In the 80’s when the original cover price of Car Illustrated was between $2.75 to $2.95, Fidanza out winning 11 SCCA National wins in a row, sparking the development of lightweight flywheels. Fidanza’s Matt Polena is going to drop some knowledge on you about the differences between flywheel materials and how weights effect the drivetrain.
“The weight and material of a flywheel has been a common debate for years. Picking the right flywheel has a lot to do with the setup of the car, horsepower and type of driving. A light weight flywheel can range from 40%-60% lighter than stock and will affect the drivetrain exponentially, Polena shares.
The weight reduction of an aluminum Fidanza flywheel is typically 50% lighter than a stock flywheel. This weight reduction is ideal for road racing and drifting, it allows vehicles to quickly reach higher rpms and accelerate out of corners. On the other side, approaching corners racers will also see quicker deceleration, meaning they will be able to stay off the brakes longer than their competition.
The additional weight offered by a steel flywheel is a good fit for drag racing and daily driving, they handle quite a bit of abuse and the additional weight compared to aluminum helps get a car off the line. Lower horse power vehicles also benefit from having a lighter then stock but heavier than an aluminum flywheel. The reduction of weight compared to the stock will help free up horsepower and torque throughout the power band. However, keeping some of rotational mass helps propel the car during shifting and rpms will not drop as quickly between shifts, compared to an aluminum.
The interaction with the driveline of lightweight flywheels is very similar, with benefits increasing exponentially the lighter the flywheel. However, you will also see a reduction of inertia with lighter flywheels.
“Since flywheels are a solid component of the driveline the parasitic loss is constant throughout the rpm range. A lightweight steel flywheel will reduce the amount of parasitic loss and a lighter weight aluminum flywheel will reduce parasitic loss even more. Reducing the weight of the stock flywheel in turn reduces the amount of energy spent by the engine to move the other components therefore improving a vehicles horsepower and torque throughout the rpm range. Forced induction vehicles will see benefits of reducing the weight of their stock flywheel, it will reduce turbo lag and increase efficiency of a supercharger due to less drag on the crank, mentions Polena.”
Some final tips from Polena about purchasing a flywheel:
- Check for SFI Certification if you race.
- Do your research, try to find vehicles similar to yours and ask what type of flywheel they are using.
- If you have a dual mass flywheel and you buy a single mass flywheel, be sure it’s a direct replacement.
- Check the available clutch sizes on the flywheel.
- Be aware of counterfeit flywheels
- Balance the clutch and flywheel together before install to avoid excessive noise/gear rattle.
- Replace your crank bolts when replacing your flywheel
We can’t thank Matt enough of his time and expertise when it come to helping you go faster – all the best Matt.
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