Question: My water pump went out and it costs much more to replace than the ones I’ve replaced in the past. My technician said it’s because of where it’s located. Why is that?
Simple Answer: Some water pumps are driven by the serpentine belt and are bolted on out in the open with the alternator, air compressor and such…other water pumps are driven by the timing belt. These water pumps take a lot of labor to access and replace. We suspect your current vehicle has a water pump that is driven by the timing belt.
Water pumps are fairly simple devices that circulate engine coolant/antifreeze around the engine and out to the radiator. Like every mechanical device, they eventually wear out. Although having a cooling system service done on schedule at Express Car Care will extend the life of your water pump and its seals and gaskets, it will eventually fail and need to be replaced.
The water pumps that are driven by the timing belt (the belt that controls when your engine intake and exhaust valves open) are attached directly to the engine block. The timing belt system has a protective cover. The serpentine belt and all the accessories are located over the timing belt cover. So getting to the water pump requires removing a lot of parts which then need to be replaced.
When the water pump must be replaced, we at Express Car Care, think it is a good idea to go ahead and also replace the timing belt, timing belt tensioner and idler pulleys. First, because the timing belt may have been contaminated by leaking coolant; second, there is a schedule for replacing your timing belt and you might as well make the modest additional cost while everything is taken apart so you can avoid the same labor cost down the road.
By the way, the reverse is true as well: When you are replacing your timing belt on schedule, go ahead and replace the water pump at the same time. It would be a shame to spend the money on one of these replacements only to have to do it all again in a few months because the other part then needs to be replaced. Do them at the same time and start the clock over for both.