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Wobbly Crankshaft

I put my car in the shop to find out why the check engine light came on. My mechanic (we’ll call him Mechanic #1) said that the crankshaft was wobbling and to just get rid of the car before it gets smogged again.


It’s a '97 toyota with ~185,000 miles and I was planning/expecing to have it for a long time.

I called the local Toyota dealer for a second opinion. Mechanic #2 asked if the timing belt was worked on recently (“why yes” I said, “3 months ago, by Mechanic #1”), he said it could be Mechanic #1’s fault because you have to move the crank pulley to get to the timing belt.

Am I getting mistreated by my Mechanic #1?

You need to have a second mechanic actually look at it before anything can be determined. There is no reason to throw mechanic #1 under the bus just yet. It is still unclear what is actually wobbling, and what may have caused it.

The crankshaft pulley may be wobbling; but, that’s NOT what’s turning on the check engine light. Take your car to a parts store and ask them to read the codes (free). Bring those codes here for cussing and discussion.
For a Mechanic #2, take your car to a reputable mechanic or shop.

In order to replace the timing belt, the harmonic balancer/crank pulley has to be removed/reinstalled correctly. Failing to this correctly can result in damage. Since mechanic #1 was the last person in that area, he’s responsible!


Mechanic #1 said he read two codes, one was the O2 sensor, and the second was the crankshaft position sensor. Also just to let you know a little further info Mechanic #1 is the owner of the shop and one of his men did the timing belt replacement… Mechanic #1 may not remember or even know that the timing was recently replaced. I’m just freaked because I took my car in thinking she had a cold and was told she needed to be put down :frowning: Unfortunitly Mechanic #1 is off until tuesday so I get to worry over the long weekend. Thanks for your quick replies…:slight_smile:

I would guess that something wasn’t done quite right with the timing belt replacement (e.g. improper torquing of one or more bolts, improper installation of the CPS, etc.) that finally caught up with the car. Probably not fatal, but as americar said, it has to be looked at before a sensible second opinion can be offered.

So should I have Mechanic #1 continue with checking out my car (I’ve been faithfully going to him ~five years and this is the first negetive outcome…)or should I take my girl to see another mechanic for an unbiased second opinion?

Again thanks for your prompt responses… :wink:

Where did everybody go? You were all so quick with your responses before… Did I jinx myself by commending you for your prompt replys earlier?

Probably had to all go to bed. That last reply was at their beddie-bye times :slight_smile:

Seriously, Mechanic #1 sounds like he’s written the car off, and not interested in fixing it, or hoping you know nothing about cars, and looking to skip out on a botched job. If the crankshaft were indeed wobbly, you’d have a lot more symptoms that a check engine light. However, if the balancer was not re-installed properly, there could be damage to the crankshaft that would require removal and possibly replacement. This shaft goes through the entire engine, and has the balancer and pulley on one end, the pistons and connecting rods in the middle, inside the engine, and the flywheel on the other end. Replacing the crankshaft would mean practically rebuilding the engine. I see why he’s reluctant to fix it, considering he may have to rebuild the engine for the cost of a timing belt replacement, but this is still a cheesy way of trying to get out of the responsibility.

It could very well be that Mech. #1 did not CAREFULLY reinstall the harmonic balancer/crankshaft pulley (same thing–just nomenclature from different eras/manufacturers). He might have whacked the crankshaft sensor out of place or just enough to adveresely affect the required gap between the sensor itself and the harmonic balancer. As for the O sensor, just get that replaced. Putting the balancer back on cock-eyed would certainly unbalance things and cause the crankshaft balancer to wobble—but not necessarily cause the crankshaft itself to wobble. It happens, but it’s very rare. I’d take it to another reputable independent and have this thoroughly checked out. (What’s your handle? Is that like Crabby Abby? Just curious. I try figuring out peoples’ handles. Hey! I’m old! Quit picking on me.).

Well, it seems to be all sorted out now. I called to say that something could have happened when they replaced the timing belt. So today when I spoke to Mechanic #1, he said it had been a loose (or missing) bolt probably from the timing belt replacement, that he hadn’t even known that the timing belt had been replaced when he had spoken to me earlier, and that it was their responsibility and I wouldn’t have to pay for it. So I am happy.
Thanks for all the info everyone, this has been a really great experience.

p.s. crabiabi = my name is abi (like abby), and i am a cancer, so i’m crabby

Is there any other technique to re-install a balancer than starting straight using a piece of wood and hitting evenly. Iam thinking some kind of special re-installation tool. I know you remove then with a threaded puller can they be damaged upon removal? like using a puller that grabs the outside of the balancer doing this probably isnt good for the balancer. The explaniation of a loose or missing bolt doesnt add up. But if the OP is happy who am I to keep asking questions?