Buyer's Guide Water Pump
- A cooling pump is a device driven by a belt connected to the engine.
- It is responsible for circulating the coolant from the radiator to the engine.
- There are two types of water pumps: Mechanical and Electrical.
- Symptoms of a faulty water pump: coolant leak, whining sounds, steam from the radiator, engine overheating.
- A water pump costs around $50 to $100.
- Replacing a broken water pump on your own is easy with the right tools and skills.
A car’s engine produces a significant amount of heat when running. Fortunately, a car engine is equipped with a cooling system. The components in this system work together to keep the car’s engine cool even on hot summer days. One important component of a car’s cooling system is the water pump.
What is a water pump and how does it work?
Also called a cooling pump, this device is driven by a belt connected to the engine. It is usually located under the timing belt cover inside the engine. It is a simple mechanism installed together with the radiator and your cooling fan assembly.
This centrifugal pump is responsible for circulating the coolant from the radiator to the engine. A coolant is a fluid or gas that cools your engine. Maintaining the flow of coolant back and forth the radiator and engine is an integral part of the cooling process.
A water pump will send the coolant to the engine to absorb the heat. The thermostat detects if the fluid is above the maximum temperature. If it is, the thermostat valves will open and the coolant will flow to the radiator. The radiator cools the fluid with the help of a cooling fan before returning it to the pump.
As the car speeds up, the engine produces more heat, and greater cooling capacity is required. A water pump can move 75,000 gallons of coolant per hour. It can recirculate the coolant in the engine for approximately 20 times in one minute. Experts believe that a constant flow of coolant into the engine is just as crucial as engine oil.
What are the types of water pumps?
Automotive water pumps can be classified into two categories. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. You can consult your car’s manual to find out which type of pump is compatible for your vehicle.
Mechanical Water Pumps
This type of water pump is used in most vehicles. The pump is integrated with either the toothed belt drive or the V-belt drive. It works with the help of mechanical force from the engine.
One major drawback of this kind of water pump is that it consumes more engine horsepower and fuel than electric pumps. A car’s engine needs to work harder than usual to power any mechanical accessory that is driven by the engine belt. This type of water pump spins proportionally to the engine speed. However, there are times when it pumps more coolant to the engine than needed.
Electric Water Pumps
This kind of water pump does not need belt power because it runs on battery power. In an electric water pump mechanism, the amount of coolant that flows through the engine at a certain temperature can already be set by the manufacturer. This makes electric water pumps more efficient than mechanical ones.
However, electric water pumps are not as powerful as mechanical driven ones. Since electric water pumps have the potential for horsepower gains, this kind of water pump is also recommended for race car driving.
Having an electric water pump may possibly help extend your engine’s lifespan because it reduces stress compared to its mechanical counterpart.
What are the symptoms of a faulty water pump?
Water pumps usually last a long time before they need replacement. But just like any other part of your car’s engine, they can also malfunction. One of the most common symptoms that your water pump is already faulty is a visible leak on the ground, near the center of your car.
When coolant leaks out of the gaskets containing it, it will produce a coolant leak that would be visible either in the front or center of your car. If you notice a green or red substance under your car, it is time to contact your trusted mechanic to have your water pump checked.
Apart from leaks, if you start to hear high-pitched whining sounds at the front of the engine motor, you should also contact a trusted mechanic. This may mean that your water pump pulley is loose. Contaminated or non-compatible coolant mixtures can also damage the interior of the water pump causing it to rust.
There are many other signs to watch out for such as steam coming from your radiator and engine overheating. However, these things may also be a symptom of another faulty part inside the engine. Make sure to have your trusted mechanic identify the problem before proceeding with replacing your water pump.
How much does a water pump cost?
If you’re thinking of replacing your water pump with a new one, make sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty. Depending on the conditions stated there, you might void your car’s warranty by replacing one.
A water pump costs around $50 to $100. It is usually sold individually with the fan clutch included. There are OEM replacements and aftermarket variants available for you to choose from.
How to effortlessly replace a broken water pump
The main function of the water pump is to efficiently deliver the right amount of coolant through your vehicle's engine block. This vital part of your car usually gets damage due to contamination, thermal shock, and excessive vibration. There are three ways to tell if a water pump is due for a replacement: coolant leakage, noise, and low speed overheating. If you've observed your vehicle showing one or more of these common symptoms, you should check and replace the faulty water pump right away. Simply follow these helpful steps and make sure you have the needed tools at hand:
Difficulty level: Moderate
What you'll need:
- Ratchet and socket set
- Drain pan
- Owner's manual of the car
- Engine coolant
- Replacement water pump
Step 1: Turn off engine of your car and make sure to give it ample time to cool down to avoid getting burned by the hot coolant.
Step 2: Carefully disconnect the ground wire of your car's battery to prevent electrocution while you're working with its electric components.
Step 3: Place the drain pan under the engine and make sure that the system is completely drained of all its contents before proceeding to the next step.
Step 4: Locate the mounting brackets of the alternator. You need to loosen these before you can unfasten and remove the drive belts using the appropriate socket size.
Step 5: If needed, you should also remove the engine's pulley, fan, and fan shroud to get better access to the water pump.
Step 6: Carefully detach the hoses that are connected to the water pump before removing the set of screws that are securing it in place. After all screws have been unfastened using a wrench, you can now remove the old water pump from its mounting location.
Step 7: Before installing the new water pump, you should first inspect if the pump gaskets are in good shape and if the mounting location needs to be cleaned.
Step 8: Secure the replacement water pump in place by making sure that you applied the right amount of torque on each screw.
Step 9: Reattach every component that you removed earlier. Make sure that everything is in the right place before you test the new water pump.
This entire process takes about one hour to finish if you're an experienced DIYer and almost two hours for a beginner.