What is a Water Pump?
Once upon a time, water was used to cool off an engine. The water pump circulated cool water in & out of the engine to prevent overheating. Today, we use coolant to keep our engines from overheating. Even, though we switched from water to coolant, the common name for the water pump is still, water pump. Why? Possibly, laziness. Few times you may see this part referred to as a coolant pump, but the water pump or whatever we call it, is one of the most important parts on your engine.
A leak in your water pump or a having a bad pulley that rotates the water pump fan can cause serious damage to your car’s engine. As a car owner, you must be on the lookout for malfunctions that require repairs or replacement. Let’s take a look at a few common signs that could mean you have a bad water pump.
Pay attention to any lights that may indicate something is wrong with your engine’s temperature. It could be the service engine soon light or more specifically the temperature gauge (see image above) lighting up on your dashboard. This could mean that the water pump is not circulating coolant properly throughout the engine. The rate at which your engine rotates causes a lot of pressure on the water pump to turn at high resolutions. Overtime, it is common for the pressure on the water pump to either brake the fan in the water pump or wear down the pulley that turns the fan.
You can do a Google search to see if your pulley is bad and needs to be replaced. We recommend bringing it to an auto repair shop for a professional diagnosis if you are not experienced with the parts of an engine. Many times auto shops will do a diagnosis for free if the problem is noticeable. If further inspections need to be done to determine the cause of your problems, then auto shops may charge you for labor.
If you park in a garage you can look underneath your engine for any wet spots on the ground. If your garage already has pre-existing spots on the floor, place some dry cardboard underneath the engine to check for new leaks. Check to see what color the wet spot is. If it is very dark, it may be an oil leak. Clear or greenish wet spots could be coolant leaks.
If you park your car on the street, make sure your engine is dry. Wait for a couple days of dry weather before you check for leaks. Before you start your car, open the hood and check for any wet spots around hoses, caps, bolts, and seals. Turn the engine on for a while and see if any wet spots start to form around the same areas. There could be multiple areas besides the water pump that could be leaking so if notice any, have the car serviced.
Specifically with a water pump, the seals around the water pump will wear down due to rust, sediment or other contaminants that are circulating with the coolant inside the cooling system. The pump shaft and bearings are also under constant pressure from the drive belt or timing belt. Eventually, the water pump shaft seal and/or bearing wears out and the pump begins to leak.
As the seals around the water pump begin to wear down, they let water and dirt into the bear that turns the water pump fan. The bearing is well greased to eliminate friction and a leaky seal can dry it out. Many times when the bearing is dry you can hear a grinding sound or moaning coming from the front of the engine. The noises can be heard without from within the car but we recommend opening the hood to hear specifically where the noise may be coming from.
Most water pumps are designed to go 100,000 miles or more, but sometimes they can begin to leak only after 50,000 or 60,000 miles. If you begin to hear noises, spot leaks, or the engine light turns on, it is good to get your car in for service. The longer you wait the worse the problem will be, which always means more money for repairs.
If you need to have your vehicle checked for leaks and overheating, feel free to give us a call.
Spotlightautoservice.com specializes in European auto repairs and maintenance. We strive to keep our service cost 40% less than dealerships. Schedule an appointment for your Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, or Volkswagen with us