Caring properly for engine dampers
An engine damper is the barbell-looking part on the front of your engine’s crankshaft, and in Bruce Mallinson’s piece “Damper questions answered,” which ran in the May issue of Overdrive sister pub Custom Rigs, Mallinson, owner of engine performance shop Pittsburgh Power, broke down what causes damper failure and when and why they should be replaced.
First off, Mallinson notes, dampers are wear items, and a free-floating ring of steel (inertia ring), “moves back and forth (clockwise to counter-clockwise) while ‘floating’ in a layer of silicone. When the inertia ring ceases to float independently of the crankshaft’s rotation, the damper needs to be replaced.”
He recommends replacing dampers every 500,000 miles —“It’s not worth the risk to go much beyond that,”—and when they are dented or damaged. Because you can’t inspect a damper’s torsion ring to see if it functions properly, it’s best to air on the side of caution, Mallinson says
Though dampers cost a few hundred dollars ($325 to $550, Mallinson says), “the price of a rebuild is much greater, and without a properly functioning damper, the crankshaft is much more likely to break,” he says.