The technology, which is intended to gradually replace traditional solid mass flywheels - particularly in diesel cars - is known to suffer from problems including excessive wear. This has led to many consumers becoming worried about the cost of replacement. In response, some manufacturers have now begun to focus on providing cheaper solid mass flywheels as motorists look to save money on repairs.
While traditional solid mass flywheels have been the norm for many years, dual mass flywheels are a relatively recent innovation and have become much more prominent in the market over the last 10 years. They are designed to deal with the increased power of modern engines more efficiently by allowing the crankshaft to move independently of the flywheel, thus providing a smoother experience for the motorist. They also provide protection to other drive train components by soaking up "torque spikes" that could otherwise damage the gearbox. Despite this, many consumers have found that dual mass flywheels wear out faster than solid mass flywheels, and replacement costs have been increasing in recent years.
Some motorists have complained that a replacement dual mass flywheel can cost upwards of GBP1,000, as opposed to a solid mass flywheel that on average costs less than half this. Prices remain high as specialist equipment is required to fit dual mass flywheels and the technology and materials used to manufacture them mean that they retail at a higher value. As a result, some companies have begun to react to consumer demand by focusing on solid mass flywheel technology, even offering replacement parts for new vehicles that ordinarily come with a dual mass flywheel.
However, while they are seen as a far more reliable option solid mass flywheels can place more pressure on the drive train, which could potentially cause damage to items such as the gearbox in the long term. That said, as consumers become more cost conscious, investing in this technology may prove to be a shrewd move as demand for lower priced replacement parts increases.
Despite this, industry experts have predicted that in mature markets dual mass flywheels will become the norm within the next 10 years. These flywheels are more prominent among diesel vehicles due to their engine power, and as dieselization increases across Europe, they will become more common at both the original equipment manufacturer and aftermarket levels. However, manufacturers will have to work hard to adapt their technology to last longer and cost less if they want consumers to fully embrace this new technology if and when the time for replacement arrives; if not, many motorists will choose to revert to solid mass flywheels in order to save money.