Water Pump: The Heart of Your Cooling System

Your cooling system is an important part of your engine. It circulates coolant through the radiator and engine to protect your car from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system, the radiator, the radiator cap, the hoses, the thermostat, and the water pump.

The water pump is a small pump that is driven by the engine with a belt, chain, or gear.  The water pump only operates when the engine’s running. Water pumps can fail, usually within 100 thousand miles.  Some start failing much sooner. Consult your owners’ manual or speak with your local Kalispell service technician to figure out the recommended maintenance schedule for your cooling system.

Water pumps fail in one of two ways. The bearings fail or they begin to leak. It’s possible to have a leak from a cracked water pump, but it usually leaks at the gasket where it attaches to the engine. If you can hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, you know your pump is damaged. If you notice that coolant has spilled out in that area, you know you have a leak.

Most vehicles today include timing belt that drives the water pump. The water pump might be covered by plastic, which means you can’t see it. Look for coolant on the driveway. If you see some, you will need to bring it into Loren’s Auto to have it inspected and potentially replaced. Most timing belts need to be changed at 60 thousand miles. It’s a good idea to change your water pump at the same time that you have your timing belt replaced, because 90 percent of the work is already done once the timing belt is removed. If you wait to change the pump and develop a leak later, you will have to change the belt again anyway. Leaking coolant contaminates the timing belt.

You can replace your water pump with a new one or with a rebuilt pump. A rebuilt timing belt can save you a decent amount of money, but it’s a good idea to consult with your technician to see what he or she thinks. Your water pump will wear out eventually, one way or another, and with preventative maintenance you can avoid causing more damage than necessary.