So, the water pump is operated by the rotation of the timing belt; ensuring that engine coolant keeps moving through your engine.
Consequently, allowing the engine to maintain a consistent and optimum operating temperature.
But, a water pump or a timing belt, will not last forever and will eventually wear out and fail. Furthermore, it is rare for them to both wear out at the same time.
But, because the water pump and timing belt work together; the usual recommendation is to replace both at the same time.
Also, with both being accessible in the same area of your engine; you can save on labor costs by having the two parts replaced at the same time.
While there will be some variance depending on the make and model of your vehicle; most timing belts last between sixty- to ninety-thousand miles; for the most part, you can expect your water pump to last this long as well, barring any unfortunate issues.
Remember – this is a guideline only; so the process of replacing the water pump and timing belt may differ in your vehicle. Consult a professional mechanic if you’re in doubt; and only carry out the work if you’re confident with working with engines.
Basic Water Pump And Timing Belt Replacement
Today, there are choices to be able to purchase complete timing belt kits. Most of the time you will get all the parts to do the job including all the gaskets and seals.
A decision to change the belt now, but not to replace the water pump, is a bad decision. It’s essential to check the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations before attempting to replace any water pump. Each engine design is likely to have its own belt drive system configuration, so observe any specific instructions.
Basic Steps To Do The Complete Job:
First, prepare your vehicle and work area:
Changing a timing belt and water pump can take anywhere from 1-3 hours; depending on your skill level, so make sure you have the time and space to complete the job. Safety first, Always wait until the engine is cool before working on any part of the cooling system. Jack up the front of the vehicle, so you can access the undercarriage beneath the engine.
Place a bucket under the water pump, as coolant will gush out when you remove it.
Get all your tools ready and have bags and a pen on hand; for labelling and storing parts you remove from the engine. Put the engine in gear (to prevent it spinning when you’re removing the timing belt) and engage the handbrake.
Removing the Belts:
The fan belt and power steering belt sit beside the cover; which houses the timing belt and water pump, so you’ll need to remove them first. Sometimes you may have to remove the alternator and power steering pump.
Loosen the bolts which hold the alternator in position. Then tap it gently to loosen the fan belt so you can remove it.
Do the same with the power steering belt. Sliding the belt out of the way to get to the timing case and crankshaft pulley. Loosen the crankshaft pulley. You’ll need a good long wrench to reach into the engine to loosen the bolt off.
Removing the Timing Cover, ( you may have upper and lower covers ):
The timing cover usually covers the timing belt and water pump, so you’ll need to remove it. Now that the belts are removed and the crankshaft pulley is loosened, this should be a pretty straightforward job.
Note: Not all engines are the same. You may also have to remove motor mount brackets as well.
Next, loosen the bolts or screws holding the timing cover in place. Once you’ve done this you should be able to see the timing belt and water pump.
Marking the timing marks for proper alignment:
Before you loosen the pulley and remove the timing belt; it’s a really good idea to mark the gears and belt with paint. Make sure you do this at all points where the belt lines up with a gear.
Make sure you are marking the belt and the gear. This will make reassembly much easier, as the gears will need to realign perfectly to ensure good engine performance.
Remove the timing belt:
Loosen the tensioner bolt holding the belt in position. As you’re loosening the bolt, push down on the spring and move it downwards. Then, tighten the bolt to lock it in place. This will loosen the timing belt, allowing you to remove it.
The belt should now have lost its tension and be easy to remove.
Slide it out gently, being careful to avoid turning the any gears.
Removing the old Water Pump:
Remove any remaining hoses. Now it’s time to remove the water pump. Before you do this, make sure you have a bucket in place beneath the vehicle; to catch the coolant/antifreeze when you unscrew the water pump. Loosen the bolts on the water pump a little at a time to slowly drain the coolant. Removing the bolts entirely could cause coolant to spray out violently.
So, go slow and give the system time to drain before you fully remove the pump. When the flow of coolant has slowed to a drip; you can fully remove the bolts and take out the water pump. Remove the old seal/gasket or old sealant remains, and make sure the mounting surface is clean. Before installing the new water pump, inspect the other cooling system service parts: coolant hoses, thermostat and pressure cap(s).
Install the new water pump:
Carefully follow any installation instructions. Only apply sealant if specifically recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Tighten the water pump bolts evenly to the manufacturer’s torque specifications.
Install the new timing belt:
Line up the new and the old timing belt. Transfer the marks you made on the old belt to the new belt. Now install the new belt, making sure all the marks line up. Now loosen the bolt on the tensioner, it will drop back into its original position, re-tensioning the new belt. Make sure the marks still line up with the timing belt is in place and tight.
Now that the timing belt is back in place, it’s just a matter of retracing your steps; to connect the timing cover, crankshaft pulley, motor mount brackets and belts.
Refilling the cooling system and removing any air:
The final step is to refill the cooling system with fresh, high-performance coolant/antifreeze. Remove the coolant/antifreeze cap and top up the reservoir to the max fill line.
With the cap still removed, run the engine for around 5-10 minutes.
This will expel any air from the system and make sure it is properly filled.
If air pockets build in the cooling system, this could damage the new water pump you’ve just installed. So, make sure to run the engine for at least five minutes to expel any air.
If the coolant/antifreeze level has dropped after running the engine, top it up before replacing the cap. And you’re done!
Servicing the cooling system can help prevent unexpected water pump trouble. Consequently, engine coolant is a lubricant for the water pump and other cooling system components as well.
Check your owner’s manual for the proper interval to replace your timing belt and water pump. Generally, the idler pulleys, tensioner and water pump should always be replaced when the timing belt is replaced.
Finally, In most cases, the timing belt drives the water pump; so it is the right time to replace the water pump. It is also recommended by the manufacturer.
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