Vehicle Servicing – Water Pumps and what they do.December 20th, 2011
Your cooling system is very important. It circulates coolant through the radiator and your engine to protect your car from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system:
- the radiator
- the radiator cap
- the hoses
- the thermostat and
- the water pump
The water pump’s like the heart of your cooling system, circulating the fluid throughout your vehicle. It’s a small pump that’s driven by the engine; usually by a belt.
The water pump only operates when the engine’s running and failure is pretty common. We see it often at Oil Changers. Some can even start failing at around 60,000 kilometers, but most will normally fail by 150,000 kilometers. Consult your owners’ manual or friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Oil Changers to see what’s recommended.
Since a water pump either works or it doesn’t, you need to change it when it fails. Water pumps fail in one of two ways: the bearings fail or they begin to leak. It’s possible to have a leak from a cracked water pump, but it usually leaks at the gasket where it attaches to the engine.
So how can drivers tell when the water pump is failing? If you can hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump – it’s got a problem. If you can see coolant in that area or under the vehicle when parked up, you’ve got a leak.
Some water pumps are driven off the timing belt. They might be under a plastic cover so you won’t be able to see the water pump so look for coolant on the driveway. If you see some, have Oil Changers check it out.
Most timing belts need to be changed at 100,000 kilometers – some longer and some even shorter. Most manufacturers also specify a time interval for changing the belt and associated parts so if you are unsure or your car has reached 5 years old (or 5 years since its last timing belt change) then your should consider getting it changed. You can also talk to your Oil Changers service adviser and they will let you know whether your timing belt could need attention. It’s a good idea to change your water pump at the same time especially if it’s one of those that’s driven off the timing belt. To start with, 90% of the work’s already done with the timing belt change and if you don’t, and the water pump develops a leak later, you’ll have to change the belt again along with the water pump because the belt will have been contaminated by the leaking coolant.
Your local Oil Changers can recommend a reputable Automotive Mechanic that will be able to replace your failed water pump with a brand new one. Don’t feel too bad if your water pump gives out. They will all wear out eventually. We can help get you back on the road and on with your life.