What is a water pump?
The water pump is critical for coolant circulation and heat transfer from the engine to the radiator. In most cases, it is a simple, vane style pump driven by either the serpentine belt or the timing belt or chain. Essentially, the pump pushes coolant into the engine block and cylinder head where heat is absorbed. The coolant travels past the thermostat - when open - into the radiator where it cools before returning to the pump. Electric pumps have become more popular with the advent of hybrid technology, and as manufacturers look to eliminate belt driven accessories to the engine.
What are the symptoms of a faulty water pump?
Overheating Engine! With no coolant circulation, the heat produced from combustion cannot be transferred away from the engine by the coolant. An engine that overheats can suffer damage, especially if it climbs into the red area of the temperature gauge. The longer and higher an engine overheats will add to the repair bill, and in some cases, the engine will suffer catastrophic failure, which will really put you in a bind.
What is the severity of a faulty water pump?
Critical. This repair should be addressed as soon as possible. Minor overheating will not cause the car to break down, but if the engine really overheats we will be calling a tow truck. Before this happens, find a good mechanic, one who specializes in engine work, and set an appointment. Most water pumps can be replaced same day, however, it is a good idea to drop off the car, and plan for some short term alternate transportation.
Water pumps are in general not very expensive, however the installation can really vary depending on how the pump is driven. Most often your water pump replacement cost will be between $40 and $80 dollars. Exceptions to this price are the electric water pumps which will cost between $150 and $500 depending upon the model of car. A serpentine driven water pump is fairly accessible, so installation will range between $80 to $150. On the other hand, a timing belt or chain driven water pump will cost quite a lot more as much more of the engine will have to be disassembled to replace it. Installation will range from $300 to $600. In these cases, the chain or belt should be changed at the same time to avoid paying for the engine to be disassembled again.
Again, pricing will vary by location and your vehicle make and model. Use Openbay to compare water pump replacement costs from quality repair shops in your neighborhood.
Service article written by an ASE Master Technician