The water pump is the heart of the cooling system. The pump circulates coolant between the engine and radiator to keep the engine from overheating.
Water pumps. We don’t think about them often, but they’re a really important part of our vehicles:
Let’s take a step back. You see, the engine is cooled by a coolant, anti-freeze, mixed with water. This mixture circulates around your engine, absorbing some of the heat. The coolant then flows through the radiator, where air cools it down for the return trip back through the engine. The water pump is what drives this process.
Cooling system problems are the number one mechanical failure. So, the water pump plays a pretty important role. You can’t get very far without a water pump!
Do water pumps just wear out? If so, what causes them to fail?
After all those miles and years of pumping coolant, they simply wear out. You might notice a whining or grinding sound coming from the water pump, or maybe you’ll see coolant leaking from the pump itself.
Where’s the water pump located? The exact location varies, depending on the vehicle. Some have the water pump attached to the outside of the engine where you can see it. With those, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt. Some have the water pump driven by the timing belt. The timing belt cover often hides the water pump with this setup, so you can’t see the pump without removing the cover.
When you have a technician replace the water pump on one of these, you really should replace the timing belt at the same time. You see, we’ve already gotten things taken apart and the belt’s likely been contaminated by coolant. Timing belts usually need to be replaced every 60,000 to 90,000 miles anyway, so it just makes sense to do both jobs at once. It’s more economical in the long run.
The opposite is true as well, when you change the timing belt on this type of engine, replace the water pump while you’re at it.
The water pump will eventually fail, and getting to it is an expensive project. So, for little more, you can take care of both the timing belt and water pump at the same time.