As you drive your car down the road on a hot summer day, did you ever wonder how on earth it was able to operate under such extreme temperatures? You’d think that the engine would burn itself out in a heartbeat due to the heat and yet you’re able to continue driving without a care in the world. What technology does your car engine use to accomplish such a feat?
The answer lies in the engine’s cooling system beneath the hood which uses a water pump – a device which predates your vehicle’s internal combustion engine itself. Through a clever circulation system comprised of hoses, a water pump, coolant fluid, and a few other parts, you can enjoy a drive on even the hottest of days without much fear of any repercussion to the engine.
But are there circumstances in which the pump must be replaced? Keep reading to find out!
What’s the Price of a Water Pump Replacement?
Water pumps generally come in one of two variants – standard and performance aftermarket parts. If something happened to your car which is forcing you to now buy a new one, you’ll want to know exactly how much the cost to replace a water pump is and what plays a factor in deciding the prices.
Standard parts are generally cheaper but don’t last very long and the performance parts are the exact opposite. It’s recommended that you always go for high-quality parts so you won’t have to waste your own time and money continuously getting repairs done!
We’ve checked with different retail stores and the estimated price for the replacement of water pump part ranges between $9.26 and $1,050.06. Well-known brands tend to have higher prices and some of the most popular in this niche include ACDelco, Dorman, Gates, Mopar, Motorcraft, and OPGI.
Manufacturers might opt to use different materials when constructing water pumps. The size and shape of the part also differ based on the vehicle type. So, for example, while a Cardone water pump for a 2005 Ford Ranger 3.0L will only cost about $32, a GMB engine coolant water pump for a 1987 Porsche 928 costs a pretty penny – a whopping $964.97!
Now, you’ll probably want to know how much the total water pump repair cost is, including the labor fees. As the main deciding factors are brand, vehicle type, and purchase location, we’ve checked with various retail stores and put together a little pricing list sorted by vehicle type, for your perusal. Take a look at it below!
|2010 Hummer H3T||$648|
|2008 Nissan Versa||$209|
|2010 Scion tC||$281|
|2013 Lincoln MKS||$1032|
|2011 Mercedes-Benz ML350||$425|
|2014 BMW M5||$1,021|
Where to Have A Water Pump Replaced?
To perform the actual work of taking out the old water pump and installing the new one, you’ll need to hire a mechanic for the job. Certified automotive mechanics and technicians work at auto centers. But of course, you wouldn’t trust any random auto store with your precious vehicle, would you? A little research goes a long way.
If you have a particular shop in mind, try to locate reviews about it to find out how other peoples’ experiences went. You can do an internet search or check your local yellow pages. Here are some recommended auto shops to look out for in your area. Some even offer in-house visits for maintenance!
- Napa Auto Parts
- Genesis Automotive & RV Repair, Inc.
- McLean Auto Repair
- Campus Automotive
- Community Automotive Repair
However, if your vehicle still has a full or partial existing warranty, we recommend that you visit a brand dealership instead. You could possibly get the repair for free or at the very least, with a large discount!
Feeling adventurous? Why not try your luck at a home repair? If you’ve got some free time and are down to try something new, we’ve created a guide to replace your water pump in the last section.
What Does A Water Pump Do?
Before we get into the details about how a water pump works, let’s take a look at a little bit of history involving the early beginnings of the cooling systems in automobiles.
Prior to their widespread usage in cars, water pumps were used on locomotives and steam engines to cool them off. These pumps weren’t the same as the ones we use in our cars today and weren’t very efficient in their use of water.
A lot of water would be spilled on the ground and new water had to be added quite frequently. The reason for the inefficiency can be traced back to a poor pump design which didn’t seal water in very well.
Despite their inefficiency, water pumps worked well enough for steam engines during the time. However, when the same technology was applied to an automobile, it did not work out quite as well due to the design flaws.
