When a water pump fails, the results can be catastrophic. For this reason, it’s often in a consumer’s best interest to replace a water pump at the first sign of trouble. However, consumers aren’t always aware of the importance of a water pump, nor are they always familiar with water pump failure modes. To help them understand, we created the following guide.

First, Consumers Need To Know How Vital Water Pumps Are

A water pump is a lot like the human heart – if it fails, it’s a really big problem. Coolant and oil are essentially the ‘blood supply’ of the modern vehicle. If these fluids can’t circulate through the engine, various vehicle systems start failing. A water pump failure can even lead to engine failure.

Therefore, a quick run thru of the cooling system’s primary function is a good place to start when helping consumers understand water pump problems.

Leaks Are A Sign Of A Bigger Problem

Just like a doctor would never ignore a heart murmur, an automotive technician would never ignore a water pump leak. This is because:

  • Leaks usually occur after internal damage has occurred. If a water pump is leaking fluid, it’s likely already suffered internal damage of some kind. That’s because most leaks are caused by corrosive fluid. If a fluid can “eat thru” a seal, it has probably damaged the pump’s impeller as well.
  • Coolant leaking out means air is getting in. Adding air to the cooling system is a good way to make coolant even more corrosive. This, in turn, can cause problems throughout the cooling system.

Either way, a leak is a sign of a potentially imminent cooling system failure.

A Loose Pulley or Broken Belt Can Cause Unseen Damage

Consumers also need to know that that a loose or misaligned water pump drive pulley, a loose belt, and/or a broken belt can all cause internal water pump damage. All of these issues can lead to:

  • Pump damage from excessive heat
  • Damage to the pump’s internal drive shaft and bearing
  • Damage to the pump’s impeller (particularly when the engine is started)

Since it’s hard to know how much damage has been caused, it’s prudent to replace the pump.

Keeping It Simple

If a consumer understands what a water pump does and how it fails, they will understand the importance of replacing a failing pump. Explaining that a water pump is somewhat analogous to a human heart – in that it keeps a vital fluid circulating – can be helpful. Without “dumbing down” the function of the vehicle cooling system, it leverages a well understand concept.


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