9 Symptoms of a Bad Flywheel (And Replacement Cost)

If you drive a manual transmission vehicle, its flywheel plays a crucial role, but determining when it needs replacement can be tricky. Clues like unusual noises and vibration may indicate flywheel failure. Ignoring these warning signs can lead to broader transmission problems while driving.

Let’s go over the common indicators that your flywheel may be on its way out (or even already done for). It’s unfortunately not an inexpensive repair so we’ll also go over what flywheel replacement costs consist of.

Bad Flywheel Symptoms

Because they are under constant friction and stress from torque delivered through the transmission, flywheels don’t last forever. They gradually become more worn every time your car is being driven.

If your flywheel becomes too worn out or damaged, there will be some noticeable symptoms that you won’t be able to ignore.

1) Slipping Gears


If you shift to a new gear and then notice that the engine speed (RPM) increases much faster than your ground speed, this is called gear slippage.

Since the flywheel and the pressure plate both have friction surfaces that are designed to grip the clutch, a slipping flywheel may feel like a slipping clutch.

If oil or grease were to make its way onto the friction surface of the flywheel, it would impact the clutch’s ability to engage with the flywheel and grab it without slipping, even when the clutch should be fully engaged (with your foot off of the clutch pedal).

If the gear keeps slipping when you change it, then it will certainly impact your driving ability and eventually damage your clutch.

2) Cannot Change Gears

hard to shift

Sometimes you will have the opposite problem with your gears. Instead of your gears slipping, you won’t be able to change your gears at all. The flywheel would need to be in pretty bad shape for this symptom to occur, and other transmission components may be damaged as well.

Obviously, if you cannot switch gears, then you won’t be able to drive your vehicle at all.

3) Burning Odor

burning smell

If there is a burning smell which consumes your passenger cabin, this could be attributed to many possible causes. A bad flywheel could be one of those causes because of all the heat generated from the friction in the clutch.

If you have used the clutch at times when you weren’t supposed to, this could cause problems with the flywheel.

4) Vibrations of the Clutch (Clutch Chatter)

overheated flywheel

If your clutch pedal is experiencing lots of vibrations, then your flywheel is likely going bad. The vibrations will eventually get so bad that you will be able to feel them on the floor rather than just from the clutch pedal.

As you drive your vehicle, the flywheel could end up with excessive runout over time, which leaves the surface feeling warped as you engage the clutch.

If you’ve ever overheated your flywheel or driven too long with a clutch that was on its last legs, it is very likely that you have damaged the flywheel due to excessive heat or metal on metal wear. Clutches that are worn down to the rivets will damage the flywheel.

A damaged flywheel may have a bluish color as the metal is heated far past its operating temperature. You’ll likely see some hairline cracks on the surface as well. There may even be smears of metal on the surface as the flywheel has heated and cooled.

Some flywheels contain springs, such as dual mass flywheels. If your car is equipped with one of these, the flywheel’s springs may be causing these vibrations. Dual mass flywheels will likely need replacement, as they cannot be resurfaced like a standard flywheel.

5) Unable to Start, or Inconsistent Starts

trouble starting car

If the teeth on the flywheel are damaged, the flywheel may have trouble engaging with the starter motor. This could make it difficult or impossible to start the vehicle.

If you are having issues starting your vehicle, you may want to take a look at your starter as well.

6) Engine Stalling

An aftermarket flywheel that is too light for the vehicle (or the driver) will make it much easier to stall the vehicle and could give you a rough idle.

On very light flywheels, you may even stall the vehicle simply by pushing the clutch in, just because the engine speed drops too fast for the ECU to add additional air and fuel to compensate.

7) Engine Vibrations with Clutch Engaged

If a flywheel is unbalanced, it may vibrate the whole powertrain even while the clutch is engaged.

If you recently replaced the clutch, flywheel, or pressure plate, make sure you torqued all bolts to spec and applied thread locker if it was called for in the factory service manual. A flywheel that comes loose or disintegrates while driving is incredibly dangerous, as there is a considerable amount of energy stored in the flywheel.

The flywheel is very heavy and has the potential to shake the vehicle considerably if everything isn’t balanced and lined up properly.

8) Abnormal Noises

noise while driving

High-pitched squealing or screeching noises when pressing or releasing the clutch pedal point to problems with the flywheel. The flywheel attaches to the clutch pressure plate and if damaged can make noise as the clutch engages and disengages.

Knocking or rattling during gear changes can also derive from a compromised flywheel. Damaged flywheel teeth prevent proper mating with the transmission, creating rough, loud shifts. Parts break off inside the transmission, rattling around as flywheel debris.

An improperly secured or warped flywheel leads to abnormal vibration at certain vehicle speeds. The vibrations produce a loud drone inside the cabin which gets transmitted through mounts and other components.

