The primary purpose of an aftermarket pulley is to reduce the size and/or mass of the stock unit. They serve two purposes: to reduce horsepower loss and increase throttle response. Notice the use of “reduce horsepower loss”. Pulleys DO NOT add horsepower, rather they free up horsepower due to the reduction of rotational mass.
HP gain is 5-10HP. These HP figures are a range as there have been very few before/after dyno runs with lightened or under driven pulleys.
What is a lightened pulley? Generally, it is an exact copy of the OEM pulley only CNC machined out of aircraft grade aluminum and powder coated for corrosion protection and aesthetic appeal.
What is an under driven pulley? This is a pulley that mimics the function of the OEM unit, but is smaller in diameter. This will reduce the duty cycle of the pulley and proportionally the parasitic drag on the engine.
Are under driven pulleys bad? It depends on the amount they are under driven. Some under driven pulleys can lead to reduced A/C output, lighting problems, stereo problems, and other voltage issues. Some are lightly under driven and some more so.
Isn’t replacing the stock harmonic damper (pulley) bad? Subarus do not come with a harmonic damper or balancer like some other vehicles do. For other manufacturers’ vehicles, this is a legitimate concern. Proof:
“Thank you for your patience as I checked with our Technical Services Department regarding your message below. They advised that the crank pulley is a pulley and nothing else. It is not used as a harmonic damper/balancer.
Thanks for the opportunity to be of assistance. If you need any future assistance, please feel free to contact us again.”
John J. Mergen
Customer Service Department
Subaru of America, Inc.