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How Does A Car Water Pump Function? All You Need to Know

How Does A Car Water Pump Function? All You Need to Know

If you're interested in “how does a car water pump function?” The process is not very complicated. First, the car water pump pulls water from the radiator through a rotation of an internal axle. Then this water faces centrifugal force, so it runs around the engine on different cylinders to bring its temperature down.

The water pump is a very important component in the cooling system, which is responsible for pushing coolant around the engine and ensuring that it flows with the right pressure to bring the engine temperature down when it overheats.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Understanding “how does a car water pump function?” is critical and helps you expect the type of failures and damages that the water pump might face. This article walks you through some details about how this pump works and highlights some of the common symptoms of a bad water pump to stay alert for and take care of immediately to prevent further damage.

What is the water pump, and what does it do?

During any combustion process, the engine temperature increases significantly, and when it exceeds a certain threshold, your vehicle works with multiple systems to drop the engine temperature down.

The water pump is one of the critical components in the cooling system responsible for pushing and pumping the coolant around the engine when needed. This way, the engine's temperature remains within the optimum range.

When the engine temperature is high, the water pump function and pushes the coolant around the engine, on the other hand, when the engine temperature drops below a certain threshold, the water pump makes sure that the coolant goes back to the radiator to drop its temperature and get ready for another cycle around the engine.

How does a car water pump function?

Understanding “how does a car water pump function?” is very critical to give you an idea about what could go wrong in the water pump and how critical it is to maintain internal components functioning well in any cooling system.

Typically, the water pump consists of a main Axel that has many themes connected to it. These veins are responsible for rotating the axle and creating a suction power that pulls water from the radiator and pushes it around the engine.

Immediately once the water is pulled from the radiator and gets to the water pump, the pump relies on centrifugal force on its external walls. Then, water moves around the engine's cylinders and drops their temperature by sucking up the extra heat. Then, it runs again around the radiator to drop its temperature, so it's ready again to run around the engine and repeat the cycle.

How do you know if your water pump is bad?

Since the water pump is not designed to last forever, there will be a point where it's not functioning properly. Therefore, while it's important to understand “how does a car water pump function?” it is as important to learn about signs of a bad water pump in your car.

Your vehicle will not remain quiet when the water pump goes bad. In other words, it will throw a lot of errors and grab your attention by showing several symptoms so you can take over the problem as soon as possible.

In general, automotive experts mentioned that if you detect internal car problems early, you have a chance to resolve the problem with the lowest costs. But, on the other hand, if you delayed or ignored some of the common symptoms, there's a very high chance that you will end up replacing the whole part, if not a larger, more important one.

Let's take a closer look at some of the common symptoms of a bad water pump:

1-    Engine overheating

The first and most obvious symptom indicating that the water pump is going bad is engine overheating. The water pump is not functioning, and coolant or water is not running around the engine; therefore, the engine’s temperature will continue to increase until a point where your vehicle throws an error indicating engine overheating issues.

If you don't already know, overheating is one of the worst enemies that could face your vehicle. Therefore, you must immediately have a mechanic inspect your vehicle and resolve the issue immediately. Otherwise, you sacrifice damaging the entire engine and losing the vehicle's value.

2-    Fluid leaks

Typically when the water pump goes bad, it's most likely that there are some signs of leaks around the water pump. So, therefore, take a full so look at the water pump and see if you can notice any drops of coolant leaking either on the tubes or probably on the floor as the leak is measured.

Over time of use, the water pump hoses might wear out, resulting in some small cracks that could develop and get bigger in the future. Once these cracks get to a certain point, you'll see fluid leaks in locations around the center of your vehicle.

If you haven't seen a coolant before, it's most likely green, orange, or probably red, depending on your selected brand. Therefore, there is a very limited chance for people to get confused between the different fluid leaks like oil or motor fuel or other types of fluids in your vehicle.

One way to check for the coolant color would be to refer to your vehicle's owner’s manual or probably reach out to the repair shop where you got the last coolant refilled.

3-    Signs of corrosion

The water pump also goes bad by corrosion. When corrosion buildup on the different components of your water pump, it prevents the pump from working properly. Therefore, there's a very high chance for the water pump to break down prematurely.

