It’s common knowledge that you need to regularly change your oil and check the oil level in your car to make sure it’s running smoothly, but did you know that the water pump plays an equally important role in keeping your car running well?
While not as obviously necessary as the engine or brakes, your car’s water pump plays a crucial part in keeping you safe on the road. Your car’s engine is full of parts that, while running, put off an incredible amount of heat and friction. The water pump keeps coolant running consistently through the engine block, hoses and radiator, ensuring that everything is kept at a safe temperature.
Without a correctly running water pump, your engine will overheat in the summer or freeze in the winter. This can not only cause damage to the gaskets, cylinder heads and pistons, it often results in total engine failure.
To avoid those sorts of massive and expensive repairs, maintain your water pump with just as much care as you maintain your vehicle’s oil. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an auto expert to recognize the signs of potential water pump failure.
5 Symptoms of a Failing Water Pump
It’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs of a bad water pump. Otherwise, you might not catch the problem until it’s too late. Once a water pump fails, you run the risk of damaging your engine beyond repair — an expensive headache that’s best avoided. These five signs can help you recognize that it’s time to bring your car in for inspection and possible water pump repair.
1. Coolant LeakingOne of the first signs of a potentially faulty water pump is a puddle of coolant on the ground where you’ve parked your car. The pump is made up of several different gaskets and seals that will eventually dry out, crack or break. When this happens, the coolant will leak from the pump. If you see a puddle of orange, green, pink or blue liquid when pulling out of your driveway after your car has been sitting for a while, bring your car into a repair shop as soon as possible. Your mechanic will be able to identify the issue and replace the gaskets and seals — a relatively easy, minor fix.
2. Rust or Deposit Build-Up
When the water pump has a small leak, there will be a gradual build-up of gunk or rust on the pump itself. This can be caused by using non-compatible coolant or a defective pressure cap that allows air into the system. Either way, your pump will become less efficient at moving coolant through the engine, eventually causing complete failure.
Lifting your hood and checking over your engine is a good habit. You’ll be able to recognize problems as they crop up, instead of waiting for the dreaded “check engine” light to come on. If you see rust, pitted areas or build-up around your pump, it’s time to take your car in to get the water pump replaced.
Is your car whining when you accelerate? There’s a chance that this annoying, high-pitched sound is caused by a loose accessory belt. Loose belts are often the result of a loose pulley or bearings that require tightening or replacement. If you hear a whining sound at the front of your engine, take your vehicle in for inspection to avoid the risk of a failed water pump and much more expensive replacement.
Even if your water pump is working fine, it’s important to have any strange whining sounds diagnosed by your mechanic. There are several belts in your engine, including a serpentine belt, that can cause catastrophic damage to your engine if they slip, break or snap. Having your belts replaced according to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule will keep you from finding yourself stranded on the side of the road.
Have you noticed the temperature gauge in your vehicle rising? It may mean that your water pump is on its way out. An overheating car is a danger to yourself and other drivers because you run the risk of engine failure. As soon as you notice that your car is overheating, immediately take it to your mechanic for inspection.
As with any car emergency, it’s important to know the right steps to minimize the risk of harm to yourself, other drivers and your vehicle. As with most car issues, it’s better to be safe than sorry — don’t risk your safety! Pull over, call a tow truck and get your vehicle diagnosed quickly.
If you see steam billowing out from underneath your hood, it’s a sign that something serious has gone wrong with your car. When a water pump completely fails, it is no longer able to move coolant through the engine; this causes it to overheat. If you see steam, pull over immediately and call your mechanic for assistance — continuing to drive with an overheated engine can damage it to the point that it will need to be completely replaced.
What To Do About A Leaking Water Pump
If you see any of the five signs above, call your local mechanic for an inspection of your vehicle. Being proactive is a major part of car care. By paying attention to your vehicle’s day-to-day appearance and performance, you will notice when things need to be addressed. In general, proactive and preventative maintenance is a much more affordable part of car ownership than repairs. By catching the problem early, you can save time, money and hassle.
Stop by your local Rainbow Muffler & Brake location to receive a free diagnostic inspection. We’ll help get you back on the road as quickly and safely as possible!