The rubber bond in the harmonic balancer can decay, which causes the balancer to move and work its way toward the timing cover. If the balancer comes into contact with the timing cover while the engine is running, it will fracture and damage the cover and potentially other surrounding parts. The harmonic balancer should be inspected at every service.
Harmonic Balancer May Fail and Damage Timing Cover on Mercedes-Benz ML430
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1999 Mercedes-Benz ML430 50,000 mi, Visitor
Harmonic Balancer failed and damaged the oil pan and some other near by parts. Cost over $4,000 to fix.