth. Do you feel any slop or backlash? If you do, the coupler in the nosedrive needs to be replaced.

Try the same thing with the other belt afterwards. The alternator will be the suspect on that path.

This is assuming your balancer isn't bad. It can help isolate the problem. A bad SC coupler will only be apparent at idle.
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Old 07-25-2004, 12:17 PM   #5
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The alternator was replaced earlier this year with a new AC Delco unit. No noise from that area. The SC coupler makes the usual kind of noises that I'm familiar with for an SSEI. The SC oil level is fine. It was the first thing that I checked.

The noise is definitely coming from down lower in the engine compartment. I put the car up on ramps and checked underneath the car. The heat shield is fine. The exhast system looks fine too. No leaking from the water pump.

I had the cam sensor replaced eariler this year and the crank sensor was replaced two years ago...
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Old 07-25-2004, 12:39 PM   #6
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Turn the engine off and tell me if you can move the belts by hand at all.
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Old 07-25-2004, 12:51 PM   #7
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All the belts are tight. All of them are just a year old.

The car drives smoothly. No knocking sounds coming from the engine. When I drove it this morning around the block a couple of times, the sound of the engine seems to mask the rattling sound. Once under way, the noise dimmishes, but at lower speeds, you can still hear it inside the car faintly...
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Old 07-25-2004, 12:54 PM   #8
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Disconnect the belts as I suggested. You can isolate the problem to either the accessories or the engine itself that way.
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Old 07-25-2004, 01:51 PM   #9
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To help isolate a noise in the engine compartment, auto technicians use a device called a listening probe, it'* similar to a doctors stephsiscope but has a long thin mental rod attached. But what I use is a medium to long screw driver flat head or phillips. Put the tip of the screw driver on the suspect part near were the bearing might be and carefully place your ear on the handle and probe around the suspect part with the engine running. I have been in the auto biz for 15 years and it always seems to work in isolating accessory drive noise in the engine compartment. Good luck.
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Old 07-25-2004, 02:17 PM   #10
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I removed the top belt and the noise is still there. Couldn't undo the bottom acessory belt.

I guess I'm going to the garage this week!
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