Bad Flywheel Symptoms

The flywheel is responsible for connecting the engine and the transmission, making it the most vital part of your car’s clutch assembly.

Part of the ability of your engine to drive the wheels owes it to the flywheel for providing friction against the clutch. 

The flywheels, however, can receive damage over time. You can notice some symptoms that indicate a failing or faulty flywheel. Here are the bad flywheel symptoms.

Getting To Know Your Flywheel First

The flywheel is the bridge that connects the engine and the clutch mechanism. Some springs direct force on a pressure plate making it press against the clutch disc.

The flywheel will then receive a pressing force against it from the disc. As a result, the engine will lock to the transmission, allowing the two components to spin in coalesce.

Flywheel is categorized into two:

Solid mass flywheels

A single mass flywheel, or a solid mass flywheel, is composed of only one piece of metal. This type has a longer life expectancy compared to the other.

It even has lower running costs and more durable at the same time. However, solid mass flywheels can increase vibrations and engine noise.

It is possible for some engines to have a conversion kit if you want to convert from dual mass to a solid mass.

Dual Mass Flywheels

A dual mass flywheel is designed with two spring-connected sections. The inner or smaller section is connected to the clutch while the outer section is linked to the gearbox

As oppose to the single mass type, the dual mass can provide a seamless power transfer to the wheels while diminishing vibrations from the engine at the same time.

Bad Flywheel Symptoms

1. When You Smell Like Something is Burned

A primary indicator of a faulty flywheel is when you notice some burning smell similar to a burnt toast.

The clutch facings can be subject to too much heat when unnecessary clutch driving occurs. This results to a burning odor you can easily observe.

2. Observing Some Gear Slippage

A major symptom that clearly tells you the flywheel might be failing is gear slippages. This phenomenon is the incapacity of the vehicle to switch to the next gear.

There are also cases the gear might be able to move into the succeeding shift. But chances are, it will just move back to the former gear by itself.

The most perceptible sign of a gear slippage is a delay in engagement after you release the clutch. A soft pedal is also tell-tale sign of such condition.

Gear slippage can also cause a slow speed increase. This is usually due to plate grinding – an attribute of a bad flywheel. Factors that make the situation worse include oil contamination and amplified friction. All of these inner machinery faults can promote gear slippage.

What makes the flywheel faulty is overheating due to a worn clutch. A bad clutch can make your flywheel crack, warp, or weak. It is advisable to replace your worn clutch to keep it from causing more harm and damage to the flywheel.

Note: There are cases where the clutch assembly itself is to blame. Over time, the clutch becomes prone to slippages and eventual wear out. Excessive clutch slippages can negatively affect your flywheel. The effect is so detrimental and similar to how the brakes affect the rotor and discs.

Related: Symptoms Of Low & How To Change Clutch Fluid

3. Clutch Drag

When the gear can slip, it can also drag. Clutch drag is the complete opposite of gear slippage. This condition happens when the clutch is not able to release completely; the shifting will only involve a clutch assembly that lingers near the engine rpm.

One thing you should understand is – the clutch drag is not the result of a faulty flywheel itself.

It is caused by a failing pilot bearing. In other cases, the bushing in the crankshaft assembly or the flywheel. All of these cause the clutch to refuse being fully released, hence the clutch drag. 

4. Vibrations in the Clutch

Another sign of a bad flywheel is when you feel a vibration or extreme rumbling while you engage with the clutch. Vibrations in the clutch is usually caused by the flywheel’s spring mount mechanism that fails.

These vibrations are noticeable on the car floor. Failure in the said component promote inability to reduce tremors while you use your clutch.

5. Clutch Chattering

A chattering clutch could arise from several assembly malfunctions; and it’s actually quite a common problem. It occurs when the clutch skips on the flywheel and not able to engage smoothly. Instead, it rapidly grabs and releases.

There are multiple factors that could contribute for the clutch to chatter. Some include a distorted or damaged clutch disk, worn pilot bearing or bushing, and a burned clutch disc friction material. Another reason could be a damaged or missing flywheel dowel pins.

It is also a common case to experience the same symptoms for a bad engine mount. To confirm this symptom to be indeed a faulty flywheel, it is best to consult a professional mechanic.

6. Pulsation

After run out, the disc brake assembly and clutch assembly will share similar symptoms since the two systems are also similar in function.

You can really expect certain run out or warpage resulting from consistent cooling and heating. However, having too much warp causes pulsation.

A worsening pulsation in the brake pedal is due to a warped flywheel. There is a thin line between a warped flywheel and one with an acceptable run out. So you can confirm this one is a failing flywheel by looking for other symptoms.

You can tell your flywheel is heavily warped due to persistent pulsation followed by sporadic rise and fall in the rpm of your engine. This becomes quite noticeable in the later stages of warping.

You might also like: Best Brake Rotors

7. Dual Mass Flywheel Problems

There are two types of flywheels – the solid mass flywheels and the dual mass flywheels as discussed above. In dual mass flywheels, it is possible to experience a rattle when you try to engage or release the clutch.

This is accompanied by succeeding conditions comparable to the clutch chatter that can happen even after a complete engagement. These symptoms can happen while moving to the lower gears and more commonly during primary engagements.

A dual mass flywheel has two parts, hence the dual. A flywheel with a smaller diameter is bolted to the engine and is placed inside an outer, drum-brake-like flywheel.

A set of springs are responsible for making the smaller flywheel engage with the bigger one. The design promotes some buffering between the transmission and engine, promoting a smoother clutch operations.


There are various types of flywheels that differ from one make and model to another. However, the symptoms that one can experience with a failing flywheel are similar and fairly universal. 

The signs of a bad flywheel are symptoms that you can easily notice, especially while driving the vehicle. 

Experiencing a symptom or two is your car’s approach of signifying there is something wrong within.

Your job as the owner is to consult a trained mechanic to further diagnose the matter at hand. The sooner you get things fixed, the bigger the chance of avoiding further damage and long-term issues if you have done otherwise. 

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