9) Visible Flywheel Damage

Cracks or discoloration on the flywheel surface indicate excessive heat damage that compromises integrity. The material becomes prone to warp or completely fracture. This visible damage is a sign the clutch may be slipping excessively as well.

Chipped or broken teeth that mesh with the transmission can also be spotted during a visual inspection. The gear damage causes abnormal harshness and noise during shifts. Missing teeth prevent smooth power transfer.

Since the flywheel is already removed during replacement, technicians can directly inspect for heat patterns, cracks, gear damage or looseness. This confirms flywheel failure and allows a full assessment to spot related wear on mating components.

Flywheel Replacement Cost

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flywheel replacement cost

The replacement cost of a flywheel will depend on the make and model of your vehicle. You may get lucky and find the cost of a new flywheel to be only $80 or so.

However, there are some flywheels which will cost up to $500 or more which are made up of stronger and lighter materials than just steel. Dual mass flywheels or other complicated implementations are more expensive.

On top of the parts cost, you’ll have to worry about the cost of the labor too. This will not be a short job to perform, so the mechanic may be spending close to 4 to 5 hours. If their hourly rate is $150 to $200, that would mean $750 to $1,000 just for the labor costs.

Add the totals together and you are looking at around $800 to $1500 for the total cost of getting the flywheel replaced, depending on the vehicle. You will probably want to replace the clutch, clutch fork, throw out bearing, and rear main seal while you’re in there.

What Is a Flywheel? How Does It Work?

A flywheel is a heavy spinning disk found on vehicles with manual transmissions. Attached between the engine and transmission, its purpose is to smooth out power delivery.

Flywheels store large amounts of rotational energy and angular momentum thanks to their considerable inertia and weight. This inertia acts as a buffer that keeps engine speed more constant when torque demand changes rapidly, like during gear shifts.

Without ever driving stick, you may never have heard of flywheels since they usually only exist on manual cars and trucks. But they serve important functions. By maintaining momentum, flywheels prevent the engine from bogging down during clutch engagement.

This stored energy also helps accelerate the drivetrain during vehicle launch. additionally, flywheels provide a friction surface for the clutch to grab and contain starter gear teeth that allow initial ignition.

Driving without a flywheel would make gear changes jerky, stall-outs more common, and launches sluggish. The engine would slow dramatically each time the clutch was pressed.

Preventing Flywheel Problems

Regular driving habits that reduce strain on the flywheel can extend its life dramatically. Avoid riding the clutch pedal unnecessarily and shift gears at appropriate RPMs. Let the transmission mesh fully before accelerating. Sudden take-offs under high loads punish the flywheel.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for clutch and transmission service intervals. Inspect the flywheel surface and gear teeth when the clutch is removed. Look for early wear patterns that signal future failure. Replace suspect components early before they fail at an inconvenient time.

Good preventative maintenance combined with smoothly moderated driving helps a flywheel endure hundreds of thousands of miles in some cases. Don’t wait for failure symptoms to show up. Be proactive protecting this wear-prone component.


9 thoughts on “9 Symptoms of a Bad Flywheel (And Replacement Cost)”

  1. I have a 2003 Toyota highlander and This morning i was turning right and it had a noise a clanking noise and it felt a small shake in the tire. It has been idling high for about 2 days now. a hour later i turn right in the parking lot of my job and it made a loud noise same noise from this morning and wouldn’t go for nothing. I put it in park it stop making that noise cranked it up again put it in drive and the noise was even louder so i put it park and it sounded like something was grinding. I also had to put my emergency brake on because the car wanted to roll even it wasn’t cranked and in park. Could this be the flywheel

  2. My VW Polo 2005, 1.4L (high mileage over 300 000KM) stalls when the vehicle must move from a stationary point on a steep. It does not stall on a level surface (Non steep road) engine starts perfectly and the new clutch kit has accumulated approximately less than 50 000KM. Its a preowned vehicle and it has been in my possession for 5 years. Do you think the problem is the flywheel?

    • It’s probably not the flywheel. I would look for a bad electrical connection in the wiring that may short when the car is angled a certain way.

    • 50 to 75 thousand miles no problem than you have get fineness from bank/use your credit card (because this cost you 10 percent of new car cost

  3. I have a 2009 Cadillac CTS (155,000 miles) with a manual transmission and I am noticing a “knock” or vibration with the clutch engaged and at idle. The car pulls normally otherwise. Is this a sign of failing dual mass flywheel, or worn clutch??

  4. I am only getting 17 vac out of the stator. Replace it and still only 17 vac. The one I replaced looked bad (burned badly). Everything about the flywheel looked good. Have also replaced the VR. Can a flywheel cause this? Looks like I might bought a bad stator?
    I’m thinking I should get about 30 vac out of stator?


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