If you have any basic know-how about a motor vehicle’s workings, you’d know that transmission is among the most complex and crucial systems.
A vehicle with a poorly integrated transmission system is one that takes more from you than it gives. For this reason, you must keep your transmission in good condition.
To boost the performance of your transmission, what you primarily need is a good flexplate. Your flexplate condition essentially dictates how reliably your transmission will convert torque that in turn propels your vehicle.
In this article, we will look at what constitutes reliable health of your flexplate, the indications that your flexplate needs a replacement, and the cost to replace a flexplate.
First Things First: What Is a Flexplate?
In simple terms, a flexplate is a circular metal disc with perforated holes located within the engine that connects the crankshaft to the torque converter.
The flexplate’s primary purpose is to store the energy generated by the engine, in the form of rotational energy, and then deliver it ahead smoothly when required.
The energy is generated through the crankshaft rotation and transferred through the flexplate to the torque converter. This energy then reaches the gearbox, which ultimately gets the vehicle moving.
Flexplate is, at times, also called flywheel. Both of these terms are often used interchangeably, owing to the mutual function they deliver.
However, you should note that flexplates are found in cars with automatic transmission systems, whereas flywheels are part of the manual transmission system. Moreover, flexplates are much slimmer than flywheels.
Also, if you’re wondering where the flex in the flexplate comes from, then know that it’s because flexplates are more flexible than flywheels. Flywheels are more solid and rigid.
On the other hand, flexplates are designed to flex a little to adjust minor misalignments that may arise between the engine and the transmission.
If it did not perform this subtle function, the chances are that flexplates would either crack themselves or damage any other part of the engine inevitably. For all of these reasons, flexplates are thin, stamped, and non-rigid.
Ways to Identify a Flexplate Gone Bad
Now that you’ve seen what precisely a flexplate is and its role in the transmission system, you’ve probably realized that flexplate is, indeed, a crucial mechanical part.
What happens when a flexplate goes wrong, and how do you identify it?
The indicators are not difficult; all you need is an attention-paying ear and presence of mind as you start and use the vehicle.
For one, with a faulty flexplate, you may hear a whining noise with the starter motor. This whine can be anywhere from low-pitched to high-pitched.
This whining sound comes because the flexplate may have got its teeth all damaged.
Thus, when it interacts with the starter motor while spinning, a grinding or whining sound may emanate. However, make sure to rule out the possibility of damage to the starter motor here.
Apart from that, when your car is resting in neutral or park, you may hear grinding or clunking sound. Except, this time, it will be more rhythmic. You can also notice this while keeping your foot in the brake, with the engine running.
This can happen for a couple of reasons; all flexplate-related. The flexplate might have cracked over time, or a few of its bolts might have come loose, resulting in a repetitive knocking sound.
Broken bolts can also result in this, causing the flexplate’s alignment to waver. Consequently, the flexplate may clink with other metal components and produce a rattling sound.
Moreover, if you’re driving and feel specific unusual vibrations rise through the chassis onto your driver’s seat, pick this up as a flexplate problem. Especially if you feel the vibrations gain intensity proportional to the speed.
In such a situation, you may also notice a loss of power at high speeds. This is a result of the flexplate being cracked.
Common Causes of Faulty Flexplates
Those mentioned above are the symptoms of faulty flexplates. However, the most common causes of flexplate warpage are:
- Engine or torque converter being out of balance
- A faulty starter drive
- Poor quality parts
- Bolts being set improperly for the torque settings and tightened in the wrong sequence
Whichever the cause and whichever the symptom, if your flexplate is displaced, misaligned, cracked, or has loose bolts, you’re surely in for a day at the mechanic.
Cost to Replace a Flexplate
After identifying a flexplate replacement, you might be looking to determine the actual cost to replace a flexplate.
By now, you’ve seen that not only is flexplate an essential element of the vehicle propel mechanism, but it is also located inside the transmission system. This means that to replace a flexplate, mechanics would need to take out the entire transmission system.
If that’s not hard work, what is? The entire operation can take anywhere from 6-8 hours. And most mechanics have an hourly rate of about $90-$110.
Add to these costs the price of a flexplate itself and that of flex plate seals and oils, which would range from $185-$195.
Since not every type of flexplate fits every kind of car, the cost of your vehicle-specific flexplate would be determined by the type of car you have, its make and model, and whether the part is an actual replacement or aftermarket.
Based on all these factors, you can get your flexplate under $100 or for a couple of hundred dollars.
Combine all of the factors mentioned above, and you safely total a cost of around $1200-$1500 to replace your flexplate.
While that seems like a considerable amount to pay for a component replacement, it always helps to remember the problems you can counter later on if timely investment is not made.
So, you see, the health of your flexplate is essential. It determines the smooth running of your vehicle while also allowing for a noise-free ride.
After all, who can drive with peace of mind with constant knocking or whining noises coming from the vehicle? You bet, no one.
That is why, for safe and healthy drives, a well-maintained transmission system is a wise decision to make.