When the water pump is corrupted, you'll see that the coolant itself is not clean because some rust or corrosion made its way inside the cooling system. Keep in mind that it won't do its job when the coolant is contaminated, even if the water pump is still functioning.

4-    Weird whining

Finally, once the water pump is not in good condition, you'll notice some whining noise immediately after starting the engine. This indicates that the water pump might have some energy to start for a little bit, but it immediately dies out.

When you hear the whining noise, it is most likely that the water pump has a loose pulley that it's trying to rotate, but it's not doing the job, and it's just making some harmonic whining noise. This noise might also be related to problems with internal bearings.

Can you drive a car with a bad water pump?

When the water pump is at the early stages of failure, you will still be able to drive the vehicle, and it will not prevent you from driving it. However, ignoring the problem for a short time can immediately lead to complete engine stalling.

Not only will the water pump impact the vehicle's performance, but it can also result in a significant engine failure that could cost you thousands of dollars. Therefore, there is no excuse for delaying fixing a water pump because if you think about the future repair costs, it will make more sense for you that it's an immediate thing to take care of.

How expensive is it to replace a water pump?

Replacing a water pump is not a cheap drop, and on average, it should cost you about $550. In some scenarios, you might even pay as low as $461.00 and as high as $638. Keep in mind that labor costs are a big component because it ranges from $265 and 324 dollars. However, the part itself is not very expensive, and it shouldn't cost you more than $314.

Many drivers select small repair shops to get the job done because the labor costs there are much cheaper. However, owners of expensive vehicles prefer to have their water pump replaced at the dealership because they confirmed that experienced mechanics would do the job. In addition, there is a very limited chance for mistakes that could cost thousands of dollars.

Therefore, we always recommend choosing a sweet spot between price and labor because you don't want to deal with big problems that might make the bill extremely high.

Replacing a water pump is not a simple job that you can do at home to eliminate labor costs because it is a sensitive component. In addition, it has some linkage to important components like the radiator. So, unless you have advanced mechanical skill sets, you won't replace them successfully.

Can a car water pump be repaired?

There is a good chance that the water pump can be repaired. However, certain damages inside your vehicle's water pump require replacing the entire component. Unless you figure out the early symptoms of a bad water pump, you will most likely not be able to repair it.

That's why we recommend that you always keep an eye and ear for any weird noises or symptoms indicating a damaged or failing water pump. This way, you save yourself a lot of money by just repairing the pump instead of replacing it.

Even if you shop for a used water pump at a reasonable price, it will be much more expensive than repairing the water problem. In addition, there is a very high chance that the used water pump might break down anytime soon.

How long does it take to replace a water pump?

As we indicated earlier, replacing a water pump is relatively an intensive job, and it takes about 3 hours at the minimum. Therefore, if you know that your vehicle has a bad water pump, be prepared to leave your vehicle at least for half a day at the mechanic shop if they have enough room for you and the shop itself is not busy.

You can also reach out to the mechanic or the dealership or probably the independent shop and check with them if you can look for an appointment, so you don't have to wait for extra hours just for other people to finish their job. This way, you know it's going to be only the three hours the mechanic is working on your vehicle.


Learning about “how does a car water pump function?” First, it helps you understand what exactly could go wrong. Second, since the water pump is a critical component of the cooling system, being prepared for when this water pump goes bad is crucial to prevent major damage.

This article highlighted the main process for how your vehicle's water pump work had also listed some of the common symptoms indicating a bad water pump. Once you notice any of these symptoms, it's very important to take your vehicle to the nearest repair shop and have it inspected by a professional mechanic to eliminate and reduce repair costs as much as possible.

However, when your vehicle has other major issues like significant engine damage or transmission failures, it might not be worth inspecting or fixing a water pump cause repair costs can be extremely high. If that's the case, you recommended selling your vehicle to cash cars buyer instead and use the money as a down payment towards a better card that doesn't have any issues. The nice thing about Cash Cars Buyer is that we're willing to remove your car within one to three days only!

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