The dual-mass flywheel; a product of downsizing
The dual mass flywheel is yet one more car part that has gone through the inevitable”evolution” process.
The tendency of the auto industry to build evermore powerful engines leads to the problem of transferring that power from the engine to the transmission.
This meant that a bigger, more powerful engine, needed a bigger flywheel and clutch set. In the old days, this would be solved simply by increasing the size of the flywheel, clutch set and consequently, the gearbox. But, in recent times the auto industry has been dominated by downsizing.
The dual mass flywheel is born out of that idea.
At the end of this article, you have a video on the dual mass flywheel topic, mainly about the symptoms and the cost of replacement.
You can also watch it on our YouTube channel.
What does the dual mass flywheel do?
Its main task is to compensate for high torque output between the engine and the transmission while saving precious space and material.
So, for a bigger, more powerful engine you can use a smaller flywheel, clutch system, and gearbox. This is due to a different construction of the flywheel; it has a system of springs and dampeners inside the flywheel, as opposed to the classical one which is made out of one solid piece.
For a more thorough explanation of this part, click here for a great explanation on Wikipedia.
Problems of the dual mass flywheel
This is a genius solution from the engineering point of view. However, in the regular exploitation of the car (especially in its later “life”-after about 200,000 km) the situation is not so shiny. Why?
Well, for one there is the longevity and resilience of the part itself. To clarify: the old-type flywheel was almost never changed for the whole history of the car.
Second, you’re looking at a replacement range as low as 100,000 km to 200,000 km if you’re lucky. This mostly depends on your driving.
Second, there’s the price tag.
From the part itself to the replacement you’re probably looking at a 4-digit number on the bill. And that’s just for the middle-class car. For upper-class cars, it even goes higher. This is a huge downside, especially if you have a used car.
I’m speaking from experience since I had the same problems with my Fiat Stilo 1.9 JTD.
Putting that amount of money into an old and used car is pretty much like throwing it away.
For more information on the dual mass flywheel repair cost, click here.
The failure symptoms of a dual-mass flywheel
However, if you get to the point that the dual mass flywheel needs replacement here are some symptoms (from my own experience) :
A hard clutch pedal
it’s not the same as it was before-nice and soft. It’s tough to press
• Sense of something hitting the clutch pedal from underneath
when you hold the clutch pedal down.
• Lack of smooth start off
when you let go of the clutch, the car does not start off smoothly. You’ll feel trembling of the whole car.
• Tough gear shifting
Instead of the usual, smooth gear change, it gets tough and resistant.
• Squeaking sound and shakedown
when you turn off the ignition you’ll hear a squeaking sound from the engine compartment and the car will shake down a bit.
• Clunking and grinding noise from the engine compartment
When it’s the end, sounds like something broke off inside of the transmission box. This kind of noise is a red alert.
The culmination of it all is not being able to drive the car. If you drive it in that condition, you’re only at risk of causing even more damage.
When the first symptoms appear, my advice is don’t wait for the bitter end. Visit a good mechanic ASAP to prevent further damage so a costly repair doesn’t turn into a catastrophe.
Prepare yourself for the replacement of the whole flywheel and clutch kit, not only the flywheel. Making this replacement is a big and expensive job (the gearbox has to be taken down). If you change the flywheel only, you’re at risk of having to take down the gearbox twice in a short period of time thus paying twice for the same job.
Some of the previously mentioned symptoms may appear as a result of other malfunctions like a broken clutch cylinder, lack of clutch-brake fluid, worn out clutch disc, etc. If you’re lucky, maybe the repair won’t cost a small fortune. But they will tell you best at the garage.
Also, this is not a DIY repair unless you’re a skilled mechanic and have the proper tools.
Used cars-always ask if they have one and when it’s been replaced
In the end, a small piece of advice: when buying a used car, ask or inform yourself does it have a dual-mass flywheel. See has it ever been replaced and when (in kilometer/mileage terms). If not replaced, have in mind that in the near future you will probably have a very costly replacement.
Dual mass flywheel video
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author at Despairrepair.com