6 symptoms of a bad water pump (function & location)

the water pump ensures that the coolant flows quickly in the cooling system to cool down the engine. here's how to tell if your water pump is bad

symptoms of a bad water pump

a vehicle’s engine runs at a specific temperature. this temperature needs to be maintained; otherwise, the engine will overheat, which may cause serious damages to your engine.

therefore it is vital to replace your water pump before it breaks totally, but how do you know if your water pump is about to go bad? let’s begin with a quick look at the signs to look for:

the most common symptom of a bad water pump is coolant leaks under your car together with an overheating engine. you can sometimes also hear a squealing noise coming from the water pump if the bearings are bad. unstable engine temperature is also common.

while these are just the common signs and not all of them, it’s a good start. here is a more detailed list of the 6 most common symptoms of a bad water pump.

bad water pump symptoms

1. leaking of coolant

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when the water pump goes bad, it may leak from the axle sealing or any gasket. the water pump uses gaskets that ensure the coolant stays sealed and that the flow of water is uninterrupted. however, these gaskets can deteriorate and become completely useless in time, causing the coolant to leak out from under the water pump. if you have a puddle of water or coolant below the front end of your car, you are probably looking at water pump failure, and so you need to go to a mechanic.

2. squealing noise

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when the water pump goes bad, it may leak coolant into the bearings of the water pump, which will dry out the bearings of grease and therefore create a squealing noise when the engine is running. if you hear a squealing noise from the water pump you should replace the water pump as fast as possible, as it may be fatal to your engine to keep driving – especially if the water pump is driven by the timing belt.

3. water pump’s axle lose

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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. if this happens, you are looking at a complete replacement of the water pump. to feel if the water pump’s axle is loose, you have to remove the serpentine or timing belt. if you feel any play in the axle, replace it imminently.

4. overheating engine

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the water pump’s primary job is to pump around coolant in the system to cool the engine. if the water pump fails somehow, you will see the temperature gauge rising on the dashboard. this can happen due to several reasons, such as thermostat failure or short electrical wiring, but you should always get it checked out by a certified mechanic. otherwise, you are looking at widespread damage to the head gasket, the cylinders, and pistons, all of which can reduce the overall life of your engine.

5. white smoke from the radiator

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if you see white smoke coming out of your radiator, you are looking at a clear sign of water pump failure. the steam in the radiator is produced from an overheated engine, which can happen if the water pump is not working perfectly. when faced with this problem, it is better to stay safe and stop driving, wait for the engine to cool down, and try to reach your mechanic.

6. unstable engine temperature

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you can also notice intermittent problems with the water pump as the impeller might be loose on the water pump axle. this will cause the car to overheat sometimes and sometimes work fine for a couple of weeks. it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to water pumps, though, so replace it if you think it’s bad.

what is a water pump?

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the water pump plays an important role in the healthy functioning of the engine. the pump regulates the amount of coolant that goes into the engine. its job is to constantly supply the engine with fresh and cool liquid from the radiator to work properly.

however, when the water pump fails, and they do regularly fail, the engine will not get the correct amount of coolant and heat up. that’s just how water-cooled engines work: if there is no water, the engine cannot survive.

therefore, a well-functioning water pump is of crucial importance. if it fails, some symptoms will appear, which will prompt you to contact the mechanic to ensure the engine is in good condition.

water pump location

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the water pump is always located near the serpentine belt, timing belt, or timing chain since it is powered by one of them. this means that it is also installed at the front of the engine.

if the timing belt powers the water pump, it may be difficult to see it though. you may need to remove a lot of covers to see it.

start by checking near the serpentine belt for the water pump pulley. if you can’t find the water pump pulley there is a big risk that the timing belt powers it.

related: water pump replacement cost