The engine of a vehicle produces a lot of heat. If the engine becomes too hot, then it can be damaged. Fortunately, there is a cooling system in every vehicle which prevents this from happening. It does this with a water pump that allows coolant to circulate throughout the components of the engine.
How it Works
While the water pump spins, it moves fluid away from the center of the engine on a continual basis. The pump is positioned close to the center where the pump vanes can make contact with the radiator fluid that comes back in. From there, the vanes push the fluid away from the pump and into the engine. After the fluid passes through the cylinder head and engine block, it reaches the radiator and then goes back into the pump so the cycle can begin again.
Symptoms of a Bad Water Pump
If your engine overheats, then it can ultimately lead to engine failure if the problem is not fixed fast enough. The last thing you’ll want to do is pay for a new engine. So, you should educate yourself on water pumps and how they are important for allowing the cooling system to function properly. More importantly, you need to understand the main symptoms of a failed water pump so you will know when to get your pump replaced. Below are the 5 most common symptoms.
1) Overheated Engine
The most obvious symptom will be an overheated engine. Since a functional pump is needed for coolant to circulate in the engine and cool it down, a bad pump will prevent the engine from being cooled down. As a result, heat will build up in the engine until it is at an overheated temperature. There are two ways that a driver can notice this happening. One way is the reading of the temperature gauge on the dashboard and the other way is when the temperature warning light illuminates on the dashboard.
2) Radiator Steam
If there is steam emitting from your motor on its front side while you’re driving or stopping your vehicle, then it is another way to indicate that your engine is overheated. When the water pump is not working properly, then water cannot circulate through the radiator to cool down. As the water heats up, it will begin to steam from the motor’s front area. The only thing you can do is have an auto mechanic check the engine for you right away. Don’t drive with the overheated engine for too long or it will cause engine damage. Just have the car towed to your nearest mechanic’s shop so they can replace the water pump.
If your motor’s front area has a whining or buzzing noise coming out of it, then there could be a loose belt in there. As the belt circulates, the noise is made. The reason the belt could be loose is because of a loose pulley or worn out water pump bearings. If the latter is true, then you won’t be able to repair the water pump. The only thing you can do is replace it. If the whining noise becomes louder as you accelerate faster, then you need to have an auto professional inspect it right away.
4) Fluid Leak
There is a weep hole in every water pump so that coolant in its housing area can leak out rather than go into the shaft bearing. If coolant were to flow into the shaft bearing, then it will lock up and be unable to turn. Once this happens, it will throw off the serpentine belt and then the car won’t be drivable. There will typically be a leak from the seals of the pump shaft as the engine runs. But once the engine stops running, then the pump stops leaking and turning.
5) Temperature Gauge Readings Bounce
A fully functional cooling system will keep the temperature gauge at its normal reading all the time. However, if there is a faulty water pump in the system, then your temperature gauge needle will go back and forth from normal to hot, and vice versa. This could be the result of a bad radiator as well but either way, have a mechanic look at it.
The Average Cost to Replace
You can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $430 when replacing a water pump. The cost of the parts is anywhere from $90 to $180, while the cost of the labor is anywhere from $200 to $250. There may also be fees and taxes added onto these figures.
The usual process for replacement: Drain out the existing coolant from the vehicle and then use a pressure test gauge to inspect the leaking. Now inspect the water pump and if it is faulty, replace it immediately. You should also replace the thermostat and radiator cap as well. Finally, add new coolant to it and then give your vehicle a test drive.