The water pump is a critical component of engine operation. It keeps coolant flowing through the engine and radiator to dissipate the heat created from combustion and friction. Water pump failure can quickly cause an engine to overheat, resulting in catastrophic damage. Sometimes a water pump gasket will start leaking, which causes people to wonder if they can replace just the gasket. The answer is no, and it has to do with why water pumps leak.

Why Water Pumps Leak

water pump leak

One of the first signs of water pump failure is leaking coolant. Water pumps usually leak when corrosion has already degraded the pump. Air entering the cooling system from the leak can accelerate corrosion. Corrosion and damage can be caused by the following conditions:

  • Using the wrong type of coolant
  • An incorrect ratio of the coolant and water mixture
  • Using tap water instead of distilled water in the coolant mixture
  • Cooling system restrictions or cavitation

Once the coolant becomes corrosive, it can cause the water pump gasket to deteriorate and leak. Water pumps can also leak from the shaft seal. Shaft seal failure can occur from the following conditions:

  • Age
  • Vibration
  • Low coolant
  • Worn bearings

For more in-depth information about how and why water pumps fail, check out these informative blog posts here and here.

Why You Should Never Replace A Water Pump Gasket Alone

It is possible a water pump gasket can leak prior to a water pump failure. However, it’s never a good idea to replace only the gasket. As described, the pump may already be failing by the time the gasket leaks. It can also be difficult to diagnose if the pump is only leaking from the gasket, the shaft seal, or both.

Most water pumps are a labor-intensive repair. They may require a lot of disassembly to access, especially if they’re driven by the timing belt. In most cases, the labor cost alone is substantially more than the cost of a water pump. This is another reason why you should always replace the water pump and gasket together. Even if you do the repair yourself, chances are you won’t want to have to do it again when you thought only the gasket was bad.

Why You Should Never Reuse A Water Pump Gasket

Image Credit: MechanicsExchange

Water pump gaskets can be made of different materials. Depending on the water pump design, gaskets can be made of paper, RTV silicone, or metal. Under no circumstances should a water pump gasket ever be reused. Water pump gaskets must maintain a seal under high temperature and pressure. Paper and RTV gaskets will be damaged upon removal of the water pump. The old gasket material will need to be thoroughly scraped and cleaned from the water pump mounting surface. Metal water pump gaskets may appear reusable. However, the crush seal bonded to the metal is designed to be used only once. Reusing a metal gasket can result in immediate failure.

Save time, money, and headaches by always replacing the water pump and gasket together. Find out why GMB OEM-quality replacement pumps are the best choice for your vehicle here.

Are you ready to purchase a water pump? Find the right water pump and gasket package for your specific vehicle here.


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