Signs & Symptoms of a Broken Water Pump

by Geoff Hineman
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Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Your water pump is responsible for circulating coolant through your engine to keep it running at the optimum temperature. When an engine burns fuel, approximately one-third of the energy created is heat energy. Without proper cooling, facilitated in part by the water pump, your engine will overheat and possibly even seize up. Fortunately, there are some very common signs and symptoms of a broken water pump.

Engine Runs Hot

One of the most obvious sign of a potential problem with your water pump can be seen right from the driver’s seat. Most temperature gauges display temperatures right around the middle of the gauge's range. If you notice your engine temperature is running hotter than normal, it may be a sign your water pump isn’t circulating coolant as efficiently as it should be.

Looking for Leaks

Leaks are a common problem for water pumps and, most times, they occur in the area where the water pump meets the engine. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, this might be very easy to see. In some cases, however, you may need professional help to get a look at that part of the engine.

Unusual Sounds

Water pumps use bearings as part of their inner workings. In time, bearings can wear out. When they do, they make very noticeable sounds. Depending on the type of water pump you have, the sounds can range from low and grinding to high and squealing. If you hear these sounds, you may still have some time to replace the water pump before it breaks completely and causes more damage to the engine; so take these sounds very seriously.

Loss of Air Conditioning

Any number of things can cause your air conditioning to go out, not the least of which is the water pump. Quite simply, if the water pump isn’t working, the air conditioning won’t work. If your air conditioning goes out, take heed and look for other symptoms to isolate the water pump as a potential source of the problem.

Coolant Puddles

There is an old saying that you can tell what is wrong with a car just by looking at the garage floor. That’s because different fluids come in different colors and if you see those colored puddles on your garage floor, you know you have a fluid leak somewhere. Coolant can come in a few different colors, namely green, pink or orange. If you see any puddles that match your coolant's color, take a closer look at your water pump to see if that is indeed the problem.

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