Crankshaft Keyway – Explanation, Replacement Costs

What is the Crankshaft Key and Keyway?

An automotive engine consists of different kinds of big and small parts. All of these parts are so important to work the general system well. One of these small but important parts is the crankshaft keyway system. We will explain the crankshaft keyway applications here. You will learn nearly all the details of this part to get an idea about it.

What is Crankshaft Keyway?

Crankshaft keyway.

The crankshaft keyway is a small section on the snout end of the crankshaft that a key is attached to hold the timing gear or pulley of the engine. And there is a key between the timing gear and the crankshaft. Once the crankshaft rotates, it will transmit the rotational energy to the timing pulley or gear. And timing gear is connected to other systems o the engine such as the camshaft valve mechanism, oil pump mechanism, and sparking mechanism.

So, it is a very important part that collects the kinetic energy of all the other systems that make work. So, it is very important to have a good crankshaft keyway design.

The timing belt is connected with the oil pump, camshaft system, and spark plug system which are working in a very optimized sequence. If they work together very well, the combustion takes place in the cylinders. Because of this combustion, the crankshaft rotates. This cycle goes on like this. You can understand that the crankshaft keyway is a very important part of the transmission of power.

Keyways in Other Systems

Keyway systems are also very common in most other mechanical systems. If there is a power transmission between a shaft and a gear or pulley, there must be a key and keyway mechanism between them. Because the keyway and key mechanism prevent the slippage of the parts between each other. And it is very important to have a keyway system in general.

Which Type of Keyway is Used in the Crankshaft?

There are different kinds of keyway applications available in the market for different systems. But in crankshaft systems, we are using the Woodruff keyways and keys.

The shape of the Woodruff keyway is like a half circle. The half-circle side comes on the crankshaft side. Also, the flat side of the keyway is at the pulley. And we are placing the Woodruff keys between these two sections. And they provide a very good power transmission between the pulley and the crankshaft.

Crankshaft Keyway Problem

We can face problems with the crankshaft keyway and key sections. This section can become loose or wiggling. This can be a problem because there can be very bad vibrations and wiggling sounds that come form the timing gear system. And also, it can be a problem for damaging the timing belt or gear.

There are generally two reasons for this crankshaft keyway problem.

  • Firstly, the keyway becomes wider over time. It allows the Woodruff key can move freely by wiggling inside the keyway.
  • The second problem can be the break of the Woodruff key between the crankshaft and the timing gear or pulley.

The solution to the first problem is, we can make the keyway much more narrow for the key. There are different products such as JB Weld or Loctite. They are very high strength of metallic polymers. What we need to do is;

  • Rip off the pulley system from the crankshaft.
  • Place and align the Woodruff key inside the hole.
  • Spill the metal-polymer adhesive, and leave it to solidify. It becomes a very high-strength structural support to the Woodruff key.
  • Attach the pulley or timing gear system back.
  • So the wiggling sounds will be over.

Also, the solution to the second problem is just to change the Woodruff key of your crankshaft system and replace it with the new one.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace the Crankshaft Keyway and Key?

You can find the Woodruff key that you need for your crankshaft application between $5-10 according to the type and model of your car. And we recommend you take your car to a mechanic to replace the Woodruff key that your crankshaft has. You can pay labor cost between $30-50 to fix this problem.

So the maximum money that you need to pay for this replacement is around $60. And you will solve the problem with your car.

Last Words

These are the general points about the crankshaft Woodruff keys and keyway. It may seem like a very basic geometric feature that your crankshaft has. But in the power transmission to the other parts of your engine, they are very important systems that you need to take care of.

If you need extra comments and questions about the crankshaft keyway systems, leave them below!

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