Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Water Pump (with Video)

by Geoff HinemanUpdated July 11, 2023
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Your vehicle's water pump plays a crucial role in maintaining the optimal temperature of your engine by circulating coolant. If the water pump malfunctions, it can lead to engine overheating and potentially cause severe damage. Recognizing the common signs and symptoms of a bad water pump is important for early detection and necessary repairs.

Engine Runs Hot

One of the most evident indicators of a potential water pump problem is an engine that runs hotter than normal. Typically, temperature gauges display readings around the middle range. If you observe that your engine temperature is consistently higher than usual, it may indicate insufficient coolant circulation caused by a faulty water pump.

Looking for Leaks

Leaks are a common issue associated with water pumps, often occurring near the area where the pump connects to the engine. While some leaks may be visible with a visual inspection, others may require professional assistance to access specific engine parts for examination.

Note:‌ Leaks can result from a bad water pump and can lead to coolant loss and a potential overheating engine.

Unusual Sounds

Unusual sounds emanating from the water pump can signify potential issues. Water pumps contain an impeller and various moving parts, including bearings, which can wear out over time. worn-out bearings can produce noticeable whining sounds. The sounds can range from low and grinding to high-pitched and squealing, depending on the type of water pump. Identifying these sounds can serve as an early warning sign, allowing time for water pump replacement before it completely fails and causes further engine damage.

Loss of Air Conditioning

A malfunctioning water pump can affect the functionality of your vehicle's air conditioning system. If your air conditioning suddenly stops working, it could be attributed to a non-functioning water pump. Therefore, if you experience a loss of air conditioning, consider investigating the water pump as a possible culprit in conjunction with other symptoms.

Coolant Puddles

Fluid leaks can provide valuable insights into identifying problems within your vehicle. Different fluids have distinct colors, and coolant is typically green, pink, or orange. If you notice colored puddles on your garage floor that match the color of your coolant, it could indicate a coolant leak and a potential issue with the water pump.


A malfunctioning water pump can affect the performance of your vehicle's cooling system, including the radiator and hoses. If you notice any signs of coolant leakage or a drop in coolant level, it could be an indication of a failing water pump. It's important to regularly check the coolant level and inspect for any leaking coolant or buildup around the water pump and associated components.

Note:‌ Issues with the water pump can lead to serious damage to the engine block, cylinder head, and even the head gasket. Failure to address a failing water pump can result in engine failure and costly repairs.

To maintain your vehicle's health, extend its lifespan and prevent serious engine damage, it is crucial to be aware of the signs of a bad water pump. These include coolant leaks, overheating, unusual sounds like squealing noises, loss of air conditioning, and coolant puddles. If you observe any of these warning signs, promptly address the issue to prevent further complications. Regular diagnostics, maintenance, and replacement of the car’s water pump are essential to ensure the longevity and efficient operation of your vehicle's engine.


Regular maintenance, including checking the coolant level, inspecting the water pump and associated pulleys, hoses, and drive belts, and performing timely replacements when necessary, can help prevent serious damage to your car engine.

Video: Troubleshooting a Water Pump

Helpful comments from the video:

  • Great video! Thanks for explaining the connection between the thermostat, water pump, and heater core, now I know what else to look for if the thermostat replacement doesn't solve the problem.Explained very well - what other parts affect the thermostat functioning and what failing parts could mimic thermostat failure. Very well done video!
  • thank you, most informative and helpful for me, my problem of cold air from heater thanks to you either thermostat or water pump.

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