Water Pump Failure-What are the Symptoms

Although the water pump in most vehicles will last a long time, they are by no means indestructible.

Like any other mechanical device, they will produce a few warning signs that they are wearing out.

To start with, Water Pump Failure is extremely hard to diagnose. This info is only meant to help reduce the time in finding the actual problem.

Water Pump Failure-What are the Symptoms. Your car’s water pump is the key to keeping the entire system cool. Usually one of the drive belts on your engine is what turns your water pump. Impeller blades on the pump force the coolant to flow through the engine and back to the radiator. Now a forced air cooling fan does its magic.

The water pump is the primary component responsible for maintaining this flow. Consequently if it works properly, your car will maintain a consistent operating temperature.

When the water pump fails or is beginning to wear out, it can lead to complete engine failure. When there is a problem with the flow of operation and your engine starts to get hot, it is time to investigate if your car’s water pump is failing.

If the water pump shows signs of weakness or fails completely, coolant will not flow through the cooling system correctly. If coolant does not flow, engine temperatures rise and it begins to overheat.

Here are some common symptoms that hint towards having a  water pump failure:

  • Temperature Fluctuations

If the cooling system is operating correctly, the temperature should remain stable throughout a range of vehicle operating conditions. However, if your temperature gauge starts bouncing between normal and hot, this could indicate a bad water pump.

Here is a list of other things that can fail to mirror these same symptoms:

  • Thermostat
  • Cooling Fan
  • Sensors
  • Rad Cap
  • Faulty Rad
  • Water Pump Failure
    Water Pump Failure

    Coolant leak at the front of your car

The water pump is comprised of multiple gaskets and seals that keep coolant contained. This ensure that a consistent flow of coolant is delivered from the radiator to the engine. Eventually, these gaskets and seals will wear out, dry up, crack or break entirely. Coolant drips under the part of the vehicle that houses the water pump could indicate a bad water pump.

If coolant drips are found, an under-hood inspection must be performed. Once cool, check around the engine for signs of coolant leaks. Note that if the leak is minor, the drips will have dried, leaving a distinctive trail. If you think there is a leak, inspect the coolant reservoir.

  • Water pump pulley is loose and making whining sounds

If you notice that there is a loud whining sound coming from the front of your motor that increases in volume as you accelerate, it could be a water pump bearing or belt. This is typically caused by a loose belt that creates a harmonic buzzing or whining sound as it circulates.

The loose belt is commonly caused by a pulley that has become loose or that the bearings that operate the water pump assembly are wearing out. Once the bearings fail inside the water pump, it means the unit cannot be repaired and will need to be replaced entirely.

  • Engine is overheating

When the water pump fails completely, it will not be able to circulate coolant through the engine block. This results in an overheating situation and if not repaired or replaced quickly, can cause additional engine damage like cracked cylinder heads, pushed head gaskets, or burnt pistons. If you notice that the engine temperature gauge is running hot on a frequent basis, it’s more likely than not a problem with the water pump.

  • Steam coming from under your hood

Finally, if you notice steam is coming from the front of your motor as you drive or come to a stop, it is an instant sign of an overheated engine. As discussed above, an engine will maintain a consistent temperature when the water pump works correctly and circulates water to a functioning radiator.

If you notice steam coming from the front of your motor, you should pull over to a safe area and contact a mechanic as soon as possible. It’s never a good idea to drive a vehicle with a engine that has overheated.


Water Pump Failure Service Tips:

  • Replace old coolant at the recommended car manufacturer service interval. Because old, worn out coolant allows rust to build up causing your water pump and other cooling system parts to fail.
  • When replacing a belt that runs the water pump, install the belt with the appropriate tension and replace belts at the recommended car manufacturer schedule (including belt tensioner), and verify the belt aligns with all the pulleys it runs. A loose, misaligned, or over tensed belt will prevent proper operation of the water pump and other accessories and can damage the pump shaft, bearing and seal.
  • Fix engine overheating problems as soon as possible. Overheating will damage the seal and impeller inside the water pump.
  • Use a quality water pump to keep your cooling system working at optimal condition for a longer period.
  • When replacing a water pump run by a timing belt, always replace the timing belt at the same time, especially if the water pump was leaking. A coolant contaminated timing belt will have a reduced service life. On the other hand, a worn out timing belt may break and damage your new water pump. In most applications, the water pump and timing belt have about the same service life, so you’ll save time and money by doing both at the same time.

In conclusion paying close attention to your vehicle and seeing the signs of water pump failure can prevent serious inconvenience or permanent damage.

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