What does a torque converter look like after it has ballooned?

John Larkin

Sublime Master of Turbology
May 25, 2001
I read about this all the time and I would like to know. Does anyone have a pic? Are the only resulting problems damaged thrust bearings or can problems go deeper in either direction (i.e. back into the trans itself)? What lets go inside the converter to cause this?
Ballooning would be hard to spot in a photo. It is a permanent distortion of the outer shell which results in a longer overall converter length. Anti-balloon plates serve to stiffen the outer shell and prevent this.

Certain model converters will get imprints from the crank bolt heads pressed into the front due to the distortion. A ballooned converter can often fail due to excess internal clearances and damage to the transmission pump can also occur; especially if the freeplay was on the low side to begin with.
So to get this straight in my own mind, it expands fore and aft rather that outward. I guess you'd need a caliper or something to measure a known good one and compare it to your own unless it's pretty obvious. Sounds nasty at best. Thanks. Does it make a grinding sound after it happens?