Water Pump Noise Signals Need for Auto Repair

Your water pump does more than move water around. It keeps coolant flowing through your car’s engine, which protects the engine from overheating in warm weather, and helps keep it from being too sluggish in cold weather. The water pump can fail like any other component. Sometimes the failure is preceded by noise, but sometimes the water pump stops working or develops a leak with no accompanying noise. Checking your coolant level regularly may help catch any water pump leaks, and watching your temperature gauge should alert you if your pump is not pushing coolant through the engine. But if you still hear an odd noise you believe to be coming from the water pump, what does it mean?

The Good News

A water pump that starts making noise, but continues to work, is a blessing in disguise. It’s very seldom your car gives you a warning that something is about to break, and an unexpected failed water pump in the middle of summer could spell death for your car’s engine. So, while a whirring or grinding noise from the water pump is not pleasant, it’s a helpful warning to address the problem before it becomes a bigger issue.
If your water pump begins making noise, make an appointment to see a trusted mechanic. A bad water pump can damage your radiator, so heed the noise and consider it good news that your vehicle decided to warn you about the problem rather than leaving you stranded or ruining parts that will run your repair bill up even further.
Your water pump is not a very expensive fix. Most cars have the water pump located near the alternator, another fairly easy component to remove. This ease of access saves repair time, which is the biggest cost in replacing your water pump. While the idea of an auto repair is never pleasant to think about, be glad that it is your water pump that needs attention and not a more expensive part of your car.
Even better, you can replace the water pump yourself. The serpentine belt that it’s attached to can be loosened and removed with only a socket wrench, and then the water pump is removed by loosening a few bolts. Installation is the reverse of removal, but make sure you use a quality gasket sealer on the rubber gasket that attaches to the water pump.

The Bad News

A failing water pump, often accompanied by grinding noises, might mean that your car’s engine is not getting the coolant it needs. Especially in very hot or cold weather, this can damage your engine, leading to far greater expense if the problem is not dealt with.
In some cases, the water pump can leak, which drops corrosive antifreeze on the rubber serpentine belt. It doesn’t take long for this super-hot liquid to compromise the serpentine belt, cutting into the rubber and potentially leaving you stranded if the belt breaks.
While not as expensive as major engine or exhaust work, replacing a water pump isn’t like changing the oil either. It can cost $200 to $300, depending on your mechanic’s labor rate, which is enough to pinch most people’s budgets. While this expense is unwelcome, it’s still not as bad as the greater expense that could occur if a noisy water pump is allowed to fail completely.

New noises from your car are never welcome, but a noisy water pump isn’t the end of the world. You should have your mechanic check out the noise as soon as you can. Replacement will almost assuredly be recommended. Fortunately, replacing a water pump is not extremely labor intensive, so the cost is not excessive. If you have a bit of experience in auto repairs, you may even be able to do the repair yourself and save some labor expense. The part is located conveniently enough that skilled home mechanics can take on the task themselves.