The crankshaft has an important role to play in the distribution of power in a vehicle and is fundamentally responsible for driving the car’s wheels. The engine is the power machine of a car, literally converting energy, in the form of fuel, into movement, and is known as an internal combustion engine. The engine is made up of several components that all work together to enable combustion to occur and in turn the car to move. The crankshaft has an important part to play in transforming the power produced in the engine into rotary drive and distributing this power to various components in order to make the vehicle move.
Usually manufactured from cast iron, forged steel or steel alloys, the crankshaft is a solid tubular shaft, with a crankpin and counter weights, which connects to the engine block and pistons, and usually a fly wheel in most vehicles. The crankpin connects to the bigger end of the connecting rod and enables the conversion of the up and down movement of the pistons into rotary motion. The counter weights function to balance the force produced by the motion of the pistons. The crankshaft contains passages that carry lubricant to the main and rod journals. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons by the connecting rods. The movement of the pistons makes the crankshaft turn. The connecting rods provide drive from the pistons to the crankshaft, where this power is changed into rotational force and distributed via the pulley and drive belt system to the various components that work together to make the wheels of the car move.
The crankshaft uses the crankshaft pulley system to distribute the power it receives from the pistons, to the components driven by the drive belt. This pulley system enables the distribution of power from the crankshaft to components such as the alternator and power steering pump, while ensuring these components are functioning in synch and kept in alignment with the rotation of the crankshaft. The crankshaft pulley helps to prolong the life of the crankshaft by absorbing some of the vibration, noise and friction produced in the process of internal combustion.
Exposed to constant stress, friction, noise, heat and vibration while the car is in motion the crankshaft can crack. Cracks left unattended will weaken the crankshaft and eventually lead to it breaking in two. The crankshaft can also seize up if not kept properly lubricated. Some bending of the crankshaft is expected, but extreme bending of the crankshaft will leave it weak and require it to be replaced. When this part fails, replacing it with a crankshaft will guarantee a part that is completely compatible with the make and model of your vehicle.