Water Pump Noise – Where Can It Come From – How Bad Is It

Water Pump Noise - Where Can It Come From - How Bad Is It
Water Pump Noise - Where Can It Come From - How Bad Is It

So, diagnosing a water pump noise, can be tricky.

Quite often, your water pump, is buried deep in the engine, making it difficult to access.

Also, your water pump, is usually attached, to a number of other moving parts. As a result, water pump noise will, resonate throughout the engine, making it even harder to identify.

So, a water pump noise, could be the first sign of a failure. And, given a chance, a failed water pump, could overheat and completely destroy your engine. Although the water pump in most modern cars, trucks, and SUVs can last a long time. But, they are by no means indestructible. Like any other mechanical device, they will produce a few warning signs, of wearing out. Fortunately, things don’t have to get to that point.

So, How Does Your Water Pump Work

Your water pump has a simple, but efficient design. The water pump uses an impeller, mounted on one end of a shaft, to push coolant throughout your:

  • Engine block
  • Cylinder heads
  • Radiator
  • Heater core
  • Intake manifold
  • And, all connecting hoses and lines
Water Pump Parts Illustration
Water Pump Parts Illustration

So, the shaft has a pulley on the other end and is supported by, one or two bearings. Consequently, allowing it, to transfer rotating force to the impeller. Worn bearings, are the biggest source of, water pump noise. Also, your engine may use a serpentine belt, drive belt, or timing belt, to turn your water pump. There is a shaft seal, that isolates coolant from the bearing assembly. Furthermore, your water pump housing has a weep hole, to allow coolant to exit. As a result, of your water pump developing a leak.

Most of the time, when a water pump fails, the noise is caused by damage to the bearings.

Water Pump, Bearing Failure

Common Bearings
Common Bearings

One way to check for worn out or failed water pump bearings, is to check for water pump shaft movement.

So, with a faulty bearing, you can often hear a squealing, howling or sometimes a grinding noise. And, is coming from the front of the engine.

Even if you don’t hear any noises, apply the next steps:

  • To find the source of the noise, you can use a large screwdriver or a length of rubber hose.
  • Start your engine. Keep your hands and screwdriver or hose, away from moving parts.
  • Touch the water pump housing, with the tip of the screwdriver shaft or one end of the hose.
  • Put the other end of the screwdriver or hose, against your ear. Finally, if the bearings are worn out or damaged, you’ll clearly hear the noise coming from your water pump. Because, the worn bearings cause a rough rotation of the pump shaft.

Also, be aware that a loose or slipping drive belt, an AC compressor, alternator, power steering pump, belt tensioner. Or, another accessory driven by the belt, may also cause a similar noise.

Water Pump, Shaft Failure

Water Pump, Shaft Failure
Water Pump, Shaft Failure

First, check the water pump shaft and pulley, for signs of damage or movement.

Also, you may have a vehicle where, a serpentine, drive or timing belt, runs the water pump. If so, you may need to remove the belt, to manually check the water pump pulley.

Confirm any damage or movement:

  • Wiggle your pump pulley with your hand. If you notice damage or movement, replace the water pump.
  • Rotate the pulley by hand. It should turn freely, but not feel loose or rough, otherwise, replace the water pump.
  • If rad fan attaches to the water pump assembly, you can grab the fan and carefully wiggle the fan. If you notice movement, most likely the water pump, will need replacing. But, first check that all mounting bolts are tight. And, carefully examine the fan as well. With enough time, a loose or damaged fan, will cause water pump noise.

Important Note !

Removing Water Pump
Removing Water Pump

So, 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 period (50,000 miles or more). So, you’ll save time and money, by doing both at the same time.


So, you should begin diagnosing a water pump noise, as soon as you suspect, something is wrong. Because, an early diagnostic, can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.

Thank You !