Water-cooled automobile engines were thus seen as unreliable which led many manufacturers to turn towards air-cooling systems which saw some initial success. It was only around the time of World War II that the leaky water pump design was ultimately fixed. Eventually, carbon-sealed pumps were created which solved the problem once and for all.
Today, we have several different types of water pumps which all work in a similar fashion. Basically, a water pump is powered by mechanical energy sent from the crankshaft which turns when the engine is fired up.
A drive belt usually serves to connect the crankshaft and the water pump. In some vehicles, the water pump is powered by a camshaft which, itself, is connected to the crankshaft.
Even though it’s called a “water pump”, what’s interesting is that the cooling system doesn’t only use water. A mixture of cooling fluid (called “antifreeze”) and water is pumped through thin tubes that encircle the engine and pass to the radiator.
The cooling system starts as soon as the car is turned on and works to keep everything nice and frosty to prevent overheating and allow you to drive around wherever and whenever you want to! Isn’t that “cool”?
But like all car parts, the water pump needs to be taken care of too to ensure that the engine cooling system continues to run without problems at all times. The water pump works hard every time you turn on your car, so it can naturally begin to wear out as time goes by.
Symptoms of a Malfunctioning Water Pump
If you want to continue driving about on hot summer days without fear of car trouble, you’ll need to ensure that your engine is constantly “chilled out”. If a water pump fails, an engine will very quickly overheat within minutes of operation. The part has a few natural enemies – corrosion, contamination, and excess heat can make quick work of the water pump if they’re not stopped.
To help keep your engine and vehicle in tip-top shape, it’s vital that you are knowledgeable in detecting water pump issues. Here’s a checklist for you to follow when doing your daily maintenance rounds:
- Leaking Coolant
The new technology that we discussed earlier which keeps a water tank shipshape and airtight is helped along by a bunch of gaskets and seals. These keep water and coolant inside the tubes where they belong.
The seals are pretty sturdy but they will eventually wear out over time. When that happens, the integrity of the pump will become compromised as liquid leaks out of the cracked or broken gaskets.
Besides the fact that the coolant will all slowly leak out until there’s nothing left to keep your engine cool, it’ll also cause a huge sticky mess on the ground which doesn’t smell very nice and is actually toxic (coolant shouldn’t be thrown down the drain). If you see a green or red-colored fluid with a sweet smell under your car, there may be a hole in your water pump!
- Loose and Noisy Water Pump Pulley
If you hear a strange sound coming from under the hood of your car near the front of the engine, don’t be alarmed; it’s not a bomb. This high-pitched buzzing or whirring noise is caused by a loose pulley which has, in turn, caused the water pump belt to slip.
Besides the fact that this noise is pretty annoying and will cause you to become irritated within minutes of hearing it, a loose belt may break or fall off completely which will then affect the pump operation.
So, hopefully, you’ve got good hearing! The thing is, this sound only occurs while the engine is running. So even with super large ears you still might not be able to hear it from inside the car. The best technique to catch the squealy belt in the act is to turn on the engine, pull the e-brake, and step outside for a few minutes.
- Overheating Engine
This might be one of the most obvious symptoms and one that can happen for a variety of reasons. If your engine overheats, it means simply that the water pump and cooling system have failed to do their jobs.
You’ll be alerted to the fact that your engine is overheating when the check engine appears on the dashboard. Not only that, but the huge amounts of smoke coming out from the front of the car should provide a clue.
If this happens while you’re driving, pull over immediately and call a mechanic. If you continue on, you run the risk of permanently damaging the engine.
- Steaming Radiator
Everyone enjoys a good sauna. Steam can be relaxing and refreshing, but seeing it emanating from your vehicle’s radiator should be enough to make you break a sweat, and for good reason. The radiator is another big part of the cooling system, and if seen steaming, the engine may again be close to overheating especially if the water pump isn’t working properly.
The good news is that steam acts as an early problem indicator so you have more time to shut off the engine before it begins to smoke.