Knowing When To Replace Your Water Pump

There are many parts that are commonly considered wear items on cars. You likely would not be surprised to have to replace your brakes at regular intervals, or even to replace your car's clutch if you happen to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission. Likewise, accessory and timing belts are usually replaced on a schedule to prevent catastrophic failures that can range from inconvenient to disastrous. You may be surprised to learn, however, that water pumps are also replaced as preventative maintenance on many vehicles.

How Important is the Water Pump?

Your car's water pump is an integral part of its cooling system. The water pump's jump is to keep coolant flowing through your engine, which in turn keeps the engine at its optimal operating temperature. If the water pump fails entirely, it can easily cause the engine to overheat as hot water is no longer being cycled through the car's radiator.

Should You Replace Your Water Pump on a Schedule?

The most important thing you can do is to check your vehicle manufacturer's service schedule. For many vehicles, the water pump is easily accessible during timing belt replacement work. Since timing belts must be replaced on a regular schedule, many manufacturers will recommend that the water pump is replaced at the same time to save on future labor costs. Water pumps cost less than $100 for many cars, but labor costs to replace just the pump can easily be several times that. For this reason, having the water pump replaced along with the timing belt even if it has not yet failed can usually be a major money saver.

What Are the Signs of a Failing Water Pump?

Water pumps fail in several ways, and in some cases there may be no symptoms of a failing water pump at all. Complete failure of a water pump is usually fairly obvious, however, as it will result in an overheating engine. While the temperature needle in some cars may fluctuate slightly, it is never normal for the temperature of a car to continuously climb. If you notice that your car's temperature seems to be increasing a significant amount above the middle of the gauge, pull over immediately! Overheating can cause serious damage to your car's engine.

Less serious failures include leaking gaskets or failing pulleys. Coolant leaks can originate from many places, but often a small leak near the front of the engine itself indicates a leaking water pump gasket. In this case, the gasket alone can be replaced, but the relatively low cost of a water pump means it is often wise to simply have the pump replaced as preventative maintenance. Likewise, a pulley failure will usually result in a loud squealing similar to a bad accessory belt. In some vehicles, the pulley can be replaced without replacing the entire water pump. Contact a parts supplier, like 422 Auto Wrecking, for more help.