Can I still drive 400 miles with noisy harmonic balancer?

I am about 400 miles away from home and just started to hear some noise up front at idle. It is intermittant for now. I am suspecting harmonic balancer. There is a very little play when I push the outer ring. Below are two photos. Can I still drive 400 miles and fix it at home in your opinion? Drive 75mph or 65mph? Any insight would be greatly appreciated!


 

koenb

Active member
Pictures aren't working for me. If it was me and it is the harmonic balancer not something else, i'd run it, but not beat on the engine. Keep it around 60 and pull over and reinspect every 100mile or if the noise changes.
 

ECU

Well-known member
Mine went on a trip. While cruising slowly, looking for a hotel, I could hear the scraping noise echoing off the buildings in town. When we got another 600 miles the next day, I found the HB loose. Since I was at a place where I would be a month, I had it fixed at a local dealer. $2700. I wasn't going to drive it another 1700m to get home.
The noise comes from the loose part scraping on the engine block. If you're not seeing this, then maybe the noise is something else. I was able to prove to myself it was the HB by putting some silicone caulking around that part of the HB. It worked for a couple days.
 
My sound is just louder engine noise than normal, no metal sound. I can hear at idle only and once I start driving, noise disappears.
 
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jrod5150

Well-known member
If it goes it can cause some major damage. Must be in the air, someone reached out to me yesterday with the same issue. They were in dallas and in a time crunch $1200 but same day repair without any sort of refferal and I thought that was alot of $$. The risk is really up to you. I think these guys made it from Colorado when they first started hearing it and made it to dallas. It was really bad when they sent me a video. Youve confirmed its for sure the balancer?
 
My theory is that balancer is somewhat out of sync at idle but when it spins faster it seats itself. My rubber seems to be in better condition than those I saw in this forum. I replaced idler pulleys, tensioner and alternator not too long ago so those are not the likely suspects.
 
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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
If it were me, and it truly is the harmonic balancer, I would remove the serpentine blet and remove the loose ring. It is a proven temporary fix.

REMOVE THE RING!! The ring can be removed to allow driving many hundreds of miles without issue. Pressing on with a loose ring has danger of further damage. Removing the ring gets you home.

If you need to press on there may be a response to a loss of rubber bond on the harmonic balancer. The ring can be removed and the Sprinter driven with the ring missing.

At least it worked for Alexk243. I personally would keep my speeds/rpm down a bit. I have no data.

So the outside ring on the harmonic balancer is loose and spinning freely... Appears the bolt is tight... How much time do I have? I am 500 miles from home.

Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk
How high is up?

The proper answer is that it needs to be repaired. If it comes loose it can do a bunch of damage.

One possibility. If the ring will pass over the serpentine belt pulley. Remove the serpentine belt, remove the separated ring, and re-install the belt.

That should get rid of the balancer failing.

Were I to try that I would keep my speeds down to 55 mph to keep engine rpm's down. That said, there may be rpm ranges where more vibration is noticed than in others. If discovered I would avoid those ranges.

There must be many people who have run the T1N with a partially failed harmonic balancer which wasn't doing the job.

To be clear. I have never tried what I suggest above. I have no idea what the risks of trying it may be.

Good luck.

vic
So I have no reception and Wi-Fi but I guess I reached the same conclusion that you guys did. I drove 50 miles on it to an awesome diesel mechanic shop and they took the belt off and removed the ring. They also made sure the harmonic balancer was on there tight. After that (10 mins or so haha) I headed back and made the last 500 miles or so safely. Noticed a lot higher vibration as I approached 70 mph so stayed well below that.

You can see the ring removed on the floor of the shop by the driver door.



Thanks for the quick responses guys. Sorry I could only check it when I was at a place with Wi-Fi

Now my next question is what harmonic balancer is recommend for replacement? I am fine paying more so this does not happen again. Any thoughts?
As always, clicking the blue arrow icon within any quote box will take you to the original post/thread.
All you need is a proper tensioner tool or just a 17mm 12 point box end wrench to release the tensioner, remove the belt, and remove the loose ring. The tensioner has a cast in 12 point fitting.

