Symptoms of A Failing Water Pump – The water pump is a vital part of the cooling system in any vehicle. This component constantly moves water or coolant from the radiator, through the hoses to the engine to cool down heating engine components.
The engine produces a lot of heat from the activities that take place there such as combustion. However, a car’s engine is expected to run at a certain temperature to ensure everything works optimally. This temperature must always be maintained to avoid damage to the engine, which makes the water pump an essential component.
The water pump does a lot of work to ensure your engine performs at its best and because of this, they wear out and break down after some period of usage. However, you mustn’t let the water pump break down completely before replacing it to avoid irreversible damage to your engine.
Once you start experiencing certain symptoms of water pump failure, make a move to fix or replace it. Inside, we discuss everything you need to know about your car’s water pump.
The water pump is a mechanical component in the cooling unit of a vehicle that makes it possible for coolant to move from the radiator to the engine block through some hoses.
The water pump ensures that your engine remains at the proper operating temperature by maintaining a constant flow of coolant to the engine block. This is made possible through the rotation of the crankshaft, the serpentine belt and the centrifugal force that moves the coolant out of the radiator to the engine.
The working principle of the water pump is an easy one to understand. The process can be compared to that of the human heart pumping blood to other parts of the body.
The water pump works with components like the crankshaft, serpentine belt, and blades to pump coolant to the engine when required. The belt turns while the engine is running, and the central axis of the water pump is also turning as well at this time.
This movement uses centrifugal force which creates suction and makes it possible for the water pump to receive coolant from the radiator and transfer it easily to the engine through the hoses.
When the water gets to the engine block, it absorbs the heat in the engine and goes back to the radiator to be cooled down. This process continues in this pattern for as long as the engine is operating, and the cycle is completed thousands of times in a minute to ensure the car’s engine is working optimally and does not overheat.
With the role the water pump plays in your car, the component can wear out after a specific period of usage.
However, other factors can contribute to the water pump failure. Here are some of them.
The water pump is expected to move coolant from the radiator to the engine block. If the coolant is contaminated, maybe with debris, it can block some openings in the water pump, thereby restricting it from properly circulating coolant.
The water pump is made up of some other components like an impeller blade and bearings. If the water pump’s bearings are loose or damaged, it will lead to the failure of the unit in your vehicle.
The serpentine belt delivers power to the water pump to perform its duties. A bad serpentine belt will fail in this duty and will cause problems for the water pump.
If the belt is not properly installed, it might cause the water pump to seize. The accessory belt should not be slipping, worn out, cracked, loose, or over-tightened to ensure the water pump works well.
The water pump seal can be damaged due to high temperatures in the engine compartment or abrasive particles in the coolant. When the seal is leaking, coolant will escape instead of moving to the engine, thus, affecting the cooling process.
Also, if coolant dries up in the system due to leakage and the water pump lacks the lubrication it needs, it will cause the component to overheat and get damaged.
There are several symptoms of a failing water pump.
Here, we discussed the most common ones.
The role of the water pump is to send coolant through the hoses to the engine block to cool down a heated engine. However, a faulty water pump will not do this and will cause the engine to overheat. The temperature warning light will blink when this happens.
A faulty water pump can cause the engine temperature to rise sometimes and stay normal at other times.
This will also cause an inconsistent temperature gauge reading, making the gauge needle move from hot to normal erratically.
Squealing or whining noise from the engine
When coolant leaks on the bearings of the water pump because of broken seals in the component, the grease on the bearings will dry up causing the squealing sound from the water pump.
A loose timing belt can cause whining signs from the engine. This happens because the pulley or bearings are worn out.
If you notice a pool of green or orange substance or water under your engine after parking your car for a while, it could mean that coolant is leaking from your car.
Coolant leak is usually caused by cracked gaskets or broken seals in the water pump. Leaking coolant will cause the water pump to run on low coolant which can cause damage. Also, it can corrode or cause rust on components it leaks on.
Steam from the engine compartment
If you notice steam coming out from your engine compartment, it could be that the engine is overheating because the water pump is unable to circulate coolant around the engine leading to overheating. Of course, seeing steam coming out from your engine compartment means there’s overheating and you should pull over at this point and call for help.
Repairing or replacing a faulty water pump is a bit difficult and should be done only if you have some mechanic experience.
For belt-driven water pumps, you’ll be required to loosen many components, and this requires some level of professionalism.
Here are the steps to replace a faulty water pump.
- You will need tools like socket sets, a wrench, a thread locker, a screwdriver, a ratchet, and a plastic gasket scraper.
- You will also need a water pump, coolant, water pump gasket, and funnel. Endeavor to purchase OEMs coolant. You can find some recommendations in your car’s service manual.
- Park your car on a leveled ground and engage your hand brakes.
- Allow your engine to cool down completely before opening the radiator or related components to avoid hot coolant splashing and causing burns.
- The water pump is an electronic component, to access the component and work safely, you must disconnect the battery terminals.
- Use a spanner to remove the water pump belt and drain the entire cooling system to get rid of old or contaminated coolant.
- Remove any bolt holding down the water pump then take out the component’s housing.
- Before mounting a new water pump, get a plastic scraper and clean the water pump’s mounting surface. Use sandpaper to scrape also and finally use a clean rag to clean the water pump’s housing and surface.
- Properly fix the gasket then install the new water pump.
- After installing the water pump, tighten the bolts to hold everything in place and re-install the serpentine belt.
- Reconnect all disconnected cables to the battery when the water pump installation must have been completed.
- Refill your reservoir with the recommended coolant. Do this with the aid of a funnel to avoid spilling coolant and fit the radiator pressure cap properly.
The cost of replacing a water pump is determined by the age, size, model, and make of your vehicle.
Replacing this component can cost you anything between $310 and $730. Parts will cost about $70 to $400. The water pump is not so easy to fix and can take up to 3 hours of labor. This explains why the cost of labor is usually higher. Labor costs should hang between $240 to $330.
Can I drive with a bad Water Pump?
No! Even though it’s possible to still drive your car with a bad water pump, you are only risking the life of your engine. If the water pump is bad, your engine will overheat, and this can lead to irreversible engine damage. There may also be damage to other components in the engine compartment.
What should I do if my Water Pump is leaking?
A leaking water pump could mean that the seals in the component are broken or there is a cracked gasket. When this happens, it is important to inspect the water pump to know what is causing the leakage. If it’s a case of broken seals, you can replace the seals. Most times you will be required to replace the entire water pump.
Will a new Water Pump improve my car’s performance?
Yes! Installing a new water pump will improve your car’s performance. A faulty water pump will cause a wide range of problems that can affect the operation of your engine and the car as a whole. The water pump plays a huge role in your car, thus installing a new one will improve the overall performance of your vehicle.
When should I replace the water pump?
The water pump does a lot of work in your car and can last for up to 70,000 to 90,000 miles. If it has successfully exceeded this duration, it is important to replace it. Sometimes, you do not need to wait for it to break down before replacing it.