How to Install a Water Pump in a Saturnby Francis Jang
The water pump on a Saturn is located on the front passenger side of the car halfway between the bottom and top of the engine. The easiest way to access the water pump for removal and installation is through the wheel well on the front passenger side of the car. If you've never done this before, set aside about an hour or two for the job.
Drain the antifreeze from the radiator and the engine block into a clean container. The antifreeze can be reused unless it's several years old or contaminated. If the antifreeze can no longer be used, put it into a sealable container so you can take it to a local auto parts store for proper disposable.
Apply the emergency brake and set the tire blocks behind the rear tires. Remove the hub cap on the front passenger tire and loosen the lug nuts while the car is still on the ground. Jack up the front passenger side so you have enough room to slide the jack stand under the car positioned under the frame. Lower the car so the jack stand is now bearing the weight of the car. Never work on a car that is only supported with a jack; always use jack stands.
Loosen and remove the lug nuts from the tire. Take the tire off the car and remove the rivets that secure the two splash guards in the wheel well. Use either a flathead screwdriver or a small wire cutter to pop off the three rivets. If you use a wire cutter, be sure you don't accidentally cut off the rivet heads.
Loosen the bolts on the water pump pulley with the 10mm socket. You'll remove the bolts later. The water pump is in the upper right part of the wheel well and is held in place with three 10mm bolts. In order to spin the water pump pulley to get to all three bolts, grab the 21mm socket and turn the crankshaft clockwise.
Turn the belt tensioner clockwise with the 14mm open wrench to give the serpentine belt some slack for easy removal. The belt tensioner is the black plastic pulley with a silver bolt sticking out of it. The serpentine belt is the long belt that runs along the water pump and around the other pulleys such as the belt tensioner.
Remove the serpentine belt and now remove the three bolts from the water pump pulley. Set the pulley on the frame rail of the engine so you have access to the water pump. You'll need to use the deep and shallow 10mm sockets because the water pump bolt heads vary in depth. Be sure to keep track of which hole the bolts came from so when the new water pump is installed, the bolts go back into their original holes.
Pull the water pump and pulley away from the the mating surface of the engine and remove from the car. If you have to pry the water pump loose, use a gasket scraper and be careful not to damage the aluminum mating surface. When you remove the water pump, expect some coolant to come out.
Clean the mating surface thoroughly and remove all old gasket material using a nylon pad. If there is a lot of residue on the surface, you can use a razor blade. Just be careful not to nick and damage the aluminum surface of the engine block if you use a razor blade or anything else to scrape the mating surface clean.
Apply a thin layer of blue RTV on the mating surface (remember to do the outer edges of the bolt holes) of the engine block and set the new water pump gasket in place. Apply blue RTV on the water pump surface then install the new water pump. Screw the bolts back into their original holes. Tighten the bolts in a crisscross pattern with the 10mm socket wrench. Don't over-tighten the bolts since that could damage the threads in the aluminum block. Let the blue RTV set for about an hour before you do anything else.
Place the water pump pulley onto the water pump and screw in the 10mm bolts. Use the strap wrench to hold the pulley in place and continue tightening with the socket wrench. You can tighten the bolts without a strap wrench but it will be challenging because the pulley will spin.
Turn the belt tensioner in a clockwise direction and install the serpentine belt. Fill the radiator with a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and diluted water. Start the engine and run the heater on high for about 5 minutes. Turn off the engine and check the area around the water pump for leaks.
Replace the splash guards and tire. Tighten lug nuts on the tire and jack up the car slightly to remove the jack stand. Lower the car to the ground, finish tightening the lug nuts and remove the tire blocks.
Items you will need
- 21mm socket
- 10mm socket (deep and standard depths)
- 14mm open wrench
- Flathead screwdriver
- Blue RTV
- Tire blocks
- Small wire cutter
- New water pump (should include gasket)
- Strap wrench
- Radiator coolant
- Jack stand
- "Saturn 1991 thru 1999: Haynes Repair Manual"; Haynes; 1999
- "Saturn Coupes/Sedans/Wagons, 1991-2002"; Matthew E. Frederick; 2006