Your vehicle is a complex system made of different subsystems; if not tended to on time, a minor fault in one of them may quickly cause a domino effect. One of such strategic parts that is hardly ever spoken of is the water pump. What do you need to know about it?
What is the water pump and what does it do?
Water pump is one of the key elements of the engine cooling system. It pumps in the antifreeze which absorbs part of the heat emitted by the engine.
The pump also helps transport the antifreeze to the radiator, which in turn lowers its temperature. The antifreeze, which is now cooled again, returns to the water pump and the cycle starts anew. This, of course, is a very simplified explanation of how the system works. Still, it should help you understand how important the water pump is to your car.
How can you tell the water pump needs repairs or replacement?
There are a few symptoms you may observe in your car. These are the three most common ones:
1) By the temperature of the antifreeze
To notice an anomaly of this kind, you need to learn the actual scope of the temperatures the antifreeze reaches while the engine is working. Any variations may suggest that the water pump is malfunctioning.
2) By unusual noise coming from the area where the water pump is installed
The noise would suggest a damaged water pump bearing. This noise sounds “metallic” and it is loud enough to be clearly noticeable.
3) By the leakage of antifreeze
Antifreeze may leak if the seal in the water pump breaks. In the majority (but not 100%) of such cases, you will notice leakage of the antifreeze. If you notice antifreeze stains under the car, this will suggest a broken seal.
What can damage the water pump?
If the pump was “born” flawless, that is nothing wrong happened in the manufacturing process, you can expect it to survive thousands of kilometres.
Still, you can substantially shorten its life expectancy by using an antifreeze other than that which is recommended, as well as replacing it irregularly or, even worse, not replacing it at all. If the antifreeze is contaminated, it will damage the more sensitive parts of the pump.
When do you replace the water pump?
As we already said, the water pump is so simple it’s actually quite immune to breakdowns. Does this mean you’ll never need to replace it, though?
Since the water pump cooperates with the valve train, it is routinely replaced when you’re replacing the timing belt (which happens every few dozen thousand kilometres, or up to two hundred thousand kilometres you drive).
Driving with a broken water pump: how much will it cost you?
Pumps aren’t expensive and they don’t break down that often. If one does break down and you fail to notice this, or ignore the symptoms, you will need to prepare for quite substantial spendings, though.
Driving with a broken water pump can only lead you to engine overheating. What else could you expect when the key element of its cooling system fails? Overheating the engine may, in turn, lead to its seizure. What is engine seizure, then? It’s commonly referred to as the driver’s nightmare, and not without a reason. This is why you need to know the temperature of the antifreeze. Its sudden changes may suggest something wrong is happening to your water pump.
How much will you pay for replacing the water pump?
The pump itself is actually quite affordable but that doesn’t mean replacement will only be a new pump plus a few per cent extra. This is because removal of the old pump and installation of the new one will require a number of time consuming activities. In other words, most of the cost you will pay will be the cost of the labour itself.