The cooling system in an engine has five components:
- The radiator
- The radiator cap
- The hoses
- The thermostat
- The water pump
The water is literally the heart of the system. Just as your own heart keeps your blood circulating through your body, the water pump keeps coolant circulating through your engine.
The water pump is driven by a belt, chain or gear and only operates while the engine is running. It has a limited life span and sooner or later will have to be replaced. You can check your owner's manual to find out how long your water pump should last. Some can fail at only 40,000 miles, or 65,000 kilometers, but almost all of them fail by 100,000 miles, or 160,000 kilometers.
Water pumps don't gradually wear out; they fail. In other words, they're either working or they're not. A failed water pump has to be replaced. They can fail in two ways; they can spring a leak or their bearings fail. Leaks can come from a cracked pump but usually develop at the gasket where the pump attaches to the engine.
Signs that your water pump has failed:
- Leaking coolant. A puddle of water or coolant below the front end of your vehicle.
- Squealing noise when the engine is running.
- Water pump axle is loose. There is a serpentine or timing belt making the water pump turn and pump coolant. If the water pump axle gets worn out it may cause a loose belt.
- Overheating engine or unstable engine temperature.
- White smoke from radiator.
Replacing a water pump is a car care issue that almost all of us face eventually. They don't last forever, but we can extend the life of most of the components of our vehicle through preventive maintenance. Just as exercise and diet keep our heart healthy, regular check-ups and fluid changes will keep our vehicles healthy. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Old Town Automotive service advisor.
Old Town Auto Service <br/> 707.442.4556<br/> oldtownauto.com
Revised from content contributed by NAPA Service Assistant