Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Harmonic Balancer

Need a new harmonic balancer on 1994 Oldsmobile 88. Mechanic says $350 to $400 parts and labor. Seems too much as can get a new harmonic balancer for that car on Ebay for about $60. Mechanic says those are made in China and will last 2 minutes. I don’t believe any of it so I am asking here if it’s true that I should avoid the ones made in China or offshore and if so should I specifically be searching for a US-made harmonic balancer? How much should it really cost to properly replace it parts and labor? Can I do it myself with basic tools? Do I need a special harmonic balancer pully puller? Mechanic says it’s noisy to drive it without replacing the harmonic balancer, but it won’t damage the engine it to drive it without fixing it. Is that true?

You are very unlikely to be able to accomplish this yourself - for the exact reasons that it is going to cost you a few hundred bucks - tools & knowledge.

Its also the case that a mechanic would be nuts to order a cheap POS part from eBay and install it for you. You don’t even want him to - because, yes - the quality will be suspect. In addition to that, if he gets it for $60 he has every reason and right to charge you $100-120 for it. There’s lots of overhead involved in running a shop, and the expertise should not come cheaply.

If you want to explore DIY auto repair, start with a repair manual for the car. Get a good set of ramps, jack and jack stands and several good socket sets and an assortment of wrenches and other stuff. For the balancer you probably also need flywheel holding tool and a puller.

The balancer is inside the motor, so lots of labor to get the old one out and new one in there. Seals and otther stuff needs to be replaced to make sure nothing leaks. Not an easy job and beyond most “Sunday” mechanics. Putting in a cheap part is not wise if there is an increased risk of failure. Some of the ebay parts are fine, others questionable so you pay little for the part but take a risk on quality.

UncleTurbo FYI the Harmonic balancer is out side of the motor. It’s on the end of the crank shaft. It’s not a to hard to do if you have the right tools. It takes a puller and a way to hold the crank from turning. To put the new one you need a bolt with a nut and washer to push it back in place on the crank. The radiator has to be removed and all belt’s. The crank seal also has to be replaced. You are right about ebay parts.

It does no good to remove the radiator. The engine in this vehicle is transverse mounted.


Find another shop. The labor time is less than 1 hour and the part is less than $100. In fact the old harmonic balancer can often be repaired with 3 quick shots from a wire welder. I have successfully repaired a dozen or more. Never had a problem.

Your right Tester. I was thinking old rwd V8/V6.

The balancer’s job is to absorb torsional vibration (whip) in the crankshaft. It’s made in two pieces, laminated together with rubber. It’s designed to cancel out the crankshaft’s harmonics and prevent it from breaking…It’s not something you can ignore for very long…On traverse mounted engines, they can be difficult to replace because of space limitations…

Trying to find manufactured parts for cars whose maker has declared bankruptcy can be difficult. ALL the replacement balancers (and many other parts) are probably made in China…

As Caddyman noted, crankshafts can, and occasionally do break when the harmonic balance is not in place. How big of a gambler are you?

For those who wish to know whereof they speak, take a close look at the harmonic balancer in question. The cast balance weight is keyed to the crankshaft and the belt pulley is riveted to the weight. When the rivets break loose the pulley oscillates to the limits and hammers at idle. Unless the pulley has worn sufficiently to allow it to be off center on the weight it cannot change the balance. This isn’t small talk or something I read on some DIY web site.

And although I would never attempt to run an engine out of balance I am amazed at the chipper that I have, The 15 pound chipper wheel that is attached directly to the crankshaft has 10 blades swinging on thru bolts and only when the RPMs are raised do the blades get thrown out to something resembling a balanced, uniform position. And certainly, when limbs are thrown in and the blades are thrown askew while the engine is running at WOT against the governor the balance is totally lost. But it continues to run.

If its the 3800, I’ve managed to get one off before without a puller, but holding the crank in place to loosen the nut can be an issue. I can’t really comment on the Chinese version or not but have paid about $500 several times for GM balancers to be installed. Usually lasted 2-300K though.

Can they be repaired , and used again my mechanic is telling me the same thing , what about replacing the rubber ? I have one on my vehicle that has come apart with the hub still in tact and the ring off , is it ok to get it repaired with the wire weld ?

No, and thanks for reviving a 6 year old thread.

I have welded several without a problem. But with the part cheap and available why bother.

Thanks for the reply , where I’m at they are asking to much for it , I will have to order and asking your opinion can I use the repaired one as a quick fix until I can bring in the new one , will it have an effect on the shaft itself ? I have to get back up an running as I do depend on my vehicle . Thanks again

I wouldn’t. It has to be in balance and aligned, and the rubber is there to damp out vibrations. Lots of ways for a repair to go wrong.

1 Like

Please further clarify this

You feel they’re overcharging for the part?

You feel they’re overcharging for the labor?


Or you feel what they’re asking is fair, but it’s more than you can afford?

In the Bahamas is where I’m at , some of the parts stores are asking for 200 - 300 dollars and where online I can order it for as low as 40 dollars on amazon and bring it in for less than they are asking but its going to take at lease a week to be here , that’s the dilemma I’m in , so that is why I’m asking if I can go with the repair for now . and for 200 bucks I can actually bring in part and have it installed for the cost of it .

Well, your location explains a lot

Shops do mark up parts, it’s the cost of staying in business

And the cost of staying in business is undoubtedly higher in the Bahamas

That’ll be the same in any somewhat remote location, no offense intended

Goods cost more in Alaska and Hawaii, too, as an example

As for the part itself, I’m not sure what’s available on amazon, but I did look on rockauto. If amazon sells the dayco or atp balancer, those could be okay. At least I’ve heard of those brands, and I’ve even used their products from time to time.

I presume you’re using amazon prime, because of free s/h . . . ?

I’d advise against spending any money repairing the old balancer. You don’t want any chance of the repair itself causing even more damage.

Can’t you borrow a friend or relative’s car for a week, while you wait for a part to arrive?

Or maybe have somebody give you a ride to work for those few days?