'97 Taurus GL 3.0:: Front Cover & Oil Pan Project

Back on this job again (spare car, and so no real urgency on my part)…

I think I did a ‘no-no’. I was putting the balancer back on, and after putting some sealer in the keyway and oiling the outer circumference, I was surprised at how difficult it was to slide the balancer all the way on. The center bolt would not thread into the hole without the balancer being a certain amount on the crankshaft, so I put a block of wood on the face and hit it 2 or 3 times with a rubber mallet. When that didn’t seem to do anything, I pulled out the 16 lb sledge and tamped it with the head (not the hammering surface) maybe 4 or 5 times until the bolt reached the threads. Then I just tightened it up.

I’m almost afraid to ask, but did I damage the crankshaft doing this?? I used a puller to get the balancer off, but I forgot that I was supposed to use it (or some other special tool) to press it back on.


You made 2 mistakes

  1. Putting sealer in the keyway
  2. Using force to install the balancer

This is what you should have used to install the balancer.


I have a few questions

  1. Were you able to torque the balancer bolt
  2. Can you post a picture of the puller used to remove the balancer? Not all pullers are appropriate for that job.
  3. Did you check if the balancer “sealing surface” was excessively pitted or grooved?

You may very well be okay. If anything, you damaged the balancer, not the crank.

However, if I was you, I would rent that installer tool and make sure the balancer’s all the way on.
Then I would make sure the balancer bolt’s sufficiently torqued.
Put the belt back on.
Start the engine.
Watch for wobbling or oil leaks.

Good luck!

Yeah, I screwed up! I totally missed the reference to the special tool in the manual.

1.) No. I ran the bolt all the way in (it came to a clear and dead stop with the crank sensor evenly over the center of the balancer’s toothy inner plate), but I couldn’t get the wrench to click. I think this is a problem with the wrench itself. My Craftsman wrench broke on me a few weekends ago and I bought a Harbor Fake replacement figuring it was ‘good enough’. But then I tested it right out of the box torquing the lug nuts on my '11 Equinox (because they kept welding themselves on) and I couldn’t get it to click there either. It did click very clearly when I torqued the crank pulley bolts, though, so I think it might be defective for torquing bolts on the high end of the scale. So without the torque wrench working, I just attached the breaker bar and leaned on it a bit.

2.) The puller is the standard Harbor Fake kit

3.) I looked over the balancer for a few minutes for any obvious damage, but I’m not a mechanic so I don’t have any perspective on this. I sprayed it down with brake cleaner and wiped it off with paper towels. I assumed the ‘sealing surface’ was the thickened cylindrical section that fills the opening where the front cover seal is? This section looked pretty good after I wiped it off (appeared shiny and smoothish to me), but I covered it with 5w/30 just before pushing the balancer back on. Was that correct? I don’t see how that seal really works. The balancer is spinning inside that flimsy seal (which I did replace with new in the front case) and the seal survives that constant friction??

As for the sealer in the keyway, maybe I misunderstood the manual, but I thought it said to put sealant in there. There was already a small blob (dab?) of it at the very end (front?) of the channel from the factory install. I thought about just calling that ‘good enough’, but then I added a little more (thinking the old dab maybe wasn’t flexible enough?)

I’m very sure the balancer is all the way on (as evidenced by the crank sensor’s centered position over the toothy gear plate). But I wish I had a torque wrench that verified the torque setting. To get the proper torque of 93-121 ft-lbs, I can’t image it would’ve taken any more pressure than what I did with the breaker bar (leaning on it for about 3-4 seconds).

@db4690, I’m pretty sure those came with RTV in the keyway and I think the service manual indicates to put some there on reassembly.

@ColtHero, I don’t think you totally screwed up. Yes, the preferred method is to use an installer to seat the balancer on the crank, but that 3.0 engine is about as forgiving as an old Chevy 350. Meaning that you can try to break it and you still wont. As long as you didn’t damage the threads in the crank you’re fine. If the serp belt is running straight and true then the balancer is seated fully. Drive on with no worries. You’re working on a Taurus, not the space shuttle.


The engines I’m familiar with didn’t have any RTV sealer in the keyway. I am/was concerned that putting sealer in the keyway will make the woodruff key protrude slightly, making it extremely difficult to reinstall the balancer.

The space shuttles are all retired. Unlike OP’s car, which still has to soldier on.



you used the correct puller to remove the balancer. I was worried you might have used a 3-jaw puller, which can theoretically damage the balancer


That’s good news! As for the serp belt, I don’t know if it will be running ‘straight and true’ when it goes back on, but I’ll post back for sure if not.


I double-checked and there’s supposed to be sealer in this keyway, so at least I did that right. But yeah, I was wondering about the possibility of putting too much in there and having it interfere with re-install. I guess as you push the balancer on, the ‘male’ keyway on the crank pushes the sealant down the ‘female’ keyway channel on the balancer, resulting in the blob or dab at the outmost end of the channel. Some of it must ooze out, too…