A piece fell off of my 97 Contour

A piece fell off of my 97 Contour and I don’t know what it is, but the car seems to be running OK.

First I heard a metallic grinding noise as I pulled out of a parking space. I stopped, thinking I might be dragging something, but the noise continued. I looked under the hood while the engine was running and saw a loose piece bouncing around to the left of the belts on the far left of the engine. I shut off the engine and took out the piece which looked like a metal bowl about 6" in diameter. thecenter rises slightly into the interior of the bowl and there is a rubber ring flush with the center of the bowl. It appears to have been attached to the belt wheel. I started the engine again after taking it out and the engine seemed to run fine. so I took my chances and drove home since I did not have far to go. The belt di not fall off or anything. I am now wondering what this piece of metal is and if it is essential. I can not imagine that anything under the hood would not be essential, but is it danderous to drive without this piiece of metal and how does it attach to the belt wheel?

Can you post a picture of it and the place on the engine you think it came from? It would help.

this sounds like a crankshaft pulley. although you MAY have gotten home ok, dont drive the car anymore.

when you did drive it was the steering ahrder than normal (especially when going slow?)

when you started the car did you LOOK under the hood to make sure the belt was turning? just because it didnt fall off the pulleys (which may not be goong around anymore) doesn’t mean the car is OK.)