If DIY isn't possible any decent small shop can do it. Refer them to the link that I provided above. That will allow you to get back home without any major expense. The repair can be scheduled once home.

vic
 

autostaretx

Erratic Member

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Doesn't sound like the balancer to me. When the rubber bond starts to go, you can move the ring 1/8" in/out. I would suspect something else in the belt drive if its not obviously coming loose.
 
I made to home 400 miles. I can move the ring in and out less than 1/8" and the ring is intact. So maybe it is not the balancer but I went ahead and ordered balancer, washers, seal, bolt, woodruf key from Europarts as preventive maintenance. Also ordered flywheel lock from Amazon. It sounds like something is grinding, not constant but is intermittant at idle and as soon as I start to drive, it disappears. What would be the best way to check which one is the problem? I can try hand-turning each and see which one makes the noise?
 

ECU

Well-known member
You can use a piece of pipe or tubing to put close to various parts and listen to determine exact location.
There is only so many things. Alternator, water pump, power steering, A/C, high pressure pump.
Alternator, you have a light for when it fails. Noise is not an issue except it will eventually fail.
Water Pump, it will leak water when it is bad enough to replace.
Power steering, turn the wheel while running and see if the sound gets worse.
A/C, does it get cold?
Hi pressure pump, are you leaking diesel fuel? This can/will come apart and start leaking at about 320,000 miles.
also various tensioners.
 
You can use a piece of pipe or tubing to put close to various parts and listen to determine exact location.
There is only so many things. Alternator, water pump, power steering, A/C, high pressure pump.
Alternator, you have a light for when it fails. Noise is not an issue except it will eventually fail.
Water Pump, it will leak water when it is bad enough to replace.
Power steering, turn the wheel while running and see if the sound gets worse.
A/C, does it get cold?
Hi pressure pump, are you leaking diesel fuel? This can/will come apart and start leaking at about 320,000 miles.
also various tensioners.
Great idea! I will try to listen for the noise with a pipe! Nothing is leaking so far. Changed out water pump a while back.
 

nevanco

Member
I drove about 500 miles on a blown harmonic balancer before replacing it. 300 of which were before I realized it was the source of the idling rumbles I had been hearing. In my situation, the weighted outer ring had come apart from the inner pulley. I could ring the two together like a bell by hand, but couldn't easily pull the outer ring from the inner ring. Once I realized what it was, I de-tensioned the belt, whacked the outer ring off of the pulley, re-installed the belt, ordered a new harmonic balancer, the flywheel lock tool, the new bolt and washer, and kept driving it until it all came in the mail.

The rumble you hear may be the crank resonating at idle. When you apply more throttle than idle, the engine vibrates at a frequency higher than the resonant frequency of the crank and the harmonic balancer isn't needed. The harmonic balancer changes the resonant frequency of the crank shaft so that its far enough away from the idle vibrations, and wont resonate at idle.

Avoid idle speed and get that sucker home.
 
I finally replaced harmonic balancer today and the sound is gone! Harmonic balancer looked ok to me but it is original with 200k miles. I couldn't turn 90 degrees after 240lb torque and maybe I turned about 10-20 degrees only because flywheel lock tool kept poping out. Is this something I should be concerned about?
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
I finally replaced harmonic balancer today and the sound is gone! Harmonic balancer looked ok to me but it is original with 200k miles. I couldn't turn 90 degrees after 240lb torque and maybe I turned about 10-20 degrees only because flywheel lock tool kept poping out. Is this something I should be concerned about?
I would be. There have been numerous reports of crankshaft end damage when HB bolts fail or loosen.

Did the holding tool jumping cause you to lose the index for the additional turn? If yes, I would start over with a new bolt.

I wouldn't hesitate to drive it for an interim period until you can effect repairs. I have no data to support that comment.

:2cents: vic
 
When the holding tool popped, I re-inserted the tool and checked the torque to be 240lb and I tried to turn 90 degrees but it was extremely hard to turn. I think I turned about 10 degrees from 240lb when it popped again. Just wondering if other people did turn 90 degrees, and how did you do it?
 

obie

'04 long & tall passenger
I turned it using the tool. It popped out, but it popped out at about the 85-90 degree point, so I got lucky. The bolt is stretching, so your torque really isn't going to go up for you to measure. Maybe put some torque stripe on it and make it a regular check for movement.
 

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