The flexplate is a crucial component that connects the engine’s crankshaft in cars without manual transmission input shafts (automatic vehicles). Its purpose is to transfer the rotation from the engine to spin the transmission, allowing the engine’s power to the wheels. So, I’m guessing it’s easy to see why a cracked flexplate is a common issue in older vehicles with high mileage.
Over time, the flexplate’s constant torque can cause cracks in the metal disk. When the flexplate cracks, you may notice grinding noises, vibration, delayed shifting, check engine lights, or loss of power. These are all symptoms that show the flexplate needs to be replaced. However, with careful precautions, you can temporarily drive short distances with a cracked flexplate until you can repair it.
Avoid high speeds, acceleration, and steep inclines, which put more load on the damaged flexplate. Schedule a repair within days or weeks to prevent further damage. Replacing the cracked flexplate requires removing the transmission for access. So it’s ideal to address the issue promptly before total failure occurs. Driving conservatively with a cracked flexplate can allow you to reach a mechanic, but prolonged use risks breakage, so repairs should not be delayed for long.
In our guide, you can learn more about why your transmission may fail because of the flexplate. By the end, you’ll better understand if you can replace your flex plate or if it can be repaired like a flywheel could if faulty. (Learn How To Unfreeze Power Steering Fluid)
What Is a Flexplate?
A flexplate, or a flex plate, is a critical component in automatic transmission systems. It links the engine and the torque converter, transferring engine power to the transmission. This allows smooth gear shifts and enables the vehicle to move forward or backward seamlessly.
Over time, the constant torque on the flexplate can cause the metal to weaken and crack. High mileage is the most common reason for a cracked flexplate. But other issues like worn engine or transmission mounts, misalignment during installation, or faulty bolts can also cause a flexplate to crack prematurely.
What Could Cause a Flexplate to Break?
A cracked flexplate is a common issue in vehicles with automatic transmissions. The flexplate is a metal disk that bolts to the rear of the crankshaft and looks similar to a brake rotor. The flexplate transfers the rotation from the crankshaft to spin the transmission’s input shaft. This engagement allows the engine’s power to reach the wheels through the transmission.
- Guide Pins Missing: The absence of guide pins can lead to misalignment, placing undue stress on the flexplate and causing it to break.
- Excessive Vibration: Vibrations originating from engine or transmission issues can accelerate flexplate wear, leading to failure.
- Unbalanced Engine, Torque Converter, and Gearbox: Any imbalance in these components can strain the flexplate, causing cracks and fractures.
- Cracks in the Welds: Weak welds can cause plate structural failure over time, especially during intense driving conditions.
- Heavy Wear: Over time, constant torque, and stress during operation can lead to material fatigue, ultimately breaking the flexplate.
- Manufacturing Defects: Faulty manufacturing processes can create weak points, making the flexplate susceptible to breakage.
- Bent Crankshaft: A bent crankshaft can exert uneven pressure on the flexplate, leading to cracks and fail.
- Foreign Bodies in the Transmission: Foreign objects entering the transmission can cause damage to the flexplate, contributing to its breakage.
- Improper Installation: Incorrectly installed flexplates can experience misalignment, increasing wear and breakage.
Can I Drive With a Cracked Flexplate?
You may find drivers often find the flex plate has come apart while driving, and there are noises in the bell housing. So, they may wonder, can you still drive, or is your car off the road? Driving with a cracked flexplate is not recommended, and the sounds won’t go away independently. The crack weakens the flexplate’s structure, posing risks of further damage to the transmission system, engine mounts, and even the wheels.
Continued driving can lead to sudden transmission failure and potentially leave the driver stranded, so replacing the flex plate as soon as possible is vital. (Learn How Does A Drive Shaft Break)
Symptoms of a Cracked Flexplate
A cracked flexplate will usually produce some noticeable symptoms before failing. Being aware of these signs can help you address the issue promptly. Here are some common indicators of a cracked flexplate:
- Grinding or knocking noise from the transmission – As the cracked flexplate wobbles, it can produce audible grinding or knocking sounds. The noise usually gets louder as engine speed increases.
- Vibration when accelerating – The wobble of the damaged flexplate can cause vibration under acceleration. This may be felt in the gas pedal.
- Delayed engagement – A cracked flexplate can delay the transmission engaging when you shift into gear.
- Check engine light – The faulty flexplate may trigger an engine code and turn on the check engine light.
- Loss of power – As the flexplate deteriorates, you may notice a lack of power when trying to accelerate.
- Difficulty starting – In severe cases, the damage can prevent the starter motor from spinning the engine to start.
When to Repair a Cracked Flexplate
It’s essential to address a cracked flexplate promptly before it fails. In most cases, you can still safely drive with a cracked flexplate for some time. But scheduling a repair within a few days or weeks is wise. Driving too long with a severely cracked flexplate risks total failure. If the flexplate separates at high speeds, it can damage the transmission or engine. You may also get stranded if the vehicle becomes undrivable.
Replacing the flexplate requires removing the transmission to access it. So it’s advised to repair it when you notice any symptoms before additional transmission damage occurs. The flexplate replacement job typically costs $500-$1000, less if you catch it early.
Can the Flexplate Be Fixed?
Sometimes, minor cracks in the flexplate can be repaired using specialized welding techniques. However, replacing the flexplate is often the safer and more reliable option for severe damage or extensive wear. Promptly addressing the issue by consulting a professional mechanic is essential to prevent potential hazards and ensure a smooth driving experience. (Read Scooter Drive Belt Size Chart)
In conclusion, promptly addressing a cracked flexplate is imperative for maintaining your car’s functionality and ensuring safety. The flywheel flexplate is crucial in transferring power from the engine to the transmission.
Delaying replacement can lead to further complications, affecting the car’s power output and causing abnormal noise and vibrations. Drivers can avoid costly repairs and potential breakdowns by promptly replacing the damaged flexplate with a new one, properly aligned and torqued. Regular inspections, maintenance, and early intervention will help keep the engine and transmission functioning smoothly and extend the vehicle’s lifespan.
What is a cracked flex plate, and how does it affect my car’s functionality?
A cracked flexplate, also called a flexplate, is an automotive component between the engine and transmission. It resembles a flywheel and helps transfer power from the engine to the wheels. A cracked flexplate can lead to issues like abnormal noise, misalignment, and reduced power output.
Can I drive with a cracked flexplate or replace it immediately?
Driving with a cracked flexplate is not recommended. It can cause further damage to the transmission and engine ring gear, potentially leading to sudden failure. It’s best to replace the flexplate promptly to ensure safety and prevent costly repairs.
What are the signs that show I need to replace my flexplate?
Signs of a failing flexplate include unusual noises when the engine is running, vibrations, and difficulties in gear shifts. If your vehicle is making noise, you should get an inspection to determine if you need a new flexplate.
What is involved in the replacement process of a flexplate?
Replacing the flex plate requires removing the transmission from the engine. During the process, mechanics inspect the bell housing, clutch, oil pan, and front pump. The new flexplate must be aligned correctly and torqued to prevent misalignment issues.
Can I tow my car with a cracked flexplate?
Towing a vehicle with a cracked flexplate is not advisable as it can exacerbate the damage and lead to further complications. It’s crucial to address the issue before towing to prevent more extensive repairs. (Learn How To Keep Radio On At Drive-in)
Are there any factors contributing to a flexplate crack?
Yes, many factors can cause a flexplate to crack, like excessive torque, misalignment, foreign objects entering the transmission, or manufacturing defects. Regular inspections and proper maintenance can help identify issues before they lead to a cracked flexplate.